Review: Pickomino27 Apr 2015 0
Released 02 Apr 2015
I give Reiner Knizia a hard time because his games tend to be abstracts with a thin veneer of theme painted over the top and I, for the most part, don't enjoy abstract games. There are exceptions, of course. I enjoy Lost Cities and Ra! quite a bit, and I've been known to lose games of Tigris and Euphrates with great gusto. Pickomino is another Knizia game that I've owned and enjoyed for years which has just made the jump to digital and, like those other games, the theme is thinner than my resumé.
The "theme" puts you in the shoes of a hungry chicken at a worm barbecue. Your job, collect more worms from the grill than your opponents. Seriously. In reality, it's a simple dice game with clever mechanics and enough "take-that" to make it a very fun family game.
Pickomino is a simple game in which you roll eight 6-sided dice. The dice are numbered 1-5 with one side having a picture of a worm on it. After you roll, you must select one number to hold, and then take all the dice with that number out of your pool. You then roll the remaining dice and repeat, however you cannot select a value that you've already chosen. The side with the worm counts as a five numerically, but you must have at least one worm in your held dice to select a worm tile from the grill.
Yes, the entire point of all this dice rolling is to snag worm tiles from the "grill" at the top of the screen. The worm tiles range from 21-36 and when you save enough dice to equal or surpass the number on the tile, you take it and stack it on top of any other tiles you might have already won. If you roll a value of a tile on the top of one of your opponent's stacks, you can steal that tile away from them.
If you ever roll the dice and cannot select a tile, or roll your dice but cannot remove any dice from your pool that turn, you have a misthrow which not only wastes your turn, but you have to put your topmost tile back on the grill and flip over, or "burn", the tile with the highest value on the grill.
The app itself is very well done, with six different AI opponents to compete against. There is also local play, which is how I've found myself having the most fun. Playing Pickomino on the iPad and passing it to your friends is really no different that having the dice and tiles spread out on a table, minus all the setup time. We took the game camping and my kids and I played the hell out of this thing. It was a perfect implementation for a dice game on the go. There is also online asynchronous play as well, which works fine if you can get Game Center to cooperate.
Pickomino is one of those games that I was never expecting to see in a digital format, and its arrival was a complete surprise. Overall, however, it's a happy surprise. It plays just like the physical version, and throws in several competitive AIs as well. It's not going to knock off Agricola or Galaxy Trucker as a full-blown euro, but as a quick diversion, Pickomino is an excellent choice and another really well made board game app for iOS.