This is part of the Spiel des Jahres series of posts. Rummikub was the winner of the German “Game of the Year” in 1980. The game is based on a traditional game called Okey. The modern game has been produced by many companies. The copy that I own was made by the Pressman Toy Company.
The game plays from two to four players from ages 8 and up. A game will take you anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how long you let players take on their turn. This is one of those games that benefits from an egg timer to keep the game moving along.
I just purchased Rummikub (rummy-cube) earlier this week, and it’s already my daughter’s new favorite game. Rummikub is an easy to learn rummy-style game that’s sure to be a hit not only on family game night but on every other night as well. I purchased the basic version of the game which includes 106 plastic tiles and four playing racks. The plastic tiles are numbered 1 to 13 in four colors with two sets of each color and two joker tiles, so it’s like two sets of regular playing cards with colors instead of suits.
My eight-year-old daughter was not familiar with any form of rummy, but it didn’t take long for her to get the hang of the game. Play begins with each player taking fourteen tiles and trying to form sets of three or four tiles. Sets can be sequences of numbers with the same color or they can be multi-colored sets of the same number. The first player to lay down all of his or her tiles is the winner, scoring a number of points equal to the tiles remaining in the hands of the other players. It can take a few rounds for the game to get going, but once each player has made some initial sets, the game really takes off.
Once a set has been placed on the table, you are allowed to use items from the set and move them around and rearrange them as long as you end up with valid three or four item sets once you’re all done. This aspect of Rummikub not only makes it extremely fun but the pattern recognition skills required also make Rummikub a great activity to promote critical thinking in children and in adults.
My daughter has already asked when we get to play Rummikub again, and really, I think that’s the highest recommendation that can be given.
Update on July 10,2012
It’s been nearly five years since I wrote this review. In order to include the game in the Spiel des Jahres series, I wanted to try the game with my eight-year-old son. He enjoyed it just as much as my daughter did five years ago. We played one round and he said immediately, “Can we play again?”