Designer: Shaun Graham, Scott Huntington
Artist: Natalie Behle
2-4 players 15 minutes ages 5+ MSRP $25
Time to teach & learn: 2-3 minutes
Sparkle mountain stands before you, its caverns filled with glittering gems. You and your crew of gnomes are ready to fill your wagons with riches, tapping rubies, diamonds, and emeralds loose from the walls with your trusty hammer. There’s just one problem. Dragomir the Dragon sleeps under the mountain. Make too much noise and he will chase you away!
Hammer Time is a sparkly sight to behold. 90 brightly colored gemstones in 6 different colors will be strewn across the game board. The game board is very unconventional; it’s the bottom of the box turned over, so it forms a mini-table. There’s a large mousepad-like sticker illustrated with cavern walls and Dragomir the Dragon sleeping in the corner. You will permanently attach this to the box bottom.
It’s no surprise the chunky wooden hammer is the star of the show.
There are two types of cards in the game: task cards (which can provide a bonus gem) and wagon cards (each player has four).
Finally, there’s a color die used for the Master variant of the game.
To play, spread out the gems on the box. Each player shuffles their wagon cards and flips one face up. It’s hammer time!
Hammer Time is a game about knocking gems off a box with a hammer. The first player to fill four wagon cards with gems wins the game.
On your turn, you will take the hammer and tap along any side of the box. You can knock gently or with great gusto BUT the goal is to tap just hard enough to knock the right combination of gems off the edge of the box.
If you knock even one gem off the box, stop hammering! Your turn is over.
Count the gems you knocked off. If there are 8 or less gems, great! Compare the gems to your wagon card. Each wagon card has a specific combination of colored gems. If any of the gems you knocked off match your wagon card, place them on the card. Diamonds are wild. When the wagon card is full, set it aside, flip over a new wagon card, and return the gems to the board.
If you knock off nine or more gems, watch out! You made too much noise with your hammering! Dragomir wakes up and all the gems are returned to the board.
While hammering a box might sound easy, it is tricky to find just the right touch. Tap too light one turn and the next you will send half the gems flying!
Task cards provide another incentive. After knocking off gems, check the task card to see if you complete it. A task could ask for a certain number of gems or a certain type of gem. If you fulfill this requirement, you complete the task. This task card can be used as a wild gem to fill any spot in a wagon.
You can only fill one wagon and one task per turn.
Once you’ve collected the gems you can, return uncollected gems to the board and pass the hammer to the next player.
The first player to fill all four wagons walks away from Sparkle Mountain, the richest gnome in the realm!
The Master variant to Hammer Time adds another layer of craziness. Each turn a die is rolled and the player will have to hammer the box in a wacky way.
You might have to hammer with your eyes shut, or use your fist instead of the hammer at all. You might even have to lay your head on the table as you hammer. Each turn builds to another fun crescendo with the roll of the die, followed by laughs and groans based on the result.
It’s dangerous describing a game that operates on this level of playfulness. It can easily kill the fun. It’s like over-explaining a joke.
Hammer Time is a reminder that the simplest kind of fun can often be the most lasting.
The pleasure that comes from whacking the side of a box and seeing what happens, unlocks a joy that we can all share regardless of age or experience.
The brilliance of Hammer Time is that is doesn’t try to cover up this experience with too many rules. It embraces the core element (the hammering!) and celebrates it. Win or lose, the real pleasure comes from playing. That is the heart and soul of Major Fun.
Written by: Stephen Conway