If you’re planning on travelling this summer, don’t forget the essentials. And by that I don’t mean passports, tickets, or sun cream. No, I mean the real necessities; games of course! If you have played Ubongo before, then Ubongo Travel is a very light, very portable version of the game you already know. If the series is new to you, then you are in for a quickfire pocket, bag, and case-friendly polyomino puzzle game!
Using a double-sided deck of cards, your goal is to fill your randomly selected grid using the 8 small polyomino tiles in your personal set. Played over 8 rounds, a new puzzle card is distributed to each player every round. But each grid only has room for 3 (Set A) or 4 (Set B) tiles in total. So it is down to you to tessellate and test those tiles until you can fit them in without overlapping or leaving any individual squares exposed.
The puzzles themselves aren’t that tricky – our 7 year old is able to work most of them out on his own through an impressively committed exercise in trial and error. But the real challenge in Ubongo travel is the sudden and unexpected time pressure.
You see, whilst all players are simultaneously figuring out how their tiles fit into their unique grids, the gameplay is relatively quiet. As soon as one player has solved their own puzzle, however, they start counting down from 20 to 0. And at the point the time runs out, if the other players haven’t been able to complete their grid, there score is a big, fat zero that round.
For a little puzzle requiring only 3 or 4 tiles, the rate at which your mind suddenly empties is crazy quick. And, believe me, brain freeze sets in even faster if, like mine, your opponents are shouting and banging the table in time to the seconds ticking away!
I do have to mention that that the component quality isn’t the best in the range– the thin cardboard tiles can start to look a little ragged around the edges pretty quickly, and they are very small. But this game can be bought for less than £10 and is intended to accompany you on your travels, not inhabit your gaming table on a daily basis. Although, having said that, my son does like to play this with me at home a lot!
Overall though, I think it does a pretty good job as a competitive travel game which doesn’t take up a lot of luggage space or weight. Furthermore, although the 8 tiles are different colours, each shape is individual (and the cards are labelled A/B), so the game is not dependent upon being able to differentiate between the various shades which is great for those who suffer with CVD.
Ubongo Travel is a light, fun, game. Perfect for a handbag, a suitcase, or even a back pocket!