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Subject: I'll Never Look at a Totem Pole the Same Way Again rss

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Simon "that sci-fi guy"
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Tiki Topple is a family game from Gamewright (know to me as the publishers of great little card games Ka-Ching and Loot) for 2 to 4 players. It's an easy-to-learn, short, fun game.

Front of Game Box

Image courtesy of cdefrisco

The game centre’s around a totem pole. The basic idea of the game is to move 'your' tiki’s to, or near to, the top. It's a fairly light, pasted on theme that doesn't have much to do with the mechanics. You could reapply any theme to anything involves a flexible hierarchy and get the same game. It’s a very colourful game and is well produced with cards of thick, glossy stock, and a board that is very functional and wooden tiki’s that slide easily in the board groove.

The rules are a short read and summarise play effectively. This game does not require a player who has played before to teach it and teaching it to others takes less than five minutes. The rules are double sided and come in two languages (English and Spanish).

Play takes course over a number of rounds depending on the number of players. Each player has an identical set of cards (the number again varies depending on the number of players). Each player is also given a unique card that is kept secret from the other players. This card shows three tiki’s in order of first, second and third.
The set of cards that all players have include cards that either move the tiki’s up the pole: “tiki up 1” (x2), “tiki up 2” and “tiki up 3”; move a tiki from anywhere on the pole to the bottom (“tiki topple”) or remove the bottom-most tiki (“tiki toast” x2).

Examples of Game cards

Image courtesy of kmcre8f

The board has a groove running along the middle of it. Nine tiki’s are placed in the groove forming a totem pole. The aim of the game is to move the tiki’s up and down along the pole to get them into the order as they are depicted on your secret card. A round ends when all players have played all their cards or there are only 3 tiki’s remaining (this will not occur in a two player game).

Close up of the board in play

Image courtesy of fenwic

Once the round has ended each player is awarded points based on where the pieces depicted on their card finishes. If the top tiki on your card is in first position on the board, 9 points is awarded. If the next tiki is in either first or second on the board, 5 points is awarded. If the final tiki is in the top three on the board, 2 points is awarded. There is no bonus for getting all three in the correct position, but this is so unusual/difficult that the resulting 16 points is reward enough. The scores are recorded on the score track running around the outside of the board and a new round begins.

There is a small (to perhaps moderate for some players) amount of strategy in this. E.g. If you move the same piece repeatedly up other players will assume it’s valuable to you and move it to the bottom and attempt to remove it altogether. If you don’t concentrate on moving your most important tiki you can’t score much. I have only played with two but I can imagine the game is particularly random with three or four players as so much could have changed on the pole between your turns.

The game is well made and apart from the surprisingly short score track (which only goes up to 35 – remember you can score 16 in a round and there can be 4 rounds), is very functional. The sliding pieces mechanic is nice and is different, and it interacts with the cards well. It is not overly long (15 mins for two players) and doesn’t take itself too seriously or try to be a ‘bigger’ game than it is.

For families, casual gamers or serious gamers that want a filler between something heavier, this is a great option and should be considered.

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Pete Belli
United States
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"If everybody is thinking alike, then somebody isn't thinking."
Nice review!

There is a small (to perhaps moderate for some players) amount of strategy in this.


Tiki Topple can be played on different levels... just goofing around with friends or getting into the strategy of bluffing and deception.
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