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Rafter Five

This game from Oink Games is super simple but it's a lot of fun. It's a dexterity game for 2-6 players, suitable for all the family, and with a solitaire option too. And as we've come to expect from Oink Games, it all fits inside a tiny box. In this case tho', the box additionally forms part of the game.

Having tipped out the contents (don't worry - unlike some other games in Oink's range, you'll be able to fit the components back in the box without too much difficulty), you stack the inverted bottom of the box on the top to form the raft on which the eponymous five rafters will be afloat. Players each take the treasure chests in one, two or three colours (depending on player count).

On your turn, you pick up a long thin 'lumber card' and you place the lumber card on the raft so that it overlaps at least one other lumber card already on the raft (assuming there are any). You then pick up one of the rafter meeples and place it on the raft end of the lumber card. You must then place one of your treasure chests on the lumber card. If nothing happens then that's your turn safely completed. If, however, any of your opponents' treasure chests tumble into the briney during your turn, these have to be placed on your 'penalty board'. The game ends when a player has five chests on their penalty board: that player is the loser and the other player(s) claim the win.

As you might guess, this is a dexterity game that starts off super easy but gets increasingly difficult as more lumber cards are added. After the first five turns, with all five rafters on the raft, your turn will involve lifting a rafter from an existing lumber card in order to place your new card. It's that process of lifting a previously positioned rafter that presents the greatest hazard. You can expect a palpable tension which steadily mounts as the game progresses until a player's move ends up tipping lumber and chests into the sea.

Rafter Five feels like an amalgam of Stomp the Plank (The Flying Games) and KerPlunk (Hasbro/Early Learning Centre). It suggests 20 minutes on the box but we've yet to manage more than 5 minutes before someone sends enough chests overboard to end the game. That may just mean the team at Board's Eye View are all just clumsy oafs, but Rafter Five is still a lot of fun even for the maladroit. And in the unlikely event that you find the basic game too easy, you can play with 'advanced' rules that limit the way in which the lumber cards can overlap each other.

As with other Oink Games titles, Rafter Five is distributed in the UK by Hachette Boardgames.

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