Ubongo: Fun-Size Edition

Ages: 7 and upManufacturer: Thames & Kosmos


A classic German-made puzzler that’s by no means new but has now been refurbished, downsized into this compact edition, Ubongo is a takeoff on the ever-popular Tetris concept.

Each player starts with eight Tetrus-like pieces and a puzzle card that has an easy side requiring three pieces to solve and a hard side requiring four. Players decide whether to play hard or easy.

With each round, each player gets a new puzzle card and races to solve it first and yell “Ubongo!” The winner immediately counts down from 20 to zero (or whatever number is agreed upon) as the other players frantically try to solve their puzzles. The winner and players who solve their puzzles before time runs out each earn one point for that round; those who don’t solve their puzzle get no points. The winner also takes one of the gameboard’s eight “gemstones” worth a bonus point. After eight rounds (about 15 minutes), the player with the most points wins the game.

Simple, huh? Well, if you’re good a think-fast puzzling, perhaps. Fun? No question. And no tedious instructions. Most importantly, if you’re have that Tetrus jones, as do so many of us, this is a natural that’s good for the brain for working on spatial problem-solving under pressure. Plus, the makers of Ubongo made it so you can remove one specific Tetrus-like piece and play an even harder game! Pretty good!

Don Oldenburg ©2019 Parents’ Choice

A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of “The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion” (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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