Board Game: Ubongo

The game box

Earlier this week, I poked around on Amazon’s site during the somewhat buggy Prime Day, looking for anything of interest. Not much jumped out except a nice low price on some Amazon-branded toilet paper and then later on the first evening, I caught sight of a few game deals.

Adding To The Gift Stash

If you saw a deal on a board game (or other product) you already had, you’d probably be a bit sad, right? “Awww… I just bought that game a week ago for $10 more!” Well, if it’s actually a good deal and it could be a good gift, I’ll take advantage of the lower prices to stock up my gift collection. Thanks to Prime Day, we picked up a couple of kids games that are major hits in our house, and we’ll keep them in store for birthday parties and Christmas gifts for friends/family.

A Puzzling Game

But this is about a new game, right? That’s right! There was one game on sale when I looked that I thought might be fun to try: Ubongo. In my past years of gaming, I’d seen the game on BGG, but never thought to give it a try. So, we bought it on a whim and it just arrived at my house today. After removing the shrink-wrap, skimming the rules, and punching the cardboard 1, we decided to try out a two player game.

Ubongo Game Box
The game box

Two Player Experience

The general idea of the game involves each player simultaneously doing a quick two-dimensional puzzle. You simply grab 3 interestingly-shaped pieces (or 4 in the advanced version), and try to be the first to fit them into a specific shape on your board. Being first gets you more points, which are awarded in the form of colored gems. The puzzle aspect is fun and reasonably challenging. Sometimes you get lucky and put a piece in the right spot on your first try, but most times it isn’t that easy. Each game lasts for nine rounds (you get a new “puzzle board” each round), and the person with the most points at the end wins!

Round Marker with Stack of Puzzle Cards
The round marker with a stack of puzzle cards in the background…

Final Thoughts

I like the puzzle aspect and enjoy the fact that there’s some randomness in drawing a gem out of the bag on each turn. I didn’t find the easy side of the board to be difficult, but the harder side was definitely more tricky. My wife, who loves puzzle games, got a bit stressed by the timer though. When we played the advanced side, both of us had puzzles we couldn’t solve in the allotted time, so we lost opportunities to get points. I could see this as a good game for well-matched opponents, but a somewhat frustrating one for someone who isn’t good at puzzles.

Completed Puzzle
A completed puzzle

In any case, I think we’ll keep it. It will be a good educational game for the kids in a few years, and in the meantime… it can scratch that puzzle itch.

  1. There is nothing more fun than opening a new game and punching out the pieces. My wife and I make it a ritual with every new game, even setting aside a time so we can enjoy the experience.