Turing Tumble – Build Marble-Powered Computers (Review)

Turing Tumble – Build Marble-Powered Computers (Review)

[Ad] We were kindly sent the Turing Tumble for review purposes, all opinions are our own.

What is the Turing Tumble?

This is the game that would be born if a marble run and a computer had a baby. It’s a lot less frustrating than a marble run though, and way more fun than building circuit boards (I imagine).

This clever game consists of 60 mechanical challenges all woven together by a manga-style illustrated story, bound up in a 112 page manual. The aim of each challenge is to build a sequence of steps on a board using an assortment of repositional parts/switches (little cog-like pieces) so that a defined objective is reached – either with the switches or the marbles.

Turing Tumble - Build Marble-Powered Computers (Review)
The Turing Tumble is housed in a large sturdy box

And how do we build marble-powered computers?

Although the simple switches in the Turing Tumble are mechanical rather than electrical, the marbles and switches simulate the movement of electrons passing through transistor switches on a computer circuit board. It’s the clever way that these switches interact that makes a computer intelligent – and this game fascinating to play.

So far we have completed the first 11 challenges for the purposes of this review. I have been impressed by the quality of all the parts of this game – all the movable parts feel well made and robust, the quality of the paper, colours and images in the manual are of a high standard.

White Game Board

Each challenge has a different cool name that relates to what you are trying to achieve eg: Fusion, Entropy, Depolarization, Selectivity, Duality, Square Matrix, Paradox and Exosphere. The initial challenges are easy but they become more complex as you work your way through the manual. I was a little concerned we would get stuck until I discovered that there is a section of puzzle solutions at the back of the book!

With each challenge you are given an objective, a starting setup illustration which shows a few pieces already in place and then a list of available parts which you have to figure out how to place on the board in order for the objective to be achieved.

Turing Tumble - Build Marble-Powered Computers (Review)
All the pieces unpacked and stored in their allotted spaces

The kids and I have been playing with this individually as well as in groups, I love watching them interacting and working together to solve the challenges. However, I have admit the primary reason I was eager to review the Turing Tumble was so that I could play with it myself!

I have been enjoying trying to figure out each solution. getting them right is very satisfying – seeing those little marbles or switches doing what you have ‘programmed’ them to do! (Wouldn’t it be handy if our kids were also a little bit more ‘programmable’ at times?) I am looking forward to working my way through the rest of the challenges over the Christmas period, preferably in a quiet corner with a cup of tea and a slice of Christmas cake!

Turing Tumble - Build Marble-Powered Computers (Review)
Objective: Make the pattern blue, red, blue, red, blue red…
Challenge 8 in action, I got it wrong initially but after a couple of minor fixes it worked.

I would recommend this game for kids and adults (maybe a bit geeky like me) who are interested in mechanical projects, computing or construction – it’s a perfect alternative to screens!

Why Turing?

When I first saw the name of this game I confess I was a little confused, I thought that the ‘N’ had been left out of Turning! However, there is an explanation in the manual that tells us it is named after Alan Turing, a British mathematician and scientist who built machines to help figure out mathematical solutions. His code breaking work during WW2 was a deciding factor in bringing the war to an earlier end and his work forms the foundation of modern computing. You can read more about this remarkable man and his tragically short life here.

Turing Tumble - Build Marble-Powered Computers (Review)
Objective: Flip bits 2 and 5 to the right
Challenge 11 needed some careful consideration but I got there in the end!

The Turing Tumble Contains:

  • 1 white game board
  • 1 black support board housing the stand
  • 61 assorted cogs
  • 42 blue and red mini marbles
  • 30 metal mini marbles
  • Assorted pieces for assembly
  • Ring Bound book with board assembly instructions, 60 challenges and the illustrated story of Alia the space engineer on her quest to repair a communications satellite in outer space.

Set-up of the board initially takes about ten minutes, the instructions are clear and easy to follow, my 11 year old daughter and I managed without any difficulty. When you are finished playing you place the white game board on top of the black support tray and place inside the box.

Everything stacks neatly, all the various pieces have their own place in the tray, the box it all comes in is sturdy in order to keep all the parts well protected.

Black Support board

Game specs:

  • For single or multiple players
  • Ages 8 to adult
  • Game play is as long or short as you like but a simple challenge needs roughly 10 to 15 minutes to set up and complete.

For more info visit the Turing Tumble website here.

Read all about our favourite board games for teens and tweens here.

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