Review: Bottle Topps
Publisher: Parker Brothers
Year: 1993
Tagline: Stack ’em High & Stack ’em Wide
Players: 2 or more

Cover shows a bottle with disks balanced on top of it in a wide canopy

how we met

I had never heard of Bottle Topps before finding it at thrift recently. But I like a dexterity game, and it seems impossible to me that this many wooden disks can truly branch out as wide as the cover suggests, just being balanced on a single little bottle. I was intrigued.

how it plays

The game comes with a small wooden bottle with a cap that sits on top of it. From there, players take turns placing a single wooden disk on the cap or on another disk. For beginners, the game suggests playing up to nine levels. Once you get to nine levels, you place the red stopper on top (an ever-so-slightly different shade of red than the other disks). This means no players can build at that level. All other disks need to get placed within the first nine levels.

A few disks on the bottle at this point
Here we are warming up. In case you were wondering, there is no difference or relevance to red vs white disks

If a player knocks disks off during their turn, they need to add twice that many disks onto the pile. Players can use their disk to push other disks to tighten the pile.

The rules also say that you must stay in your seat, so you can’t get up and move around to find a better spot. You can spin the bottle to change what you can access, but I feel like you’d have to be nuts to do that.

As with many dexterity games, there is one loser rather than one winner. The player that causes the chips to fall down loses Bottle Topps!

how it went

It’s probably not worth mentioning, but I am annoyed that the game is called Bottle Topps with two P’s. I know this is probably for purposes of disambiguation, but I don’t like it. However, that is not important. Let’s talk gameplay.

I really wanted to play around with Bottle Topps on my own to see how many disks I could get on the bottle, but I didn’t want an unfair advantage against my gaming group when we went to play. So I didn’t.

Further along in play
Here we are growing our little bottle! You can see in this photo the “red” disk on top. It is an ever-so-slightly more red, red than the other red disks. No one can play at the level of that top red disk, everything must be lower.

As we played, John probably did the most attempted sabotage by placing his disks in awkward spots. Like if you place your disk directly on top of another disk, that’s awkward. It won’t last terribly long. It will set someone up for a bad spot, but you don’t know when or who.

Our bottle did not get terribly wide in its growth, but still. I think it’s cute. Note how many are stacked on top of each other instead of outward 🙁

As play progressed, and as expected, it was getting more difficult to find places to slip a disk into the pile. Eventually on my turn I was really struggling to find a decent location when it all came crashing down. And I lost Bottle Topps!

The moment of my non-victory

Board Game Geek user Teppolainen mentions in their rating comments that this is based on an old pub game where you balance matches on a beer bottle. I believe that, but unfortunately I haven’t tried that game yet. I’ll have to pick up a box of matches soon.

play or pass

Play. Bottle Topps is a balancing dexterity game. I was impressed at how broadly the chips fan out if the weight distribution is right. This is not my favorite, but it brings everything you expect in a dexterity game. Things like tension. Sabotage. Luck. Patience. Shaky hands. Color confusion. Naughty words. Trash talking. “Accidental” table bumping.