Tangram Fury Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 4 and up (publisher provides no specific age range)
  • For 1 to 4 players, or teams
  • Variable time to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Pattern Matching
  • Visuospatial Skills
  • Cooperative & Team Play

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • None

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Sitting down and relaxing while working on a puzzle has been an enjoyable and relaxing pastime for generations. BORING! It’s time to kick those puzzle skills up a notch and get your mind and fingers racing as you attempt to complete a Tangram puzzle before the other players do! You’ll need razor-sharp focus, nimble fingers, and a mind like a steel trap in order to win this game! It’s time to separate the puzzle “builders” from the puzzle “players”!

If you are not familiar with a Tangram, here is a very short summary to educate you and make you sound terribly intelligent at your next dinner party. Tangrams are old. Really old! I mean like well before the 19th century old! Tangram puzzles were loved in China well before introduced to America in 1815 by Captain M. Donnaldson. All Tangram puzzles, regardless of their age, are comprised of 7 shapes and to date, there are over 6500 puzzles and growing! Read more about it on Wikipedia.

Example of a Tangram puzzle in the shape of a bear or a badger or an AT-AT

Tangram Fury is comprised of 4 sets of Tangrams (2 large-sized triangles, 1 medium-sized triangle, 2 small triangles, 1 square, and 1 parallelogram),  200 image cards (50 Sea & Sky category cards, 50 Animal category cards, 50 Objects& Shapes category cards, and 50 People category cards), and a single 8-sided die.

Game Set Up

To set up the game, give each player or team 1 complete set of Tangram puzzle pieces (2 large-sized triangles, 1 medium-sized triangle, 2 small triangles, 1 square, and 1 parallelogram). They need not be the same color. When all players have been given their Tangram puzzle pieces, the players race to be the first to build a Tangram square using all 7 Tangram puzzle pieces. This player or team goes first. Optionally, just have everyone build their Tangram square to ensure they all have the right pieces and then randomly select the first player. Personally, we liked the race to first player better.

The Tangram square

If playing solo, skip the Tangram square build unless you want the practice.

Playing the Game, Furiously

There are two difficulty levels of play in Tangram Fury. These are “Fan” and “Expert”. The difficulty level selected determines which side of the image card is used in the game. The “Fan” side depicts the Tangram image with the pieces in the correct place to complete the image. The “Expert” side depicts only the Tangram image with no lines that show the different pieces and their correct place. Speaking from experience, play with the “Fan” side when you first try the game and when playing with little geeks. The “Expert” side really is for experts and can be very challenging and frustrating as you twist and turn your Tangram puzzle pieces to duplicate the image on the card.

Example of the two levels of difficulty in the game. Left image of the bat is "Fan" difficulty and the right image of the bat is "Expert" difficulty

Regardless of the difficulty level selected, the player whose turn it is will roll the 8-sided die. The die roll will result in 1 of 4 colors. These colors correspond to one of the 4 image cards. The player randomly selects an image card of the same color rolled on the die and places it on the table without looking at it. Once the card is on the table, all the players or teams race to be the first to complete the Tangram image. The first player or team to do so yells “Done!”. If built successfully, the player or team collects the Tangram image card. Note that the completed image can be the mirror opposite of the image on the card.

Play continues with the player or team to the left. Don’t worry about disassembling the Tangrams that were completed. You’ll be rearranging them as soon as the new image card is revealed.

If playing solo, simply draw a card and attempt to solve the puzzle.

Triple Dice Power!

When the die result is the same color for 3 turns in a row (for example, 3 yellows rolled), a player can shout out “Triples!” The first player or team to then build a Tangram square gets to select the color of the image card used this round or can choose to use the die color rolled. Play continues as normal after the turn ends with the player to the left of the individual who rolled the die originally before Triples was called.

Winning the Game

The first player or team to collect five image cards (of any color) wins the game!

If you are playing solo, you win when you say so.

Game Winning Variant

A winning game condition variant is provided online and is available on the game’s official web site. This variant is named “Rainbow Version” and is played exactly as the normal game. The only difference is the condition needed to win the game. Instead of collecting five cards to win, the player or team must collect at least 1 card of each color  (1 blue, 1 red, 1 green, and 1 yellow, at least) in order to win. Since the color of the card used per turn is determined randomly by the die, players should be especially vigilant in being the first ones to call out “Triples” so they can determine which colored image card is played.

To learn more about the game, see the game’s official web site.

Prediction

My little geeks have greatly been enjoying puzzle games as of late. They have found these games to be an excellent and challenging change of pace from the many card and board games we play together as a family. What was missing in all these games was a competitive element that limited the puzzle games to a single-player or cooperative game playing experience. While not a negative by any means, there is no substitute for a living opponent.

Tangram Fury would appear to be the perfect blending of puzzle solving with a heavy dose of competitive game play. Such a mix should be most welcome by my little geeks, especially when we take into account that Tangram Fury can also be played solo or in teams. This allows for a mixed group with different levels of experience and ages to play the game together making it perfect for the family gaming table or parties.

My little geeks are already familiar with Tangram puzzles (I introduced them to Tangrams a number of years ago) and immediately recognized the Tangrams and the puzzle pieces. When I showed them the many different puzzles to solve depicted on the image cards, they became very excited. When I told them it was a race game, they practically exploded.

Explaining the game took less time than it would take you to blow your nose. “Be the first to solve the puzzle”, is all I said. The only question came from my 7-year-old who asked if there was a turn time limit. I told him that a turn lasts for as long as it takes for the first person to complete the puzzle. Again, they were pleased and were ready to play. Before we did so, we looked at several examples and everyone practiced making them. Completing the puzzles is harder than it looks. Completing the puzzles before your opponent can is downright stressful but very exciting!

When everyone felt confident in their ability to solve the puzzles, I set up the game to play and I asked my little geeks their thoughts.

“This looks awesome! I like how we get to race against each other!” ~ Liam (age 7)

“I like how we build the puzzles, Daddy. I’m going to beat you and Liam! Oh, yeah!” ~ Nyhus (age 4)

Yikes! Looks like my little geeks are like puzzle sharks who have caught the scent of blood in the water! Will this game be as furious and as exciting as I predict or simply leave us furious with frustration? Let’s find out!

Final Word

Excuse me…a moment….while I catch my…breath. <PHEW!> OK, that’s got it. Right! So how was the game? In a word: “awesome”. In two words: “totally awesome”. Tangram Fury not only delivered challenging fun but also a lot of heated competition, not to mention some silly “table talk”. Every turn left one person feeling like a GAMING GOD and the rest like puzzle peasants. The range of emotions my little geeks felt pitched back and forth from exceedingly ecstatic to total frustration. In fact, my 7-year-old and 4-year-old got up and left the table several times but always came back for more when they cooled down.

Tangram Fury was also enjoyed as a solo game and my oldest little geek referred solo-play as “practicing”. Even without the additional pressure to complete the image before other players, the Tangram puzzles can be downright difficult, but only if you use the “Expert” side of the image cards. I was stumped a number of times by an image and had to flip the card over to see how the image was built using the Tangram puzzle pieces. The pounding in my head from thinking so hard was only as half as bad as the pain from my wounded ego.

My oldest little geek practices between games - if only he was this good about his homework

Game Geeks, I’m going to go out on a limb her and give Tangram Fury a “Gamer Geek” approved stamp. Before you go all “eye-rolling” on me, you know full well that puzzle games seldom scratch that itch that so many gamers desperately want to tear into. Tangram Fury delivers a fast-paced, challenging, competitive experience from beginning to end. There are some Euro games that are highly regarded by gamers who can only dream of providing the level of exciting that Tangram Fury does by default. Yes, it’s a puzzle game, but it’s a competitive one that will make you feel like an idiot when you lose and a Golden Geek when you win. A perfect change of pace for gaming groups and an excellent filler, before, or after game.

Parent Geeks, this is an outstanding puzzle solving game. You and your little geeks will be challenged and each victory or defeat is quickly swept aside as the next puzzle is played for all to solve. This is also a wonderful game for mixed groups of gamers and non-gamers as well as mixed aged groups. The game will be with you and your family for a long while as your little geeks grow and get better and better at the puzzle solving. If you are an educator, you might be interested in checking out the classroom edition of Tangram Fury!

Child Geeks, if you like to solve puzzles and play games where you get to compete against other players, Tangram Fury is the best of both worlds! Test your puzzle solving skills and be the first to complete the Tangram image to collect points and win the game! Even if you don’t win, each puzzle you solve strengthens your puzzle solving skills making you a stronger opponent and a better player! It’s win-win-win for everyone!

Tangram Fury was a BIG hit at my family table and I look forward to playing it again with my little geeks and anyone else I can get to sit down and challenge me. The game left me feeling exhausted and fulfilled as I was challenged and rewarded. Few games in my collection provide me to flex my puzzle solving prowess and my competitive nature making Tangram Fury a rare gem on my game shelf. Do give this game a look when time allows.

On a related note, you might also be interested in the game designer’s backstory.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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