Just getting the box in the mail was a delight.
I don’t normally send pictures of review copies to my family, but this box was special: Goliath Games/Pressman Games released an updated version of Rummikub, titled Rummikub Six Player Special Edition, which ups the player count from the traditional 2-4 players. This special edition is the same as all the other versions of the game I have ever owned—this will be the 4th copy I or my family have had over the years—save for one distinct update:
But we’ll get to those later. My wife and I played a quick game of Rummikub Six Player Special Edition (which we will refer to as just Rummikub 6 for the rest of this review) when it first arrived, just to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. Placing an initial meld, rearranging tiles on the table, finding the best way to use a joker tile…it all came back like riding a bike for the 1,000th time.
That was all fine. But how does it play with 6 people at the table?
This Game is 40 Years Old???
If you don’t know how to play Rummikub, or if you’ve never heard of Rummikub, talk to your extended family or just go on a family vacation sometime soon. SOMEBODY will know it, or still plays Rummikub regularly. I polled about 20 people in my various gaming groups and most everyone had played Rummikub at some point in their gaming travels.
It also helps if you have played Gin Rummy, since lots of those elements appear in card form elsewhere. Rummikub (pronounced “rummy cube”) just replaces the cards with sturdy tiles placed on a personal rack in front of each player.
All of the elements of how the base game plays are intact here in Rummikub 6. You still need to lay down 30 or more points in your initial meld to play to the table. You still have about a minute to take your turn moving tiles around to try and place a tile from your rack onto the table. There are still 4 colors used for the suits: orange, red, blue and black. You still total up points based on the tiles left on your rack if another player goes out, and when someone gets to a predetermined amount (usually 100 at my family outings), whoever has the lowest score wins.
There’s still nothing as satisfying as moving around a bunch of tiles on the board to place that one final tile from your rack to win.
The only difference in the latest iteration of Rummikub 6 is the 6-player max count. Even though I played with my new Rummikub 6 set a few times after it first arrived, I had to wait until the Christmas holidays to travel to my family home in Rochester, NY to play with a full 6 players. Finally, I can play with my wife, parents, and siblings all at once, and that was what allowed me to put the finishing touches on this review.
Even at 6 players, Rummikub 6 does not disappoint. I was worried about the downtime with a full player count, but that is mitigated by having so many more places to play tiles. The games we played at 6 felt a little shorter because 4 or 5 of us were able to get the initial melds on the table quickly, and there was always just enough of a drip of new places to play tiles that each turn felt fresh.
You really have to enforce the 60-second time limit at 6 players, though. There’s always one person at the table who seems to take too long or try to maneuver a bunch of tiles around to accommodate a single tile placement from their rack; use a timer with 6 players, for sure!
Rummikub 6 comes with 160 tiles, whereas the original came with 106 tiles for 4 players. So, you are getting an extra set of 52 tiles in the 4 base colors, plus another set of jokers. Beyond that, there are no rules updates in this special edition to worry about, so it’s the same old Rummikub, just scaled up to a larger count. (If you are playing this new version with 4 or less players, you play with the original 106 tiles.)
These New Racks Are Solid!!
Everyone has a story of the time they were about to win a round of Rummikub, when in their excitement to put tiles on the table, they knocked over their rack with the two plastic pegs in the back of the tray, spilling tiles everywhere.
Goliath/Pressman fixed the only issue left with a standard game of Rummikub. They replaced the racks of the “olden times” by taking away stands that have slots for plastic pegs on the back, and replacing those with firm blue stands that can hold 3 rows of tiles.
These racks can’t fall over. They hold more tiles. They look better on the table. They still keep your tiles secret from the other players. They pack easily into the core box.
From every single angle, these are a big win. My only question: why did it take the world so long to come up with these?
The new racks and the thinner tiles used in Rummikub 6 add a really nice feel to the overall production of the game. Now I don’t have to go to a place like Etsy to find someone who really puts care into producing nicer tiles with better calligraphy on fancier racks, although if you want to spend real money on a nice set that is still an option.
A few times a year, Rummikub makes an appearance at a family gathering or over the holiday season. Rummikub Six Player Special Edition is perfect for anyone looking to update their original copy of the game or players new to the family. The rules are straightforward and even at smaller player counts, the game continues to shine just as brightly as before thanks to the simple design update to the production of the racks. I love this game!