Review – Hammer Time

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Designer Shaun Graham, Scott Huntington

Artist Natalie Behle

Publisher HABA

Category Dexterity

Length 15-30 minutes

Release Date 2020

Player Count 2-4

Hammer Time is a kids game of careful dexterity and set collection. Using a wooden hammer to tap the game box, players try to make specific colors of gems fall off the top to complete objectives. Let’s check it out!

Review

In Hammer Time, players are gnomes mining for precious gemstones. The goal of the game is to fill 4 wagon cards with gems before the other players.

The game is played atop the box base. Before the first game, players attach a neoprene mat to the base, which will remain attached thereafter. Then, a bag of large, plastic gemstones is dumped out onto the mat.

All players receive a stack of 4 wagon cards. Each wagon shows an assortment of gems, which the player must collect in order to complete the card and move onto the next one.

The central game mechanism is dexterity. On a player’s turn, they take the wooden hammer and tap the box until 1 or more gems fall off. As soon as something falls, the player must stop, and they collect any gems that fell. However, if 9 or more gems fall, the player gets none—thematically, they made too much noise and woke the dragon.

If the player collects gems, they go onto the appropriate spots on the topmost wagon card. Clear gems are especially useful, as they are wild. Any gems that can’t be placed are simply returned to the supply atop the box base.

When a player fills up a wagon card, they return those gemstones to the supply and move onto the next card. When someone completes their final card, they win!

The game includes an optional variant of task cards. These cards challenge players to bump off gems under a certain parameter, such as an odd number of stones, 2 or more black stones, or exactly 6, 7, or 8 stones. If a task is completed, the player gets to use the task card as a wild gemstone.


Hammer Time is one of those games that manages to be just as fun for adults as it is for kids. Much like Rhino Hero and Animal Upon Animal, I would play Hammer Time with or without children around.

Obviously, this game is heavy on the silly factor, and there is very little strategy to speak of, but the experience of trying to tap the box juuuuust right to get a particular gem to fall off is highly entertaining. Players stand to gain more stones the harder they hit the box, but they risk getting nothing if they hit it too hard. It’s funny to play and funny to watch.

The production of this game is very nice—I’ve never seen plastic gemstones of this size in any other game. The hammer is sturdy, but it doesn’t seem to ding up the box, even with repeated plays. The colors are vibrant, the rules are clear, and the pieces are tactile. Overall, Hammer Time has HABA’s usual, top-notch component quality.

Dexterity games are hit-or-miss for me, but Hammer Time is a good one. It is very quick to play, so it doesn’t overstay its welcome, and there’s something engaging about trying to figure out exactly where—and how hard—to hit the box. If you enjoy dexterity games, and especially if you play with kids, Hammer Time is worth checking out.

A review copy was provided by HABA.

The Bottom Line

Hammer Time is one of those dexterity games that is just as fun to play with kids as it is to play with adults. Very silly, very amusing to watch, and most importantly, very fun.

 

7.5

Author: Stephen Hall

A bard pretending to be a cleric. Possibly a Cylon, too. I was there when they dug up the "E.T." cartridges.