Full disclosure: A review copy of Hashi de Cubes was provided by Joyple Games.
It’s always a good week when we have doujin games to review! It can also be a good week when that’s not the case, but it’s a lot less likely, I guess? I’m not sure, and now I have another thing to track with my sleep tracker. Anyways, before we get on to the next one, let’s stop for a second and check out Hashi de Cubes, a recent Tokyo Game Market release from Joyple Games.
There’s not really “lore” here in this one; it’s a bit abstract. You’re going to flip some blocks, stack some blocks, and helpfully put penalty blocks on your opponent’s block stack. Try to go wide, rather than tall; that’s just good efficiency. Knock yours over and you lose; knock your opponent’s over, and you still lose. Rough stuff. Oh, and you have to use chopsticks, not your hands. Which player will be able to triumph in this dexterity challenge?
Very little to do, here. Set out the blocks, then set the penalty blocks nearby:
Give each player a starting play area:
And a pair of chopsticks:
Finally, shuffle up the cards:
You should be ready to start!
This one’s a hoot. And dead simple to explain.
On your turn, flip a card. Using only the chopsticks, you must place the pictured block within the boundaries of your player area. Imagine building a wall. It may only be one block wide, but it may be up to 5 blocks long and as tall as you can make it. It cannot hang outside of those boundaries.
If you manage to complete a full row of blocks (Tetris-style), then you’ve managed to do something good! Well, good for you. Not for your opponent. This allows you to place a penalty block on their structure. Take one of the black blocks with your chopsticks and add it to your opponent’s structure wherever you want. Just be careful! If you’re sloppy and knock over their tower, you lose the game. You hate to see it.
Speaking of losing, if you knock over your tower, you also lose! So don’t do that. Play continues until someone’s tower collapses, essentially. If you, out of pure spite and grit, manage to place every piece, well, the player with the shorter tower wins! It’s more efficient.
There’s a variant that lets you use your hands, but, if you don’t need to, why would you? Definitely not the point of this one.
Player Count Differences
None! It only plays two players. I have a lot of those. Made a whole tag for it. Do I use it consistently? Of course not. I mean, you can play it solo, but that’s mostly just seeing if you can stack everything without it falling over.
- I usually attempt to punish my opponents with penalty blocks. Stacking them in all sorts of weird ways is a great way to make it really hard for them to place, but you’re still relying on them eventually messing up and getting bad cards relative to your placement.
- Be careful when placing the penalty blocks, though. You can lose the game if you knock over their structure while placing penalty blocks, so maybe don’t be too aggressive? If you’re not sure that you can make a survivable play, then just make one that’s not going to explicitly help them. Always be courteous and let your opponent knock over their own tower.
- Using the chopsticks to straighten up when you’ve made sloppy plays is a good idea. Not explicitly forbidden either, which is nice. Just make sure in an attempt to stabilize the tower you don’t … well, do the exact opposite. It’s happened before! To me.
- I can’t necessarily recommend building up before building wide. Wide is safer, a bit more stable, and also, well, it’s the tiebreaker, so, try to keep your stack short if you want to come out with a win.
- Keep an eye on the remaining pieces so that you know what might potentially clown you. You should try to plan ahead as best you can when you’re placing stuff; no point in making a particularly tall spire if you’re going to have to place a wide, heavy piece on it pretty much immediately afterwards. That’s just a losing proposition.
- If you overindex on making sure there are no gaps, you risk making yourself extremely vulnerable to a few bad placements. There are certain pieces that thrive in gaps, like the cross piece that everyone hates in every game like this. If you have a perfectly flat surface, well, it’s going to kill you. Or at least make your life more annoying.
- Honestly, take a few breaks every now and then and stretch your wrist. It’s good practice. You can really start getting a cramp if you play this too much. It happened!
- Each block has a sort of pivot point or good grip point. Find those and make sure you have a secure grasp on it before you try to add it to your tower. This is a thing worth taking some practice time for before the game starts. The last thing you want is a piece to slip from your (admittedly slippery) grasp and come crashing into the tower.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Woof, this is a hard game. Hard in a fun way, though! Love a good dexterity challenge, hence the theme of like, 40% of this week.
- And I thought the tweezers from Tokyo Highway were endearing. Playing a dexterity game with chopsticks is a super fun follow-up. If you want, you can always combine it and try to play Tokyo Highway with chopsticks, though I can’t necessarily guarantee results.
- Very easy to set up. You kinda just … dump out all the pieces and then give everyone chopsticks. I guess shuffle the cards too, so that’s fun! That’s gonna be the whole thing.
- Very easy to learn, too. Flip a card, stack a block. The hard part is the doing, not the learning.
- There’s a guide on how to put all the pieces away included with the game and it’s impeccable. I wish more games with pieces had these; I always can’t quite get the box closed. It would also work really well for games in the Oink line, since they tend to have really tight-fit boxes.
- I’m really into the yellow box and cards? It’s a relatively uncommon color for games, but it works. It’s so bold! It really stands out when you look at it. Might have been what caught my eye in the first place.
- The cubes seem to be relatively high quality. I think BLOCK.BLOCK edges them out a bit, but that game is handmade so, I can’t really put it in a fair competition against other things.
- All things considered, the chopsticks aren’t particularly high quality. I feel like it would be nice to have some solid, weighty ones to really make me feel like I know how to lift things, rather than some light wooden ones that I can blame for my low wrist strength.
- It’s odd to me that players usually run out of penalty blocks before the game ends. It feels like there should be more? Just penalties until the game ends, no mercy.
- Early luck with card draws can really dictate the number of options you have later in the game. There are definitely combos that, if you get them early enough in the game, your odds of winning aren’t very good. These aren’t the “you’re going to have a bad early few turns”, these are the “it’s going to be impossible for you to build a firm enough foundation”.
- Game can really cramp up your wrist / hand if you’re not used to / bad at using chopsticks. This happened the first time I played; it hurt like hell. We couldn’t lift anything after the third game. Just, you know, stretch your hand every so often to prevent cramps. Drink water.
Overall: 7.5 / 10
Overall, Hashi de Cubes is a cute little game! I think, at first, I wasn’t particularly pleased with it because my chopstick strength was so powerfully low (and my arms are normally pretty strong, so this was frustrating), but as I learned to navigate the game I started enjoying it a fair bit. Now I happily break it out when I want to play a two-player game that’s going to be extremely physically taxing and challenging, mostly for a good laugh. I’m a great friend. I have some concerns about the value of luck in this game, mostly because the cards you draw early are the foundational bits of your structure; getting nonoptimal starts makes it really hard for you to ensure long-term stability. Even then, though, drawing the wrong card at the wrong time can be an absolute disaster. And maybe that’s part of the fun, just, randomly getting the wrong card and likely losing the game, but the game isn’t quite short enough that I don’t feel somewhat invested. So that’s not the best thing, but, I think it’s workable for a short game. I’m kind of impressed at the level of physical dexterity required to do this well, though, I suppose a nontrivial portion of the American audience might be even worse with chopsticks than I am, so, make sure you stretch your hand muscles and drink water from time to time. Don’t stretch outside of your comfortable range. It is a lot of fun, though, and has some nice quirks, like the guide to put all the blocks away, or the penalty blocks coming in to potentially wreck another player’s grand design. If these things sound up your alley, I’d definitely recommend checking out Hashi de Cubes if you can get a chance to play it. I’ve had fun with it!