Ubongo! Fun-Size Edition is an abstract speed game in which players race to complete tangram-like puzzles using polyominoes (Tetris-shaped pieces). Played over 8 rounds, you score points for completing your puzzles and for being the fastest to do so. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins.
Ubongo! Fun-Size Edition is a smaller, less complex version of the original, Ubongo. While the concept remains the same, there are some rule changes. In this review I will only be focusing on the Fun-Size Edition of the game and not going into an in-depth comparison between its gameplay and the original.
Ubongo’s Fun-Sized Gameplay
Every round, players start with a new puzzle card that they will be playing their tiles on.
When all players are ready, the round begins and they race to fit their tiles onto their own puzzle card’s light-coloured placement area.
To solve a puzzle a player must use 3 or 4 of their tiles, depending on whether playing with the A or B side of the puzzle card. For each puzzle card there are at least 3 different solutions.
The first player to solve their puzzle card shouts “Ubongo!” and starts counting down, at a reasonable speed, from 20 (or 30 if playing on the B side). This signals to the other players the remaining time they have to complete their own puzzles to score points.
The round ends when the countdown reaches zero. Any player who solved their puzzle card (including the Ubongo! shouter) keeps their card, which will later count as a point towards their final score. Players who did not solve their puzzles discard their card. Finally the player who finished their puzzle first takes a gem (the colour is irrelevant). A new round then begins with each player drawing a new card from the puzzle card deck.
The game ends after the eighth round. Players count their number of gems and completed puzzle cards; the player with the highest total wins.
Ubongo! Fun-Size Edition streamlines the gameplay of its older sibling, Ubongo, in a clean and approachable way. The Fun-Size version has a short ruleset so it’s easy to jump into, plays quickly (about 15 to 20 minutes), and gives players the freedom to solve puzzles in the way that works best for their brains. The rulebook even offers a suggestion for adults and children to enjoy the game on a more level playing field: adult players remove their straight yellow tile from their starting set.
The first time I played Ubongo! Fun-Size Edition I recognized the designer’s name, Grzegorz Rejchtman, as the same person who designed one of my favourite real-time puzzle games, Tuki. When playing Ubongo! Fun-Size Edition, my group and I felt the similarities between the two games; Ubongo! is basically a 2-D version of Tuki. If you like one, you’ll probably like the other. If, however, you found Tuki to be too challenging, Ubongo! Fun-Size Edition is still worth checking out if you like this style of game because the puzzles are a little easier.
Ubongo! Fun-Size Edition is a great speed game that gets your brain working as you try to puzzle your way through each round the quickest. Frankly, I think it’s a must-have for any speed game enthusiast.