Players compete over 8 rounds to see who can solve the puzzles first. Each puzzle contains two different areas that must be completed each round.
Each card has two sides with different levels of difficulty: An easier side that requires 4 game pieces to solve and a harder side that requires 6 game pieces to solve. The players decide together what difficulty they want to play.
With 4 players, all 32 cards are used. With 3 players, 8 cards are randomly returned to the box. With 2 players, 16 cards are randomly returned to the box.
Shuffle the cards that being used and place them in the center of the table with the side that is not being used face up.
Each player receives the same set of 7 game pieces that differ in shape, color and number and uses these to attempt to complete puzzles during the game.
The youngest player is starting player. The game is played over 8 rounds. Each round consists of the following steps:
- The starting player takes the top card from the deck at the center of the table, without looking at the bottom, and place it face down in front of him. In a clockwise direction the other players do the same.
Once each player has a card in front of him, the first player calls out "Ubongo" and all players then simultaneously flip their cards over to the correct side.
Each player then attempts to be the first one to complete their puzzle using the game pieces listed down the right side of the card. Note: The numbers have the same color as the corresponding game pieces.
To complete a puzzle, all of the white areas in both puzzle sections on the card must be completely covered by the game pieces with no game piece hanging over into the black area. Note: it may be necessary to flip over some game pieces for them to fit the puzzle correctly.
The first player to complete his puzzle should shout "Ubongo". This gives the other player 20 additional seconds (30 if playing with the harder side) to attempt to finish their puzzles.
The player that finished first plus and of the other players who are able to finish their puzzle within the applicable time get to keep their card as a victory point. Any players who were not able to complete their puzzle give their card to the player who finished first this round.
The round is now over. If cards still remain in the center of the table, start a new round. Otherwise, the game is over.
End of the Game
The game ends after 8 rounds, when no cards are left in the stack. The player who collected the most cards is the winner.
Variant For Experts
The game is played as described above, however only the first player to finish a puzzle each round is awarded a card. The others are discarded.
The player chooses a difficulty level and tries to solve many puzzles as possible in 20 minutes. During this time he may discard a card before completing it if he so chooses.