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WALLAMOPPI

Reviewed by Herb Levy

Out of the Box Games, 2 players, ages 7 to adult, about 5 minutes; $19.95)

 

Stacking games are nothing new and there is no denying their popularity. People seem to enjoy putting pieces on top of pieces until something falls down. But Wallamoppi, designed by Garrett J. Donner and Michael S. Steer, adds a factor not usually seen in this equation that changes everything: speed!

Wallamoppi comes in a beautiful wooden box. Once you slide out its top panel, you’ll find 36 “Kiwi” disks (18 dark and 18 light) and a lush leather bag to hold them, two timer marbles, a wooden “staircase” attached snugly to the bottom of the box, a wooden chute and, basically, a page and a half of rules.wallamaoppi

One player takes a light Kiwi disk and the other player takes a dark. (This serves to identify the disks of each player). The rest of the disks remain in the bag. The wooden box is situated vertically with the wooden chute attached to create a clever timing mechanism. The game is played in two phases: the wall and the tower.

The “dark” player draws a disk from the bag and places that disk on the table. The “light” player follows and places his disk next to the previous one. As disks are drawn, they may be placed next to a previously placed disk in a straight line OR centered on top of any two disks. (There are some restrictions. The bottom line must have eight disks in the row, the next line up must have seven and so on. The color of the disks drawn by either player at this point is immaterial.) When all of the disks in the bag have been placed, the dark player and then the light place their last remaining disk to complete the “wall” (and phase one). Now, from building a wall, we start to build a “tower”.

“Dark” goes first and attempts to remove ONE of HIS colored disks from anywhere in the wall and stacks it on TOP of the final “light” disk on the wall to begin to create a tower. This can be tricky as it requires steady nerves and patience. But Wallamoppi ratchets the pressure up a notch. This is where that timing mechanism comes into play.

Before dark goes, light drops a marble in the hole at the top of the box. The marble will roll down the tower. Dark must choose his disk and place it BEFORE the marble drops into the hole at the end of the chute! If successfully done, it is now “light”‘s turn and dark gets a chance to drop the marble while light removes a light disk and places it on top of the previously played dark disk before the marble hits bottom.

Turns alternate in this manner until one or more disks in the tower fall OR one player has failed to place a disk in time. The last player to take a disk, in time, WITHOUT making the tower fall, wins!

Although not a mind-bender (making it suitable for younger gamers), there is some strategy here. In setting up the wall, you should be conscious of placement. You want to be able to remove your colored disks without forcing a collapse and, of course, place your opposition’s disks in precarious positions. And, when you start building your tower, you need to plan ahead as to which disk to pull and place BEFORE that marble starts careening down the chute. This completely eliminates down town since, even when it’s NOT your turn, you’re dropping the marble and planning your next move. Steady hands AND quickness are needed to succeed in Wallamoppi which is why the game will probably play better with younger gamers rather than us “old hands” whose eye-hand coordination may not be what it used to be. (Although, to be fair, the variation of playing WITHOUT using the timer is suggested.) Old-timers might remember speed and stacking used before (Ideal’s 1977 game Up! Against Time comes to mind) but certainly not in such an attractive presentation.

Considering the total package – fun, ease of learning, packaging and price – Wallamoppi towers over other “stack ’em” games. – – – – Herb Levy


 

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