Touted as the “World’s Fastest Game!,” TENZI from Carma Games truly is a fun frenzy. It is genius in its simplicity: the entire game set is simply four differently colored groups of 10 six-sided dice. The winning conditions are just as simple: be the first player to get all dice to read the same number. Typically, games last under a minute.
Even if the game is over in almost as quickly as it has begun, the versatility of TENZI brings players back time and again with new takes on the fun. The rules outline several different ways to challenge players. “Tenzi Tower” requires dexterity as well as rolling speed with each correctly numbered die stacked on top of the others, becoming more difficult as the tower grows. When the tower falls, players may have to start over. “Splitzi” is good for players liking to calculate the odds, getting five dice each of different numbers, making the starting roll extremely important in counting what numbers a player needs. Risk-takers will like “Target TENZI,” picking the number to be rolled before the dice even get started. “Stealzi” allows players to grab dice from one another, creating a whole new level of awareness and chaos to the mix. Further interaction with players comes in “Team TENZI,” where players must communicate which numbers are best, creating a yelling match to be heard over clanking dice and other teams.
While the box recommended for two to four players, TENZI also serves well as a single-player game in “Timed Tenzi.” Here, player must roll all 10 dice to the same number in under 10 seconds to become a “TENZI Master” with lesser ranks of “Dice Dragon,” “Rockin’ Roller,” and “Tumbler in Training.” As the rules mention, a player might get all of the dice the same number on the first roll, though the odds of that are 10,077,696 to 1.
The history of TENZI is an indie gamer’s dream. Creators Kevin and Steve were fiddling around with game development as a hobby until they struck gold playing with a big bag of dice. In a “eureka!” moment, the game that emerged as TENZI is so brilliantly obvious that it must have been played for ages. The pair made prototypes, struggled through doubtful retailers until finally finding one that would give it some shelf-space. Two sets sold before the creators had even left the store. Since then, TENZI has exploded across the nation and even offers its own free app for iPhone and Android.
TENZI is a game for players aged “7 to 97,” according to its box. While the dice are potential choking hazards for really little players, it can be a great way to practice hand-eye coordination and symbol recognition for folks under seven with supervision. TENZI is perfect for those who like their games fast and furious. In fact, it is so fast that players of big box sit-down games could even play during the turns of other players, offering something for everyone.