Full disclosure: A review copy of Ripple Rush was provided by Stronghold Games.
New games! A lot of what I have been able to get played has been games that can play remotely or quickly, and thankfully, this one’s both. Ripple Rush is a new flip and write game from Stronghold, but I still have no idea if it’s flip and write, flip and fill, draw and draw? We need genre consistency; I’m way out in the weeds on this one. But I digress. Let’s dig in and see what the game’s got going on!
In Ripple Rush, you have one goal: make long columns. Thankfully, you have a bunch of numbers you’re going to draw and the freedom to place those numbers anywhere. But these are your numbers; nobody else deserves them. Unfortunately, if you can’t place them, your opponents get a chance to place your numbers on their boards! The indignity. Will you be able to outscore your opponents?
Essentially none. Shuffle up the cards, and then create a stack of cards for play:
- 5 players: Use all 100 cards.
- 4 players: Use 80 cards.
- 3 players: Use 60 cards.
- 2 players: Use 40 cards.
- 1 player: Use 20 cards.
Give each player a player sheet:
And, if you want, reveal two of the Goal Cards:
You should be ready to play!
Not a ton for this one. The game is played over a series of simultaneous turns as players try to make contiguous runs of numbers in each column. At the end of the game, you score one point per number in your largest run in each column! Along the way, though, there’s some potential for combos and unused numbers can come back to haunt you in the worst way. Let’s dig in and find out how!
In a given round, players each draw and reveal a card, announcing its value. Then, they can add the number to any spot in the column of the same color provided that it is greater than every number below it and less than every number above it. Simple enough.
The problem is, if you can’t place the number on the card, you have to give it up. Announce that you cannot place your number, and once your opponents have had a chance to place their numbers, they can place yours as well! If they want to. No pressure either way.
Should you manage to complete a row on your sheet, you unlock the corresponding row Bonus! If it’s a number, you may write that number in any column on your sheet. If it’s a color with an X, you may choose any number and write it in the column of that color.
Play until the deck is depleted, and then check each column. You get 1 point for each value in your longest contiguous streak of numbers (this means your largest group of numbers with no blank spots between them). Total your scores, and the player with the most points wins!
For the Advanced Game, you simply get 3 points for each Goal Card you successfully fulfill. Each Goal Card corresponds to a row, so completing that row fulfills the goal and can earn you up to 6 additional points total!
Player Count Differences
Generally speaking, I’d loosely expect scores to increase as the player count increases. Assuming that everyone has to get rid of some number X cards per game, as player count increases, even if X remains the same, the number of players being unable to play X cards increases, right? As a result, I’d expect to see more players with higher scores, since they’ll hopefully be able to take better advantage of a wider variety of their opponents’ mistakes. Naturally, I’d expect to see lower scores if you’re playing the basic game rather than the advanced game, but that’s sort of independent from player count. Beyond that, I really don’t pay that much attention to my opponents beyond trying to see what numbers they’ve already seen so that I don’t have to rely on just my wits to pull out a win. It may be a bit harder to track who’s gotten what as player count increases, since you’ll get a lot more information every turn. But that does seem like more fun. I’d probably recommend this one at slightly higher player counts, as a result.
- You only get 20 cards. This is the key thing to remember for this game, and this is how the game gets away from players so quickly. You can be really building up to a perfect line, only to realize that you’re two cards away from the end of the game and you’ve got more holes than a California highway. Try to avoid that, and keep track of how many more turns you have left.
- Make sure you’re creating properly-connected groups. I think I tend to overestimate my ability to get the cards I need later in the game, and that causes me to spread myself too thin. This leads to me … usually not doing too well in the games that I play. If you try to play this the same way you’d play Qwinto or Qwingo, you’re going to have a bad time.
- Especially near the end of the game, it’s not always the worst thing to create impossible spaces on your board. Even if you put the 25 towards the bottom middle, if it’s your last turn, it doesn’t matter. You should always do your best to place your final number such that it connects to your largest group, if it’s possible to do so. It’s at least one free point if you do it that way (more if you manage to connect two groups together).
- Don’t always put your 25 in the topmost space or your 1 in the bottommost space. You’re not going to be able to fill out every space on the board, mathematically, unless another player decides they want to throw the game and writes a 25 at the bottom of all of their columns.
- Try to set yourself up for combos. This is going to be one of two major ways for you to get more numbers. The other way is relying on your opponents to mess up, and that’s a crux of this game, but this helps you get numbers you want. You need to try and prepare such that you can use one bonus to get another bonus to get another bonus, and so on. Chaining them together will help you fill out more of your board much more quickly.
- Use your bonuses to help connect groups. Yeah, just more specifically, using bonuses as a bridge is explicitly a good idea. This means you need to balance not only getting certain rows filled out at certain times, but also you need to make sure you’re leaving space open for what they can do for you. This usually means not writing 5 / 10 / 15 / 20 unless you have to, for me, at least. Make sure you can take advantage of the bonuses you earn so you can fill out columns.
- Keep an eye on what cards your opponent(s) are getting. These are excellent candidates to use for your bonuses, since they’re cards you’re essentially guaranteed not to get. Just don’t use them for your bonuses if you end up getting to use them (since your opponent may not be able to!).
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Dead simple to learn. Flip a card and write it somewhere in one of the columns. Columns increase bottom to top. If you fill a row, you get that row’s bonus. Not much else to it.
- Plays pretty quickly. I think it can be streamlined by giving each player their own 20-card deck rather than combining them all into one massive deck; this should reduce things like player hands colliding when they both want to draw a card, for instance. Simple stuff with a good outcome.
- Very portable, as well! It’s part of that small-box roll-and-write family, which is very nice. Makes it easy to take around with me places, you know, for all the travel I am doing and am planning to do in the future. I guess portability isn’t as big of a pro as it used to be.
- Supports remote play, with some finagling. You just have to have a player sheet available for players and you’ll draw cards for them since they can’t draw from your remote deck, which, is how remote play works sometimes. Since there aren’t any real pieces of hidden information to consider and it’s relatively component-light, it’s much easier to play remotely.
- It’s fun, especially given how simple it is. It reminds me a bit of Qwingo, though I think I prefer Qwingo, all things being equal.
- I understand why it looks that way, but having numbers on the left side in top-to-bottom increasing order and having the numbers on the sheet go bottom-to-top increasing is fairly confusing. It super threw me off the first time I played, and I still find it distracting. I understand it’s so that you don’t get a free 25 when you’ve filled in the top row, because that would be ludicrous, but it’s an aesthetic I have to get used to.
- I still haven’t really figured out why it’s called Ripple Rush. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.
- The solo play kind of defeats the fundamental schtick of the game? You don’t get any cards from any other players because you don’t … have any other players. It’s just an attempt to see if you can successfully get 20 cards played without having to waste any of them. Even if you do well, your challenge upon game end is to try and see if you can beat your previous score, which isn’t … that interesting of a solo mode. At least give us scoring tiers.
- It’s a little bit of strategy and a lot of luck. And that’s fine; it just occasionally earns a shrug of “well, that could have gone better”. I think part of it is pressing your luck to see if you can chain together a combo or just hoping that you don’t get a lot of numbers in a color that you can no longer place.
Overall: 7 / 10
Overall, I think Ripple Rush is fun. Of my column-filling games, I’d say I prefer Qwingo, but that’s because I feel like it’s more up to the player’s control than Ripple Rush is; at times, I feel like I’m at the whim of the cards I’ve gotten. I can’t really influence them beyond acknowledging that the deck is the deck and the ordering is unknown to me and I’ll find out. And that’s plenty fun for a quick 15-minute game, but I think I would like more from it if it’s going to become a game that I suggest to others or continually go back to, like Qwingo and Qwinto are. That said, I don’t think it’s bad at all! It does what it purports to do: it’s quick, simple, and can be easily played remotely, all of which are good things when you’re still in a pandemic. I do wish that the goal cards were a bit more interesting than “complete this row”, but I did see a BGG post about someone modifying the score sheets so that you could indicate which rows were the goal rows, and that’s useful. Either way, I’m always happy to see another roll/flip-and-write come around, and if you’re looking for something quick and simple to bust out, I think you may enjoy this one!