It’s easy to dismiss Viva Topo! as a simple game for kids. That’s what it is, but it’s also more! It’s become the current favourite of me and my wife. We play it together, as our son is still way too young for board games.
Viva Topo! is a simple roll and move game, where players try to reach the cheese paradise with their mice. There’s a catch, though: on every roll of one (and there are two of them on the die), the cat takes a step towards the fleeting mice. The cat is fairly fast, and as each player has four or five mice, it soon becomes obvious that everybody isn’t going to make it to the cheese paradise. Actually, most mice will be lucky if they survive at all!
Hunting for cheese
Fortunately there are other goals, too. In each corner of the board is a small room, where the mice can escape and get some cheese. The cheese in the first corner is worth one point, in the second two and so on. The full cheese discs in the paradise are worth six points, so getting even one mouse there is definitely worth the effort.
Obviously the game is very heavy on luck. If you roll low, you’ll do bad and if you roll high, you’ll probably win. However, with many mice, managing them all offers some tactical decisions. Focusing on one or two mice is almost mandatory for real success, but letting those left behind be eaten by the cat or settling for one-point cheese crumbs is hard.
Brutal fun for children and adults
I don’t know how the game works with kids — well, I’d suppose — but Viva Topo! is definitely a very cheery filler for adults. With four players the cat can be very, very brutal, which of course contributes to the fun of it all. The components are gorgeous, by the way. Selecta makes wooden toys, and it shows: the pieces are great. The mice are a bit tipsy, though, and tend to topple over. The cat is particularly great.
So, if you’re looking for a brutal little filler, Viva Topo! is a very good choice.