As the parent of a 5-year-old boy, I make a point to visit the HABA Games booth at most conventions. He loves games and HABA has an ever-widening array of games for children and families. At Gen Con this year, Wobble King was the newest HABA release targeted at the young gamers but, hopefully, would be one that might have enough fun in the bright yellow box for all gamers.
Wobble King is a dexterity game for 2-4 players, ages 4+, that takes about 10 minutes to play.
In Wobble King, players will take turns trying to steal the silver treasure out from under King Leo, the lion king. The silver wooden discs rest under the board and you’ll have a short stick to feel around and try to remove at least one—but as many as you’d like—pieces of silver and place it on the board.
Of course, you must do this without knocking over the King or the board entirely. If you cause the round to end by messing up, you’ll get a tomato token. Two tomatoes and you lose, and all other players get to celebrate in shared victory.
There isn’t a lot of depth here—Wobble King is a very simple exercise in dexterity. Throughout the game, the difficulty will ramp up considerably as removing silver goes from impossible to mess up, to nearly impossible to complete successfully.
The round can end with all the spaces on the board filled up. There are 16 spots but a total of 18 silver discs. So, with careful extraction, you can leave the King well supported by the two-leftover silver. In this case, you’ll begin a new round without anyone getting a tomato flung in their direction.
My first impression of Wobble King I thought it might have a wide-ranging appeal similar to Rhino Hero or Animal Upon Animal. These other HABA dexterity games are fun for kids and adults alike and are always a hit even if you played them ten times before. What Wobble King seems to be missing is the real nervous moments that make those games exciting.
For half of the game, you’ll be pretty sure that you aren’t going to mess up. The first couple turns you can remove five or six silver without giving it much thought. Not only as an adult, but my 5-year-old similarly didn’t have much of a problem. As the structure below dissipates trying to remove silver becomes a bit trickier. But rather than feeling like you must be extremely precise and careful, it instead felt more like it was up to the randomness of the distribution below the board.
You aren’t allowed to look underneath so you need to feel around a bit and try to figure out where, if anywhere, is safe. But the tension just doesn’t ramp up for me like I wanted it to. And when the Wobble King falls, it’s more of a thud rather than the mass destruction you get with something like a huge Rhino Hero tower.
After the first game with Max, he didn’t want to play again. For a game targeted firmly at his age group that is a bad sign. I promised him a game of Monza afterward if we played again and he reluctantly agreed (pro parenting bribe right there). But I can’t say I blame him. Wobble King is a novelty that is fun once but doesn’t deliver enough for the players to do. HABA makes great kid’s games and there are plenty of others, dexterity and otherwise, you should pick up before this one.
Final Score: 2 Stars – Wobble King lacks the excitement and tension that dexterity games need to have.
• While difficulty increases as the game goes on, it feels too random and less about precision.
• Missing the big dramatic moments that other children’s dexterity games thrive on.