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Dexterity Game

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While most tabletop games simply focus on strategy or the social aspects of gaming, a dexterity game takes advantage of the medium's physical nature by testing the player's physical dexterity and/or reflexes. This often involves timed challenges.

Many games of this type are aimed at young children, who are developing motor skills, and will likely understand the simple rules, and appreciate the toy-like qualities of the game. That being said, games of this sort are enjoyed by all ages, provided they maintain some difficulty.

There is also the Dexterity Challenge, a mini-challenge that appears in games that otherwise don't focus on dexterity. These are rarer than pure dexterity games for a few reasons. Dexterity elements tend to require special components, and may not be worth the hassle if it's just a minor gimmick. Another issue is that several potential uses cause Uncertain Audience concerns — if you e.g. make a strategy/dexterity hybrid, fans of the dexterity elements would probably not find the strategy part very exciting, strategy fans would probably dismiss the dexterity part as the board game equivalent of Waggle, and people who do like both usually wouldn't want them at the same time. With that said, they can still be a fun addition to a game if done well, and tend to be suitable for light-hearted games.

Needless to say, dexterity challenges inherently make a game less accessible to disabled players. This is particularly apparent in games that otherwise take ordinary effort. Computers also have a harder time with the tactile and physical components, making Digital Tabletop Game Adaptations a lot less common.

Note that games traditionally considered Sports, like Bowling and Billiards, don't fall under this trope. If a similar challenge is broadcasted for a cash prize, see Game Show Physical Challenge. Related to Mad Marble Maze, as physical versions are dexterity games. Five-Finger Fillet, a dangerous game with the same skillset, is often played In-Universe.

Contrast "Test Your Strength" Game if you want to test your STR instead of your DEX. See also Some Dexterity Required, a Video Game Trope where the physical demands of the controls cause undue difficulty.

Full-Blown Dexterity Games:

  • Ants In The Pants: Players race to flick plastic ants into a pants-shaped bucket. The catch is that they may only press down, while the elasticity of the legs propels the ants towards the pants.
  • Beasts Of Balance is an app connected dexterity game that involves stacking differently shaped artefacts onto a plinth, trying to manage the scores of each beast so that they don't become extinct.
  • Buckaroo: Players take turns and try to place items on a mule figure. This must be done delicately or Buckaroo springs its back legs up, knocking all the items off.
  • Click Clack Lumberjack: Players strike a plastic tree with a plastic axe, attempting to dislodge "bark" segments, while avoiding knocking over "log" segments.
  • Coaster Park: You build a coaster for a marble, and if it fails to make it to the end, your coaster is a failure.
  • Don't Break the Ice: Players set up an elevated grid of cubes with a skater in the center. One at a time, each player tries to remove a cube from the structure without the skater falling.
  • Don't Spill the Beans: Players take turns placing beans on an unstable surface. Whoever causes the surface to tip over loses.
  • Elefun: A children's game where a motorized elephant blows nylon butterflies up into the air, and players try to catch them in their nets.
  • Flick Em Up: Players are divided into two teams, the outlaws and the deputies. Gameplay revolves around flicking bullet pieces to shoot and wooden pucks to determine movement of their pieces.
  • Flip Ships: Co-op game in which everyone launches cardboard tokens at invader ship cards and the mothership, defending their city. Space Invaders is a re-implementation of this game, but with a full board and launcher.
  • Fuse is a game in which you are trying to defuse a bomb before time runs out. Gameplay involves you rolling dice from a bag, then trying to assign them to the cards, sometimes stacking them on top of each other. Sometimes you need to fiddle with the dice in stacks, representing picking a fuse.
  • Hand To Hand Wombat combines this with Social Deduction Game; players are divided into "Good Wombats" and "Bad Wombats" and instructed to assemble towers of stacked rings with their eyes closed, then vote to remove a player from the game after each round. The Good Wombats have to finish building the towers, while the Bad Wombats have to sabotage the efforts of the Good Wombats, then trick them into voting off enough of their team mates.
  • Ice Cool: A game in which you flick around penguin figures around an arena, trying to eliminate the opponents.
  • Jenga: There's a tower of wooden blocks. You try to remove a block and put it on top without making the tower fall over.
  • Jungle Speed: Players take turns revealing cards. If this leads to a pair of identical cards on the table, you try to be the first to grab the totem.
  • Junk Art: There are a bunch of strangely shaped wooden or plastic components, and many game modes. One of them has the players try to build the highest tower using these pieces.
  • Kerplunk: Marbles are held in place by a lattice of removeable sticks. Players take turns carefully taking sticks out while trying to avoid letting marbles fall down the chute.
  • Loopin' Louie: A children's game where you try to knock Louie's rotating plane away from your chickens and hopefully into someone else's.
  • Meeple Circus: Players try to complete challenges and score points by stacking playing pieces representing acrobats, animals, and props in a limited amount of time.
  • Operation: You try to extract silly plastic organs from a patient. If you hit the metal sides of the holes where an organ is located, the patient's nose lights up and you hear a buzzer indicating that you messed up.
  • Perfection: This single-player game sees the player attempt to fill the holes on a grid with the matching shapes before time expires.
  • Perplexus is a series of ball-in-a-maze puzzles that test your ability to keep the ball from falling off-course as you make your way through.
  • Pick Up Sticks: Players take turns trying to remove sticks from a pile, but end their turn if they move a stick other than the one they're trying to take.
  • Rattle Me Bones: Players spin a wheel which determines which item they must remove from a skeletal pirate. If the skeleton is moved too much in the process, a mechanism will be triggered, making him shake violently.
  • Rhino Hero: Players build towers from cards and move their playing pieces around the structure, trying to capture the bad guys without making the tower collapse.
  • UNO Stacko: An Uno spin-off inspired by Jenga. There's still a tower of blocks where you try to remove one and put it on top without making the whole tower fall over, but now the blocks have colours and numbers affecting which determine what blocks you'll be pulling out. There are also a few blocks with special effects on the game.
  • Tiddlywinks: Players attempt to launch small discs into a cup by pressing down on the edge with another disk.
  • Twister: There's a large vinyl mat with coloured dots on the floor. Players are told to put a certain hand or foot on a spot of a certain colour. This process is repeated until all but one player is eliminated by falling or having their hand or elbow touch the ground.

Other Games with Dexterity Challenges:

Collectible Card Games

  • Magic: The Gathering: Cards that require physical actions from players are referred to as dexterity cards:
    • The game's Early-Installment Weirdness period had two cards featuring dexterity challenges: Chaos Orb and Falling Star, which you flip onto the battlefield from a height of at least one foot, after which they destroy every nontoken thing they touch (Orb) or tap and deal damage to every creature they touch (Star). However, these cards turned out to cause rule and logistical issuesnote , and they also make the game less accessible for disabled players. For these reasons, R&D quickly stopped making black-border dexterity cards, and both Chaos Orb and Falling Star have been banned from all formats.
    • Dexterity cards live on the Self-Parody acorn cards intended for casual play, where their goofiness makes more sense. They offer all sorts of mini-challenges, such as a staring contest with your opponent, balancing a card on your head and using your own hands as game components.
      • The most famous of these is a riff on the above-mentioned Chaos Orb. There's a long-lived urban legend that a player once won a tournament game by tearing his Chaos Orb into pieces and sprinkling them across the opponent's entire board, destroying everything (especially the Chaos Orb). The very first joke set printed Chaos Confetti, a card whose cost requires ripping it up.

Roll-and-Move Games

  • Euro Disneyland is a Disneyland-themed Roll-and-Move game featuring four mini-games that you have to complete to win prizes that you need to win the game. Three of these involve dexterity challenges: Captain Hook's Pirate Ship has you stack six treasure chests on the ship without it falling over. The Orbitron has you nudge a satellite with a ship (containing magnets that repel each other) and try to follow the track. Big Thunder Mountain's challenge has you try to get a yellow plastic ball in the mine cart, though this one is mostly a Luck-Based Mission. You need to complete a similar luck-based challenge to win the game — drop a ball bearing into the castle and hope it'll push your character onto Main Street.
  • Monopoly: While the base game requires no motor skills, expansions for Free Parking and Go To Jail each involve the use of hands. The former has players balance cars on a wobbly board, while the latter has players fling prisoners out of their cell.
  • Mouse Trap has the players build the Rube Goldberg Device trap during the game. And in the endgame, you get to activate the trap, though whether it works is a Luck-Based Mission.

Strategy Games — Eurogames

  • The tactical game Carcassonne has the Denser and Wackier Catapult expansion, which adds the dexterity-based Catapult round: The players get one chance to use the catapult for stuff like knocking out opponents' followers, which forces them to take them back.

Tabletop RPGs

Thematic Games

  • What Next is an Adventure Board Game that uses dexterity to progress through the story. If players fail a dexterity challenge, they must add a peril piece to the tower of peril. If the tower of peril collapses, you must start all over from the beginning of the adventure.

Alternative Title(s): Dexterity Challenge