I adore dexterity games. There is something very satisfying about gracefully placing a piece just right and the deliciously terrible tension that builds as you see the first teeter of a misplaced block. Haba’s dexterity game, Wobble King, is a study in simplicity. In barely a minute, the game can be set up and explained to new players while a typical game of Wobble King lasts about 5 – 10 minutes. Its brevity does not imply a lack of fun though. Dear lord no. This game is ridiculous, exciting, and strangely addictive.
Wobble King tells the story of a lazy King named Leo. He has an unfortunate habit of falling asleep while sitting on his vast pile of treasure. His nappishness means that daring players can attempt to steal some of his silver nuggets, but if someone takes too much, the pile will be unbalanced and King Leo will take a tumble (to which he is not very fond of). His rest rudely interrupted, Leo grumpily takes it out on the offending player by throwing a rotten tomato at them. Once one player has been pelted with 2 tomatoes, the game ends and that player is, sadly, the loser.
So how do you steal a nugget? Well the nuggets are placed under the board without anyone peeking at how they are arranged. Then King Leo is placed at the center of the board and players can begin their life of crime. Using the wooden stick or “Nugget Baton”, players will try to shove, pull, or otherwise extract nuggets without tipping the board. Then they must place the nuggets on the spots indicated around King Leo.
If the board tips and touches the table or Leo tips over, the player that caused the tippage takes a tomato and the round ends. The board will be reset and thieving may begin once again. The round can also end if you manage to place a silver nugget on every space on the board without upsetting Leo.
The game is easy enough for a 4 year old to play and fun enough to entertain a group of adults who are fairly confident in their manual dexterity (but are sorely mistaken). I have an absolute blast when I play Wobble King. I love how players evolve their strategy with every round; tentative at first, only taking 1 or 2 nuggets at a time, then growing bold with their success and grabbing more and more with each swipe of the stick. The tension builds, your fingers tremble, the Nugget Baton wavers, and King Leo is down for the count! The crowd cheers! “TOMATO TIME!”
As I play, I find myself wanting to try again and again; continually setting up the game to see just how many nuggets I can swipe in one go. With it’s sparse rules and minimal components, Wobble King feels like a bite-sized morsel of fun. My only complaint is that 1 player is deemed a loser at the end. Being singled out for a loss never feels good, but thankfully Wobble King is a light enough game that winning or losing hardly matters. If you are looking for a game that is perfect for family night or something you can challenge your adult friends with (perhaps after having a few drinks), then Wobble King can be a surefire hit.
Suggestions based on Wobble King
For those who want test their dexterity: Beasts of Balance is a colorful balancing game that uses artfully designed animal figurines that are linked to an app. The digital aspect of the game creates mash-ups of the creatures you place and adds more strategy as you try to evolve your creations before the collapse.
For those looking for more strategy from Haba: Adventure Land is very accesible area-control game where players place meeples to explore the mountains and forests that surround the Kingdom. Pushing ever forward towards the castle of King Agamis, Players may encounter dangerous foes in the fog.
Looking for more kid-friendly games: Sunny Day is a tile-drafting/set-collection game about having a wonderful time at the beach. It’s chunky tiles, easy to read icons, and simple rules are perfect for younger players.
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