Long-time readers of BGQ know my love of dexterity games. Their unique and tactile nature always manages to give me a fresh gaming experience, which I love. At Gen Con this year, publisher Next Move Games tossed me a copy of their newest dexterity game, Tuki, for me to check out.
This real-time, stacking game will have players quickly and accurately trying to build blocks in a specific pattern. Seems easy enough, right? Let’s find out.
In Tuki, you are trying to avoid collecting the Tukilik cards. Each round, one player is the scout and rolls the die. The result will determine the orientation of the Tukilik card in the stand. Upon go, each player will try and vertically build the pattern on the card. The wrinkle is that the card only shows the colored blocks, so players must use their white blocks to figure out how to fill the spaces. If the die result also showed a snowbank dot, then the player’s colored pieces aren’t allowed to touch the table either.
Once a player has built the pattern, they announce that they are done. The last player to complete the pattern (or that just fails to do so) collects the Tukilik card. However, if one of the players who announced their completion made a mistake, they collect the Tukilik instead.
The player who collected the Tukilik becomes the scout of the next round. If it is a 4-player game, the scout actually sits out of the round. The first player to collect five Tukilik cards is out of the game. When that happens, there is one last round of Tuki with the player who completes the pattern first being is declared the winner.
Sometimes a game can be so simple yet bring a ton of fun to the table. That’s how it was with our plays of Tuki. The gameplay is very easy for everyone to pick up, yet all our players enjoyed the puzzle aspect and the tactile nature of the game pieces. The blocks in Tuki have a really nice weight to them that makes them easy to use and feel great in your hands.
The biggest knock against Tuki is that some players just don’t enjoy real-time games. Tuki definitely has an advantage for players who are quick thinking and good at pattern recognition. If this is an area you excel at, then Tuki will definitely be in your wheelhouse. Yet players who like to ponder all options will most likely struggle in the game as you must be fast and accurate, especially when playing on the basic mode.
With the advance mode, the game rises from three colored pieces to four, and some of those patterns are quite difficult. I actually prefer to play way as the added difficulty can really turn this into a brain burner. In these cases, it becomes less about the speed race and more about how creative you can get. It’s in that way that I’ve found Tuki can overcome some people’s aversions to real-time games…at least a little bit.
I did find it odd that the 4-player game always has a player sitting out, rather than just giving each player their own pieces. Perhaps it’s a way to prevent a poor player from accumulating too many Tukilik cards in a row because they get a round off every time they lose? Regardless of the designer’s reasons, we never really found it to be a detriment to the gameplay. It can sometimes be just as fun to watch people struggle to make a pattern as it is for you to do it yourself.
Finally, I think the end game of Tuki was smartly handled. The sudden death final round gives ever player remaining a chance to win the game. Even if one player was dominating the main game, there is always a chance they can flub up the final round. This is much preferable to a foregone conclusion where you know who is going to win halfway through the game.
I really enjoyed my plays of Tuki, it was simple to learn, yet the gameplay was really engaging. I also appreciated how there are two ways to play, basic and advanced, depending on if you’d prefer to focus on speed or creativity. For myself, I always want to play the advanced version as I loved trying to puzzle out the best way to place the blocks. As long as your group is ok with the real-time, competitive nature of the gameplay, you can have a lot of fun with Tuki. It’s definitely a unique gaming experience.
Final Score: 4 Stars – A quick playing stacking game that will test your creativity and your speed.
• Clever spatial puzzle
• Quick gameplay that’s easy to learn
• Game pieces have a nice tactile nature to them
• Two levels of gameplay
• Realtime gameplay might not be for everyone
• No pieces for a 4th player?