What's Eric Playing? #309: Topito
Full disclosure: A review copy of Topito was provided by Nice Game Publishing.
More fun out of Korea this week (I’m really enjoying the variety of games I’ve gotten to see lately); it’s taken me a while to get through them all, but I’m making progress, I think. This week’s feature is Topito!
In Topito, the circus is in town and they want to do some acrobatics! You’ll have to stack, move, and plan if you want to stay on top in the big top. Can you successfully build up a magnificent show? Or is the whole thing just a setup for a major fall?
Not a whole lot to do. Set out the podium tiles:
I like to set them in a triangle, but you can set them however you want as long as they're about 10cm apart (~4in). Place the characters around the podiums:
And shuffle the deck and deal each player 4 cards:
You're ready to start!
It's always so nice to dive right into gameplay after a short setup. Anyways, your goal is to create stacks of characters that match the criteria on your cards so that you can reveal them and score. But how do you do that?
On your turn, you may do one of two things:
Add a character to a stack: Place any character on top of any stack. No restrictions.
Move a character or stack on top of another stack. This one is more challenging. Touching only one block, move that block and all blocks above it to any other stack. There can be 0 or more blocks above it (if there are 0, you're just moving one block). You can use both of your hands if you want, but I find that doesn't really help me that much. Younger folks can touch more than one block, as well, if they want. It helps.
Play proceeds clockwise.
If you knock over a stack or stacks, return the characters to the space around the podiums and place one of your revealed cards (not one from your hand) on the bottom of the deck.
One important rule: a player cannot undo the previous player's move. This is both meant to stave off stalemates, which is my main frustration point with Fairy Tile, so that's always nice.
At any time (even another player's turn) if the conditions on your card are fulfilled, you may say, "Photo Time!" and reveal the card to score it. You may score more than one card, and you immediately draw back up, so if that card also matches, you can keep going. If you're incorrect, return the card to your hand and live with your shame. Generally speaking, there are four kinds of cards:
Characters + Podium: The three pictured characters must be stacked in any order on the specific podium. Other characters may be in between them; you just need all three on that podium.
Specific stack: These two characters must be stacked in this order, one on top of the other. No characters can be between them, but they can be anywhere in the stack as long as they're directly above / below the other. The podium color does not matter.
Ordered stack: The three characters must be stacked in this order, but they may have other characters in between them (indicated by the arrows) and they may be on any podium.
Specific rank: The character must be at the specific height in a stack. The color of the podium and other characters in the stack don't matter, but they must have at least one block on top of them, as well.
Play continues until at least one player has 7 points. All players with at least 7 points win!
Player Count Differences
Honestly, this is another game where I feel like other players are just kind of ... noise. I'd rather play it with two players and have a good back-and-forth than deal with the entropy of four players. The nice thing is that generally you get some of your cards fulfilled by accident, but you also have players mess up your longer-term strategies, which just kind of makes the game take longer. Two or three players is probably my limit, with a preference for two.
Let other players help you. If I have a Specific Rank, I generally won't put the last block on top unless I need to for a Specific Stack or an Ordered Stack that I need to fulfill. If I don't, then occasionally another player will add that last block on top for me and I score immediately. So helpful.
Try to score multiple cards at once. Don't forget that you draw back up immediately after scoring a card, so it's possible that you can chain your way through multiple cards if you're both really lucky and you've got some good stacks made.
If you place every character on one podium, all Characters + Podium cards of that type score. It's essentially tautologically true; if you need any three characters and that podium and you have every character on there, you're going to be solidly scoring a bunch of points for those (and you have good odds of drawing more cards that match that specific configuration, netting you even more). You just need to be careful of a few things. One, your opponents may have those cards as well, and two, you, well...
Never move a full stack of characters. It's too wobbly at the top and it will fall on you. Let your opponent get greedy. I generally don't move more than 4 or 5 characters at a time.
I generally try to avoid placing anyone on top of a player's last play if it's at height 3 / 4 (unless I can score). Odds are, that play just needs a character on top of it for them to score, and my general instinct is to make them work for it a bit more.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
Cute theme. It's a very cute circus game; I hear Meeple Circus has a similar theme but I haven't played that one, so here we are.
Great art. Marie Cardouat did the art on the first run (or two, don't remember) of Dixit, and it also shines here in a less-surreal but still very pleasant way. It's delightful.
Seems kid-friendly. The pieces are chunky, the rules are fairly straightforward, and it's got specific caveats for playing with younger folks, so that should work. I think stacking games get a lot of play for younger gamers; I assume that's why Rhino Hero: Super Battle is so popular.
Seems expandable, as well. I could see more animals, podiums, starting configurations, event cards, all sorts of things added if you wanted to make the game needlessly complicated (which, for stacking games, I'm occasionally into, so, sounds fun).
Quick to teach. You can add or move one block or stack of blocks per turn. Try to match the cards. That's the general gist.
Short game. It's nice to play a game that's quick enough that you can just play it again super fast. Then again, I'm generally a fan of playing more games rather than playing one long game.
Nice quality components. The pieces are pretty hefty, which is nice. The cards are so-so, but the pieces themselves have a really nice structure and weight to them, which I appreciate.
The "you can't undo the previous player's move" is a good rule. Preventing stalemates is always nice and forward-thinking. I wish more games thought about preempting that sort of behavior.
I'm always a bit worried about surfaces and cards and such when the tower falls over. The pieces are weighty enough that I'm mildly stressed when they hit the table or something else. They could bend cards or perhaps knock around the furniture, which would be a bummer. I've told players to try to catch it if they can, but that's also risky.
Fairly luck-dependent. Thankfully, the game is pretty quick, so that's not the worst thing in the world. It can just be a bit annoying when a player scores two in a turn and then draws two more and scores those, as well. It may be worth modifying that rule when you're playing with kids such that you can only score cards you drew at the start of your next turn or something. Your mileage may vary depending on your specific kids.
Yeah, I'm not a huge fan of this at four. There's too much entropy between turns for my tastes. I generally prefer to have more control than the game is going to provide.
Overall: 7.25 / 10
Overall, Topito is cute. I wouldn’t say I’m like, blown away by it, but I definitely have found it fun. It’s a light stacking game with a fun circus theme. Probably a solid kid’s game, though I may give Rhino Hero: Super Battle the edge just because it has a bit more scale than Topito does. People like the tall structures; what can I say? That said, this game does have a lot going for it beyond a manageable box size. Solid, easy-to-use components, simple gameplay, and fun art are all great things to have in your game, and Topito’s got them all down pat. I think I’d like to see some more content from Topito in the future, but in the meantime I think it’s pretty fun. If you’re looking for a cute stacking game for the whole family, I’d definitely suggest giving Topito a whirl!
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