Mmmm… delicious abstract logic games. I seek them out like a moth seeks out your porch light, I just can’t help but be drawn to them. So when I walked past this one at Gen Con, I was sucked in and had to try a demo.
Now, even though I love abstract logic games, I am picky about them as well. We have around 100 different abstract logic games in our library, but there are only a dozen or so that I would say I really enjoy. Some are just too darn cumbersome, while others don’t offer enough choices to the players. But I have to say that Stomple is firmly among the ones I appreciate.
Stomple is a game where the object is to be the last man standing. How this is done is by stomping out your opponents marbles, leaving them in a bad position on the board, while giving you plenty of options to move around. On your turn you stomp all of the connecting pieces of one color that are adjacent to your mover. You are compelled to stomp all of the connecting marbles of that color, but can choose the order in which you stomp them, which lets you attempt to end in the best position possible. If you get stuck you can also teleport your stomper to a marble of your own color, as long as one remains on the board. If you can’t teleport, and you can’t stomp some marbles, you are out. You remove your stomper from the board for the remainder of this round.
The components in this game are very nice, with one small exception, which I will get to. The board is made of wood and is stained nicely. All of the marbles are safe for kids, having no lead or anything else in the paint (which is why the designer says there are no red marbles, because he couldn’t get any that didn’t contain lead in the coloring). The interior circle that holds the marbles up are made of a durable pressed foam material, and even after a lot of play, none of these seem to be showing signs of giving up. That foam however is pliable enough to allow you to push the marble through, via your stomper, with ease.
Stomple is played in rounds, with each round ending when only one person is left standing. At the beginning of each new round everyone picks a stomper out of a bag at random, which denotes their color for the new round. And there in lies my one component complaint: Players are not given anything to help remember what color they are for the round, once their stomper goes on the board. It seems to be human nature that we fixate on the color we last were, or the color that we typically play (for example, my husband always plays blue). This led to people moving the wrong stomper on more then one occasion, which was a frustration. My suggestion to the designer? Just include one extra loose marble, a shooter sized marble would be even better, of each stomper color. This way, people could keep that in front of them to remember what color they are playing each round. It’s a pretty small thing but would have made a big difference in our games.
So how do you win the game? At the end of each round, the last man standing receives points based upon the number of marbles left on the board. You can play to a certain point value or you can play a certain number of rounds with the high score winning.
Overall I found that this game had two different speeds: Highly Strategic, and Super Lucky. The speed your game has is based upon the number of players. Stomple can play with as few as two, which will give you a highly strategic game. But you can also play with as many as six players, which will give you the extremely luck based version. I’m sure that by my love of abstract logic games, you can tell which way I preferred it, that wasn’t true for everyone in our group of players. Some of them liked the more fluffy version of the game. These two speeds would also be good if you have young kids and need a simpler game when playing with them.
As I stated earlier, I like this game. I think it was well designed and carefully thought out. The components are quality, and the game scales nicely, allowing for two completely different feels to the game play. If you like this style of game, this one is completely worth taking a look at.
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