Tinderblox & Kittin Kickstarter Review

Polyhedron Collider Kitten and Tinderblox Boardgame Kickstarter Review

Dexterity games, it seems are on the up and up, and mint tin games are cool too.  And cats, (nearly) everyone loves cats.  And fire.  Let's face it fire has always been cool.  So here comes two mint tin dexterity games about flaming cats...no, one about cats and another about fire.  

Both games are about stacking components, but they come at this goal from difficult angles, one is about speed and precision, and the other is about careful and considered balance.      


There’s a very interesting and Jenga-like dichotomy with Tinderblox, in many ways the game is a celebration of failure.  Yes, you want to win but the most fun part of the game is the failure.  

In Tinderblox you are collectively attempting to build a miniature campfire using red and yellow cubes for fire, and brown elongated blocks as logs of wood.  A card is drawn from the deck dictating which components need to be added, their necessary assembly (i.e. their orientation, the stacking order) and whether or not the handicap of using your off-hand is imposed.  The rules for this game could be written on a post-it note, in fact, the “Ludemes” or game parts for Tinderblox are so clear you could probably play this game quite easily without ever looking at the rules.

Tinderblox Boardgame Kickstarter Review - Campfire

Tinderblox is exactly the type of game it looks like.  It's light, it's quick, and it’s just good fun.  The simple, easy type of fun that originates from the pit of your stomach, the type of fun that comes so easily to children as you build something up for the simple joy of getting to smash it.  Within the simple confines of the rules, we tremble with anticipation and nervousness as we carefully, gingerly place a wooden piece on top of another precariously balanced cube.  We are filled with great, impassioned ambivalence, desperately wanting the miniature wooden campfire to come tumbling down but equally wanting it to grow larger and more perilous still.  

Tinderblox Boardgame Kickstarter Review - Cards

Tinderblox is a mint tin board game palate cleanser, it’s a silly game to break out between others, it’s a game to play with children, or it can be a game to play perhaps while you’re waiting for Jon to take his turn.  Tinderblox is kind of like a reverse Jenga; you’re all collaboratively trying to build the campfire up because you all want to bask in the warm glow of victory, but the fewer people that get to do the basking the better...as long as you’re one of them.


It should be said that I am a “Dog Person” and the number of cat-based games being produced currently irks me.  That being said, a game called “Puppies” would undoubtedly conjure a very different and far lewder game than one called Kittin.

Kittin is, for me, a different type of dexterity game.  Many games of this genre require a careful level of precision and balance in the placement of one component upon another, or they require very rapid movement in picking something up, snatching, flicking etc.  Kittin bridges this gap asking you to be both deft and swift in mind and movements.

Kittin Boardgame Kickstarter Review - Cards

Kittin is another game where a player could work out the rules without having to read the short and simple rulebook/sheet.  A card is drawn depicting a stack of cat meeples, upon the reveal of the card, players scramble for the correct components before assembling their perfectly matching tower of cat meeples.  The player who accurately builds their cat stack first wins the card, the first player to have three cards wins the game.

There are three straightforward challenges with Kittin.  First among them is the pattern recognition of the recipe for your tower of cats, recognising which cats you need and the number of them and then getting them. Quickly.  Second, is the managing the orientation of the near-symmetrical components, it can be surprisingly hard to tell which end of the polyomino cat is the head and which the...tail.  The third is completing the previous two before any other player, allowing you to sit back and purr like the cat that’s had the cream.

Kittin Boardgame Kickstarter Review - Cat Meeples

Kittin is best enjoyed when all players find each of these challenges...well, equally challenging.
Kittin isn’t a very level game, some players will naturally be better at this than others, they will be faster with greater hand-eye coordination, better at recognising the difference between one end of a cat to another and for me, this creates an unbalance in the enjoyment of the game.  For those that have naturally good hand-eye-coordination, Kittin isn’t fun if you keep walking away with the victory.  For those that are continually one, two or even three steps away from competing for their stack when someone meows loudly, the game just isn’t fun either.  Yes, there will be the occasional and all too fleeting sense of victory when a win was stolen but is that enough for you?

Kittin is a silly, fun and frantic game that can be taught in almost as many seconds that it is played it.  You could even play Kittin to work out who goes first in a different game, just realise that when playing against people like me, you’ll always come second.

Kittin and Tinderblox are both live on Kickstarter today (4th February) as either a double pack game (£18) or singularly (£10) with a Kickstarter edition of Tinderblox also available.

This Kickstarter preview is based on a prototype version of the game provided by the publisher; the final product may look, play or smell different to that used in this preview.
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