- Ages 4 and up
- 1 to 4 players
- 30 minutes to complete
- Hand/Eye Coordination & Dexterity
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Father Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
Wobble is a recent publication (from 2010) by Winning Moves. The components and rules are very simple indeed. The game contains:
- A ping-pong ball (the game comes with a spare) – the object of this game, as declared on the box front, is to “roll [this ball] to the hole!”
- A board, more specifically, a square tilting platform divided into 4 colored quadrants (each containing a hole and a peg shielding the hole from the center of the board), with a divot in the center, and bordered by a raised rim (to keep the ball from rolling off altogether) and a surrounding shelf with 4 peg-holes on each side
- 16 pegs in 4 colors, to stipulate the sequence of holes each player is aiming for
- 20 discs, to be placed on the shelf to shift the balance of the platform
- 2 short chopsticks, to remove discs from the shelf
- A standard six-sided die
- A handy bag to store the components
At the beginning of the game, each player places a peg of each color in peg-holes on their side of the platform. The ball is placed in the central divot. Then, in clockwise order, players take turns to roll the die, then place and/or remove a number of discs equal to the result of the die roll. Each player tries to tilt the platform so that the ball rolls into the hole matching the next color in his sequence. If he does, the ball is replaced in the central divot and his turn continues, assuming he still has moves left. If he allows the the ball to roll into another hole by mistake, he forfeits the remainder of his turn and the ball is replaced in the central divot.
The first player to complete his sequence wins the game.
If I ever had low expectations for a game, this was it. I found it at a local game store, significantly discounted (at $30), and I purchased it as a reward to my children for behaving especially well that day (okay, perhaps it was a bribe to encourage them to behave themselves).
After reading the rules, I had two concerns: firstly, that the manufacturing quality would be lousy, with a tendency for the platform to teeter to one corner; secondly, that stalemate situations would be common, with players seesawing between opposite quadrants.
On the other hand, the physical nature of the game seemed sure to appeal to children, no matter how flawed it might be. Moreover, the name of the game rhymes with one of my least favorite titles, Trouble, so I knew my children would love it!
I have to admit that I misjudged this game completely.
Despite my fears, the platform is well balanced. The game is playable by preschoolers (my 4 year old daughter had no difficulty with it), yet enjoyable for adults. Although I am not usually a fan of dice in games, the die here makes prolonged stalemates unlikely, even in 2-player games: eventually one player will roll low and the other will roll high.
The only real criticism I can make is that the board will not fit back into the box after assembly (the manufacturer warns that disassembly is likely to cause damage) and it is an awkward shape to store in a shelf.
From the overview, you may have thought, as I did, that this is a static and delicate exercise, with players adding or removing single discs carefully, waiting for the system to reach equilibrium before making the next move. Quite the opposite is encouraged, in fact, and I agree that the more successful approach is to add or remove multiple discs and to do so while the platform is still wobbling. The teetering of the platform creates suspense, with everyone excited to watch whether the ball will drop into the hole (it falls just short of being a spectator sport).
Luck plays a big part, but as we have seen with other games reviewed here at Father Geek, that is often a strength rather than a shortcoming. Although there is no chance of analysis paralysis (a.k.a. vapor lock), the games we have played so far have run slightly longer than I think is ideal. Nevertheless, this is a good choice for 4 players and one I expect to get much more mileage out of in the coming months.