Thursday, May 15, 2008

Way Back When in History

Subject: History
Category: Early American, Civics
Ages: 8 and up
# of players: 2 to 8
Time to play: Variable (45 minutes on average)
Mechanics/Game Type: Trivia, roll and move

Ratings (1 to 5)

Educational Value: 5
Gaming value: 3
Aesthetic value: 4
Price value: 4
Ease of play: 5
Younger adaptability: 5, playing in teams

My comments: This game is a really great way to review history facts with your kids. It comes with a colorful board divided into 5 sections--Explorers, Colonies, Revolution, Constitution, and Civil War. The 48 trivia cards each contain one question for each game board section, for a total of 5 questions on each card; there's also 6 wild cards. The very large six-sided die is made of a rubbery plastic so it bounces when it rolls and doesn't make a lot of noise. It also comes with eight pawn-shaped playing pieces.

Playing the game is simple--the player gets asked a question based on what section his playing piece is in; if he answers the question correctly, he rolls and moves. Everyone starts in Explorers; as you answer questions correctly you move from one time period into the next, and the questions change. The Constitution section has a lot of questions about the document itself (thus the civics lessons) as well as historical facts. We play with the variation that you move double the number rolled on the die to keep the game short.

The game is limited as any trivia game is, though you could get questions from other sources, like Professor Noggin card games, for example. They already have Explorers, Revolutionary War, and Civil War. I bought this game at Old Sturbridge Village; it is available online directly from the manufacturer. link to this game: none

Manufacturer's web site:


Subject: Math
Category: Geometry, pattern recognition
Ages: 10 and up
# of players: 1 to 4
Time to play: 45 minutes
Mechanics/Game Type: abstract strategy; tile placement, pattern building

Ratings (1 to 5)

Educational Value: 5
Gaming value: 5
Aesthetic value: 4
Price value: 5
Ease of play: 5
Younger adaptability: 5

My comments: This elegant game consists of a game board (shaded three colors to accommodate different numbers of players,) a bag of double-sided hexagon tiles with one of six colored shapes at each end,a tile-keeping tray, and four scoring cards with a small wooden blocks for each color. The scoring cards have one row for each color and 18 columns; each time you score a color you advance the small wooden block of that color on the score card.

Each player starts with six tiles; you play a tile and then draw a tile, trying to get as many color matches as possible with each tile placed. Yet unlike most games, the object here is not to score the highest, but rather not to have the lowest-scoring color.

Both my six and nine year old sons can play this game. The tiles could be a bit thicker, and if they actually fit into a grooved board, like in Blokus, that would this easier to play with active kids. I picked this game up at Barnes & Noble so it was 20% off with my educator's discount. It is well worth it for a game that you'll never outgrow. link to this game: