Designer: Grzegorz Rejchtman
Release date: 2017
1 –4 Players
Favouritefoe #favouritefoefunlearning score: 9/10
Now I know I am on to a good thing in terms of favouritefoefunlearning when the actual name of the game is smart. Yep, “Ubongo” means brains in Swahili, and Kosmos have brought out a whole host of brainy versions in their Ubongo series of games!
If you aren’t familiar with the Kosmos range, Ubongo is a series of spatial puzzly, geometric pattern matching games. Using a series of polyomino tiles and a timer, whichever version you have will see you filling your grid/panel card using some of the tiles in your set.
But, you cannot overlap or leave any gaps. Some versions include gems which are worth points at the end, others amp up the pressure by turning your opponents into human countdown clocks! Any way you play Ubongo, you are bound to have tense tile laying fun!
Stack ‘em up!
Setting up Ubongo 3D Junior is super easy and quick. Having decided which of the 4 different level (beginner through to advanced) are being played, each person gets a grid card of that colour together with a set of 8 chunky tri-dimensional building blocks. The Giraffe shaped measuring stick is placed on its stand, the big hour-glass is positioned ready, and the bag of multicoloured gems are placed within easy reach.
Played simultaneously over 6 rounds, on each go, you have 90 seconds in which to cover the base grid shown on your card. Once the grid has been filled, you then use the remainder of your blocks to build up your tower. When the time runs out completely, the giraffe will measure your efforts and reward you with gems based on height. And whoever has the most gems after 6 rounds is the Ubongo 3D Junior winner!
Now, Mini-meeple is already a huge fan of Ubongo Travel, the smallest, lightest version of the original base game. If we are going out anywhere, he insists that one of us secretes it into a pocket or a backpack! So, when this variant was given to him on his birthday, I had an inkling that he would like it. And I was right!
Unlike the travel version, everything (besides the wee gems) in this one is big. Chunky, colourful wooden block, oversized sand timer, ginormous giraffe, and large shiny double-sided cards. For a dexterity game aimed at children, bigger is always better, and Kosmos have done a great job.
Being able to rotate, translate, and tessellate the blocks using the whole of his hands brings the geometric puzzle to life for him. Similarly, seeing him working on the problem of the base grid and then building upwards, is an exercise in seeing analysis and logic in real time for me.
I think the components and the presentation of Ubongo 3D Junior are superb in terms of the target audience. The colours are eye catching and, be honest, who doesn’t want to be competing to build a tower as tall as a giraffe?!
The fact that there are four levels of difficulty is super in terms of gaining a sense of advancement and progression for individuals. But it also means that players of different ages and skill levels can play a game together without any other allowances or rule tweaks! And, as it can be played by 1 – 4 players (with as many rounds as desired), it is also an option for some solo play when mummy, daddy, or a friend is doing something far more boring!
All in all, I think Ubongo 3D Junior is a great addition to the #favouritefoefunlearningseries