Tinderblox, Image: Sophie Brown

Kickstarter Tabletop Alert: ‘Tinderblox’ from Alley Cat Games

Entertainment Games
Tinderblox, Image: Sophie Brown
Tinderblox, Image: Sophie Brown

What is Tinderblox?

Tinderblox is a new dexterity game from Alley Cat Games currently funding on Kickstarter alongside another similar game from the same company – Kittin. You play by building up a campfire from wooden fire cubes and logs using a pair of tweezers – is your hand steady enough to avoid elimination?

New to Kickstarter? Check out our crowdfunding primer.

Components

  • 1 Campfire Card
  • 23 Tinderblox Cards
  • 20 Log Pieces
  • 20 Fire Cubes (Red and Yellow)
  • 1 Pair of Tweezers
Tinderblox Components, Image: Sophie Brown
Tinderblox Components, Image: Sophie Brown

My copy of Tinderblox was a prototype so I cannot say anything about the quality of production components, but I loved the game components that I received. The wooden logs and cubes were cute and fun to handle although their small size will naturally mean they are likely to get lost! The (almost final) box art is really distinctive and charming, and I love the small tin for storage which makes the game stand out on my game-filled shelves.

I liked the decision to include two sides on the starting campfire card to effectively create an easy mode and a more difficult mode without the need for additional materials. The cards are very small which is great for storage but might make the symbols difficult to read for some players, however, as there is no text to read, hopefully, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

Finally, in the prototype I received there is very minimal plastic, and I hope to see this continued across to the production version of the game.

Playing Tinderblox, Image: Sophie Brown
Playing Tinderblox, Image: Sophie Brown

How Do You Play Tinderblox?

Setup

Begin by placing the campfire card in the middle of the play area and laying three log pieces on top of it to match the arrangement shown. The campfire card is double-sided with a different log arrangement on each side so it is up to you which side to play with – one starts you out with a trickier arrangement than the other.

The remaining log pieces and fire cubs are left in the tin and mixed up, the tin is placed beside the campfire along with the tweezers.

The deck of Tinderblox cards is shuffled and placed face-down nearby to create a draw pile. The game is now ready to play.

Gameplay

The player who most recently went camping begins the game. This player takes the top card from the draw pile and places it face-up where the other players can see it. The Tinderblox cards all show the number of logs and/or fire cubs the player must add to the fire, and in what configuration. Some are easy, such as adding a single log or a fire cube. Others require players to build an arrangement of cubes and logs on the table, then pick the whole thing up with the tweezers and add it to the fire in one movement.

Tinderblox Cards, Image: Sophie Brown
Tinderblox Cards, Image: Sophie Brown

To add complication, some cards also feature the Switch Hands icon in the top corner. If a player draws one of these cards, they must add their items to the campfire using their non-dominant hand. No rules are included for those that consider themselves ambidextrous, you’ll have to figure that out for yourselves!

If the player drops their pieces onto the table before they add them to the fire, they can simply pick them up and try again as many times as necessary*. If however, they drop them onto the campfire card or cause any new or existing pieces to fall off the fire, they are eliminated and any pieces that fell from the fire are placed back inside the tin.

An Example of Building a Cube Configuration to Add to a Campfire, Image: Sophie Brown
An Example of Building a Cube Configuration to Add to a Campfire, Image: Sophie Brown

After their turn, the player passes the tweezers to the next player clockwise. Play continues until all but one player is eliminated. Should the deck run out of cards, all remaining players share the victory.

*I started to feel that a time limit should be imposed after watching my ten-year-old attempt to add the same blocks to the fire around twenty times in one game. This is something you could bring in as a house rule if you feel it will help.

Should You Buy Tinderblox?

Tinderblox is a fun game that is incredibly easy to learn and fast to play, making it ideal to slot in between longer games during your regular games nights. It is recommended for ages six and up, although I don’t personally know many six-year-olds with the dexterity to play what is a surprisingly tricky game, and the need for very steady hands and good fine motor skills means (perhaps obviously) that it may not be ideal for those playing with elderly relatives or some disabilities.

That being said, I really enjoyed Tinderblox. It is a cute game based on an unusual premise and I love the little tin it comes packaged in (our copy is a prototype which, annoyingly, doesn’t fit all the pieces but this will be fixed prior to production) which makes it easy to travel with, although playing this one on-the-go would be challenging to say the least! The theming is impressively deep for such a small, minimalist game, and will no doubt have wide appeal.

Concentration Required, Image: Sophie Brown
Concentration Required, Image: Sophie Brown

My biggest gripe with Tinderblox is that it is an elimination game. This means that the first player to be knocked out will have to spend time watching the others complete the game – which can take some time as we discovered in an early playthrough. I always struggle to recommend elimination games, especially if playing with children, because sitting watching others have fun when you’re already eliminated is never as fun as getting to join in yourself and kids will easily become frustrated at sometimes having to sit out.

Putting aside this flaw, Tinderblox is cute, fast, and fun with wide-ranging appeal and an interesting, well-thought-out theme. Its small size makes it easy both to store and to travel with, and it is easy to learn if not always as easy to play. I would just recommend that you carefully consider who you are likely to play with regularly before taking the plunge and backing this one.

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