Friday, October 22, 2010

Mastermind & Animal Mastermind Towers

Who remembers Mastermind? You know, the game where you lay out some pegs and your opponent uses logic and the process of elimination to determine the colors and order?

Well, Mastermind is back. (Although I'm not sure it ever went anywhere.) Regardless, I hadn't played it for years. But then one day my nine-year-old stayed home from school because he was sick—or more accurately, "sick"—and I pulled it out so we could play.

I was worried that it would be too hard for him, but he picked it up quickly. We did give each other some hints now and again, but it was surprisingly fun.

My son really enjoys playing. In a weird way, once you figure out the basic logical rules of how to proceed with the game, which he picked up on quickly, it puts both players on a pretty even level, which is something not all games do. I also like that it teaches players to think logically and figure out puzzles.

Here's my pet peeve about the game. There's a little compartment on the side to hold the pegs, but it's not big enough to hold all of them. For the logical, puzzle-y type people who love this game (me), this flaw is kinda irritating.

I ended up putting all the pegs in a Ziploc bag, which was probably a better solution anyway.

Mastermind sells for $14.99.

Mastermind is intended for kids ages 8 and up, but they have come up with a great alternative for the younger set. Animal Mastermind Towers is a fun version with a more visual interface that is a little easier.

Intended for kids ages 6 and up, Animal Mastermind Towers just has players figure out the order of their tiles as opposed to Mastermind, which has players figure out color and order. Another adaptation is that you can choose to play with any number of tiles.

Each player chooses their animal tiles and the other player asks questions such as, "Is the penguin above the frog?" Once you get your answer, you can organize your matching cards to help you remember your opponent's answers. It's silly and fun, and OMG, check out the adorable tiles:

My oldest son aced this game quickly, but it was challenging for my youngest son, who is five.

He was drawn to it though, because of the sheer cuteness. With some practice, I imagine he'll pick it up quickly. Plus, what a wonderful way to teach logic and problem solving skills.

Animal Mastermind Towers sells for $12.

Honesty Clause: I received review copies of both Mastermind and Animal Mastermind Towers at no charge.