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TIKI TOPPLE

Reviewed by Herb Levy

TIKI TOPPLE (Gamewright Games, 2-4 players, ages 10 and up, 20 minutes; $19.95)

 

According to legend (as told by the good folks at Gamewright), tikis are carved statues representing supernatural and sacred forces in some Polynesian cultures. Taking that as his cue, Keith Meyers has come up with Tiki Topple, a charming game where players maneuver nine carved tikis to score the most points.tikitopple

The center of attention in this game are the nine tiki pieces. These nicely carved wooden pieces are rounded with a flat back and come in nine different colors. These are divided into three types (evidenced by the symbol on their backs). Each set of three is randomly placed in the groove in the center of the board thereby building the game’s totem and the starting positions of the tikis. The 27 Secret Tiki cards are shuffled and each player receives one. These cards give players a “rooting interest” in the tikis. (More on that later.) In addition, each player gets an identical set of seven action cards to use.

On your turn, you MUST play an action card. Action cards come in several varieties:

Tiki Up 1, 2 or 3 cards allow a player to move ANY tiki on the totem up the noted number of positions. If you are unable to move a tiki the full amount specified on the card, that card cannot be played. (For example, say you want to move the tiki in second place up to first. With only one slot ahead, playing a Tiki Up 2 or 3 card is not allowed. In a three or four player game, one of the Up 1 cards is not used.

The Tiki Topple card causes a radical shift in positioning. The tiki currently on top of the totem is immediately sent to the bottom, a precarious position because…

Tiki Toast card – Playing one of these removes that bottom tiki from play! (Each player has two of these powerful cards but these cards may not be used until AFTER the first turn.)

Each card may only be used once in a round. The round ends when all but three tikis have been eliminated OR every player has used all their cards. Now we score and that’s where those Secret Tiki cards become all important.

Each Secret Tiki card depicts three of the tikis. Players match the tikis on their cards to the three tikis that have survived the round. The tiki shown 1st on the card will score 9 points IF that color tiki is now sitting on TOP of the totem. The second tiki on the card will score 5 points if it is first or second position. The third tiki on the card will score 2 points if it is in first, second or third place at the end of the round. (Think of it as win, place and show.) Players add up their scores and move their token along the board’s perimeter scoring track. Now everyone gathers up their played action cards, get dealt a new Secret Tiki card and the next round begins.

A full game lasts as many rounds as there are players; in a two player game, four rounds are played. The player who has accumulated the most points wins.

Tiki Topple is a very tactical family game. Long range strategy is impossible; the tiki order can (and does) change radically before your next turn comes. But, in a family game, this adds to the fun. It is a wise idea to pay attention to what other players are doing. If you happen to notice someone moving a color tiki that you have on your Secret Tiki card, then you have found yourself a valuable ally. These unofficial alliances make it easier to maneuver your tikis into scoring positions. Of course, if you are too obvious in shifting your colors upward towards the scoring positions, you’ll tip your hand and you may find your valuable tikis eliminated in a blink of an eye (causing a lot of moaning and groaning from one side of the table and laughs from the other). And let’s not forget presentation. Gamewright scores big on the nice wooden tikis, the very functional groove on the board to hold them and the nice way everything fits into the box. Presentation plus light game play adds up a lot of fun helping Tiki Topple stand tall for family play. – – – – Herb Levy


 

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