Reviewed by David Savage
The weather over the past few days has been absolutely horrific. We have had some heavy downpours mixed with the occasional bit of sunshine and even some thunder and lightning! All of which leads to everyone getting restless. The kids are grouchy, the adults are moody (listening to the kids being grouchy) and not quite sure what to do. When the sun has been shining, you know it won’t last long and you will inevitability get caught in a shower, if you’re lucky, or a really heavy downpour.
Because of the very changeable weather and heavy rains we have been staying in and playing some board and tabletop games, with the latest addition being Rummikub Classic from IDEAL and John Adams.
Rummikub Classic is a tile-based game (think of Scrabble but with numbers instead of letters) that combines elements of mahjong and rummy. It is all number based, with the exception of 2 Joker pieces, and the idea is to get rid of all your tiles by building number groups or runs. Sounds simple doesn’t it? It isn’t, but once the rules have been figured out, it is lots of fun. It is a family games for 2-4 players, aged 7+.
In the box are 106 tiles (104 numbered; 8 sets 1-13 in 4 colours, 2 Jokers), 4 racks and rack holders and instructions.
Each player starts with 14 tiles on their rack with the remaining pieces face down in the middle of the table. To start, each player picks a tile from the tiles on the table and the player with the highest number goes first.
To start, the first player has to lay down a group or run on the table. A group is a set of 3 or 4 tiles of the same number in different colours (can’t have 2 of the same colour). A run is a set of 3 or 4 consecutive number tiles in the same colour (i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4). On the first go, each player must lay down tiles with at least a value of 30 points (adding up all the numbers to give you a points total). If a player cannot do this, a new tile must be taken from the pile in the middle of the table and that players turn ends. The next player then has to lay 30 points etc…
From there on, each player on their turn must lay at least 1 tile from their rack, either adding a new group or run or manipulating one already laid (i.e. adding a red 4 to a sequence of red 1, 2, 3 already on the table). If a player can’t lay a tile they must take one from the pile and add it to their rack.
The game continues until one player has laid all their tiles on the table and called out ”Rummikub”. If you are playing a few matches, the losers add up the values of their remaining tiles and the total of all players is given to the winner as a positive score, while each loser receives a minus score to the value of their own remaining tiles. After a few games, the player with the overall highest number of points is the winner.
Overall, once the rules have been figured out, I think Rummikub is a great game of thinking, strategy and a splash of luck. The instructions do take a bit of figuring out to understand the gameplay and we found it easier to watch some Youtube videos to fully grasp the idea of the game (after a few test games we were quite happily playing very well).
The start of the game is quite slow while building up sets or groups, but once a few have been played it does get faster and much more interesting. The more players there are the better it is, and the time limit of 1 minute per turn is a great rule as waiting for another player to go through all the permutations in their head being taking their turn would be a bit tedious.
While it says it can be played with children aged 7 years upwards, I do think that the average 7 year old would find it hard to understand the rules at first so would be better for them to play with the help of an adult, at least until they can see for themselves how the game works (it is much easier to see it being played than trying to figure out the instructions) – basically it comes down to you either play a piece or you don’t.
The tiles are made from plastic with a number printed in the concave space on top of the tile. They feel quite durable but I’m not sure how long the colouring on the numbers will last as we have a couple that is already wearing away (although the concave space does protect the numbers when laid on the table as the numbers don’t touch the table surface).
If I had to make any changes to the game I would probably add a storage bag for the tiles, they do bounce around everywhere in the box and are damaging in the plastic insert.
A fun game, maybe more suited to older children and adults, but will definitely keep you entertained on those rainy days.
Available to buy from Amazon here.