Tuesday, March 24, 2009

#25: Viva Topo!

Viva Topo
  • designer: Manfred Ludwig
  • publisher: Selecta/Rio Grande
  • date: 2002
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: 813/7.06
  • age: 4+
  • # of players: 2-4
  • print status: in print
  • cost: $27.86 (Boards & Bits)
Let's start with Bob the Tomato:
"I like Mouse Trap. You roll your dice... You move your mice... nobody gets hurt."
Bob is simply expressing a bedrock truth - one of the time-honored themes of kid gaming is cats chasing mice: Cat & Mouse (there at least 5 different games w/this name in the BGG database), Pounce!, Cheese Chasers, Mouse Trap: The Card Game, So Ein Kase, Mause-Rallye, and the ever popular Mush Mouse & Punkin Puss Game. (OK, it's not ever-popular... but it was published the year I was born, so that oughta count for something.)

OTOH, Bob is not talking specifically about Viva Topo, a game where you do roll your dice & move your mice - but somebody is gonna get hurt, 'cuz the big orange cat is on the prowl.

Each turn, players roll the die & and move one of their 4 mice (5 mice w/2 players) out of their burrow & around the track. 2 sides of the die have a 1 and a cat on them - when you roll these, you move one of your mice a single space and then advance the cat along his track.

When the cat makes it three quarters of the way around the track, he picks up speed & begins moving two spaces per turn - and every mouse he passes and/or lands on is "captured" (aka: "eaten").

Meanwhile, the mice are scurrying along, trying to get to the various cheese storehouses along the route. The earlier to jump to safety & grab a cheese, the less it will be worth. For those mice who are fleet of foot (read: roll high), they can even reach Cheese Paradise, where their reward is an entire wheel of cheese. (Since this is a kids game, the mice are not given wine or pretentious conversation to go along with their cheese.)

There's a nice balance between kid friendliness & game tension here - the cat comes on like a steamroller in the late game, but if you can position your mice where they can make a leap to safety. Scores tend to be close, unless kids make crazy "run one mouse & leave the other three behind" decisions... but they only do that one time.

The components are, as is common with Selecta games, top-notch. The mice & cats have felt ears... and the mice get string tails as well. This is simply a pleasure to play - and it's wonderful that Rio Grande is importing the game so it's available at a very reasonable price.

2 comments:

Jason Bullion said...

Gotta agree. We bought this one a few months ago and Alexis loves it. Kinda of a Ghost Party vibe to it. She loves moving the cat and even taught Brain how to play it when we visited him this past weekend.

Jeff Myers said...

We love this one as well. My kids call it cheese heaven for some reason. The felt ears are pretty cute too.