Ubongo! All the pieces fit, the hourglass is still running. In the Ubongo board game, it’s a matter of puzzling out the geometric shape you’re looking for – in a race against time!
Ubongo is a bit like Tetris, only more entertaining and with real puzzle pieces. And the time is much more on your back! In the Ubongo board game, the aim is to completely fill a board with a geometric figure with certain pieces in 45 seconds. Alone, in pairs or with the family. It is real brain training, requires concentration and trains the eye for geometric shapes quite well.
The game from Kosmos-Verlag, which was awarded the German Game Prize in 2005, won many prizes, is a real classic game today and still a bestseller from Kosmos-Verlag. For the new edition of the game we played, there is an app with which you can play Ubongo as a duel or alone anywhere.
In addition, there are now other Ubongo board game variants and an expansion for 5-6 players: Ubongo Solo, Ubongo in 3D, Ubongo as a duel, Ubongo Junior 3D for younger players, Ubongo as a card game or Brought-in game in 3 different variants or even in a Star Wars edition etc.*
Tip: Ubongo in the latest edition is my recommendation as a family game with children aged 8 and over – for younger children it is worth buying Ubongo Junior, where the pieces are larger. For adults, I recommend Ubongo 3D, which is a bit more challenging than the classic Ubongo.
Don’t feel like reading instructions? There is an explanatory app for the new edition of the Ubongo board game that you can simply listen to.
Before the game starts, each player gets their set of 12 laying pieces in different shapes and colours and a laying board. On one side of the board there are easier tasks with 3 pieces, on the other side there are more difficult tasks with 4 pieces. Decide which task you want to play and place the board in front of you.
Stack the remaining boards in the middle of the table. Next to them you place the dice, the hourglass and the round bar, which shows how many rounds you have already played and is filled with 9 blue sapphires in the left column and brown ambers in the right column. All other gems go into the black cloth bag in the centre of the table.
A game consists of 9 rounds, which are all played in the same way. At the beginning, each player takes a laying board from the pile and turns it to the right side (3 parts or 4 parts), the used one goes to the discard pile. Then the first player rolls the dice, turns over the hourglass and from now on the time runs. Within the 45 seconds that the sand trickles through the hourglass, you look at which symbol the dice shows, look for it on your laying board on the left, take the laying pieces painted there and puzzle out exactly the geometric figure printed on the right from them, as quickly as possible.
The first player to finish shouts: Ubongo! All other players may still try to puzzle the figure until the time runs out and one player announces this with a: Stop! If no player has finished within the time limit, you turn the hourglass over again and have a second chance.
Every player who solved his task gets gems. The fastest player to call Ubongo first gets the turn marker sapphire from the turn bar and may also draw another gem from the black bag.
The second fastest player takes the brown amber from the round bar and may also draw a gem from the small bag. All other players draw only one stone each from the bag. If you do not complete your task in time, you get nothing.
The different gems give different numbers of points for the final score. The player who has scored the most points after the 9th round wins the game.
Ubongo is a tile-laying game that is fast-paced and can get wild at times! Everything revolves around being quick and nimble: quickly take the right pieces, turn them with your eyes and nimble fingers, move them and puzzle them, combine them in your head. As soon as the last piece completes the geometric figure: Call Ubongo! – and already with the volume and eloquence with which Ubongo bubbles forth, you notice that the Ubongo board game fever has taken hold of you.
You immediately get into the game and quickly develop the ambition to complete the tasks, to become better, to become faster. There are 36 boards with 2 x 6 tasks each – a total of 432 different tasks!
In terms of the difficulty of the tasks, we found the tasks with 3 pieces to be much easier than the tasks with 4 pieces and for us they were just right for a family game with children. For purely adult groups, the variant Ubongo in 3D is probably more challenging and even more fun, as the tasks are supposed to be much more difficult (we have not yet played this variant ourselves).
Legespiele are always also puzzle games and Ubongo trains the geometric eye, concentration and combinatorics quite unnoticed. After playing several games with different players, we noticed that there are sometimes big differences in the speed at which players start playing. There are those who were almost always ready in no time and those who had a hard time – and this difference decreased in a surprisingly short time, especially with younger players.
In a game between adults and children, it is advisable to decide at the beginning that adults only have 1 hourglass turn – but the children have 2, so that the starting position remains fair. Experience shows that this difference quickly evens out and before you know it, the kids are shouting Ubongo!
Ubongo is entertaining, fast and varied and does not get boring even after several rounds. It is one of the family games that can be understood immediately and quickly set up. For all those who are shy about reading, Kosmos-Verlag has even removed the reading hurdle in the new edition before the first game – if you want, you can simply install the app and have the rules explained to you. There is probably no easier way to start the game.
In addition, there’s a timer in the app for variable time settings and for the solo variant (e.g. create as many boards as possible in 15 minutes).
A wonderfully simple, quickly learned, entertaining family game where everyone plays at the same time without waiting and which is still a lot of fun even after many games!
Take a look at our other game tips such as on Wettlauf nach El Dorado and The Quacks of Quedlinburg. You can also find inspiration for gifts and activities with friends, partner and family on our website!
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