Ab in die Tonne

Ab in die TonneThere are at least three games named Ab in die Tonne. This is the one that was recently published in Finnish as Roskis.

The game: Ab in die Tonne by Carlo A. Rossi, published by Abacus Spiele in 2013.

Elevator pitch: A stacking and double-guessing game, where you play cards to place trash in garbage and avoid spilling out the trash.

What’s in the box? The box contains ten cards per player for up to five players, a cardboard garbage bin and bunch of really cool wooden garbage: milk cartons, bottles, cans and apple cores. The box is a big for such a light game, but I suppose it somewhat has to be, in order to be able to store the assembled garbage bin.

What do you do in the game? On each round, every player picks a card from a three-card hand. Cards are revealed simultaneously and order of play is from lowest card to highest. On your turn, you put garbage in the bin, according the number of the card you played. If the trash spills over, the garbage bin is emptied and you take some penalty points.

Lucky or skillful? The game is heavy on luck. It’s possible to play badly (choosing wildly inappropriate cards, being a clumsy bumbler in stacking), but I suppose playing badly is easier than playing well… Choosing the right cards is somewhat random. A master stacker will get out of sticky situations, but for most part the stacking part is either trivially easy or nearly impossible.

Abstract or thematic? It’s kind of abstract, but the wooden trash bits are really charming. They’re charming enough that you can overlook the fact the game makes a mockery of recycling…

Solitaire or interactive? There’s some double-guessing involved: how large a card must I play, in order for someone else to play a smaller card and empty the trash can? Or do I need to play a small card in order to be able to add the trash without spilling it over myself? However, since you only have a three-card hand, it’s a bit random. But anyway, that’s the extent of interactivity in the game.

Players: 2–5. Passable with two, even more chaotic with five. Probably best with three or four, but not much.

Who can play? Publisher age recommendation is 6+, which is good. My 4-year-old daughter is enthusiastic about the game, and likes to play it. She’s not very good at it, though, and so far has lost every game. She’s fine with the stacking part, but choosing a good card is more difficult.

Length: Box says 20–30 minutes, and that’s true, if not too much. Play swiftly, and you’re done in ten minutes or so. The game doesn’t take too long, and it’s quite likely you’ll want to play again once you finish.

What’s to like: Cool wooden garbage, easy rules, intuitive gameplay.

What’s not to like: Chaos and luck involved, the game is very light, the stacking part isn’t terribly thrilling.

My verdict: With my gamer friends, Ab in die Tonne wasn’t a wild success. It’s kind of fun, but not very exciting. I could see playing this as a filler, but since the box is so big, I’m just not going to carry it around  (I travel by bike or bus, so there are limits to what I can carry). My kids loved the game, though, and I found the game fun – it’s a real game, after all, and quite pleasant to play with the kids.

So, for gamers, this is of limited interest. For families, Ab in die Tonne is a fine choice. It wouldn’t be a bad choice for adults, if we’re talking about really casual gamers looking for light entertainment – at least the game looks interesting enough to grab the attention.

On the scale of EnthusiasticSuggestIndifferent or AvoidAb in die Tonne gets Suggest for families or casual gamers, Indifferent for gamers.

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