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A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.

West Footscray
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Toc Toc Woodman (2008)

Toc Toc Woodman is a game in which you play a lumberjack with more job security than the crazy Russian guy who lives in the International Space Station (I always think it's Peter Stormare, thanks Armageddon). I say this because you, Mister Lumberjack in Toc Toc Woodman, actually have no interest in chopping trees down. Your objective is to strip the tree of its bark without taking any actual wood from the tree, leaving it instead for your poor lumberjack enemies/brethren.

In this game, which is kind of like Jenga, a tree is vertically assembled using nine beige (yuk) plastic discs stacked on top of one another. They form the centre of the tree, the wood. Each of these discs also has four slots for brown pieces that loosely fit to each core. These represent tree bark. The objective of the game is to take turns hitting the tree with a little plastic axe (it's about the size of an axe that you would use to behead mice, for you serial killers reading at home) so that bark falls off the tree. Each piece of bark is worth one point, but BE CAREFUL because if you knock any of the beige discs out so they fall off the tree, it will fly approximately 30 metres in a random direction (along with 18 pieces of bark) and the owner of the game will tell you to find the piece because he only just got this game and of course the stupid disc has gone under the couch and why oh why are we playing this game in a room with brown and beige carpet in the dark it's impossible to find anything on this floor and I don't know how many pieces of bark are missing but maybe they won't notice as long as we don't play another game after this and just chuck it all back in the box before he notices it's missing half the pieces.

Not pictured: 3 other people trying to find the resonant frequency of the table by screaming at various pitches.

Seriously though, the game is fun. It takes approximately 30 seconds to explain the rules to anyone, except to that one friend who always seems to be on his phone as soon as it's not his turn. Honestly, who could you be messaging on Facebook at 2am on a Tuesday morning? In addition, the game only takes about 3 to 4 minutes to play. Less if it's your first time playing and you invariably end up hitting the tree way too hard, netting you a grand total of minus 90 points. Even less time if you do what I do and attempt an axe throw in an effort to look cool.

Regarding the theme, I'm not sure what kind of future this is where tree bark is worth more than the wood of the tree itself. If I were a lumberjack and I came back to camp with just bark the foreman summarily execute me. Then again, if I were just carrying bits of bark and my friend was carrying a whole slab of a tree I'd think it were pretty funny, and it would save my arm strength for whatever burly men do in the woods together at night (they play boules, you pervert). Or maybe the game was made in North Korea (the box doesn't specify which) where tree bark is the primary food source (Carcassonne meeples are for dessert).

As mentioned earlier, it's a lot like Jenga. The developers really should have gone a full Jenga clone and made the components out of wood. I like the game a lot as it is but wooden components would be amazing. I would get some wood and carve some myself, but I'm not actually a lumberjack. I just pretend to be one. Even if you are a lumberjack, I heartily recommend this game, if only to see how easy your job could be if you just stopped working so hard.
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