Board Game Review

Tossing Cards and Taking Names (The Table is Lava)

This review is also available on the smoking hot Zatu site, here!

Children’s games were wild. The speed kids nowadays make games is insane, and how they all immediately know the rules is more so. Did you ever play ‘The Floor is Lava!’? That game was crazy fun as a child. Launching from furnishing to furnishing across the house, avoiding the carpet, inevitably breaking something valuable. Great times! Nowadays it’s frowned upon to jump from sofa to sofa, whether you own them or not! So how could one go about reliving these memories of simpler times? Well… Board games are a good outlet for recreational pleasure and fun. But for something more specific to children’s games, we’d highly recommend The Table is Lava by R&R Games. It’s incredibly easy to pick up but does require more open space around the table than others. (Don’t worry, you don’t have to clamber onto furniture if you don’t want to!) It’s for 2-4 players and lasts about 15 minutes.

Playing the Game

This is the sort of game where you need both technique and ruthlessness. Putting it bluntly, the game’s madness, but so much fun! Every player has a unique deck of cards with Meeple on them. Some with just their own colour, others with a combination of colours. The idea of the game is to have the most Meeple still on the ‘island’ at the end of the game. To make the island, you all place your starting cards on the table so they are touching. You then place Meeple equal to that shown on the card. This is the ‘island’, and the table is lava (who’d have guessed). Meeple are only classed as being on the island so long as they are touching it.

Once set up is done, players take turns to literally throw cards at the island. Their aim is to expand it and place more of their own Meeple on it. Only cards that are one Meeple’s distance away from the island can be placed upon, and Meeple knocked off are collateral damage. Every card will have Meeple on it and that will be who gets to be placed onto the island. As example, red throws a card with blue and red on it, so a blue and a red Meeple are placed. If the card is too far away from the island no Meeple are placed and cards off the table are discarded. If a card goes upside down, the player throwing it can lie about the Meeple reflected on it, however as all decks are near identical it’s advised they do so cleverly. The final card has no Meeple placed on it regardless of positioning and so is used to cause mayhem.

Once all cards have been thrown, flung and tossed, scoring occurs. Players gain one point for each of their Meeple laid down and two points for any stood up. The winner is the player with the most points!

How Does it Play?

Anarchy. It’s beautifully mad anarchy in game. You will need to be able to move around the whole table for this and so a bit of space is required. We first played this at the UKGE and there we had a fair amount of space, however we found using a coffee table was fine too. But there’s a clear technique to either causing the most anarchy or adding to the island. You can’t just lob the cards left, right and centre! And you can’t just put in maximum power either.

The aim of the game is to have the most points. And to do that, you need the most Meeple on the island. Some people would see that as having a bigger numerical value than their opponents, which is fine. We saw that as “be the ONLY Meeple on the island”, which caused more chaos. Both work well but one refines technique and lets you get better. The other demonstrates how well you can take a Meeple’s head off using playing cards. Both were incredibly fun ways to play and ended the game in similar fashions.

The cards are very durable and very easy to understand, as you’d hope! No use in having cards to throw that don’t last. The game will get scuffed and marked, but it’s not one you can be delicate with. The artwork is very quirky and easily understood, and the Meeple are simple, solid Meeple.

The technique is the only tricky bit. How you throw the card is the difference between paper fluttering gently and ninja star. You could either tickle the Meeple with it or be the deadliest thing at 50 yards. It’s all in the wrist, like you’re skimming a stone. It sounds insane but if you’re going to want to do well you’ve got to practice and be able to gauge power. We had no end of hilarity when someone went full throttle, skimmed the card and had it go entirely under the island and then off the table!

In a Nutshell

The game is lighthearted, messy fun. It’s not a game you can take too seriously but can still be competitive with. There are those moments of frustration where you can’t fling the card correctly, and I’ll admit that it’s annoying, but you can’t get wrapped up in that. The game lasts a very short amount of time and we honestly found that to be a good thing. We’d often use it as an introductory game or end of session game. If you’re after lighthearted, simple fun with a unique element, this is a quality choice! And no, climbing off of the floor and onto the table is not mandatory.