Created by Korean game designer Justin Oh, the mind behind Gemblo, Toc Toc Woodman from Mayday Games takes "deconstruction games" to a whole new level of precision. While games such as Jenga have players carefully use their fingers to manipulate the tower by gently and dexterously removing pieces, Toc Toc Woodman has players use a tool, making a new game of precision, hand-eye coordination, and nimbleness.
The game is composed of plastic pieces stacked on a model tree stump. Dark brown "bark" pieces fit into the blonde "core" pieces, creating a tree-shaped tower. Players then take the plastic axe and are given two whacks to knock off bark while attempting not to knock off the cores. Bark pieces are worth one point, while core pieces are worth minus five points. Whatever falls during a turn is counted, meaning players may end up with a negative score. The rules are simple and the cover deceptively cartoony, but this game is one of meticulous focus.
Like most skill games, Toc Toc Woodman is deceptively hard. This may seem like a negative to players who want their games light, but it serves as a great game for deconstruction enthusiasts such as yours truly. There are innumerable methods for strategy. Some might play conservatively, collecting one or two points at a time. Others could play more aggressively, hoping to cash in on more bark pieces than cores. Still others might try to knock lower pieces loose to trip up other players down the road, giving them an easily beaten negative score. The axe itself serves as another choice of precision: whether to use the rounded edge or the weightier flat end. Of course, even the best laid plans can be fouled by a slip of hand.