Ubongo is a deceptively simply game where you race to assemble Tetris like pieces into a defined area. At first glance it looks very easy to do, IT ISN’T! And that’s half the fun. Each player starts out with 12 identical colored puzzle pieces a dice role correlates to a position on a puzzle map which tells you which pieces you need to use to fill the space. Each map card has two sides, one which requires three pieces to fill the puzzle and one which requires four. The four piece side is appreciably harder.

Ubongo
Ubongo

Not only are you racing against other players to fill in your puzzle area, but you are also racing against the clock. It’s a 1-4 player game and there are point possibilities for all players who can beat the clock. Scoring is done by gems, the first person to finish gets a blue gem (3 pts) the second a brown (1 point), however all players who can beat the clock get to grab gems from a bag where there are gems with 1-4 points. This means that you CAN win even if you aren’t first in each of the 9 rounds.

Gameplay is fast and fun and it plays very evenly with a wide range of ages. If you like puzzles, Ubongo is a great, social puzzle game that has the all the right elements to be a ton of fun. It wasn’t a game I was looking for, but I am really glad I was able to play it, as once I played through I realized just how much I like it.

The game has a companion app for iOS and Android which has the game tutorial, a time for Solo Games, a timer for standard games and solutions to all the puzzles (which is more fun if you don’t look at!). It’s not needed for the game.

Publisher: Thames & Kosmos
Price: $32

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Geoff Kleinman is a professional journalist and has served as publisher of DVD Talk and Drink Spirits. His work has appeared in Whisky Advocate Magazine, Playboy Magazine, Black Book, and Mixology Magazine. Geoff has also appeared in the Wall St. Journal, ABC News Tonight, The Atlantic, Yahoo Finance, and Esquire. He is the founder of the Society of Modern Journalists, and a Kentucky Colonel. Follow him and on twitter at @GeoffK.