“Ubongo! 3D” is a new puzzle game from Kosmos games. The 3D version of Ubongo is based on the extremely popular Ubongo! board game which has sold over 5,000,000 copies worldwide in its various forms. The 3D version of Ubongo! is for 1-4 players, ages 8 & up. A full game takes only about 25 minutes to play.
The original Ubongo! plays like a competitive version of Tetris. Players vie against each other to build certain shapes on theirs card with a limited amount of polyomino-playing-pieces in front of them. The fastest player each round gets a gemstone token. The game is fast-paced, and easy-to-learn.
Ubongo! 3D expands on the original form of Ubongo! Players now use 3D plastic pieces to build 3 dimensional shapes. Other than that, both games are fairly similar.
What’s in the Box?
Ubongo 3D is packaged in a standard gaming box that is 11.6 x 11.6 x 2.8 inches. The box has a nice insert for storage.
The box contains:
- 72 Puzzle cards with 671 tasks
- 4 sets of 8 puzzle pieces (plastic)
- 58 Gemstones – Blue, Brown, Red and Green
- 1 Rulebook
- 1 Cloth bag
- 1 Die
- 1 Hourglass – (ours runs for 64 seconds)
The 72 puzzle cards have 4 different difficulty levels based on their background color.
- Green – Easiest
- Yellow – Easy/Medium
- Orange – Medium
- Red – Hardest
How does Ubongo 3D play?
A game of Ubongo! 3D is played over 9 rounds. Decide the difficulty level and pass out 9 puzzle cards to each player. Experienced players could take Red, and give new players Green if you want to adjust difficulty and fairness.
Each player receives a set of eight puzzle pieces. The puzzle pieces are 3D polyominos — geometric (Tetris-like) shapes. Every player has the exact same 8 puzzle pieces for each game.
At the start of each round, each player gets a new (random) puzzle board. One player rolls the dice. The die will indicate which puzzle everyone has to do. In this example (below), a one was rolled, so we are doing puzzle 1. The puzzle will tell you exactly which pieces you need to solve the puzzle. (Easier puzzles will use less pieces).
Each player must perfectly fill the blank space on the puzzle board with the puzzle pieces. And the puzzle must be exactly 2 levels tall everywhere. The timer is started and everyone gets to solving their puzzles.
Once the first player has solved the puzzle, that player shouts “Ubongo!” Other players continue to solve their puzzles though. They have until the sands of the hourglass have emptied. Everyone that has solved their puzzles earns a gem. If the hourglass runs out of time, and no one has solved their puzzles, you flip the timer over again and keep going.
- The fastest player gets a blue gem and takes 1 random gem from the cloth bag.
- The 2nd fastest player gets a brown gem and gets 1 random gem from the bag.
- The 3rd and 4th players just take 1 random gems from the cloth bag.
Red Gems are worth 4 points. Blue Gems are worth 3 points. Green Gems are 2 points. And Brown Gems are worth 1 points.
After nine rounds, add up all your gems’ values, and the player with the most points wins.
Likes, Dislikes and Final Thoughts for Ubongo 3D
- Easy to teach – This game is extremely easy to teach. You can teach folks how to play this game in 1 to 2 minutes. There are not too many board games you can do that with. Young family members and old family members will pick this up very quickly.
- Difficulty Levels – It is nice to have 4 difficulty levels. You can start with the green cards which are the easiest, and work your way up as you learn the nuances of the game.
- Good quality – The puzzles pieces are all plastic, but feel solidly made. The do not feel cheap or hollow. The paper stock of the puzzle cards have the appropriate heft to them.
- Great filler game – There are times when you just want to fill 30 minutes of time between games, or you just want to play one more game before the night ends. This is perfect for those occasions.
- Works that brain of yours – There is very little luck involved in solving the puzzles. Your brain must quickly figure out a way to insert, flip, rotate and connect pieces. This usually starts with a quick glance at the board and trying to determine the best piece to start with. Many times you will paint yourself into a corner, and have to start over. Usually this means someone else will beat you that round … but not always.
- Great Family Game – This is a fantastic game for teaching younger family about board games. It works the young ones’ minds, and parents will still be having fun too.
- Good Rule – The rulebook is two sided pages, in full color, and explains the game very well.
- Good Insert – I’m a sucker for nicely designed game inserts, and Ubongo 3D has a good one.
- The Scoring System is bizarre. – There is a lot of luck built into the scoring system. The slowest person to solve each puzzle could get lucky and draw Red gems from the bag every round and win the game. I guess they did this so that people that are bad at the game can still win? — You can easily make house rules if you don’t like the scoring system. You could simply award 4 different gems each round based on solving quickness.
- Different puzzles at the same time? – Every card is different. Each round, folks are competing against each other, but you are not solving the exact same puzzles. I’m not sure how fair this is? All the cards require the same amount of pieces to solve, but it seems that some cards might be more difficult than others. But then again, I imagine that this balances out over the course of 9 rounds.
- Only 4 players – There are only enough components here for a family of 4. If you have a larger family, you might need to buy two boxes. I don’t see any reason why you can’t combine two games for larger groups. Ubongo! might actually be more fun that way.
Final Thoughts on Ubongo 3D
Ubongo! 3D is an easy game to recommend. It is easy to teach, easy to set up, fun to play, and a quick game to finish. The game retails for $39.95 which seems fair because there are a lot of puzzle pieces and game pieces packed inside the box.
Ubongo 3D seems like a perfect game for a family of 4 with children 8 or older. Everyone will have fun, and work their brain noodles for a little bit.
You should be able find this game at your local Barnes & Noble, or online.