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Subject: review and rules rss

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Ilkka Sillanpaa
Finland
Sipoo
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Topas is a tile-laying game where you lay down a tile each turn giving you immediately points based on the number of same kind of jewels that become lined up. The sum of these points from seven rounds is your final score.

The small box includes besides the rules 36 tile cards and a score pad. The score pad will surely last longer than the tile cards that are made of cardboard that is quite easily bent. The bottom of the box is devided so that the rectangular (2 adjacent squares) tile cards are kept in place.
The tile cards have TOPAS as on the box cover on the back side; on the face side they are made of two squares with varying number (1 to 3) of jewels on each side. Each half of the card has only certain colored jewels (red rubies, green emeralds, yellow gold pieces, and blue sapphires) and no card had both halfs of the same color. Neither was there any cards with 1 jewel on each half or 3 jewels on both.

Playing:
Tile cards are shuffled. Each player is dealt 3 tile cards. The top card of the remaining pile is put in the middle of the table face up.
(I don't remember the rules giving instructions on how to chose the first player)
Players on their turn place a tile from their hand on the table face up so that at least one half of the tile card is next to another half of a tile already on the table. Any placement next to an existing tile is considered legal (even if the score would be 0), except if it makes a jewel line that has more than 7 jewels (jewel line explained in scoring). Then that player draws a new tile card (so that there are 3 cards in hand) and the new tile is scored. The turns go around the table clockwise until each player has played 7 tile cards and the points scored for each tile a summed. The player with the highest total wins.

Scoring the new tile:
If either of the halfs of the tile just played on the table is adjacent to a tile half with jewels of the same color, the jewels of the same color forming line to (or through) the new tile are counted and the total is the number of points that this jewel line has. Each such line is scored and the points are added together. Each half of the tile card can be counted in 2 lines that are perpendicular each other (and of the same color). Thus the jewel on a tile half can be counted twice towards the total score.
The score from the new tile is recorded under that player's name on the left column in the score pad. The right columns are for the running totals of all the tiles.
7 is a maximum that same kind of jewels can be in a line, placement that would create jewel lines with more jewels are illegal. The maximum number of points from one tile is 28 points from 2 perpendular lines of 7 jewels for each half.

Scoring example from the cover image:

If tile on the upper corner with 3 emeralds and 2 sapphires is played like in the image, it would yield points from two jewel lines: one that has 3+2 emeralds and one that has 3+3+1 emeralds, giving a total of 5+7=12 points.
If instead the tile left and down from this tile with 2 emeralds and 3 rubies was played last, it would have given a total of 11 points (emerald line, same as the first emerald line above, with 2+3 points and a ruby line 3+2+1 points).

The game is for 2 to 4 players. However, the last player in four player game has only two card tiles to choose from in the last turn! The rules describe also a solitary game that is just like the regular with just 1 player except that you have only one card in hand (the tile card is played rigth away when draw from the pile). Your result is the lowest result of 4 games (if I recall that number correctly).

Advanced game version modifies the points so that the points of each of the jewel lines are multiplied in stead of added for each tile. (I feel that this would result in absurdly large scores for a lucky person. The regular (good) average score of 10 would be more like 25 and a really good play in stead of 15 would be over 50!)

My evaluation:
The last missing tile for the last player in a 4-player game seems like a serious flaw. (You can, however, assume that as there is most options for the last player as the tile on the table increase in every turn, so maybe it isn't so bad.)
The game has a decent amount of appeal for such a simple game, and easy enough for children to play too. Though seeing the place that scores the most in a turn probably requires ages above 10, I assume.
Small amount of strategy is involved in playing to build a position for another card in your hand that would give a big pay off. This assuming that no one else is able to take advantage of it before your next turn - however, they usually are.
I don't feel restricted by the 4 player maximum. You can play with 5 (or 6) players if you limit the number of turns per player to 5 (or 4, though that is not much).

I don't think the advanced version is interesting - except to teach multiplication to children. But I think I'll have to give it a try before a final judgement.


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Conan McNamara
United States
Brunswick
Maine
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Sounds like an interesting game, a little Ingenious-esque in it's play? One interesting thought about the advanced multiplication version is that ones score you no points, they would only be used to link together some higher value tiles. Thanks for the review and the rules summary.
 
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Richard Irving
United States
Salinas
California
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There are are no 2-2 tiles either.

All possible combinations are present in the 36 tiles:
A tile has 3 combinations of numbers: 2-1, 3-1, 3-2.
4 ways of choosing the color for the high number and
3 ways of choosing the color of the low number (because it must be different)
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