When you first see Thimk you probably wouldn’t expect much out of the game. From the boring box and gameboard to the mechanics that look like every other roll and move game; I didn’t expect to enjoy Thimk. Most games from the 1950s were bland roll and move games that rarely did anything unique or original. Games from that era usually don’t hold up that well since there have been a lot of improvements to board games in the past 60 years. While Thimk has its problems, it was actually better than I was expecting.
How to Play
Each player chooses a color and place all four of their thims at the bottom of the board. All of the players roll one die with the player who rolled the highest number getting to go first.
Playing the Game
On a player’s turn they roll one die and move one of their thims the corresponding number of spaces on the gameboard. When a thim lands on a space occupied by another thim, it is placed on top of that thim creating a stack.
If a player wants to move a thim that is part of a stack, the player must also move all of the thims that are on top of their thim. Thims below a player’s thim are left on the space. If in a stack of thims there are two thims of the same color the player can choose if they want to move the higher or lower thim.
The objective of the game is to get your four thims to the home spaces (87 through 90). Only one thim of each color can be on each home space. Once a thim has been placed on a home space it can no longer be moved for the rest of the game. Once a player gets one thim on each home space, they win the game.
While most spaces in Thimk don’t do anything special that are a couple special spaces in Thimk that have a special effect when landed on.
- Colored Arrows: When you land on a colored arrow you move your thim/stack to the space the arrow points to.
- Red Squares (14, 60): Return the thim/stack to the starting space.
- Blue Squares (18, 32, 73): The thim cannot be moved from the space until you roll a six.
- Green Square (13, 44): You get to roll the die again and move one of your thims.
- Gray Squares (81-86): Only the top thim of a stack can be moved.
- Stymie (63): If a player currently has a thim on the Stymie space, they can move through the space but no other players can until the thim is removed. If a player is moving a stack through the Stymie space all thims of the other players will be left on space 62 or 58 depending on how the stack was moving through the Stymie.
When you first see Thimk it looks like one of the blandest roll and move games that you have ever seen. It basically looks like Snakes and Ladders but even duller. For the most part Thimk plays like your traditional roll and move game. You roll a die and move the corresponding number of spaces hoping to get all of your pieces to the home spaces at the end of the board. The game relies a lot on luck since if you roll well you will do well in the game and vice versa. If this was all there was to the game, Thimk would be a bad game.
There is one mechanic in the game that saves Thimk though. That mechanic is the ability to stack pieces on top of one another which allows you to piggyback on other players. The stacking mechanic adds some strategy to a genre that otherwise has very little. The mechanic is pretty simple but it adds strategy since you kind of have to work with other players while also trying to backstab them at the same time. Players need to work together since moving as a stack allows for much quicker movement since multiple players will be rolling and moving the stack.
At the same time all of the players are trying to position themselves at the top of the stack. Positioning in stacks is really important in Thimk. While you don’t have a lot of control over where your piece ends up in a stack it is always beneficial to get as close to the top of the stack as possible. Players below you won’t be able to ditch you when they move and you can choose to leave the stack when it is beneficial for you to leave. This adds a decent amount of strategy to the game as you are regularly trying to improve your position inside different stacks.
I actually really liked the stacking mechanic but Thimk doesn’t really have a lot else going for it other than very basic roll and move mechanics. There are some spaces that send you forward and back, give you free turns, stall you until you roll a six and so on. None of these are terrible but really don’t add anything to the game either which makes the game feel a little shallow outside the stacking mechanic. I would be really interested in knowing if there was a board game released after Thimk that took the stacking mechanic and added some additional mechanics to it to make a more strategic roll and move game.
While Thimk is far from an fantastic game, for a game made in 1955 you have to give the game some credit. Most games in 1955 were basic roll and move games that did nothing other than just rolling and moving. There was next to no strategy in the games as the player who rolled the best would always win. While Thimk doesn’t have a lot of strategy it at least has some decisions that need to be made which gives players some input in the game’s outcome. While I haven’t played many board games from the 1950s, Thimk is probably one of the best games that I have played from that era.
While I was surprised by Thimk, the game has one really big issue that almost ruins the entire game. If you hate catchup mechanics you are going to hate Thimk since it has some of the strongest catch up mechanics that I have ever seen. Basically the game allows you to set up roadblocks that no one can get through until you choose to lift them. These roadblocks can be set up in two different ways.
First the Stymie space prevents anyone except the player who places a Thim on the space from getting to the home spaces. Therefore the player who gets to play a Thim on that space can essentially prevent other players from moving past the space until they have gotten all of their other pieces onto or near the home spaces. This will give that player a huge advantage in the game and pretty much makes all of the other players have to sit and wait for the other player to finish making all the moves that they can until they are forced to move the Thim. While the Stymie space is an interesting idea, it is way too powerful that I would ditch it entirely or at least find some way of limiting its’ power.
The other way to roadblock other players is to be on the top of a stack when it reaches the gray spaces. If you control the stack there is really no reason to move off of it until you have to since it will either prevent another player from moving their last piece or it will limit their choices for their turn. I think this rule should be abandoned and instead players should be able to move any individual Thim in a stack once the stack reaches the gray spaces.
While these roadblodk rules do make the game closer, they kind of ruin the game since they give way too big of an advantage to players that are lucky enough to be able to take advantage of them. Basically the rest of the game could end up not mattering if a player can take advantage of one of these roadblocks. For example one player in the game I played fell way behind (due to bad luck). They were able to take advantage of these roadblocks though and ended up winning the whole game because most of the players couldn’t even move for many turns. While Thimk has some good ideas it really needs house rules to get rid of these roadblock issues.
Another issue with the game is just the game’s overall component quality. Now most of the blame for this comes down to how old the game is. The game is over 60 years old and not nearly as much work went into the design of board games 60 years ago as there is today. With that said Thimk is probably one of the blandest/ugliest games I have ever played. Thimk has to have one of the blandest gameboards I have ever seen. The other components are not much better.
Before playing Thimk I didn’t have high expectations for the game. Just by looking at the gameboard it looks like a generic, bland roll and move game. Thimk actually surprised me a little due to the stacking mechanic. The stacking mechanic actually adds some decisions and strategy to a game that otherwise wouldn’t have either. Unfortunately there isn’t a lot more to the game and there is a serious problem with the catch up mechanics in the game.
If you don’t care for roll and move games, Thimk is not going to be for you. While the game has some serious issues, there is enough redeeming qualities to it that I think people who like older roll and move games should look into the game. I would probably only recommend picking it up if you can find it for a couple dollars though.