Episode 298: Boom, Bang, Gold!
Release Date: Sept. 25, 2018
Designer: Bernhard Lach & Uwe Rapp
Publisher: Kosmos & Thames
2-4 pl | 20 min | ages 8+ | MSRP $30
Things have never been the same since they found gold in the old mine at the edge of this frontier town. Prospectors, hunters, even the undertaker and the cook at the hotel are trying to get in on the action by tossing sticks of dynamite down the hole and sifting through the rubble. Be careful, though, there are critters – bats, rats, snakes and ghosts – lurking around and looking to cause trouble. When the dust settles, can you avoid the sheriff and collect the most gold in a day?
Boom, Bang Gold! is a dexterity game for players with sharp eyes, quick hands and ears that are always on alert.
Written review continues after the break.
The name says it all. Gravity is your friend and enemy in this game. Take turns dropping wooden pieces between two clear panes. Some areas you want to avoid; others, you’ll cash in for big points. The player best able to bend the laws of physics to his or her service will win the game.
Even from across the room, Drop It makes an impression.
It becomes a beautiful mosaic of shapes and colors as you play. The main component of the game is a vertical game board which stands over 12” tall.
The board is two panes of clear plastic with a gap wide enough to accommodate the 36 colorful wooden player pieces. Slanted lines separate the plastic panes into distinct areas (drop zones) and each drop zone has a semi-opaque dot. There are additional slots on the sides and at the bottom for double sided landing zone boards.
Each player begins with 9 wooden pieces in bright primary colors: 3 circles, 2 squares, 2 diamonds and 2 triangles.
There’s also a score board and markers for each player color.
What Sets This Game Apart
Pick a piece and drop it into the game board. If all goes well, that piece will score. That’s what you’ll do each turn. Do this alternating between each player until all pieces have been played and the player with the highest score wins.
It’s hard to overstate the simple joy of watching the pieces drop into the board and cause others to slide and shift (sometimes even vault!) to new locations in ways you might not expect. There will be a lot of laughs as the board builds in new and crazy ways.
And on one level Drop It really is that simple.
Deciding which piece to select and where to drop it is heart of the game.
There are some basic restrictions that will determine whether or not the piece you drop will score points.
Your piece cannot come to rest on a piece with the same shape. So no squares touching other squares.
Your piece cannot come to rest on a piece with your color. So, if you’re blue, no blue pieces touching other blue pieces.
Also, as you stack pieces higher and higher, no piece can extend above the edge of the board.
Any time a piece you drop breaks one of these rules, tough luck! That piece will not score points.
If you manage to avoid these restrictions, then your piece will score points based on the highest drop zone it lands in. The lowest zone is 1 point, the next is 2 points and so on until you get to 8 points at the top. This means if most of a piece is in the 5 point zone but a small corner of your piece is poking over into the six point zone, you score 6 points.
There’s also a bonus dot in each drop zone. If any part of your piece overlaps with a dot you score bonus points. The dots come in three sizes: large medium and small. Large dots are 1 point, medium 2 points and small dots are worth 3.
The shape and color restrictions make Drop It a vertical logic puzzle. There’s a meaningful decision to make not just a feat of dexterity to perform.
What Sets This Game Apart
The side and bottom landing zone boards really make Drop It shine.
In addition to the basic restrictions, which apply anywhere, the bottom edge and sides of the board now have restrictions based on the landing zone boards you agreed to use at the beginning of the game.
The landing zones make edges off limits based on specific shape and color.
One bottom landing zone board, for instance, is divided equally between the four shapes in the game. If I drop a circle piece and it lands so it touches the circle landing zone… wah wah! No points for me.
Same goes for the sides. If your piece slides over to touch the landing zone side with a forbidden color or shape, no points for you.
This means on any given turn you have to consider what shape and color piece can land on any other already in play AND what shape and color piece can land against the edge of the board.
Each turn provides players with a chance to make a meaningful strategic decision. And this is the wonderful surprise waiting for you in the game.
The simple joys of playing with gravity paired with puzzle logic makes Drop It a rewarding surprise full of many different flavors of Major Fun.
There are rules and variants to dial down the challenge for younger players and for more experienced droppers, the landing zone boards could be mixed and matched to create even more challenging restrictions.
The game gives on many levels - from the tactile joy of manipulating the pieces and watching them tumble and click into place - to the satisfaction and mischeivous glee of selecting the perfect piece to avoid any restrictions AND make life a little bit more challenging for your opponents.
Perhaps we should turn to Sir Isaac Newton since we’re talking about a game with gravity.
“Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
Drop It needs no embellishment. Its simple truth comes from a set of basic wooden shapes and a small set of restrictions. And within that simplicity we find layers and levels of fun that are rewarding in unexpected ways. What more could you ask of any game that’s Major Fun?