Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Tricky new bricks for Toppollo

Tonight I have constructed twelve tricky new bricks for Toppollo - four each of the curve, arch and pyramid block. The curve and arch pieces are not perfect - I had to use the scroll saw with which I am not very comfortable yet.
These pieces should make things much more challenging. They will be play tested on Thursday, and based on the results, some of the simpler pieces like the cube and oblong may be withdrawn from the game.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Toppollo: A dexterous balancing game for children of all ages.

Recently I've been playing around with making wooden toys - mostly because my school's woodwork teacher decided to open up the workshops for staff to use after school once a week. This is a fun little game I designed to be made from wood. It's quite simple to make and uses fairly limited material. I know I've seen other, very similar games, but a quick search on Board Game Geek failed to turn up anything much. So here it is - Toppollo.

Toppollo tower and blocks. Well, the blocks made so far.


Object of the game: to get rid of all your blocks.
Toppollo Tower (basically a small plywood table just large enough to hold four blocks - in my case 60mm diameter)
Four sets of blocks, consisting of:
Curve (the bit cut out of the block to make the arch)
Slanted Oblong
Slanted Cylinder
(these will be made from 30X30mm pine and 25ish mm dowel - closest I could get to 30mm dowel)
Place the Toppollo Tower on a hard, flat surface such as a table or board within easy reach of the the players.
Each player is given a complete set of blocks.
Starting the game:
Each player takes their cylinder piece and tosses it underarm towards the tower. The player to land their cylinder closest to the center of the tower goes first. Blocks are allowed to touch the tower and land on top of the tower.
Playing the game:
Players take it in turns to place one of their blocks.
Blocks must be placed on the Toppollo Tower or on top of blocks which are already on the tower.
If any blocks fall off the tower, the player whose turn it is takes these blocks into their collection.
The first player to get rid of all their blocks is the winner.
Yesterday, I made the blocks and the tower. Well, most of the blocks. I had a problem with the saw which meant I had to re-cut a few pieces and ran out of time and material to make the arch and curve pieces. I had a shot at the pyramid, but found it very hard to cut accurately. It's been back-burnered to next week when I will try again.
I have just returned from my illustrious flute riddled opponent's house, where we playtested the game with his daughter. The game proved very popular with her, and it was actually quite hard to get her to stop playing and go to bed. Foolishly, her father thought that sleep was more alluring to the five-year-old brain than falling wooden blocks.
Mad Juzzy the Flutist adds a block to the teetering tower. Note that his daughter has maintained tradition by stealing my hat when I hugged her.

Gaining a huge concentration bonus from the hat, Elana places a block.

The tower starts to look a little... crazt.

Oh dear.

Juzzy takes a photo while I throw up the obligatory rabbit ears. We're playing on a book on a carpet to minimise noise and avoid waking the slumbering prince (ie: his infant son)

Here are all the parts for a three player game stacked up. This was after we finished, and I wanted to show off the pieces.
Due to my novice level wood cutting skills, pieces are not exactly square, and the angles are not exactly the same on slanted blocks. This just adds to the fun of the game by introducing more unpredictability.

Some basic blocks, the oblong and cube for instance, are very stable, while others are harder to use. I'll build the arch, curve and hopefully pyramid and see how they help. If the basic shapes are still being too easy, I'll either remove them or cut their ends at slight angles to make things harder and less stable.