Hippo from Helvetiq is a pocket-sized, chip-laying game for up to four players. Hippo sees you trying to get rid of your pile of cardboard coloured rubber rings from Mr Hippo’s swimming pool before the rest of your opponents.
Like much of the rest of Helvetiq’s range, the game is incredibly simple! Even early Key Stage 1 children will be able to pick up the rules after a playthrough. At most, a game is going to last you about half an hour. You won’t be faced with many ‘I’m bored!’ comments.
Mr Hippo’s family-fun game is centred around his swimming pool. It has several lanes, numbered 1 to 12, with lane number 7 being the chunky chap’s no-swim zone. More about that area in a moment. Each lane sits on a piece of card. These slide next to each other to form the playing board, though they don’t piece together like a jigsaw, which might have been a good idea.
In addition to the board, each player begins the game with 12 rubber ring chips of a certain colour – red, green, purple and yellow. Throw in three dice and that’s it. You’ll be ready to go within five minutes. Good things certainly do come in small packages.
Let's Not be Hippo-critical
On your turn, you’ll get to roll all the dice at the same time. The score you get allows you to place a chip in a lane. Here comes the trick – there’s a variety of different combinations in which you can group the dice to allow you to place the pieces in different lanes. For example, you’ve rolled a 5, 4 and a 1. With this combination you can play a chip in lane 1, 4 and 5; two chips in lane 9 (4 + 5) and one in lane 1; or two chips in lane 6 and one in lane 4; two chips in lane 5 – 4 + 1 and 5; or one chip in lane 10 (5 + 4 + 1).
Once you’ve worked out your option, you place the chip(s) in the bottom section of the swimming lane. If someone is already there, they move up a space. A maximum of three cardboard rings can be placed in one lane. If you want to add one to it, the top one is knocked out and returned to the owner’s stash. Warning! If you knock out a piece of your own colour, you must take ALL the pieces in that numbered lane, whatever the colour. On your next go, you must then place your opponents’ colours first, thus passing the ownership of these playing pieces back to their original owner.
Now for more on lane 7. If two or three of your dice make a total of seven you can place a piece in his no-swim zone. This lane is also a triple-win – a) you get to dump another piece if two of the dice make a 7; b) lane seven can hold unlimited pieces; c) you get the added bonus of rolling all three dice again.
And that’s it! The first player to get rid of all their rubber rings is declared the winner. The water is then cleared and the pool party can begin again. Just be warned – you could find yourself on the receiving end of some ganging up by smaller family members just when you’re on the brink of winning. You could be on the path to victory, only to find yourself suddenly at the back of the race.
Hippo is incredibly simple to learn – even young primary school children will get to grips with it. While it’s only a four-player game, it’s perfect for a quick blast over a coffee with the kids in a café. It won’t take up acres in a rucksack or handbag either, or break the bank. Definitely worth taking the plunge!