Sumoku

Sumoku is a surprisingly enjoyable tile game. Let me count the ways:

  1. The name of the game – SUMoku. Like Sodoku. But not.
  2. You have to add. You even sometimes find yourself multiplying. It’s like doing arithmetic. It’s like something a teacher would want you to play. It’s like
    1. educational, and
    2. it’s fun!
  3. It’s not really that much like Sodoku, but it’s very much like something a Sodoku player would enjoy.
  4. It’s not just about adding numbers, it’s about colors, too. Because there are 6 different colors, and you can’t use the same color more than once in any row or column. Which could very much remind you of Qwirkle, except not really, because instead of colors and shapes, you get colors and numbers, which is something else, entirely.
  5. There are 5 different ways to play Sumoku. And they are. Different, that is.
  6. The 6 looks just like a 9 turned upside down, and the same can be said for the 9. So, if you don’t read the instructions carefully, you say to each other, “hey, how do you tell if it’s a 6 or a 9? that’s dumb that you can’t tell.” But if you do read the instructions you discover that for probably the first time ever in a game that uses numbers the tile is supposed to be both and either a 6 and/or a 9.

You get 96 tiles (again with the 9 and the 6). There are, as I said, 6 different colors, and 8 different numbers (because of the 6/9 dual-identity tile). Which amounts to two sets of 8 numbers in 6 colors, arithmetically speaking. And you get a die, with the numbers 3, 4 and 5 on its faces. Again, two of each.

You begin the game with a roll of the die which determines the multiple that each row and column has to add up to. So, if you roll a 3, each row and column has to add up to a multiple of 3. And so on. From then on, players take turns adding tiles (making sure that whatever they add results in the correct multiple and that none of the colors repeat). In the basic game, players score every move. And if they manage to complete a row or column with all 6 colors, they get another turn. Which means one player, depending on the luck of the draw and conceptual canniness, could conceivably have several turns before the next player gets hers. This is a wonderful event for that particular player. Unfortunately, for the rest, it can get painfully long. And if you have 5 players (the recommended maximum), agony can set in. Which, for arithmetically-contemplative few, and especially for the agony-causing player, can actually be great fun.

We, however, playful players that we are, decided to play the happily Bananagram-like Speed Sumoku variation, which turned out to be ideal for the impatient many. Which led us to conclude that Sumoku was Major Fun, indeed.

Designed by Thierry Denoual and packaged for portability and flouting, we can highly recommend Sumoku to teachers, kids, parents, friends, and especially you.

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