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Subject: Fun For the Family - Teens and 6 year olds alike! rss

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Greg Gresik
United States
Bolingbrook
IL
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Aloha!

WHY THE REVIEW

First off, I will explain why we bought Tiki Topple, then get into the review below. We have an interesting dynamic in our house. We have 3 children that love to play games (yes, I am blessed). Their ages are 16, 15 & 6 (you may already be starting to see the problem). When I say "we like games" I mean my 16 year old son has asked for games like Puerto Rico and Small World for his birthday, while his sister (the 15 year old) often prefers Apples to Apples or something lighter. And then there is the 6 year old. A smart boy to be sure - but not quite capable of the mental capacity needed for Puerto Rico or Palazzo. His brother and sister (and mother and I) tire of "roll and move" and other "kid" games, so we were looking for some games that would be fun for us, yet simple enough for him to play and do well. Enter Tiki Topple.

THE REVIEW

COMPONENTS: As other reviews have mentioned, nicely done on the components. The tikis themselves are solid, colorful and well made. When I first saw pictures on BGG, I assumed the black portions of the tikis were painted (which they are) but they are also "carved" in - making them even higher quality than I presumed - and tacticley more pleasing to handle. The cards are nice and large (good for smaller hands) and decent enough quality. The board is a thick cardboard with a notch down the center, which the tikis fit in perfectly.


Here is an example of the tikis (compliments of user bohemian_eye)

And below, a comparitive example of card size (and a two children enjoying a game - compliments of user Luminous)




WHO STARTS? According to the rules, the player who last ate something coconut flavored. No, I’m not kidding. For our inaugural game, I got to go first, having received Fannie May Trinidads for Christmas (so win/win!). Going first is not a big deal, as everyone will end up going first, as you play rounds equal to the number of players (for 3 or 4 players) or 4 rounds for 2 players - where each player goes first twice.

GAMEPLAY: Many reviews have already been posted, so I wont go into too much detail here. Basically, everyone starts off with a secret objective card and hand of playable cards. The secret objective card awards points based on the final location of the top 3 tikis. You get 9 if you top tiki matches the top tiki on the board at the round's end. 5 if your 2nd tiki is in first OR second. 2 points if your 3rd tiki is in 3rd or 2nd or 1st position. Everyone's objective card is different - but their hands of playable cards are the same (unless you use a "discard a random card prior to starting" variant that some have suggested).

STRATEGY?
Well, surprisingly, there is a decent little bit of it. Not a lot - just enough for what we were looking for. In fact, just last night, I was playing a 3 player game with the two boys (the 16 year old how asked for Puerto Rico for his birthday - and the 6 year old). After 3 rounds, the 16 year old said "That was too short, let’s play another set of rounds" - so obviously, if it holds enough strategical choices for him to be interested in more than a minimalist play, it has some degree of strategy.

TWO PLAYER: Some have complained that two player is too "predictable" as you know what cards your opponent has and which he/she has played. While that is true (the part about knowing the cards), it is still not always easy to manipulate the tikis into optimal position. The two player game is more of a "puzzle" where you are trying to figure out how best to use your cards, whilst seeing how your opponent manipulates the tikis (and which ones). Some have suggested a variant of discarding a random card which would "fix" the issue (which we haven’t tried yet). So far, we find the 2 player to be an interestingly intense play. Not brain burning, tense, but more of a calculating "if I do this, then she'll do that, which will leave..." kind of tense.

3 PLAYER (THE SWEET SPOT, IMHO): We have played this about a dozen different times with differing number of players (so I wouldn’t consider this an expert opinion) - but it seems as though 3 seems to be the "sweet spot" of Tiki Topple. Just enough chaos to make things interesting (and challenging to keep track of) and just enough stability to exercise some degree of strategy.

4 PLAYER: There are a few aspects of the 4 player games that make it both more interesting and more frustrating. If you are used to playing 2 or 3 player games (where you have more control, thus score higher every round), 4 player can be unnerving. With people "toppling" and "toasting" tikis (sometimes more than one!) - before you even get to play - or play again, your "strategy" may go out the window quickly. However, the possibility that one of the other players has 1 or 2 tikis on their objective card too - can also lead to getting unexpected help.

CONCLUSION

Traditionally a game like Tiki Topple will be called a "filler" and righfully so - it's quick, light and easily taught and learned. I do however, think there is enough of a strategy that it is a tiny bit more. Not to mention, that to my 6 year old, if we bring out Tiki Topple and Unnamed Object, we are set for a perfectly fun gaming evening (on a school night at least - when we can only play for 45-75 minutes.) For the two teens, while they like Puerto Rico, Palazzo or Small World to hit the table on occasion, they are perfectly content to play this or Qwirkle with their younger brother once in a while as well.

For me it was looking like it was going to be a 6 or 6.5 - but there is just enough to strategy to bump it up to a solid 7 - which is just about tops for me on a filler. I'd rather play this, then say, Sequence or many other games that my 6 year old likes - Lego Creator, Battleship, Checkers, etc. Luckily, Tiki Topple has toppled many of the others in his mind as well - and now sits atop the totem pole.

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Arthur Rutyna
United States
Plymouth
Michigan
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Nice review. I also like this both as a filler, and to play with the younger kids.
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Jonas
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Nicely done, i've been playing this with my kids off and on for about 3 years when my son turned 5.
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