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Ted Alspach
United States
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Intro & Background
Rumis is a building game that has players simulating the building of Inca structures using various stone blocks. It is published by Educational Insights, and designed by Stephan Kogl.

Rumis is a 3D abstract “area placement” game, where you use tetris-like 3D blocks to build various structures. At the end of the game, the player who has the most colors showing as viewed from above the structure wins. Four different structures are included with the game, adding additional depth and replay value.

After choosing one set of colored blocks (one color per player), each player places 3D block structures, such as a four-piece “L” (three blocks tall with one sticking out at the bottom) or a three piece “I” (three blocks tall), on a common gameboard placed between all players. Each player’s piece must have at least one block edge adjacent to another block edge of the same color, without leaving any “holes” under the placed piece.

Optimal number of players
Rumis plays fine with 2 or three players, but four players is where Rumis really shines. Unless you have an overly analytical player who feels the need to examine every possible option, the game moves along pretty quickly, with just the right amount of time between turns to figure out what might be a good move or two. Even if you [/i]are[/i] saddled with someone who normally spends a good deal of time analyzing future potential moves, they won’t be able to effectively spend much time figuring out all the permutations – with three other players between each turn there isn’t all that much long-term strategizing possible.

Game Length
For a two player game, expect a snappy 10 minute game. For three players, 15, and for four, 20 minutes. Add about 3-5 minutes of playing time per person for a first-ever play (or a first play with one of the two “advanced” boards), as they’ll be struggling with the restrictions in addition to the tactical placement options. The rules can be explained in less than 5 minutes, including sample moves.

Heaviness Scale (1= Lightweight, 10=Heavy)
I’d rate this a 2 for the two “easy” structures (Tower and Wall) and 3 for the two more complex structures (Stairs and Pyramid). The game is extremely accessible by pretty much anyone – my 5 year-old loves playing it.

If you like X…
Rumis is a good deal like Blokus in its simplicity and directness. Thematically and structurally, it’s very much like Pueblo (though significantly quicker and less complex). But deep down inside, Rumis is really an analog version of a 3D Tetris. Fitting pieces together is somehow very soothing, especially when you’re capping one of the structures.

Abstractness Scale (1: Totally Abstract, 10=Richly Thematic)
In its defense, the theme for Rumis really does match the game mechanics quite well – building structures from blocks, just like the Incas did, though on an overly simplified scale. And with brightly-colored blocks. Okay, that last part probably pulls you out from the theme a little. The game certainly doesn’t suffer from the theme, and in fact gives the game a little extra spark.

Box, Board, Bits, Bargain
I’m reviewing the 2nd edition of Rumis (currently available), which is a considerable move up from the first edition in terms of quality and components. The box is non-traditional but nicely-sized (it stacks neatly with Ticket to Ride/Memoir 44 boxes), with a front flap locking mechanism instead of standard box top. The four structure boards are printed on nice heavy shiny cardboard, and each has a distinctive color in addition to the shape of the structure. For the Stairs and Pyramid structures, heights are indicated on the board in numbers that are a little two small to be seen easily (though once you’ve played with each once or twice, you’ll just know the heights anyway). The boards fit nice and snugly into the turntable, which operates smoothly.

The blocks are nice and solid, though they’re a wee bit small for me – 50% larger would make the tactile experience better, and would probably hold the structures together better. The blocks are painted well and are quite smooth, which is great for sliding pieces into place but not so good for holding the existing structure together. A bit of texture would be nice.

The rules are comprehensive and clearly illustrated. They’re printed on a folded 8.5x11 sheet of paper, which is a little thin considering you’ll want to refer to its Height Restrictions chart before each game to determine the height of structures when playing with less than four people. There’s no reason that the height restrictions couldn’t have been placed on the structure boards.

Retailing at $30, Rumis seems a wee bit pricy for what you get. Online stores currently have it available for $22-24, which is a good value.

Rules & Gameplay
Choose one of the four structure boards and place it on the turntable. The first player places any piece on the board in any location. Play moves to the next player, who must place his or her piece adjacent to an existing piece. After the first round, each player [/i]must[/i] place a pieces so that one block face is adjacent to an existing piece’s block face of the same color.

Play continues until no more pieces can be played (players are out of the game as soon as they can’t place a piece, and stay out even if they might be able to place a piece on a later turn). The score is counted by looking down on the structure and counting the visible colors (even if they aren’t at the top level).

With four players, it’s quite possible to “lock out” a player early in the game (sometimes after the first piece) if they aren’t careful. A great tip when playing is to decide on the best move you can make, and then, [/i]before[/i] you place your piece, check to make sure you can’t be locked out. Eventually you’ll be able to take that into consideration as you initially determine the best move.

In two player games, much of your time in the beginning of the game will be spent jockeying for position. Do NOT go for the easy score early on if you can effectively cordon off a section of the structure for yourself. The Stairs structure is particularly useful for this. On the other hand, if playing two players on the Pyramid (which I don’t recommend), just go for edge points initially and don’t worry about the center until later.

In three and four player games, the endgame is all about being able to place your piece at all, let alone trying to maximize the position and score potential. Keeping that in mind while you play should cause you to get rid of the “3D” pieces (the three corner pieces that extend into three dimensions) by the 2/3s point of the game. For the pyramid, you’ll also want to get rid of your four-high piece early on.

Rumis is a great game that has considerable replay value. The four different boards make a session of four games very satisfying, as each requires different strategies.

The more I’ve played Rumis, the more I like it (my rating has gone from 7 after the first play to 8 after several more to 9 now, with about 15 plays logged and several other games watched). While the two player game is slightly weaker, when played with four players, Rumis provides an excellent, light, and elegant playing experience.
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Renato Tavares
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Playing 'til death!
Nice review!
For two players, I recommend Rumis +. However, I did not play Rumis + with five or six players, yet...
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Jean Comeau
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Casulo wrote:
Nice review!
For two players, I recommend Rumis +. However, I did not play Rumis + with five or six players, yet...

Hi Renato. Any idea where I could purchase Rumis+ in North America?


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