I first played the real time word game Tapple at an Extra Life charity game night back in 2013 and have been meaning to get a copy ever since. I have very fond memories of the game and thought it would be great for our public play events.
Thanks to The Op, I was able to bring a review copy back from Origins. Did the game live up to my memories? Read on to find out.
Disclosure: Thank to the folks at The Op for letting me snag a review copy of Tapple at Origins. Links in this post may be affiliate links. As an Amazon associate we earn from qualifying purchases.
So what is Tapple?
The game we know as Tapple got its start in the form of a game called Pim Pam Pet, way back in 1933. Pim Pam Pet was a Dutch game where players were given a parameter card, spun a spinner that showed a letter, and they then had to say a word that started with that letter that also matched the parameters on their card.
A number of different variations of Pim Pam Pet have been published, including a card and dice version. All of this eventually led to Pip Pam Pet: The Battle which came out in 2012, and is pretty much the game we know today as Tapple.
The Tapple name comes from USAopoly aka The Op, who brought the game to North America in 2013. Then that version of Tapple spread across the world in various different editions. For example the Finnish and Swedish release was called Last Letter Standing and the UK version was called Think! Words.
The version we brought home from Origins is the latest version, known as Tapple English Edition 2021. While each of the various editions of Tapple has changed things, like the categories and the colours of the components, the basic gameplay has remained the same since 2013.
Tapple is a game for two to ten players, ages eight and up, with a playtime of thirty minutes. While there’s theoretically no reason you couldn’t play with more people, at higheer player counts it does get harder to cram everyone around the wheel. That playtime is also highly variable based on how good at the game the players are, but it never seems to actually go long. This is the kind of game you play multiple rounds of in one sitting.
Tapple is a mass market game and can be found a most department stores, toy store, hobby game stores, and most online shops. It has an MSRP of $21.99 USD but can often be found on sale.
Tapple is basically a mash-up of a traditional word game and hot potato. You get a category and have ten seconds to come up with a word that matches that category. Then the next player has ten seconds to come up with a different word that starts with a different first letter but that also matches the category. A player is eliminated when they run out of time. What Tapple does that sets it apart is that it provides the Tapple wheel, a toyetic tool for tracking which letters have been used that also provides an electronic timer.
For a look at this wheel and some of the category cards that come in the current edition of this word-based game check out our Tapple Unboxing Video on YouTube.
There you get to see me be a bit confused as the game isn’t quite the same as I remembered it in my head. Two things I learned during the unboxing are that the game requires batteries, which are not included, and that the Wheel has a nifty built in space to store the category cards.
I thought this was pretty cool as it meant I could just toss the box out as the entire game is self contained.
As for component quality, besides being a bit gimmicky, the wheel is nice and solid, the instructions are very clear, and the volume, which is quite loud, doesn’t go so far as to be too loud.
It is technically possible to play without batteries but someone is going to need to provide some form of ten second timer. The letter keys can be pressed and re-set without the game being turned on.
How to play Tapple
Tapple is a dead simple game to learn. You start by taking the category cards out of the bottom of the wheel and shuffling them. You then turn the game on and flip it over. If any of the letter keys are pushed down simply reset the wheel by pinching the letter release lever.
The start player (the player with the middle initial closest to A) takes the top card from the deck and picks one of the four categories on it to be the clue for that round. The cards are two sided and colour-coded to provide four different difficulty levels, with two levels intended for kids.
The player announces their chosen category and then taps the timer button in the middle of the wheel. They then have ten seconds to name something that matches the category that starts with one of the unpressed letters on the Tapple wheel. They say their answer out loud, push down the matching letter key, and tap the big red timer button in the middle of the wheel.
Now play moves to the next player who has ten seconds to cup up with another word that matches the active category, pressing the letter for that word and hitting the timer button.
If the timer runs out on a player’s turn, they are eliminated. The next player in player order then taps the timer and the game continues until only one player is left. That player wins the round and takes the category card.
That player draws the next card from the deck and the game continues with a new round. A game of Tapple ends when a single player has collected three category cards.
Players can also be eliminated by saying a word that doesn’t match the category (as voted on by all the players active and eliminated) and if they hit the wrong letter key.
If your group manages to actually hit all the keys down during a round, you enter overtime. You draw a new category card and play as normal except that everyone has to say two words and press two letters on their turn.
If somehow two or more players manage to make it through this a second overtime round is played but this time players have to say three words!
When in overtime, the winner collects all of the category cards in play for the entire round, which means if you win in double overtime you win the entire game not just the round.
And if somehow more than one person manages to get through that third round as well, you then play another round with players having to name four things! In both cases, the winner of any overtime round takes all category cards for all rounds played.
I got what I expected and more from Tapple
Now I’m sure some people are thinking why are you talking about Tapple? After all this is a rather popular, mass-market game that most people have a least heard of. Well, I’m talking about Tapple because I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s always on the look out for games that are good for big groups, catch people’s attention, and draw a crowd.
As I mentioned in the opening to this review, I first played Tapple many years ago at a charity gaming event and I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy ever since.
When we were meeting with The Op at Origins this year, I noticed Tapple on the shelf and asked if they would be cool with us grabbing a review copy and they agreed.
Did it live up to my fond memories? For the most part, ignoring the fact that I remembered the wheel being mechanical and not electronic, the game play is exactly what I remember and the game had the exact effect I wanted when I brought it out to a local public play game night.
Tapple is the kind of game that catches people’s attention for a number of reasons. First off, you have the toy aspect of it. Tapple is this big plastic disc thing that kind of looks like a letter frisbee. I’ve noticed that people can’t seem to help themselves from picking it up and flipping it around and trying to figure out what it’s for.
Second, it’s a noisy electronic toy and quite loud. The ticking clock sound during a round and the loud buzzer that goes off when a player runs out of time gets people’s attention. This is exactly the kind of thing you want if you are trying to hook new players and get people asking, “What are you doing?”
Third, the people playing Tapple tend to get into the game and become quite loud. Tapple is a shout out loud kind of game. Players cheer and jeer each other. People shout out when they come up with a word just in time and curse when they hear that buzzer go off just at they are about to press a letter key.
This is the kind of game that catches people’s attention. I can draw a crowd and that turns into the perfect opportunity to invite new people to play. The rounds are short enough that you can easily add any curious players in for the next round.
All of that is why I’ve wanted my own copy of Tapple for years and why I’m glad to finally have one.
All of that said, I was surprised by just how much my own family has enjoyed playing with this rather gimmicky game. While I got Tapple intending to bring it out to local game nights it ends up that my kids love playing it. Not only with as a family, but also just the two of them. They tend to toss out the cards and come up with their own categories, challenging each other to name Warrior Cats, spell names, or Pokemon.
While I wanted a game to entertain big groups at public events and hopefully draw some new people in, which is exactly what I got, I also ended up with a quick-to-learn, easy-to-understand, fast-playing party game that my own family enjoys. A game that not only works great for large groups and public events, but one that plays great with even two players.
So that’s a lot of praise, but do note that Tapple is not for everyone. This is a real-time game where you have to think on your feet. This is a type of game that can be stressful and anxiety inducing. Even people who don’t suffer from anxiety problems can find this game to be too much. Heck, even I sometimes freeze up while trying to think of simple things like crayon colours when playing some rounds of Tapple.
If you don’t mind the stress, don’t mind real-time games, and like high-player count party games, I don’t think you can go wrong with Tapple (just make sure you pick up some batteries when you grab the game).
If you don’t dig real-time games, don’t like party games, hate being put on the spot, or don’t like word games, you probably haven’t made it this deep in the review. If you did, know this one isn’t going to be for you.
Personally I’m happy to now have Tapple as part of my collection. While it didn’t quite work the way it did in my memory, Tapple perfectly fits the niche I intended it to fit and also ended up being a hit with my family. It was exactly what I wanted and more.
There you have my thoughts on Tapple, a real-time, mass market, word based party game that is a great choice for bringing out to public play game nights.
I’m always looking for new games to bring out to our local events. I need games that are great at catching people’s attention and then hooking that potential new player. What’s a game you would recommend for me to check out?
Share any suggestions you have in the comments below!
- Get ready for the new edition of the award-winning fast-paced word game that gives family game night a rush of excitement as players compete to beat the timer!