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Subject: Tiki Review rss

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"In loving memory of Mariel."
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Disclaimer: I'm assuming that you already have some idea of what I'm talking about here. I don't go into mechanics or anything, because plenty of others do that. Still, I hope that someone that hasn't played the game will follow enough to get some value out of this. Thank you!

Background: I bought this game for my school in Japan. From reviews it sounded nice, and the component shots were colorful. I'm glad I got this game, but do not like a few things. Thankfully, there are some easy fixes--so this is both a review and a bit of a tune-up exercise. The three changes are...

1st change: We play a lot of 2-player games, and as a result I discovered some problems. With two people you can count cards far too easily. While it's rather nice knowing what your opponent is up to, (Ha, all you've got are Tiki Toasts!) it's also a bit boring, or disheartening. The simple fix is that at the beginning of the game each player randomly removes one of the cards. Is it my Tiki Topple? Is it my 3? This makes the game far more interesting for 2 players. On one hand, the counter doesn't quite know what the other player is holding (Is the Topple coming?); and not having certain cards helps clear up choices AND makes for different play (Can't always count on that Topple to get you out of messes).

2nd change: Now, moving the game to 3 or 4 players is really chaotic. The play strategy seems to be "just try to keep SOMEthing in". After 4 people throw down Toasts there isn't much left. Add in invalid cards (Can't throw down 3...). Well, this feels like a sinking ship. A fix that we've done is simply to do what we do with the 2-player game: We remove a card. This works well in 3-player--and the loss of Toasts actually becomes more valid. In 4-player we'll even remove 2 cards each. The game plays much better.

3rd change: No matter how many players we have, we always have people play in-point-order. So, whoever has the highest total plays first, second highest second, etc. This handily gives whoever is last a chance to react to everything anyone else has done. This is one of those games, especially in 2-player, where going second is a decided advantage. So player 1 moves their Tiki to the top spot with their last card? Well, player 2 moves THEIR Tiki to the top spot. We find that the game no longer has runaway winners--and whoever is up there really has to watch their Tiki and play sneakily.

Bears mentioning: There is one little thing that I don't like about Tiki, and that's the box. It is very solid, but the high-gloss finish makes opening the thing a bear. (^_-) And you'll want to open it because it really is such a nice game.

Recommendation: Let's sum up my top 3 reasons to buy this:
1) Fantastic components. Not only are they colorful, but they're solid. Love the stone-like Tikis.
2) Lots of interaction. Stay away from my Tiki! That's not my Tiki! Hey, we have the SAME Tiki...!
3) A fine balance of play. A little bit of take-that, a little deception, a little hand management, etc.
Tiki Topple is a great game that I'll take out and play with anyone. Students in the 1st grade are ok with it, but I find that 3rd graders start to really enjoy it. Adults seem to prefer 2-player more. Again, I'm very pleased that I got this game. A definite winner and highly recommended.

Thanks for reading.
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Chris Halaska
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We haven't opened our copy of this yet, but this review has pushed it up the list. Thanks for the critical analysis. That's always the most interesting part of any review to me, and is often missing. Lots to think about when we start playing!

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Thank you for the kind response! I'm hoping more of my reviews turn out like this one, looking more at the keys to the game that make it fun for us. Thank you again and enjoy the game!
 
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