HABA’s Bringing the HammerAugust 9, 2021
Ryan reviews HABA’s Gen Con 2021 release, Hammer Time.
- Designed By Shaun Graham and Scott Huntington
- Published By HABA Games
- 2-5 players
- Ages 5+
- 15-30 Mins
Note: HABA provided a review copy for an honest review
HABA is known for their action games – Animal Upon Animal, Dragon’s Breath, Rhino Hero, Valley of the Vikings… while they make other games, it often seems HABA at their very best is when they focus on games with some kind of action in a game, be it stacking, bowling, or in case of their newest release, hammering. Hammering? Yes, Hammering.
In HABA’s 2021 Gen Con release, Hammer Time, players are working in a mine, trying to collect gemstones of certain colors first, but without waking Dragomir the Dragon. The gameplay like the majority of HABA games is very simple to understand. Players will be using a wooden toy hammer to knock gems off the game box lid (you have a thin mousepad that is placed on the bottom lid and you place all the gems on it). Players are trying to fill their minecart wagon with certain numbers and colors of gems (depending on your card gem requirements). You do one wagon card at a time, with the first to get through all 4 of their wagon cards triggering the end game. On a players turn, they simply hit the box lids side until gems fall (1 gem falling is enough to end this action part of the game), if it matches one that you need, you keep it and place it on the card, if not it goes back on the gem pile. Simple enough. What stops you from whacking the box really hard and making a ton of gems fall off? Glad you asked. If 9 or more gems fall off, you woke up the dragon, and lose the rest of your turn (with gems going back on top of the box lid). There is also one more twist to the game, which is task cards. These cards are extra tasks you are trying to do on your turn, that could be knocking off either an odd or even amount of gems off the box on your turn, or 6-8 gems off, etc. If you complete the task you take the card (and a new one comes out) – the back of the card shows a white gem (which are wild in this game) – and you can use them to help fill your cart or hold on to them (as they are used as a tiebreaker at the end of the game). When someone fills their four wagon cards, this triggers the end of the game. Anyone that hasn’t had their turn, get it, and then the game wins. If only one player finished all their wagon cards they win, if more than one player has, you look to see who has the most tasks cards left over, they win.
Hammer Time, like many of HABA’s “action” games, is a good game for little ones. The game plays exactly as you would think it does. That is, if the idea of knocking off gems from atop of a box with a wooden hammer sounds like it’s gonna be fun for your kids (it is btw), then they will most likely have a great time. However, if you think is that all, I don’t know – then you may just want to pass. It is surprising just how much control you can get with this game, the kids can learn that if you hit certain sides, you can manipulate the gems to move with it, moving them back from an edge or closer to an edge, giving you some control over the colors that get closer to the edge making it a tiny bit more strategic than at first glance.
How does it compare to HABA’s other gem action game, Dragon’s Breath? Hammer Time has much bigger chunkier gems than found in Dragon’s Breath, which means they are easier to find if they accidentally fall off the table with hitting action. I still think Dragon Breath is the superior game and is the HABA game that I recommend the most age 4+. However, that said, Hammer Time is a good companion if you already have that game and enjoy it.
Hitting a box with a toy hammer, collect the gems that fall, try to fulfill those task cards with your hit, so simple and yet it works to make a great children’s game. I will say it is a children’s game, great for little ones, not one you will want to play with just adults or older (double-digit) kids. For my youngest, it was a hit (no pun intended) with our 7-year-old, who in her words “loves it.” Hammer Time is an easy game to set up, a great game for quick fun and smiles with your (younger) kiddos and their friends.