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Up to 6 players or teams draw seven game rocks each then turn over a game card to reveal a Rukshuk formation.
Different color game rocks have different point values and players score regular and bonus points by building as much of the formation shown on the card as they can within a time limit.
Points are scored for each rock standing at the end of the time limit. If a player's formation topples, he must quickly rebuild it! The key to winning is to know when to play it safe or when to go for it by trying to build the entire Rukshuk!
At the end of the time limit players record their scores then draw new rocks to build the next Rukshuk.
The winner is the player with the most points. It's totally fun... and totally addictive!
I was drawn to Rukshuk (Zabazoo Corporation, 2006 – Malcolm Bisiker) initially because I thought the name was funny. It looked rather interesting, but there are many dexterity games that are merely a clever idea that gets old after only a couple plays. Upon opening up the game for the first time, I was wowed by the components – nice rocks – and impressed by the interesting rules.
The game itself sounds a bit mundane – simply build different sculptures out of rocks. However, in an extremely clever move, the rocks are shaded different colors that equate to their difficulty to placement in the tower. Players must quickly build towers, and debate putting more valuable blocks in precarious positions, or play it safe with the lower scoring blocks. It’s fast, frantic, and fun. People who have shaky hands or despise dexterity games in general probably won’t be won over, but it’s one of the better ones that I’ve played.
A pile of twenty-five Rukshuk cards are shuffled and placed on the table. Each player is given two long “Bridge” rocks. A pile of five different colored rocks is placed into a bag. There are fifteen white rocks, which are fairly square shaped and easy to stack; nine blue rocks, which are a little rounder and harder to stack; seven green rocks, even more round and very hard to stack; five red rocks, quite round and annoying beyond belief to stack; and two gold rocks, so rounded that they are practically impossible to stack. The first round is ready to begin.
Before each round, players draw seven rocks randomly from the bag and place them in front of them. The top Rukshuk card is then drawn and placed face up so that all can see it. Some cards have a special “red star rule” written on them, which players must immediately do.
A timer is used while players build (mine is sixty-six seconds long), and during this time, players build as much of the formation as they can, fixing it if it falls. When the timer ends, players score for whatever part of the formation they have standing – you can at least get the bottom rock(s) in! Players record the amount of points they score, plus two possible bonuses (five points for using three of the same color rock; and/or five points for finishing the entire formation). The game continues with players replacing their rocks into the bag and starting a new round. The game continues until one player reaches the winning conditions (150 points, or – for a long game – the most points after going through all twenty-five formations).
Some comments on the game…
Rukshuk is a very original dexterity game with beautiful pieces and fast, tension-filled play. There are some real decisions to be made about which rocks should be placed where in the formations – higher scoring ones may make it impossible to finish, while lower scoring rocks may give some good bonuses. Everyone has a good laugh at the frustration of others when their towers fall down, and each failure seems to inspire one to try again. While not for everyone (mostly those who have trembling hands or clumsy fingers), Rukshuk is sure to entertain folks for short periods of time, as they strive to build famous rock formations.
“Real men play board games”