Tiki Topple (Keith Meyers, 2008) is an enjoyable family/kids game. With an incredibly simple ruleset, lightning-fast rounds, and great production quality, it is definitely worth checking out.
In Tiki Topple, 2-4 players manipulate a totem pole of colorful tiki heads to try to three specific tikis to the top. At the start of the game the nine tikis are placed semi-randomly in a column on the board. Each player receives an identical hand of cards in their color, along with a secret card that shows them the three Tikis they want to be in first, second, and third place at round end. On their turn, a player simply plays one of their cards and moves a tiki accordingly. The available cards are:
Tiki Up (in denominations of 1, 2, and 3): Move a Tiki up 1, 2, or 3 spaces
Tiki Topple: Move any Tiki to the bottom of the totem pole
Tiki Toast: Remove the Tiki on the bottom of the pole.
For example, say the Tikis are arranged, from top to bottom:
Player 1 plays a Tiki Up 2 card, and moves the purple Tiki up two spaces, so he doesn’t run the risk of getting removed with a Tiki Toast. This means that Green is now on the bottom.
Player 2 plays a Tiki Topple card. She decides to move the red Tiki to the bottom of the stack.
Player 3 then plays a Tiki Toast card to remove the red a Tiki, since it’s now on the bottom.
At the end of each round, players reveal their secret objective card and score points according to which Tikis are in the top three spots. Players get 9 points if the Tiki in first place is the one they wanted, they get 5 points, if the Tiki they wanted in second place is second or higher, and they get 2 points if the Tiki they wanted in third place is third or higher.
To illustrate, let’s say my objective was:
Orange in first place
Blue in second place or higher
Pink in third place or higher
At the end of the round, the top three Tiki are, in order:
In this case, I’d score 11 points (9+2). Pink would still score me points because it was in third place or higher. Players move their score markers along the score track, and play another round, with the first player changing each round. The game can end whenever players want it to, really. They can play to a set point total, they can play X number of rounds, or they just can just agree to stop. It doesn’t matter.
And that’s it. That’s the whole game. Play a card, move a Tiki, score some points (hopefully). It’s so easy it can be taught in under a minute. As you can probably tell already, there is very little strategy in the game. It’s chaotic, players don’t have much control, but it is fun nonetheless. I’ll admit that turn order matters greatly, through I’m not always sure who it favors.
On the one hand, it’s good to be last, because you get the final say in whatever happens. You get to decide which Tiki is getting moved/Toppled/Toasted at the end of the round. You’ve noticed that your opponent has been concentrating all round on getting Blue to the top? Aww, too bad. Now it’s on the bottom, and there’s nothing they can do about it. [evil laughter]
On the other hand, going first can be really powerful as well, mostly because of the Tiki Toast ability. If the three colors I’m interested in are Red, Green, and Pink, and I notice that Yellow is starting on the bottom of the totem pole, why would I not play a Tiki Toast and just kill him right away, before anyone else can act? With any luck, someone wanted yellow at the to, so that will screw at least their plans up right off the bat. This can get old quickly, though. It can feel a bit unfair when you’re the last to play, and one, two, or even all three of your Tikis get been Toasted before you even get a turn. I’ve never seen someone lose all three in the first turn, and admittedly, that would be rare and unusual, but you see why it can be frustrating.
Of course, we’re talking about a children’s game game called “Tiki Topple” here, so you really can’t take it too seriously. If you really want to play that aggressively, go play something else.
I will briefly touch on the physical production of the game; it’s great. The chunky Tiki pieces look and feel great, the board is sturdy, and it had a nice little depression in it where the Tikis sit, keeping them situated and making them slide easily. The cards are nice and sturdy. All in all, good components. My only gripe is that the box is about 40% too big, but whatever.
Tiki Topple is a fun, super-light game. It goes over well with kids and adults alike. Super simple, quick, and fun. Give it a try!