Toc Toc Wood Man

“It’s a game where you try to chop all the bark off a tree with a tiny axe!” said my business partner, Shawna, happily as she held up a new arrival.  I looked at her askew, “What?! “.

She began to pull all of the pieces out of the box.  Light colored rings, dark colored interlocking pieces, a plastic tree stump, and yes… even a tiny axe.  I was really confused, but I helped her assemble the game.  Each of the light colored rings need to have four of the interlocking dark colored “bark” pieces slid into its grooves.   Once we had all the pieces assembled we started stacking each section on the stump, which finished the construction of a tree that is roughly a foot tall.  Now it’s time to start some choppin’!

All of the pieces that come in the game.  In the middle are the light colored trunk pieces, and on the right are the darker colored, interlocking, bark pieces.

All of the pieces that come in the game. In the middle are the light colored "trunk" pieces, and on the right are the darker colored, interlocking, bark pieces.

On your turn you get to take two swings at the tree with the tiny axe.  Your goal is to strip the bark off without making the inner core pieces fall off.  For every piece of bark you strip, you receive one point.  For every piece of trunk that falls off, you lose five points.  The player with the most points when all the bark is stripped off is the winner.

A game in progress.

A game in progress.

Ok, so how hard could it be?  Hard enough that grown adults were ending with negative scores. I won a game with three measly points.  So why was it so hard?  To start off with, we had some misconceptions.  “Stripping bark” sounds like it should require a downward stripping motion with the axe, but that is not the case.  This resulted in either doing absolutely nothing, or in tipping over precarious piles.  The real trick is in tapping the wood in a horizontal chopping motion.  This slides individual pieces out, allowing the bark to fall away from the rest of the structure.

One thing that I loved about this game is that the tree never “accidently” fell.  What I mean is that, no one bumped the table and it fell.  Or in some games, simply looked at the tower the wrong way, and it fell.  Every time wood fell it came as a direct response to a hit, and so there was clearly someone to blame.  This is the exact opposite of nearly every other stacking skill game I have ever seen.  If you breathe on a Jenga tower, or God forbid, a Stack Market tower, the whole thing is going to come tumbling down.

The end of a perfect game.  All the bark is gone, and none of the tree trunk has fallen.

The end of a perfect game. All the bark is gone, and none of the tree trunk has fallen.

Ultimately I really liked this game, and so did my players.  We ended up playing approximately a dozen rounds of this before we moved on, and that is really saying something for us!  That brings me to my final point:  This game takes less than 10 minutes to play, which makes it an awesome filler game  (Or a great game for people with short attention spans) !

Ya know, you would think that in a world where games about farming, or worm racing, or making sushi are actually really exciting and fun, that I would stop judging games by their theme.  While this is a game about chopping wood, rather than about dragons and knights, it turned out to be a ton of fun.

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Tuesday, December 6th, 2011 at 8:57 am and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Skill Games . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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