Up the Water Spout Game Review

The Basics:

  • Ages 4+
  • Players 2 – 4
  • 30 minutes (but varies widely)

Geek Skills:

  • Emotional Coping Skills
  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Spiders climbing up a water spout

Endorsements:

  • Father Geek rejected!
  • Child Geek rejected!

Overview

Each player has two spiders and the first player to get both spiders to the top of the water spout wins. The game board is a plastic ramp set with holes upon which your spiders will move, climbing up to the top. The ramp also has little ledges and angles kind of like the Plinko board from Price is Right. At the top there is a water spout. The water spout has marbles in it. Turning the handle on the water spout will let one of the marbles loose to fall down the ramp, bounce around the ledges, and knock your helpless spiders back to the beginning.

On your turn, you spin the spinner, which can land on a number, a “switch” space, or a water drop. If it’s a number, move one of your spiders that many spaces up the single path to the top of the spout. If it’s the switch space, swap one of your spiders with an opponent’s. If it’s the water drop, turn the handle on the water spout and let a marble fall.

As spin-and-move games go, it could be worse. With two spiders, you actually have a choice to make on your turn: which one to move. That, and the fact that some spaces on the board are “safe”, protected by ledges so the marbles won’t hit them, adds a modicum of strategy that you normally don’t find in a spin-and-move. But the good news ends there.

Final Word

Gimmicks in games are like the Force; they can be used for good or evil. Used for good, they can augment the gaming experience by evoking the theme or giving players a novel mechanism for resolving game events. Used for evil, they distract from the game, divide attention and frustrate players. The gimmick here, the titular water spout, is more evil than good. While the thematic relevance of the toy water spout is undeniable, it’s use as randomized “reset” mechanism is disappointing. Your spiders can get to within two spaces of the top (the top two spaces are safe) and get knocked all the way back to the beginning. Even by you, if you were the one who spun the water space. There’s nothing you can do to avoid it. That prolongs the game, and after the novelty of the water spout has worn off, it just isn’t fun.

I’m rejecting it based on the uninspired and frustrating game play. My oldest daughter hasn’t requested it since our first play. My youngest requests it sometimes, but she’s more interested in playing with it, than playing the actual game.

One final note I feel compelled to mention. For some reason, the rules never tell you how you get your spiders started on the spout to begin with. Do all the spiders start on the board? Do you start in some imaginary place behind the first space? Do you have to spin a specific number to get your spider started? Nothing in the rule book and no indicator on the board will tell you. It’s a rule you will have to make up, or you will never start a game, which is also a legitimate option.

It’s fun as a toy for four-year old children, but it’s only marginally passable as a game.

About Nate

Geek, Gamer, Father of Two, and Husband of One (so far), Nate has been a gamer since before he knew the word existed. From his very earliest memories of begging his older sisters to play Monopoly with him, and then crying when they actually made him finish the game, to his moment of Euro game enlightenment with his first play of Settlers of Catan (thanks to Father Geek's own Brian), gaming has always been his first, best, hobby. Now, with children of his own, he finds himself repeating the cycle of begging them to play with him, and then crying when they won't let him quit. He hopes that his daughters grow up to learn the joys of rolling dice, gathering resources, building civilizations, leveling their characters, seeing their enemies flee before them and hearing the lamentations of their women. Nate goes by the handle kungfugeek on Board Game Geek.
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2 Responses to Up the Water Spout Game Review

  1. Cyrus says:

    An excellent review! Too bad about the gimmicky board. Your example of how game gimmicks are like the Force was spot on!

  2. Karl Fritz says:

    Come on Nate! This game is *exactly* true to the rhyme; the spider never makes to the top as far as I can tell. From the spider’s point of view, he *is* getting washed down at random (Spiders don’t read the weather forecast 😉 )! That said, you are supposed to keep playing ad nauseum.. in each instance of the spider getting washed out, he climbs up the spout again!

    Thanks for the warning on this one 😉

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