Title: Katamino Family
WBG Score: 7
Player Count: 1-2
Published by: Gigamic
Games using polyomino shapes became all the rage a few years back. I think people like the sense of calm these game create. Bringing order where there was once chaos. There is also the nostalgic harp back to Tetris. A game so many of us grew up with. I still remember the exact time and place I completed level 9-5 for the first time. On the way to South France in a back of my mates dads car, summer of 2000 if you are interested.
Previously known as Katamino Duo, this new release from Gigamic is a beautiful production, perfect for all fans of polyomino shapes and pattern building. Contained within this colourful box are 18 well made painted wooden pieces, a wooden board, and 40 cards offering a multitude of options.
You can play this game in so many ways. The classic two player version is for one player to draw a card, each player to take the pieces shown on their side of the card, then race to add them all into their space on the board. After each round both players then choose an extra piece to give to their opponent with the person who finished second in the last round picking first. Each round, the space to build in grows by one row. The player who finishes first each round scores a point and after four rounds the player with the most points wins. In the case of a tie, the players swap the last piece they gave to each other and duel one final time!
The cards used to play the different games are all colour coded. Five different colours represent five different abilities. Players can choose to play at whichever level they are most suited too. There are also nine double coloured cards with one side suitable for children, and the other designed for adults. This is a great way for two players of different abilities to compete at the same time in a fair manner.
You can also play Katamino on your own using similar rules. There are dedicated solo player cards, challenges and puzzles. Completing all six solo challenges was a satisfying thing to do, one I will continue to enjoy time after time. It was nice to take the race element present in a two player game out of the experience. Just focusing on your own goals at your own pace was a nice experience.
There are also dedicated cards for 3D challenges. Either on your own, or in a race against another player. Players will attempt to complete towers ranging from 2x3x5 to 3x3x4. Depending on the size, players will either take specific pieces as shown on the card, or can chose the pieces they want based on a few parameters, and then attempt to arrange them into the required size. It is incredibly satisfying to finish, and you will surprised at how many variation there are. There isn't just one solution to each puzzle. Like most versions of this game, the shapes combine in hundreds of different ways.
The rule book also offers a number of puzzles for younger children to try to complete. Using the shapes to create flat puzzles that resemble animals, or make up your own animal shapes. These are very simple to understand and designed for children from three and up. It is nice that this game can work for every in the family.
Also included is a balancing game called Kataboom. Players take it in turns to balance a piece on top of the previously laid shape. The last player to place a piece without the construction toppling over is the winner. You can use both hands, and also use the piece you are placing to amend the previously laid pieces. It is surprisingly addictive, trying to beat not only your opponent, but as a team, your previously achieved height. It feels a little bit like Jenga, but a lot faster to play and a lot less hassle to clear up!
Even putting this game away at the end is fun. You could of course just chuck all the pieces back into the box. They would fit just fine and not get damaged. But on the rear of the rule book is an image, tantalisingly showing you one solution to the many ways you can fit all the shapes back into the board together as one. I cannot imagine anyone would not at least try and put all the shapes back in this way after playing this game! I quite enjoy packing up most games anyway. It is a nice cathartic experience finding all the right bags or spaces in the box. This game takes from that sense of order and creates at entire game from it.
Playing this game takes me back to playing Tetris and the zen state my mind goes into when playing these type of games. Manipulating these beautifully made 3D shapes in my hand only adds to the sensory pleasure of forming the required patterns. As much as some levels can be hard, and frustrating. When you complete a level you have been stuck on for a while, well, it makes you feel like you have actually achieved something. Even as a 42 year old man, I want to ring my mum and show her what I did!