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Stomp the Plank

Once in a while a simple children's game comes along that's so cute and charming that adults are clamouring to play. Case in point, Stomp the Plank from The Flying Games and distributed in the UK by Hachette Boardgames. The unlikely but enticing premise in this 2-4 player game is that 2-4 elephants are mischievous young pirates trying to steal treasure from their captain's chest while passing the blame on others. The upshot is that Stomp the Plank is an immensely appealing filler-length push-your-luck game where you are trying the force other players to walk the plank.

The full-colour plastic elephant pirates are the game's immediately striking feature, and the publishers know this because a window in the packaging displays some of the elephants so you can see them before you buy. The underside of the box serves as the ship and it's a key component because it contains magnets that connect with those on the four planks that you position on the long edges. Each player places their elephant on the plank at the ship end. There's a deck of 49 treasure cards (seven each of seven different treasures), and on your turn you flip a card and position it along a board. After the first, each position shows a number of 'crates' (wooden disks). You can keep drawing treasure cards as long as you like, and the more unique cards you draw the more 'crates' will be triggered. When you stop, all the other players have to place that number of crates at the end of their plank. However, if you draw a duplicate of a treasure you've previously drawn that round, then you must advance your elephant one space along the plank... To win, you have to be the last elephant standing after all the others have toppled into the sea.

The game design then by Florien Sirieix and Benoit Turpin could hardly be simpler: push your luck and hope to choose the right moment to stop. But, along with Camille Chaussy's art, that simplicity is an inherent part of this game's appeal. The magnets holding your plank in place are quite strong but the number of crates on the end and the distance your elephant has advanced along the plank will ultimately overpower the magnets and tip the crates, plank and pachyderm unto the briny. There's tension tho' when you place out another crate or move your elephant: will that be the tipping point...?

Stomp the Plank plays in around 10 minutes - so it's one of those games where players usually want an immediate replay. And it's educational too: your kids will learn they have to wait their turn before they can play!

(Review by Selwyn Ward)

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