ToeShamBo – Zafty Games – Review

"I appreciate simplicity and a light, fun game like this is so very easy to reach for."

Theme and What is it?

Have you ever sat at restaurant with your kid and they started to fidget and whine while you waited for the food to be prepared? Maybe you didn’t think ahead and you need something to entertain them? My go-to is always to grab a napkin and a pen out of my purse and start an endless set of tic tac toe games that usually end in a CAT (tie) and play until the napkin was full of drawings or the food arrived.

Another tried and true is Rock-Paper-Scissors which also gets old after you’ve bested 2 out of 3…or 3 out of 5. 

I have a new staple in my purse now! 

Over the last month, I have kept this 3″x5″x1″ microgame in my purse and pulled it out time and time again. 

ToeShamBo has the simple equation on the box cover that explains exactly what it is, a mash up of two classic childrens games where tic tac toe and rock-paper-scissors collide.

Gameplay Mechanics

Delightfully simple, this was a breeze to teach because the rules are practically innate. 

You set the center card in the middle of the table with the implied 8 squares surrounding it to form a 3×3 grid, or “tic tac toe board”. 

After shuffling each color (blue, orange – colorblind friendly!) separately, you place the two decks, one in front of each player. The players then draw 3 cards to begin, playing a card and then drawing a card to refill their hand each turn.

The goal is to complete a tic tac toe 3 across, with the same type of cards in the line such as rock-rock-rock, scissor-scissor-scissor, or paper-paper-paper. As your opponent plays their cards to the board, you can stack your cards on top of theirs if the pecking order of roshambo (rock-paper-scissors) is satisfied. For example, I can lay down a rock and my opponent can stack a paper on it and I can then stack a scissor on theirs. 

Two special cards are introduced to add some variety into the gameplay: Undo and Bomb. 

Undo lets you physically remove the last card played from the game. Bomb beats everything, including other bombs. At the start of the player’s turn who played the Bomb, remove the Bomb and all cards underneath it from the game!

Initial Impressions

Fast. Easy. Fun! Portable. How cool is a game that has 4 page rulebook that includes the cover page?!

Game Build Quality

Component quality is standard to a mass produced game. Nothing ritzy but gets the job done. With such a small box, I would like to see thumb hole cuts on the side of the box because they can be difficult to open otherwise.

Artistic Direction

Kids love the look of emojis and ToeShamBo ticks that box. The characters are pretty adorable and unmistakably represent what they are. Rock, paper, scissors, undo and bomb! 

Fun Factor

My kids never turn this one down and funny enough, neither do the adults I offer to play with. The criss cross of the two concepts give you just enough pause to think about the right choice in the situation and that makes it fun and even exciting. 

Age Range & Weight

With the card art, I don’t think that reading is even necessary. As soon as your kids can play the two originating games, they can play this version that mashes the two together. It says 8+ but I think you could introduce it as young as 4. 

Conclusions

I appreciate simplicity and a light, fun game like this is so very easy to reach for. The size is a perfect complement to the weight of the gameplay and I see myself leaving this in my purse for quite a while. Many X’s and O’s to Zafty for bring this my table!