The game: Tummple! by Bruce Shadorf, published by Nordic Games in 2018 (and also by couple of other publishers, but that’s the copy I have).
I received a review copy from Asmodee Nordics.
Elevator pitch: Build a tower from blocks and avoid causing blocks to fall in a sort of reverse Jenga.
What’s in the box? The very compact box is full of components: there are 54 wooden blocks, a die and some white and yellow buttons called tumps. I can’t help but admire how neatly the box is packed with the components: there’s no extra air in the box.
The components are neat, look nice in a very abstract style and function well when playing the game.
What do you do in the game? On your turn you roll the die and do what it tells you. It will either tell you to place a block on a particular side, or to place a tump.
The blocks are built on a base and from there you must build upwards. Nothing special about the building: just keep on expanding the tower. If something falls, you have to keep the fallen blocks, because they’re negative points for you. Once all 54 blocks have been played, the game is over and the player with the least penalty points wins the game.
The tumps are a twist in the game. They are placed on top of the blocks. A white tump will just prevent the players from building a bit: you can’t build on top of the tump. A yellow tump is more dramatic, because it eliminates the whole block: you’re not allowed to build on a block with a yellow tump. This can restrict the possibilities quite a bit.
Lucky or skillful? You roll a die every turn, sure, but mostly Tummple! is about coming up with good places to place the blocks, having steady hands when placing them and setting up the next player with tough opportunities. Skill will win in the long run (with some exceptions to left-right binding, ie. playing after a poor player will be easier than playing after a skilled player).
Abstract or thematic? Pure abstract, no attempt at theme at all.
Solitaire or interactive? A good player will try to make things as hard as possible for the other players. There’s no direct meanness towards other players, but of course you’re always setting up for the next player – so if you play multiple rounds, swap places or the direction of play between rounds.
Who can play? The publisher age recommendation is 8+. That’s fine, you can adjust it downwards if your kids have good motor skills. The game is super easy to learn and play, everybody can learn it quickly.
What’s to like: Tummple! is familiar and fresh at the same time. The concept of building a tower from blocks is very basic and intuitive, but the twists Tummple! adds to it make it a bit more interesting. The game is very easy to learn, looks nice and comes in a compact box.
What’s not to like: There’s still not very much game in here. Game enthusiasts will expect more complicated game structures and more challenge. The game can also sometimes be a bit easy, with very few fallen blocks.
My verdict: If you’re looking for a dexterity game that looks nice, is easy to learn from rules and provides good excitement, Tummple! is a fine choice. I think it would fit well in many kinds of public game collections and would also work well as a family game.
Gamers are likely looking for something more. I wouldn’t bring this to my game nights and I know this won’t see much play at my home, so I’m not going to keep my review copy. For me, something like Coconuts provides a better experience in dexterity genre if I’m looking for something hilarious, and I would choose Crokinole for serious dexterity matchups.
On the scale of Enthusiastic, Suggest, Indifferent or Avoid, Tummple! gets Indifferent from me.