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Subject: Why do the penguins pile up? (A review) rss

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Chester
United States
Temple
Texas
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The components:
Penguin Pile-up (at least my copy) is a big box game from Ravensberger. Inside the package is a large plastic iceberg with several oddly shaped and angled ledges, which balances on a center point (under the iceberg) about which it can spin and teeter. There are also 24 (although mine had 25) 3 piece penguins requiring about 2 minutes of assembly. The penguins are cute and sturdy. The box is nice and thick to protect the game, since I suppose the iceberg could get bashed in a wimpy box.


The gameplay:
The rules consist of dividing the penguins equally among the players (from 1 to 6...so yes, you can play solitaire) and the youngest player starting. Each player in succession places a penguin somewhere on the iceberg. Any penguins that fall on your turn get added to your supply. You play until someone exhausts their supply.

Technically, this game could go on forever. In reality, it takes about 5 minutes to play. Because of how the penguins are positioned, its very common that when one falls off....a LOT fall off. You just hope its not on your turn.
Strategy:
The first question is...."strategy, is there any?". Yes. Let me preface this my saying I feel like Penguin Pile-Up is best geared toward young children. However, there is room for some clever play. Some.

Due to the nature of the suspended iceberg piece, its possible to place a couple penguins on ledges on the same side so as to bring the base in contact with the side of the iceberg. When that happens, the spinning and wobbling stops (momentarily). Its easier to place penguins on the iceberg that way. But eventually the opposite side must be used and before you know it the iceberg is swaying and teetering....in a very dangerous manner.

You can also place your penguins in a fragile manner (not as securely on a ledge as you MIGHT have placed it) and purposefully immediately above other penguins...so that if/when it falls it will act like a bowling ball hitting the pocket and bring down a stack.

Overall impression:
Penguin Pile-Up seems to me to be best geared toward the very young gamers. One aspect I was a bit disappointed with is that it doesn't have any natural mechanisms to balance play with adult players. My son was immediately excited about the game...but grew frustrated when he tended to knock over the most penguins each time. I wish there were some way for younger players to have some balance (like Gulo Gulo...for another example of a light dexterity game).

I've read some comments about people playing this with adult groups as a filler. There are a lot more interesting dexterity games I'd want to play in those situations....that give more interesting strategic decision-making. (Villa Palleti, Hamsterrolle, etc). But the great bits and the playful theme can carry Penguin-Pile a long way. I may be convinced to bring this to game night once just for kicks...but I would not purchase it if I didn't expect to be playing it with young children.
Its a good game for what it it: a light, short, theme-rich dexterity game for children.
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Rick Vinyard
United States
Las Cruces
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cornjob wrote:
I may be convinced to bring this to game night once just for kicks...but I would not purchase it if I didn't expect to be playing it with young children.

It works out pretty well as a party game for adults as well.

At our annual Christmas Eve party I put it out on a table.

The rules are simple enough that as people wander by you can quickly explain the premise, and the games are quick enough that even with 5 or 6 players people can wander by, play for a round or two and continue on.

Plus, the howls of laughter when someone knocks down the entire stack makes everyone else not playing wander over.

I'd guess there were 10 or 15 games played, but by different players as people joined and left.
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