The Wobbly Wall, or Le Mur de Pise (French for “The Wall of Pisa”), from Canadian game companies beleduc and Kikigagne? is a new twist on stacking games, which are themselves twists on “deconstruct” models seen in Jenga, Break-the-Ice, or Pick-up-Stix.
Rather than carefully taking a set apart, the game involves players carefully piecing together a perilous structure. Some like Tumba have color schemes upping the ante, making players pick specific spots to attempt to build. Others such as Chairs have specifically misshapen pieces that become increasingly difficult.
Like Chairs, Wobbly Wall’s blocks are made in unique patterns, making it more difficult to determine how to stack them effectively than regular shapes. Unlike Chairs, however, Wobbly Wall does not have gaps or angular edges that can be cleverly used to wedge together a structure that otherwise would not hold.
Instead, the blocks for Wobbly Wall are vaguely rectangular with curves and missing notches. Some pieces are completely rectangular and others are semicircles and triangles, throwing off even the possibility of matching imperfections to imperfections, like the mortar-less walls of the Inca. Players must stack odd blocks one at a time until, eventually, it all comes crashing down.
The game play of Wobbly Wall is similar to dominoes. At the beginning, all of the pieces are spread out, and players pick them up one by one. When players have an equal number, the remaining piece starts as the first piece set up in the middle of the table. Players add their blocks with the stipulation that only four blocks may touch the surface of the table at the time as the foundation of the wall. From there, the players build up the inherently unstable wall until, eventually, it collapses. When the wall tumbles, the player who caused it must pick up whatever fell. Then the construction begins again until one player successfully uses all of his or her pieces to become the winner.
With some stacking games, the game is over immediately upon the fall, which raises the stakes on every placement. A player becomes terrified of the shifting structure and the thunderous crash that often seems to go in slow motion. With Wobbly Wall, however, the game is taken in stages.
One player may lose out initially with a small fall and pick up a few pieces, but if other players cause tumbles, too, he or she might very well pull out victory. This makes for a less stressful time while still holding onto the strategy and skill of block-placement.
If Wobbly Wall needs anything, it would be more pieces. The game is carefully crafted with its 25 pieces and maximum of four at the bottom so that it is not too long, yet it also can seem too short. In our playtesting, we have been unable to stack all of them at once, so it is not a matter of “too easy”, but rather a wish for even more choices. Of course, players could always get two sets and have le grande mur, which sounds like a blast.
Wobbly Wall is for two to five players ages seven and up and takes about 15 minutes to play a round. It is not recommended for children under three as some of the wooden pieces could be a choking hazard.
For kids and adults alike, it is a great time for those who enjoy the intensity of a steady hand, sharp mind, and sometimes outrageous luck of stacking games.