Gaming 240

Published on November 23rd, 2008 | by Greg


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.

About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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