Playing games, to us humans at least, is an integral part of our development towards becoming inquisitive, thinking, dexterous people. In the animal kingdom tiger cubs fight with each other to learn the skills they will need as an adult, baby birds leap from nests into the unknown to learn how to fly but in the gentler world of human development, it is the playing of games which acts as a stimulus and learning curve to help us mature. Therefore, when it comes to playing games, the younger you start the better.
The Magic Block Game is the perfect way to mix fun, dexterity and puzzle-solving for ages 5 and upwards, for two players and, like all classic games gives as much enjoyment when played aged 70 as it does at 7 years.
The premise is simple. Using a small shaker (like an enclosed dice shaker but generating colour patterns rather than numbers) you generate a nine colour sequence which will be the target pattern that you are trying to create. As soon as the game starts, both players then compete against each other to be the first to replicate this nine-colour sequence in the middle of their 5x5 square board.
To do this they must move the existing colour squares, sliding them back and forth until one of them has created this sequence in the centre of their board. At that point, they flick the central divider down so that their middle nine squares are highlighted, and if their sequence matches, they are the winner. Simple but elegant.
There is no order of play or turns as such, both players just manipulate their squares quickly as they can into the target pattern and the first to complete it is the winner. The game is loosely based on a combination of game concepts from the past. The shifting sequence of coloured squares is reminiscent of the 80's sensation that was the Rubik's Cube, whilst the mechanism that allows you to move the squares around, via the mechanism of a missing square, makes the gameplay similar to the even older game of solitaire. But the fact you get to do this against each other in real-time and face to face will be familiar to anyone who has played the game Battleships. But the concepts of the game are so straightforward that even if you haven't played any of those, even the youngest player will pick up the idea in no time at all.
The real charm of the game is that whilst it can be played competitively, it can also be used as a learning device for the very young. The fact that the game requires both intuitive puzzle-solving and physical dexterity make it a fantastic game for skill development in young players. Just as a way of helping them learn and practice such vital skills makes it a perfect teaching device.
And when your opponent is of a comparable skill level, the game becomes a highly competitive experience indeed. Thought and speed are used in unison and the game becomes a fast-paced, frenzy of manipulation and competition. At this level, the game is often completed very quickly which means that it can be played over and over again in a very short space of time. It lends itself perfectly to everything from a family games night or even to a competition or league featuring many players.
The game is easily portable, making it great for holidays or for keeping the kids occupied during travel, the fact that there are so few pieces and being such a self-contained system, means that there are no fiddly little pieces to lose in transit A feature which might make it preferable to games such as travel chess or tiddlywinks.
It is colourful enough that the very young will find it attractive and when played at speed by competitors of equal skill levels, it is a fast-paced frenzy of fun. Like all classic games, it is born from a simple concept but can be fiercely competitive and no matter what skill level you re t, it is different every time you play.
This truly is a family game, one where all levels of skill and age can play against each other. At the younger ages, it is the perfect introduction to games in general but also has the advantage of developing vital skills. At the slightly older and slightly more experienced ages, it is a real battle of speed, not to mention speed of thought.
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