There’s a saying that goes through the community that regularly pick their way through the games shelves of thrift shops – Gotta Grab A HABA. Where most of the time the selection is a mix of Trivial Pursuits, various Scene Its and busted looking copies of Monopoly, occasionally a diamond will shine through (or in the case of HABA titles, a bright yellow box) that needs to be picked up. Basically, whatever the game actually is, it’ll be worth buying for the great components and fantastic production. The only slightdownside: their games are aimed at players aged zero to four. Doesn’t stop me playing the crap out of them though.
A few of the titles in HABA’s range are properly accessible to older gamers – after all, everyone loves stacking things and even some grown ups can struggle to do it well. The whole series of Tier auf Tier games have legions of fans of all ages – we’ve mentioned that previously on LMDS – but it wasn’t until I had a brief run around the company’s stand at Essen that I realised quite how many games were in the series. Sure, we have a copy of the base game in our Back Room Of Doom, as well as the tiny version, but man… there’s loads of them.
One of my last purchases at this year’s Spiel was the biggest box with the name slapped across the front: Tier auf Tier – Das Große Abentuer. Admittedly, this was mainly down to my wife going HEY DID YOU SEE THAT GET ME THAT NOW – she’s the definite Tier auf Tier fan in this house – but how can you say no to something that looks so bloody fun? Look at the box again:
Some explanation is probably needed: before the game begins, a bit of set-up is required. First, the box isn’t just a container for bits – it’s actually an integral part of the game, split into four separate sections with a large wooden (well, cardboard) bridge in the middle. The different areas represent four valleys and all of the animals start the game lined up at random around the box, aside from the crocodile who, as usual, kicks things off by being the first to stand on the bridge. Players then take turns at rolling the die and placing all future animals in a stack that must touch either the crocodile or another wooden beast.
The die is different to the original game’s one. Four sides are dedicated to the four valleys, and rolling one means you take an animal from one of those locations, while getting a question mark gives you the option to take an animal from anywhere. The final side, showing the bridge, is probably the nastiest thing to roll – you must then take an animal from somewhere on the bridge and put it back somewhere else.
That doesn’t mean that Tier auf Tier has suddenly become the kids equivalent of Twilight Struggle though – it’s still a relatively straightforward game, just made a little more complex with the introduction of the Objectives. However, in a game that’s just plain fun which manages to put children and grown ups on a level playing field, there’s not much else out there that offers such entertainment. Admittedly it’s not as immediate as the basic version of game, but the trade off is a much more engaging experience which is entirely worth getting. It’s still cute as anything, but just because Das Große Abenteuer is pretty don’t think it isn’t a challenge. This one bites back!
Tier auf Tier – Das Große Abenteuer (apparently out as Balancing Bridge in English) was designed by Klaus Miltenberger with art by Michael Bayer. Released originally in 2010, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this in stores in the UK or US – if you want a copy, I’d suggest heading to Amazon where it’s available for about $35 – money well spent!