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Drop Squad

Drop your marble at the top of the board and watch it roll down! Earn points by landing marbles in your goal at the bottom, using carefully placed ramps to help guide your marbles home.

Drop Squad: The Escape is a family game with some quite impressive production value, and an extremely tactile experience. You’ll soon learn that those marbles seldom roll exactly where you expect them to.

Gameplay

Players start by attaching the kickstands to the board, choosing how steep of an angle they want to play. The board is then set on the table.  Each player chooses a player color and takes the matching six marbles and goal. The board has multiple rows of little black pegs. Everyone places their goal on the bottom row of pegs. The deck is then shuffled and players are dealt up to six cards, depending on player count.

There are six card types in the deck. There are ones, twos, and threes, each of which corresponds to a size of ramp, and there is a wild which can act as any size ramp. During the first phase of the game, each player must play a ramp card. When you play a ramp card, you take the correct size ramp and add it to the board, placing it on the pegs.

When placing a ramp piece, it cannot be placed vertically or horizontally, it cannot be placed so that the lower end connects with one of the board’s walls, and it cannot be placed so that it blocks off an opponent’s goal.

After each player has placed a ramp, they each drop one marble. If a marble falls into a goal post, you place a scoring peg in that goal post, regardless of whose marble fell into whose goal post.

You then start a new round. From the second round onward, you can also play extra ball cards or pivot cards, instead of ramp cards. When you play a pivot card, you may rotate any one ramp piece that is on the board (one end of the ramp must stay attached to its current peg). The extra ball allows you to drop two balls that round, but you must also draw a card from the deck and play it, too.

After everyone has played all their cards and dropped their last marble, the game ends. The player who has the most score pegs slotted into their goal wins the game.

Drop Squad Components

Review

We have never played a game quite like Drop Squad in board game form. It’s quite unique and a great tactile experience. While the game is aimed more towards children, this is one that can easily engage everyone in the family.

The turns are fast, the gameplay is intuitive, and there’s a feeling of learning a little bit each time how to better place your ramps. That moment where you drop your marble and watch it roll is suspenseful, while an opponent’s turn is still interesting, not simply because you’re hoping to score off them, but because you can watch how their marble falls to get ideas for your own turn.

We did wish each player got to drop a few more marbles, perhaps a couple each round, so that you can test out different drop points; however, the fact that we wanted more is because we enjoyed the game so much.

The marbles got caught once or twice between the wall and a peg, and the rules do not address what to do in this instance. Also the rules mention ‘an overtime’ followed by the comment to ‘please see below’ and then never actually addresses it. The components themselves, however, are absolutely fantastic. The box is really well packed, the ramps fit onto the pegs easily, and the scoring pegs work well. Everything about this game is impressive to look at, and we particularly liked how much choice you have for angling the board while playing.

Drop Squad is a psychically big game. It comes in a large box, with a large board, and will take up a good hunk of space. But honestly, its space that’s worth it. It’s unique, we would have adored it as kids (and even as adults we have had plenty of fun with it), and it just looks impressive when on the table.

Pros: Ramp building and marble dropping is just a ton of fun, excellent production quality, very tactile

Cons: Takes up a lot of space, one or two issues with the rules, wanted to drop more marbles

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.