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Subject: Toc Toc Woodman - A Light Review rss

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All of my 'Light Reviews' aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them, the options involved and general flow of play.


Game Type - Dexterity/Party Game
Play Time: 10-15 Minutes
Number of Players: 2-7 (Best 3-5)
Mechanics - None
Difficulty - Pick-up & Play (Can be learned in 2 minutes)
Components - Excellent
Release - 2008

Designer - Justin Oh - (Gemblo)

Image Courtesy of EndersGame


Toc Toc Woodman is one of those games that almost defies description because there is really so little to it. That doesn’t mean this game isn’t a little gem but it does leave you going, “Is that it? And yet I want to play again!” meeple

Toc Toc Woodman pits each player as a lumberjack, hell bent on taking to a solitary tree with an oversized axe. As the tree gets whacked, bark begins to fly and the tree gets all out of whack.

Toc Toc is a bit like Jenga, but it’s far better than that. It’s really a dexterity game that fits into the Family Game genre but given it can play 7 it earns the Party Game tag too.

So it’s a bit like day old Korean Noodles mixed with 3 day old Goulash…it’s got a bit of everything and just like that mix it still comes up smelling good…let’s find out why.

NB – For the record this review focuses on the 2nd Ed. printing of the game, of which I think most people would own a copy.

NBB - I can't believe there isn't a microbadge for this game - it's screaming out for a funky Axe MB.


The Components

Toc Toc has as few parts as it has rules…

d10-1 Cores – In all there are a total of 9 tree cores, which are represented by plastic, almost circular pieces. Each core is strengthened by the internal design and 4 segments on the outer allow the bark to interlock with the cores.

These pieces brought back a distant memory of my childhood as I seem to remember some sort of building block game that also came in plastic. From memory I think it may have been released by Tupperware and they connected using a similar interlocking design as the cores and bark from Toc Toc. I never thought I’d mention Tupperware in a game review but there you go.

Image Courtesy of EndersGame

d10-2 Bark – The bark pieces are also made from plastic and represent a quarter of each outer core (meaning 4 fit onto each core piece). They really slide into the locking mechanism very easily and hold fast provided something is supporting a full core (core with bark) from below.

Image Courtesy of EndersGame

d10-3 The Axe – The axe is a nice design that is easy to hold and that head feels just right as you whack it against the tree.

Image Courtesy of EndersGame

d10-4 The Stump – The plastic tree is complete with the inclusion of the stump, whose purpose is to support all those Cores and their valuable Bark.

Image Courtesy of EndersGame

The game is very well produced and the sturdy plastic will likely see pieces lost before they are get broken. On that note though the box the game comes in is not great for storage as the box flap on the end is likely to come open during transport and that can lead to lost bark pieces very easily. I highly recommend storing the bark pieces in a zip lock bag inside the box to stop this from happening.

Image Courtesy of EndersGame

The Set-Up

Set-up is as simple as sliding the bark into each of the grooves on each Core and placing each complete Core onto the tree stump. A player is chosen as the starting player and play is ready to begin.

Image Courtesy of EndersGame

Image Courtesy of EndersGame

The Play

Much like Loopin’ Louie the play of Toc Toc Woodman is deadly simple -

d10-1 I’m a Lumberjack and that’s ok! – The active player gets 2 chances to swing the axe and whack that tree.

d10-2 Bark Bark, Look there’s an Aardvark… – With each whack the tree will shift as a particular Core is moved. Should a core move enough that a bark piece is no longer supported by a core underneath, one or more bark pieces will slip out of their grooves and fall to the table. Each bark piece to do so is collected by the active player and scores them a point. Once a player has had their second whack, they pass the axe onto the next player.

Image Courtesy of hezkezl

d10-3 Avoid the Core – What makes the game work though is the danger that a whackitty chop will completely dislodge a core from the tree. In this instance any bark that also falls is taken but so is the core and those suckers are worth -5 points each!!!

d10-4 Ending a Round (the Game) and Scoring – When all bark is removed or all cores are dislodged the round and game comes to an end. Scoring is as simple as earning 1 point for each bark segment and subtracting -5 for each core in your collection. The player with the most points wins.

Ties are resolved by each tied player taking a turn to balance the hilt of the axe on their open palm. The player that can keep the axe upright for the longest is declared the winner! cool

d10-5 Variant #1: It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s whether you Win First! – This for me is the best form of the game as it requires a certain score to be reached in order to win and usually with 4+ players it will take at least 2 rounds before the game is over and that means luck in a single round won’t guarantee the win necessarily.

2 Player Game – 16 Points
3 Player Game – 12 Points
4 Player Game – 9 Points
5 Player Game – 7 Points
6 Player Game – 6 Points
7 Player Game – 5 Points

We also play that the player coming last gets to be the 1st chopper in the new round.

d10-6 Variant #2: Handicap that Kid, He Always Wins! – This variant is not bad but works really well with kids as it allows the player who came last in the last game to take 3 chops in a turn instead of 2. In a game with four or more players, the last winner can be given only 1 chop per turn. If playing with young children or a particularly good adult, this rule may be in force at all times.

d10-7 Golden Axe and Core Expansions – Believe it or not the game has not one but two mini-expansions, which were released via Kickstarter, Essen and then through the BGG Store. And no the Golden Axe expansion has nothing to do with a party of Adventurers in a 1980's Arcade Game! laugh

Golden Axe – This is simple enough. A player can choose to use the Golden Axe instead of the regular axe but they only get 1 chop. Whatever they score is then worth double, so 2 points per bark piece and -10 for a core. cry

Image Courtesy of johnostout

Golden Core and Bark – These can be placed within the tree as a full core or the bark can be distributed across the tree as the players wish. Each of these pieces are worth double points so Golden Bark is worth 2 points with the standard axe and 4 with the Golden Axe. Likewise the Golden Core is worth -10 with the standard axe and -20 with the Golden Axe… wow

Are these expansions really necessary? Not really, but they can add a little extra fun at the expense of having to keep some of your bark and cores in two separate piles to represent standard and double scoring.

Image Courtesy of johnostout

The Final Word

So is Toc Toc Woodman any good? The resounding answer is yes. It has a similar soul to that of Loopin’ Louie as the game is just plain fun and will have most players asking for one more game…and another…before promising that if you go again it will be the last.

This is largely due to the short set-up and time required to play. But it is also about the nature of the play as well. Whilst the game may seem simple enough, it makes some good use of physics to give the players some things to consider. For example hitting a core near the top of the tree will require relatively little power to see bark and cores go flying. But the lower down the tree you chop the more power you will need to see the bark dislodged. This is because there is more weight resting on those lower cores, which help to keep everything in place.

Then of course the players need to consider the various cores as the tree begins to get all out of whack. Some cores will be acting as counter weights on either side of the tree, which means they are playing a major role in keeping some cores from falling. Other cores will be stopping certain bark pieces from being dislodged…sometimes by the barest of millimeters...and it can be fun to assess the tree from all angles before choosing where to chop. But this never really slows the game down considerably as other players are carefully observing and pulling contorted faces to put the active player off.

The nature of the game does feel like Jenga to a degree but the considerations in play here are much more enjoyable and the components more fun. Also chopping is more satisfying than simply using fingers to remove a piece.

Toc Toc Woodman is not a game that is going to satisfy anyone with a desire to really test the brain but it is still very appealing to gamers (even the heavy ones amongst us) as a filler game or an opener or closer to a game session. It is great for conventions to break up the brain drain and it goes without saying that it is great for kids and families alike. It really fits into that Crokinole and Loopin’ Louie space. Is it as good as either game? Definitely not...Louie’ still has the edge I think as it requires the players to react to something out of their control and Crokinole is just a slice of gaming genius.

But Toc Toc Woodman will still elicit oohs and ahhs, laughs and groans from the players assembled around the table as cores go flying and bark pieces hold on by less than a fingernail.

My only warning with the game is to not really believe that it plays well with the full complement of 7. For me there is too much down time between turns (which sounds ridiculous but for a game of this length it is relative) and really there isn’t enough bark pieces for each player to feel like they achieve enough in a single round. For me the sweet spot is anywhere from 3-5 players.

Till next we meet may your cuts be clean and our wrists stay strong. mb

Review Links

For a full list of my 300+ reviews in a search-able Geeklist -

My Review Geeklist for Easy Reference

Here are some direct links to several other Dexterity Games that you may find interesting -

Klop/Finsca (Molkky) - A Detailed Review

Hula Hippos - A Light Review

Jungle Speed - A Light Review

Polarity - A Light Review

Zopp - A Light Review
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Jacob Kim
United States
New York
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Re: Toc Toc Woodman - A Detailed Review

Great Review and nice way to analyze the game for everyone!
You are a true "LUMBERJACK!"
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