Tumblin’ Dice board game: A four-sided review

The Tumblin' Dice board game box

The Tumblin’ Dice board game is a dice-flicking dexterity game for 2-4 players. And the more the merrier: you can easily add some more dice to the mix to add a few more friends, or play in teams. A game lasts less than an hour.

It had a limited run from Eagle-Gryphon Games on Kickstarter (see below). But it is currently available direct from publisher Ferti in France. I had it delivered direct to the UK for a very reasonable price. But be careful to get the right one, as there is also a smaller edition; Tumblin’ Dice Jr (or Medium). Wherever you order from, check you’re getting the right one.

This is a review of the full-size Ferti version. It comes with a lovely two-piece wooden board (roughly 26×16 inches when assembled), 10 wooden pegs and 14 dice. It will set you back (at time of writing) €85 direct from Ferti. Certainly not cheap, but this is a large, high quality wooden board so I think it is reasonable value for money.

Wide shot of the Tumblin' Dice board game in play.

Teachin’ the Tumblin’ Dice board game

Well, this won’t take long! Players take it in turns to place one of their dice on the small flicking platform and, well, flick it. The board has four stepped scoring zones. If the flicked dice lands off the board, it is out of the round. If any other dice are knocked out of the scoring zones in the process, they are also removed from the round.

Players keep rolling until they’ve used all their dice. Then you score any dice left in the scoring zones. These zones are marked -1x, 1x, 2x, 3x and 4x. And you simply multiply the number rolled on your dice with the scoring zone. Some a roll of ‘4’ in the x2 zone is going to bag you eight points. But a roll of ‘1’ in the x4 zone will only get you four points. You continue like this for four rounds, with the highest overall score claiming victory.

Due to the base game’s simplicity, there are quite a few variants available. You can instead play to a certain score, play as teams, or add the dice and score zone (rather than multiplying) to help younger players. Or for a less random scoring system. It’s also worth noting the Eagle-Gryphon Games edition has a slightly different board and rules set.

Long shot of the Tumblin' Dice board.

The four sides

These are me, plus three fictitious players drawn from observing my friends and their respective quirks and play styles.

  • The writer: There’s something pleasing about a well-made wooden object. And Ferti’s Tumblin’ Dice board game is one of those things. And better still, it is good, clean, simple fun to play. Dexterity is often a good leveller across age groups too, making this a fun end-of-night game but also great for families. And even your olds will revel at its construction, as well as the classic, tradition game idea.
  • The thinker: I have nothing to add.
  • The trasher: Once you’ve got a bit of technique down, this can be a really mean game. Taking someone else’s good dice off the table is probably more fun that scoring your own! But then you have to have the right crowd. There’s nothing here to stop people simply picking on someone or just playing to cause havoc. So, make sure everyone gets into the right frame of mind. Then, it’s great fun.
  • The dabbler: What a fantastic family game! It looks gorgeous, you can learn it in five minutes, and it plays fast. What’s not to like? We like to have a game of singles then split up into teams, with the best and worst players teamed together. This way everyone is in with a chance. Especially as the scoring can be so swingy! But then that’s half the fun, right?
Sic dice ready to score in a game of Tumblin' Dice

Key observations

Boy oh boy, is Tumblin’ Dice random. You can make the perfect flick shot, watching your dice land perfectly in the x4 area – but on a one. Then your friend feebly flicks into the x1 area – but it’s a six! And they’re ahead by two points. Yes, this game is random. Random random random. You just flick dice and have fun. Or not.

It is also heavy, bulky and expensive. And really doesn’t need to be a beautiful wooden object. I’m sure you could make a perfectly serviceable cheap plastic edition for half the price. But they didn’t. They made this. So for these various reasons, it may also not be for you. Some compare Tumblin’ Dice to Crokinole, or Carrom. This seems odd, as those are clearly games of skill. Sure, they’re dexterity games on a wooden board. But this is daft, while they are much more serious. That said, if you are looking for a more serious game with way less luck, you should check them out. Both are excellent games.

There were serious issues with the Eagle-Gryphon Games Kickstarter edition. If you do consider picking up a copy, check the manufacturer. And if it is an Eagle-Gryphon copy, I’d suggest you be very careful to check its condition. The one downside with the Ferti edition is that they cheaped out a little on the dice. They’re great quality, but you only get 14 dice – four each in two colours, three each in the other two. This is because, with more than two players, you only throw three dice per round. But it’s a cheap ass move for a game this price to force you into the colours you can use in a two-player game.

Conclusion: Tumblin’ Dice board game

At a purely base level, Tumblin’ Dice is a lot of fun. The kids will love it and grandma can join in. Then, once they’ve gone to bed and the booze is flowing, the ‘grown ups’ can have a proper giggle with it too. It’s also great to put on a table at conventions, for people to have a few rounds of while they’re waiting for ‘proper’ games to finish. So despite the ridiculous luck levels, and high price, I’m very glad to have this gorgeous game in my collection.

Board game accessories: How to pimp your favourite games

Top 10 dice games advert for MDG, a dice company, including 10% off with promo code goplaylisten

The board gaming hobby has increased in popularity exponentially over the last decade. And as numbers increased, it created space for enterprising small businesses to become viable. Board game accessories are now a big deal. So what are you missing out in?

The simple answer is loads. From Etsy sites to home made upgrades there are loads of clever and innovative ways to upgrade your favourite games. I’m not going to go into detail here, but instead give you a bit of an overview. Hopefully it will be enough to point you in the right direction.

Upgrade the components

Perhaps the most common board game accessories upgrades are components. Fancy dice have been around for years, largely thanks to the role-playing hobby. From metal to multi-coloured, you can even have them customised with your own logo on one side. I’d definitely suggest checking out Metallic Dice Games, for example – where you can get a 10% discount with the code ‘goplaylisten’.

But dice are now the tip of the iceberg. Games with resources are commonplace, so upgrading everything from your wood and sheep to the money and player pieces are commonplace. It started with simple wooden shapes. But enterprising firms now offer some fantastic handmade pieces. Such as those pictured below, from The Game Crafter. The most popular games (such as Terraforming Mars and Power Grid) often have sets of counters specifically put together to replace those in the box.

Board game accessories - handmade wheat, apple and grape pieces for board games.

Sleeves & laminate

But it’s not always about the looks. Board game accessories can also add longevity to your favourite board games. Collectable card game (Magic, Pokemon etc) players have long used plastic sleeves to keep their cards in perfect condition. This helps maintains their value. But it also stops the cards becoming marked, which can be especially problematic for tournament play. This phenomenon is now firmly in the board game arena too, with many players sleeving their cards to maintain their quality.

Laminating is also growing in popularity. A big driver for this has been the huge growth of roll-and-write games. Buying new score sheets is clearly a false economy compared to laminating a few and using them repeatedly. But you’ll find nervous players laminating all kinds of other game components – from flimsy player boards to player aids. This is particularly useful for game extras you’ve downloaded and printed off yourself.

you can even take this to the next level. Games such as Zombicide and Terraforming Mars can really benefit from player board organisers. These are usually made from plastic or even plexiglass. And help keep important counters in the right spots.

Board game accessories: Box inserts

Another growth area is box inserts. While some publishers are making an effort to put compartments in the game boxes, many just leave you to worry about that yourselves.

Personally, I’m happy with throwing the bits in a few plastic baggies. But if you like everything in its place, there’s a whole world of inserts waiting for you.

  • HDF: High density fibreboard can be laser-cut with great accuracy, creating super thin walls to separate components. This is super useful in games with a lot of sturdy wooden or plastic bits.
  • Foam: Foam trays were formally purely in the realm of war gamers. They’re perfect for transporting more fragile game pieces such as detailed plastic or metal miniatures. Especially if you’ve gone to the trouble of painting them. But with many board games now having equally fragile components, foam inserts are now commonplace.

But this doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. One great budget solution is a simple plastic ‘bits box’. Pop to your local pound shop, or discount DIY store. You’re bound to find small plastic containers of nails, screws, picture hanging pieces etc – usually dirt cheap. Simply empty the bits into another container and you have perfect board game accessories.

Plastic bits boxes can make great cheap board game accessories, to help storage.

Extras: Bowls, tables, chips & towers

Here’s a round-up of some other popular board game accessories that can add to the player experience. Just don’ blame me when your credit card bill comes in…

  • Poker chips: Money can be one a disappointing game component. From flimsy paper to thin cardboard, it’s often overlooked by publishers. So a high quality set of poker chips can be a great addition to your game shelf. Simply grab them whenever you play a game with crappy money. I got mine from Premier at a surprisingly good price.
  • Bits bowls: Your game table can soon get messy, especially if you’re a euro or Ameritrash fan. But a little imagination can go a long way to tidying things up. Get a few food takeaways? Save those little plastic sauce pots. Or what better excuse to grab some packs of Gu puddings? The perfect size for keeping components in!
  • Dice towers: Rolling dice can be problematic on a bust game table. We all have a friend who can’t keep them on the table. Or who knocks over half the game pieces when they throw. So why not invest in a dice tower? They look great on the table, while also keeping things fair and contained. My favourites are the Legendary Dice Throwers from Drawlab – who also make amazing metal coins for your games.
  • Game tables: Got a couple of grand burning a hole in your pocket? Then you could consider upgrading your game room with a dedicated board game table. The simplest ones have a removable top, with a baize beneath for gaming. Perfect, as you can leave a game set up and still have dinner in style. But the more you pay, the more you get – from drink holders to pull-out player shelves. Check out Geeknson, for example.

Are board game accessories a false economy?

Table porn from Bandpass Design

Before you get your wallet out though, think good and hard about what you’re paying for. Because while good board games tend to have great resale value, components are a different story.

Tables, towers and poker chips are great because you can use them for games throughout your collection. But game-specific additions may add little to no value to your games. Just because you wanted custom meeples for your game, it doesn’t mean anyone else will be happy to pay extra for it when you get bored of the game.

But if you and your group are big on aesthetics, good board game accessories can make a difference. so let me know your favourites – and more importantly what I’ve missed.

Decathlon board game: A four-sided review

Top 10 dice games advert for MDG, a dice company, including 10% off with promo code goplaylisten

Reiner Knizia’s Decathlon board game is a Yahtzee-style push-your-luck dice fest. And best of all, it’s absolutely free. It takes about 20 minutes per player, and in theory can be played by any number. Although it won’t give you too much joy long-term as a solo game, so I recommend it for 2-4 players.

It is inspired by ideas featured in Reina Knizia’s game design books, including ‘Dice Games Properly Explained‘. Which is well worth a read if you’re looking for other free dice games, or want to learn game theory. You can read or download the rules and a scoring sheet specifically for Decathlon from Knizia’s website.

Teaching the Decathlon board game

This may seem like an odd game for me to cover on the blog. But I’ve logged double figures in plays and it has appeared in my Top 50 games, so why not? I mention it often, so it seems sensible to have a place on my blog which has a bit more detail. It really is a solid little dice chucker. And at a cost of free, what have you got to lose? Also, you could easily play during lock down over Zoom or the like, as most people should be able to find a few dice to use.

All you need to play are eight standard six-sided dice, plus a way to record your scores. The game mimics the athletic event. Players take it in turns to compete in dice versions of 10 throwing, running and jumping disciplines. Each type follows a theme with slight variations, and has a way to score as you go along. The player with the highest total score wins. Alternatively you can award ‘medals’ for each discipline, instead totalling those at the end.

Each throwing event (shot put, discuss, javelin) gives three attempts per player, with your highest score recorded. Two have a similar mechanism to Pickomino, where you have to save dice after each roll, choosing whether to re-roll the rest each time. If you’re not totally unlucky, this gives you a chance to put in a ‘safe’ jump then go for a big one, much like the actual events.

For the runs (100m, 400m, 110m hurdles, 1500m), it’s just the one attempt. They largely revolve around throwing single/sets of dice, with the total being your score – minus any sixes thrown. You have a set number or re-rolls available. So it’s all about whether to take poor scores, saving your re-rolls for any sixes; or pushing your luck even more.

Jumping (long jump, high jump, pole vault) can be super risky. Both the bar events see you taking it in turns to try clearing certain heights, with the odds getting worse as you go. But with a set amount of fails available at each height, trying every one feels like you’re increasing your chances of a bad run of luck. Again, much like when the better athletes skip the early rounds in the real competition.

The four sides

These are me, plus three fictitious players drawn from observing my friends and their respective quirks and play styles.

  • The writer: A good roll-and-write creates tension. And the Decathlon board game has that in spades. Equally, they’re not normally about the aesthetics. Sure, they can help. But the games normally revolve around you spoiling a pretty score sheet, rather than improving on it with your ‘art’. What I’m saying is, you’d have to be pretty seriously into visuals to turn your nose up at this. This is a clever, mathematically sound and – most importantly – fun set of dice games rolled into one.
  • The thinker: I guess you could call it a thinking person’s game, as really anything to do with dice is about playing the mathematical odds. And, as this game plays out over 10 rounds, luck should balance itself out. Indeed, the scores do tend to end up close as the leaders start to play safe and those chasing are forced into taking risks. Really, there’s nothing for me here. But that doesn’t stop it being a fun little game. However, as a filler, I find a whole game is a bit too long.
  • The trasher: Decathlon is all about the records. I’ve played dozens of times now, and rarely win. But I have got several perfect event scores over my plays, which is such a buzz. We keep a sheet with who has the highest score in each event, as well as the best ever total scores. I’ve seen that kind of sheet included in several board games, but never considered using it. Here, it feels like a must. That’s saying something.
  • The dabbler: Fun! Not every game has to look pretty. And in some ways, it encourages players to do a bit themselves. Why not pick a country to represent, and get your own set of dice in its flag colours? You can even dress up – and bring snacks and drinks for your country. This is a really great light game with really tense throwing. So why not bring a little extra to your evening?

Key observations

I struggle with criticism of the theme being ‘pasted on’ to Decathlon. It’s eight dice and a score sheet. How could it be anything but? And, with the right crowd, you can really make it thematic. When a game is this light on components, it’s what you bring to the party. Decathlon gives you the tools for good time, even thematically. If you don’t use those tools, maybe you should be looking closer to home for something to complain about.

However, I can see why some people think it is too long. It can easily go an hour with three or people. And yes, with more people it can start to feel repetitive – two is a great number purely from a ‘get it played’ perspective. But again, its what you bring in terms of atmosphere. And there’s always the option to find more dice and do some of the rounds and events simultaneously. Or, just pick your favourite ‘events’ for a shorter game.

This is also an option for those who think some events don’t really have any decisions. Sure, sometimes you roll and it’s obvious what to keep. But I see that more as a general issue with light games, rather than this one in particular. That said, if you’re looking for a game with a lot of interesting thinky decisions, Decathlon probably isn’t for you. It is certainly a game of chance and push-your-luck, not strategy.

Conclusion: Reina Knizia’s Decathlon board game

I usually conclude by saying whether or not a game is a ‘keeper’ for me. But as I have at least 100 six-sided dice (probably a lot more), and a smartphone, I guess it will always be in my collection no matter what. But if it were a paid product, I’d buy it purely as a nod to the designer. I prefer it to Yahtzee (a solid dice game), largely due to the added variety and space for theatre with the right group. And I recommend it for anyone in the same camp.

Board game Top 10: Zero contact games for lock down

Picture of a facemask saying 'Shiny happy Meeples holding hands' with five meeples

Restrictions on meeting up are easing in many places. But everyone should still be taking Coronavirus as seriously as they’ve ever been. This means lots of hand washing, while trying to avoid direct contact with people as much as possible. Which is pretty difficult if you’re playing board and card games. But not impossible. So below you’ll find my top 10 zero contact games.

Essentially, you can play these without having to touch each other’s game pieces. You’ll still need to be careful, and whoever sets the game up initially may need to wear gloves. But you should be able to play the game as intended, largely unhindered. And this also means most of them could be played over a Zoom (etc) call. I’m sure there are loads more examples – I’d love to hear them!

(All game name links go to my reviews elsewhere on this site. But please consider using this link if you want to purchase anything from Amazon, as it will help the blog.)

My top 10 zero contact games

box for zero contact top 10 list board game forbidden desert

10. Forbidden Island
(1-4 players, 30-60 mins)

Forbidden Island is a great introductory co-operative game, where players work together to escape a dangerous island. As with many co-ops, much of the game here is in the conversations between players. And as there’s no hidden information, it’s easy to select one player as the ‘game master’. They can handle all the cards and tiles, so the players only need touch their own player piece as it moves around the board.

9. Take it Easy
(1-8 players, 30 mins)

This mind-bending puzzle game sees each player having their own game board and set of components. You’re all competitively doing the same puzzle, so one player flips over a piece and each player finds and uses their own matching piece on their own board. It’s a pure abstract tile-laying game with super simple rules, while being really hard to master. If you want something two-player and combative, but also with your own components, check out micro card game Brave Rats.

box for zero contact top 10 list board game The King is Dead

8. The King is Dead
(2-4 players, 30-60 mins)

This classic area majority game sees each player going through their own set of cards. So it’s possible to play without contact. However, you will need one player to add/remove all the cubes from the board as players exert their influence across the regions. This will be a bit of an inconvenience, but it’s certainly doable. The game is largely abstract, but it has a unique feel that really builds tension.

7. Perudo/Liar’s Dice
(4-6 players, 30 mins)

This family/party game is all about rolling dice and bluffing/pushing your luck to victory. But thankfully each player has their own set of dice and a dice cup, so no contact is required at all. You can teach the rules in about 30 seconds and it’s a lot of fun with the right crowd. And it’s also a mass market game you can often spot cheap in charity shops.

box for zero contact top 10 list board game Codenames

6. Codenames
(2-8 players, 60 mins)

A brilliant word game with elements of deduction and push-your-luck. You try and deduce what words from a grid your teammate is trying to describe with their single word clue. But if you pick a word wrong, it could lose you the game. The original version lets you play in team (so is best for 4-8 players. While Codenames Duet is strictly for two. But either way, it’s simple to play with only one person touching the components.

5. Qwixx
(2-5 players, 15 mins)

I’m sure a lot of roll-and-write games can technically be played without sharing any components. But Qwixx is one of the most popular, so it makes the list. You’re simply rolling a set of dice and marking numbers off on a sheet. Sure, you could argue that half the fun of a game like this is rolling the dice. But if you don’t mind one player rolling for everyone you’re set. Alternatively, as this game uses basic six-sided dice in basic colours, you could probably make up a set for each player from other game components.

4. Adios Calavera
(2 players, 20 minutes)

Again, I’m sure there are many two-player abstract games where it is easy to avoid touching each other’s playing pieces (even Chess). But Adios Calavera happens to be one of my favourites. You line your pieces up at right angles to each other across a square grid of spaces. Then try to get all yours across to the other side first. Movement is really clever, while the pieces have special abilities that really spice things up.

3. Welcome To…
(1-10 players, 30 mins)

This is a flip-and-write game, rather than a roll-and-write. You flip over three cards each turn and players choose what to mark off on their sheets. I think this is more palatable, as no one is going to mind one player turning over the cards. Especially as they’re shared by all, so there’s no ‘taking turns’. The game is clever too, giving you a decreasing bunch of options as you try and build the neighbourhood that will score the most points.

2. Blokus
(2-4 players, 30 mins)

This classic abstract again sees each player having to place their own set of pieces – this time onto a shared board. But as no pieces are ever moved or removed, it should be easy for players to stick to touching their own pieces. It’s a great game of cat and mouse, and players try to claim territory but outmanoeuvring their opponents. And the two-player only version, Blokus Duo, is equally excellent.

1. Carcassonne
(2-5, 60 mins)

One of the all-time best-selling hobby games is also fit for my top 10 zero contact games. All you’ll need is one player to set the game up. Using gloves, they’ll make even piles of face-down tiles for each player to take from. In the game, you simply turn over a tile and add it to the ever-growing map being created in the centre of the table. Then, you choose whether to place one of your meeples on the tile. Clever placement of both meeples and tiles will win out in this classic family game.

  • Meeple mask image used without permission but clicking the image will take you to designer Ruth Robson’s RedBubble sales page. Please do not copy without linking. And please let me know if you want the image removed.

Targi board game: A four-sided review

The Targi board game is a two-player action selection and tableau building game. It plays in less than an hour and has little (sometimes no) direct confrontation, excelling instead in its non-direct interactions.

It is nominally themed around two nomadic tribes gathering resources and expanding their territories. But while the component quality is nice and the artwork well done, it is very much an abstract experience.

The game is part of the highly regarded Kosmos two-player small box line (see also The Rose King, Kahuna etc). These retail at just under £20 – a great price for the life you’ll get from them. The box says ages 12+, but younger gamer kids should have no problems. In the box you’ll find 80 small cards, 11 wooden pieces and 50+ cardboard tokens. It is also worth noting Targi is available to play online for free at Yucata and Board Game Arena.

Teaching the Targi board game

Gamers will find themselves on very familiar ground. But Targi can also work well as a gateway game. It introduces some common gamer concepts, but in a tight environment. And with very little (often no) hidden information, it is easy to teach the finer points as you play. As well as pointing out potential pitfalls as they arise.

The playing area is created with cards. There is an outside frame of 16 that stays throughout the game, with a 3×3 grid of cards inside that are replenished as players take them. Cards in the outer frame represent actions or resources; cards in the 3×3 grid will be tribal cards or resources. The game ends when a player has collected 12 tribal cards. Or if the robber (see below) makes it all the way around the outside card grid. This means a maximum of 12 turns. Because while the outer grid is made up of 16 cards, the corners are not used. They’re just penalty squares players must pay for when the robber passes them.

Players take it in turns to place one of their three meeples on cards in the outer grid. You can’t place on the same spot as another meeple (including the robber) or opposite your opponent’s meeples. Once all six meeples have been placed, you also place 0-2 markers on any intersections between your meeples in the 3×3 grid. Each player then removes all their meeples are markers in any order, taking the actions/resources/tribal cards as they go. At the end of the round, turn order switches and you fill in gaps in the 3×3 grid – then go again.

Actions, tribes and resources

Targi has three basic resources (pepper, salt and dates), plus gold. Gold is hardest to come by, but needed to claim many of the tribal cards. There are just six action spaces. Two allow you to trade basic resources, either for gold, points, or other resources. Two give you ‘lucky dip’ picks from the tribal card and resource card decks. One allows you to move one of your markers to a different spot on the 3×3 grid. While the last lets you play your hand card. During the game, you may always have a single tribal card in hand – useful if you really want a card, but can’t afford it just yet.

The robber blocks off the card he stands on, moving one card clockwise each round. And after each set of three rounds, he moves over a corner space of the outer grid – taxing both players. At first it is just a resource or victory point. But later, it may be three resources or a gold coin. Which can really hurt. Some tribal cards negate the robber, or even let you profit from him. While another lets you share a space with him.

Points come from several avenues, allowing for a surprising number of strategies for a game light on components. Gold and resources can be converted into points via actions, while some resource cards are actually just a point. All tribal cards are worth points, with some giving bonus end-game points if you meet certain criteria. Finally, the way you create your tableau of tribal cards can also score points. As you claim cards, you start to form a personal 3×4 tableau with them. Each card is part of a set, with complete rows of same/all different types awarding even more bonuses.

The four sides

These are me, plus three fictitious players drawn from observing my friends and their respective quirks and play styles.

  • The writer: As someone who dabbles with game design, Targi impresses me technically. Set collection, recipe fulfilment and scoring are bog standard. So the key mechanism has to be strong. And it is. But it’s also incredibly simple, widening the potential appeal and reach. Plotting axis points is something everyone understands. But the denial it creates with two-players makes the game sing. It’s easy to see what you want. But you need both axis points to get it. Which always leave a blocking move for your opponent. Once again a simple, elegant mechanism makes a great game.
  • The thinker: I see this not as a game, but a series of games played out in turns. When the grid is refilled with cards, you completely reset your plan. Not only on what you received last round. But also by the options now available to you. Direct interaction is done well, with just a few cards having minor impact. Instead, the game is in choosing whether to chase your own goals or deny those of your opponent. And if you can do both at once, more’s the better. This makes each round like its own little chess battle. And for that I find it thoroughly entertaining.
  • The trasher: As an aggressive player, it is strange to find a game where blocking feels like the front-foot tactic! Find what your opponent wants most, then make sure they can’t get it. The fact is, you’ll always be getting something unless you really place poorly. Gold feels incredibly important, so starving your opponent of opportunities to get it feels strong. But then the randomness of the tribe cards can throw up other opportunities, keeping you on your toes. Targi feels like those rarest of games that has much for both the tactician and the strategist. The aggressor and the pacifist. Win-win.
  • The dabbler: It’s a very simple game to learn and looks nice, if unspectacular, on the table. Filling the card spaces each round is a bit fiddly. You need to replace cards with their opposite (so a resource card is replaced with a tribe card), which all feels a bit mechanical. And the meeples are annoying as they fall over a lot. Also, after you’ve added a few tribe cards to your tableau you can have lots of added powers. discounts for cards, free resources if you collect a certain type etc. This is all written out on the cards in words, not symbols, so it’s easy to forget stuff. Which can lose you the game. But despite all that it is a lot of fun, and deep for what it is.

Key observations

As always, there are the strange detractors that say Targi isn’t exciting and lacks theme. I guess these things are true. But it would be like criticising something blue for not being red enough. Or eating something you know you don’t like. Why do people insist on doing things they don’t like to do? And then moaning about it?

Some say the best move is usually obvious. But this isn’t a solo game – you must think about your opponent. Are they going for a tribe set? Or need to lay the card in their hand? Even if there is a ‘best’ card, you’ll need two meeples in the right spots to get it. And I don’t agree the ‘Fata Morgana’ action space is problematic. It allows you to move a token to a space you couldn’t get to, scuppering blocking. But to do this, you are wasting an action – quite a high price to pay. If the start player is always getting what they want, you’re letting them. Or they’re paying an extra action to guarantee it, which can hurt over time.

Too long and too lucky?

Some people think, at about an hour, it runs a little long. Again, I disagree. For me, Targi has a nice curve. Early on its a land grab, as you take the best combo of tribes and resources you can. Then later you are choosing whether to concentrate on your own tableau, or on blocking your opponent. Or doing a little of both. But the too-and-fro is always interesting. But of course, if you’re not really enjoying it, any game is going to be too long. And Targi clearly isn’t for everyone.

Yes, there is certainly luck involved. You may try for four of a tribe for example, get to three, and not see another one. This can be frustrating, but it’s not enough to put me off. However, if this kind of luck element annoys you, I can see it being a disappointment. Also there isn’t a huge amount of variety in the box. I’m a fan, but still deliberately don’t play it massively often. I think a lot of games are like this, and I’m fine with that. But if you have small collection and are looking for games to play very regularly, Targi may not be for you. That said, it does have a very well regarded expansion that changes things up a lot.

Conclusion: Targi board game

As you’ve probably guessed by now, the Targi board game is an absolute keeper for me. It’s an elegant balance of combative abstract and euro mechanisms. I’m happy with the 45-minute-ish game length. And, while the luck of the card draw can get you sometimes, I’m having a good enough time to roll with it. My better half likes it too and is now picking it on game nights. And at close to 50 plays now (on and offline) I’m always happy to play. And that’s without having picked up the expansion. A definite winner.