Tumba: More than just a dexterity game

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Tumba is a block stacking game from Poof-Slinky designed by the team of Noel Donegan & Luz Java. Before I tell you my thoughts on the game, a little disclosure. Noel and Luz are friends of mine and Poof-Slinky will be releasing one of my games this summer. If you’re saying, “Ah, he’s just shilling for a friend and a business partner” feel free to click the next button and pass on Tumba. If you do, you might just miss out on a great game.

The heart of the game is 50 rectangular blocks that players take turns stacking on top of each other. The blocks are made up of five cubes, each one being one of five colors (Red, Blue, Yellow, Green and Orange). At first you might be tempted to dismiss the game as a Jenga clone with lots of pretty colors. Well, remember that old adage about not judging a book by its cover? Tumba offers a lot more strategy while keeping the tension of not wanting the tower to fall.

Game Play:

The game play is quite simple. Take all 50 blocks and place them in the cloth bag. Then take the plinth and set it on the table. The plinth is just a wood block that you use as the starting pedestal for your tower. Noel and Luz came up with a clever opening, as the plinth has three slots, two parallel to each other and the third perpendicular to the other two. If the starting player wants to make a more challenging game they can use the single slot. For a more stable tower, use the two parallel slots. On their turn, players draw a block from the bag and add it to the tower.

Building rules:

Here is where things get interesting. When adding a block you can only build color on color. With five colors and 50 blocks, each color appears in each position exactly ten times. Part of the strategy is knowing what blocks have been played and what blocks are left. If the tower falls on your turn then you are out.

Challenges:

If you draw a block that you think can’t be played, either because you don’t have a color match available or because you think the tower will fall if you placed it on any available color match, you can declare “No Play”. The other players can decide to accept this, in which case you draw a replacement block. However, if another player does not accept this, they can challenge you. The player challenging then must place the block on the tower. If the tower falls then the challenger is out, otherwise you’re out.

Game End:

After the tower falls, the remaining players start a new tower. This continues until only one player is left.

Going Solo:

It’s not really a game with only one player, but it’s a nice challenge to try and use all 50 blocks without the tower falling.

More Strategy:

The game involves a mix of strategy and dexterity. If you want more strategy I have a nice variant for you. Get rid of the cloth bag and just place all 50 blocks on the table. Then, when it’s someone’s turn they can choose any block they wish. Don’t allow a No Play declaration. You’ll now have a game where players can try and leave their opponents with no legal play.

Conclusion:

If you hate dexterity games, Tumba probably isn’t for you. However, if you like dexterity games then you really need to check out Tumba. It’s available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Target and lot of other stores.