Like all great introductory level children's games, Magic Genius Board is not only great fun, it also incorporates plenty of educational aspects, such as pattern recognition and puzzle-solving. It's also a game that is perfect for family gaming sessions, especially if you are looking for something that can involve the young, would-be gamers, from age 7 and upwards. And again, like all classic games, it is simple to understand, its basic concepts mean that there is no steep learning curve and even those new to the game will be playing in no time.
There are several different ways to play Magic Genius Board and the additional variety means that the game remains versatile and fun even once you have mastered the core elements of the game. But first, you have to set up the game.
The first thing that you will notice when you unbox the game is that there are only two basic components. Firstly, there are 20 playable, multi-coloured blocks and secondly, there are 60 pattern cards. The blocks are divided into four groups and the pattern cards into 5 difficulty levels, 12 cards per level.
You will also notice just how brightly coloured the block and card designs are, perfect for keeping the attention of the very young and stimulating the brain, even before the game has begun.
Regardless of the way that you chose to play, all games have the same way of being set up. The first step is for each player to be allocated their own set of blocks. The ends of each block are numbered one to five so that it is easy for each player to make sure that they have a full set of blocks.
Each block contains 4 sets of paired symbols and each block is unique. The challenge of the game, regardless of which way you play, is to find the right pairs of symbols positioned in the correct locations.
The first type of game that you will play is called Quick Play and this will introduce you to the main gaming themes and elements, once you have mastered that, there is a second variation on the game that you can learn.
In Quick Play, all of the pattern cards are shuffled together and players determine how many rounds they’d like to play. They then take that number of pattern cards from the deck and place them face down in the middle of the table.
To start the game, the top card is turned over and all players race to match the pattern using their set of blocks. The concept is simple, the first player to match the pattern on the card calls out “Match!” and grabs the card.
If a player grabs the card and it turns out that they haven't made a correct match, they must put the card back and then have to sit out the rest of this turn while the others continue to try to solve the pattern.
Winning is straightforward, once all the cards have been taken, the game ends and the player who has matched and claimed the most cards is the winner.
If there’s a tie for most cards, the player with the most level-5 cards wins (and so-on down through the levels if the tie persists).
Once you have mastered the Quick Play rules, you can also learn a variant style of play. This is called Total Madness.
This time, the pattern cards are sorted by difficulty level and separated into five individual decks and shuffled separately. Cards are taken from each deck equal to the number of players, i.e. 4 players mean four cards from each deck, and these are then placed in their separate level stacks face up in the middle of the table.
On the count of three players race to match any of the patterns they chose from those visible at the top of any pile. They can choose to try to complete the lowest level patterns, which will be quick and easy to match but which score lowest at the end of the game. They could choose a higher level and more difficult pattern, probably taking longer but being rewarded with more points. Or they could jump between the different stacks as they chose.
As soon as a player matches one of the shown pattern cards, they shout “Match!” and point to the pattern they match. Everyone pauses to make sure that the match is correct and if no one objects, the player takes the card. As they take the card, this will reveal another pattern below and this then becomes a new pattern to aim for. Three, two, one, and play resumes.
As before, the game ends when all the cards have been matched and claimed. This time, however, the different pattern cards that the players have claimed have different points values. Levels 1 & 2 cards are each worth 1 point per card. Level 3 cards are worth 2 points each. And cards of levels 4 & 5 are worth 3 points each. Scores are calculated and the winner is the person with the highest score. And tie breaks are resolved in the same manner as in the Quick Play game.
Magic Genius Board is quick to learn, easy to play, fast and fun. It also makes for the perfect introductory game for the very young, great for involving them in the art of game playing, even if the rest of the family moves on to something more complicated once they have gone to bed.
The game is designed to be played competitively and runs at such a speed that you can play it numerous times, over and over again in one sitting. But it also lends itself to helping the young ones feel more involved and more rewarded if the adults slow down and allow the younger players the chance to win. Not every game has to be purely competitive, sometimes it is about the collective experience, about seeing the joy on the face of a young player as they win a game, about developing their social and gaming skills. And Magic Genius Board is the perfect game for that too.
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