Dexterity board games come in all shapes and sizes. Some will have you tossing plastic coconuts across the table (Coconuts), while others might have you balancing wooden pieces on a swaying ship (Riff Raff). And that’s the great thing about the genre, you can be as creative as you want to be with the components.
Today we are going to be looking at TopSpin, a newcomer to the genre that, unsurprisingly, uses a spinning top as the core mechanic. The rules are fairly simple, but winning can be anything but. Let’s take this game for a spin and see if it’s worth bringing to you tabletop.
There are two ways to play TopSpin, challenge and battle mode. To play battle mode, each player takes turns spinning the top and throwing three marbles into the box. Any marbles that land in a numbered slot are added up to give the player their score. If that score beats the previous high score, they become the new leader. If not, they lose a life. After a player loses their third life, they are out. Last player left, wins.
In Challenge mode, players are trying to be the first to get a marble into each numbered slot. On your turn, you spin the top and toss all 12 marbles into the box. Any numbers that they land in are checked off on your score sheet. First player to check off all 12 numbers wins.
I’m going to be somewhat blunt here and save you some time. TopSpin is not a very good game. It’s incredibly random, feels like it could have used a lot more playtesting, and most likely won’t appeal to anyone outside of young children. While not all is bad, this isn’t going to be a game you will be reaching for often.
Battle mode is easily the best of the two modes because it can end the quickest. You toss three marbles in and hope for the best. And there in lies the problem with TopSpin, there is about as much strategy here as in roulette. You can try tossing marbles from different sides of the box, or in different ways, but none of that seemed to matter. The outcome will be random based upon the whims of the top.
And that’s the big problem with challenge mode. You can be waiting FOREVER for those last numbers to get checked off. In one of our test games, we spent almost 20 minutes waiting for a player to win when all of us had one number left to go. There is no skill here, just dumb luck. On the plus side, challenge mode is great for keeping your kids occupied.
Unfortunately, TopSpin isn’t a game I can recommend to any gamer. I think younger kids might have some fun with it, but TopSpin isn’t going to be much more than a quick distraction for anyone else. If you were to play, I would suggest sticking with Battle mode, as that game can at least end quickly and provide a small bit of tension. Steer well clear of challenge mode though unless you have lots of time to kill.
Final Score: 1 Star – A quick distraction at best, but the total lack of strategy makes this one forgettable.
• Battle mode provides a little bit of tension
• Outcome is completely random
• Challenge mode can take forever to finish