If you thought competitive Tetris was too easy, welcome to Drop It
So a few weeks ago I went over to Alpal’s for some Sunday gaming as usual. With a huge grin on her face, this box is produced bearing the words Drop It.
Looking at the pictures and a cursory glance at the manual, I think Tetris with Connect 4 elements maybe? I was correct, but only in the best possible way of being completely wrong.
Watching the game board being set up, I couldn’t help but play with the coloured geometric shapes. Alpal starting explaining the rules to me, and while intrigued I admit all I was thinking was ‘Wonky Tetris’.
The explanation is really simple – players take turns dropping pieces of their choice into the tower, and the higher the piece is the more points you get. Winner has the most points. Simple, right?
Looking at the tower, one of the first things you notice is the lines across the tower. These are your scoring areas, the higher they are the more points they are worth.
The wonky description comes from both the tower and the shapes. Unlike Tetris with its perfectly formed connecting shapes, Drop It has various geometric shapes of various angles and indeed weight, including circles.
Instantly I started forming stacking strategies in my mind on how to get a mostly stable base happening. This tower was going all the way to the top if I could manage it.
Looking at the setup, I noticed all of the shapes on the sides and base had an X on them. While I thought I knew what was going on, I asked Alpal what that meant.
And I was right. Any piece touching the matching shape, either on the bottom of the tower or the sides, did not score that turn.
My tower started rearranging itself in my mind, and started calculating risk and reward for sacrificing some early points to score big later. I was still confident this tower was going places, but only after a few setbacks.
And then the last placement rule came.
Any piece that touches a piece of the same shape or colour will not score this round either.
Tetris suddenly became Super Puzzle Fighter in my mind. The height of the tower no longer called me, but how could I place shapes that would score while messing with Alpal’s plans?
Now all this in Alpal’s kitchen took about 2 minutes, and I was eager to play. And that is one of Drop It’s greatest strengths – it’s a game that when people see it, they want to play it.
It’s like Apples to Apples/Cards Against Humanity where spectators suddenly feel like they are already a part of the game just being on the sidelines. Even younger players will intuitively just ‘get it’. Sure, maybe some finer tactics may be overlooked, but this is a game you can have fun with anyway.
Unfortunately for our first games, we discovered that one of the colours was missing two shapes. This got sorted out in short order, but even missing a couple of shapes did not diminish our enjoyment of the game at all.
Playing with less than four players, each player gets a mixture of the remaining colours and shapes so that all tiles remain in play. So in a two player game, one player has all of the red and green shapes, while the other player has blue and yellow.
In a three player game, each player selects a colour but the shapes of the fourth colour are distributed a little differently. This is great because the game does feel different at the different player counts.
Strategies you use in a two player game such as alternating colours to avoid touching the same colour no longer work. In a three player game, using one of the common colours among all three players is a tactic you can use to force opponents to use shapes or colours they may not want to.
While Drop It offers a lot of fun and surprised me with its ability to draw me in, ultimately it is a filler game for me. I can see myself playing it a lot, especially in a ‘we want to play something but don’t know what’ setting with it’s light party feel, but I wouldn’t setup a game night around it.
And if you thought that longevity wise Drop It might not last, there are a couple of surprises in store for you.
The shapes on the side and the bottom? You can play Shapes or Colours there are inserts for both, and I can’t see why if you really want to mix things up you couldn’t mix the two. Shapes on the side and Colours on the base for example.
The tower area where your pieces drop also isn’t really straight. The higher you go up the tower, the narrower the playfield gets. This promotes an almost Carnival Game style challenge where you try and slightly throw the tile in a direction you want something to land.
It’s a subtle thing, and just dropping the tiles in will still be a fun experience. But essentially working out how to do trick shots with your turn will be just as satisfying as pulling off the same shot on a pool table.
The only downside I can see is Drop It is one of those games where I can see arguments about what is touching vs being merely close can break out. It may not sound like much, but I have seen grudges held for less in some games, and deciding if a piece is worth double points or none can give someone else the game.
If you have ultra-competitive players in your group, you might want to keep this in mind. Luckily almost all of the players I play with are more laid back, but there is the possibility.
Drop It is a lot of fun. I can’t see myself playing it as the main game on games night, but as a filler or distraction, it fits the bill perfectly. It also is in a strange place – it’s a party style game for no more than four players.
It’s different sized and weighted components add a degree of skill and luck to the game. Even the most advanced Tetris players will have to adjust move by move.
My only warning is playing against ultra-competitive people. While I haven’t played with any, I can see many arguments brewing about if a piece scores or not.