Slide Blast is a tile-laying game where players compete to make the longest water slide.
As a collge professor, I have the opportunity to introduce a variety of young students to board games. For example, I teach discrete mathematics, and I use The Resistance to teach logic and valid/sound arguments. Another big topic in the class is graph theory, so games like Tsuro and Indigo were immediately on my radar when I learned about them. Slide Blast follows a similar path (pun intended), where players play hexagonal tiles covered in different pathways. However, this time the goal is to be the person who creates the longest water slide! Is a fun theme enough to separate Slide Blast from its competitors? Let’s find out!
The game is aimed at younger audiences, and mostly just consists of tiles with paths on them set up to create a long water slide. There’s nothing offensive here except the somewhat creepy cover…
Let’s just say it upfront: I was pleasantly surprised by Slide Blast. Many of the other “path tile” games I’ve played have felt simple and uninteresting to play, even if the paths looked really cool. Slide Blast provided several innovations that makes it a step ahead of its competitors. First and foremost, the theme is just fun, and it bleeds well into the mechanisms. Rather than having to simply “not die” like in Tsuro and then wait around for everyone else to end it once you’re out, Slide Blast has a simple, singular, logical goal: make the longest slide! This lends itself to swishy water sounds, and of course, you have to make a show of it when you slide your pawn down the path, especially when you hook up to other tiles and make for a big move.
And to that second point, the theme sets up the scoring, which ultimately sets up a big change in the gameplay. Instead of trying to avoid other players—well, you still don’t want to collide—you are actively trying to use their tiles to make giant loops that seem ultimately meaningless in Tsuro, but make for huge points here in Slide Blast. Likewise, you also actually want to help other players move along, since you are rewarded with a considerable number of bonus points for doing so. This is very similar to Indigo, but it feels much better here—it’s a large chunk of possible bonus points, but the game doesn’t hinge on it awkwardly like Indigo does at certain player counts. The lack of an underlying board also gives this game considerably more freedom than those two.
However, that freedom does come at a small price. For such a simple, streamlined game, I was surprised by the number of rules. There are several larger tiles, and other special tiles, that each have a set of special rules. Then there are tiles for the sole exception of when the game gets “stuck” (i.e. you cannot avoid a collision). These seem to add more complexity than necessary, and I wish some of it was taken out so that there was less to explain up front, as this game is perfect for both children and adults. My other small complaint is that while the tile art is great, the characters look a little strange—in particular, the kid on the cover is kind of creepy, and so is the Rex-from-Napoleon-Dynamite-lookalike just behind him.
The game also needs several players to shine, but it shines really well when it has them. It plays up to six players, and at those higher player counts, you are constantly able to piggyback off of all of the new “playspace” that happens from turn to turn. This is one of those rare games where more happening between your subsequent turns actually helps you, instead of messing you up, which is cool. Overall, this is an excellent gateway game with a super fun theme. It’s not particularly deep, but it’s just right for some summer fun… or the memory of it, when you’re stuck inside, playing a board game while hiding from the cold.
Thank you to FoxMind for providing a review copy of Slide Blast.
+ GREAT, well-integrated theme
+ Simple, but some clever moves are possible
+ Great for a larger group
- A few too many rules for special tiles
- Somewhat lucky
- Cover creeps me out