La Boca is a 3-6 player game published by Z-Man Games and designed by Inka Brand and Markus Brand. The game is named after a famous neighbourhood in Buenos Aires known for its brightly coloured and eccentric buildings.
This is a fast paced game where players rotate partners and try to create the building depicted on their card as quickly as possible from colourful wooden blocks. The catch is that each person can only see the building from their own perspective, so you have to communicate with your partner to get every block in its correct place!
If you're already familiar with how the game plays, feel free to skip ahead to the "Review" section.
The gameplay of La Boca is very simple - on your turn you will be partnered with one of the other players and given a building card to try to complete. The faster you successfully complete the building, the more points each of you get. However, if you make a mistake or take too long you don't get any points. The person with the most points at the end of the game is the winner.
To start, each player takes a large token of their colour, and a small token for the colour of each other player as shown.
These small tokens will be turned over and shuffled around, and you will turn one over on your turn to determine who will be your partner.
The two people who are building will make sure that the board is between them and that they can reach all of the blocks.
When they're ready, someone else will place a card in the holder and then start the timer while the players start building. Each player will only be able to see the building from their perspective, and won't be able to correctly place all the blocks without talking to their partner about which colours they can see and where the blocks should be.
The blocks have to be placed within the 4x4 play area, and the building has to be stable with no overhanging or unsupported pieces like the yellow one shown below.
Also, the building must use up all of the blocks even if some of them aren't visible on either card. Players have to hide these blocks away between other blocks so that they're concealed from view. For example, the brown cube isn't visible to either player and can be put behind the grey block so that it can't be seen.
The players announce when they think they've finished and the timer is stopped.
If everyone agrees that the building is correct, then each player earns points based on how long they took - a maximum of 10 points for 15 seconds or under, and a minimum of 0 points for more than 2 minutes.
Play continues until every player has run out of tokens to flip over.
I really enjoy La Boca and I think that it's a fantastic game, especially for families and social occasions since it can be learned in just a couple of minutes and plays quickly.
One of my favourite things about this game is how it is fast paced and engages all the players, even when you're not building that turn. It's really fun just to watch the players try to complete the building, as well as to try and figure it out for yourself. There isn't much downtime between turns, because each building can take a maximum of two minutes, and two people are always playing at the same time. It never feels like I'm sitting around waiting for other people, and I always feel involved in the game.
La Boca is also very easy to learn and start playing, but it still offers a challenge. Many of the buildings are tricky to complete, and the blending of co-operative and competitive elements means that you have to learn to communicate quickly and clearly in order to score well and win at the end.
The game also has variable difficulty, and it comes with both easy (light blue) and hard (dark blue) cards.
The hard cards include the L-shaped red block that isn't used in the easy cards, so fitting all the blocks in and figuring out the possible ways the blocks can be placed becomes even more difficult. The variable difficulty is great if you're looking to challenge yourself, but also if you want to play with children of varied skill and ages. For example, it would be possible for younger children to use the easy cards on their turn to help them better compete with adults and older children while they get used to the game.
The game is also incredibly replayable due to the variety of cards that it comes with. There are 32 cards of each difficulty, and each card has two buildings on it (half the card is covered up by the holder) - AND each building has two perspectives. Each turn and each game you'll be building from cards that you either haven't seen or don't remember. When I first got La Boca I was worried that I would remember how to complete the buildings and that the puzzle aspect of the game would be lost, but the cards are still as interesting as the first time I played!
Finally, the art and components of the game are bright and high quality. The game comes with the timer (batteries included), and the wooden blocks are heavy, well-made and enjoyable to play with.
La Boca isn't a game with lots of strategy, although there are little tricks that you learn to speed up your building, but it is a fantastic light game for casual occasions. I've found that the partnership mechanic helps create conversation and a really fun atmosphere. It also has enough challenge to offer both adults and kids, and both regular and casual gamers have enjoyed it when I've played with them.'
Overall I think La Boca is a great game with something for everyone and I definitely recommend it, especially if you're looking for a game to play with your family or a unique party game.