Published on November 23rd, 2008 | by Greg0
Board Games o’ Plenty: MindWare
We’ll be taking a break shortly for Thanksgiving, but before we do, we wanted to share the results of our month-long gaming marathon. Fought nightly in between testing other items, we looked at around a dozen board games, most of them pretty new. Some of them are aimed at families, others at groups, and a few of them at more specific audiences- but almost any of them would make a good gift for the appropriate person, because pretty much all of them were fun!
Two more groups left! In this piece, we’ll examine three offerings from MindWare. All three of these are closer to puzzle games than the party or board games in previous articles, and that goes double of Square Up. One of the only 2-player games we looked at, Square Up was almost more of an IQ test than a game. That isn’t to say that we didn’t have fun- it can even be played solo to brush up on your skills- but there just isn’t much to it. Two players shake their puzzle cubes, and then race to slide pieces on a colored 5×5 board to match the pattern on the 3×3 puzzle cube. It’s easy to learn, and newcomers are usually attracted to it, but works mostly with younger kids (6 and up) and won’t be likely to keep their attention for long.
Crosswise is quite a bit more complex- almost daunting when you first take a look. For 2 or 4 players, it is largely a match-3 game with a couple of interesting twists- one team or person uses the rows while the other(s) use the columns, and special action tiles allow you to swap tiles, change shapes, etc. Fun, challenging, and with some strategies that are pretty tough to immediately grasp, this is a good game for adults who are ready and willing to lose to their children. There is quite a bit of chance, but the game is balanced, deep, easy to replay, and goes quickly- a recipe for success around here at least!
Qwirkle is even more abstract, and is highly regarded (winning many awards, including the Mensa Select). Similar in some ways to Set and maybe a visual Scrabble, Qwirkle uses nice wooden tiles instead of cards, and requires players to form rows or columns where either the shape or the color (or both) match. This leads to interesting groupings, as each player has only 6 tiles in hand at a time, but also some scoring oddities as each person attempts to make an existing set larger (for more points) instead of finding a challenging but less valuable play.
All of the above games can be purchased directly from MindWare’s site, or from some retailers, and are $20 (Square Up) or $25.