It was a few months back that Miss B and I were talking about old puzzle games, and I explained the concept of Mastermind to her. In case you don’t know, this is the game where one “player” sets a sequence of four coloured pegs and the other has to guess what the sequence is; on each guess, the code setter has to reveal how many pegs are fully correct and how many are the correct colour but incorrectly placed. With this information (and a little luck) the guesser should be able to figure out the sequence.
At the beginning of this month Miss B found a Mastermind set in a charity shop and waved it in front of me, making a hopeful face as she did so. I took the hint and, as the set looked to be complete and in decent condition we made the purchase.
Since then we have had several plays, each comprising one go at guessing each, and we score according to the number of guesses taken so we end up with a winner each time. Miss B has clearly taken to this game in quite a serious way and so far she has won more games than I have. It’s fascinating to hear her talking through her logic when she is starting to get enough information to solve the puzzle and eliminating options to deduce a solution.
It must be something like thirty years since I last played Mastermind, so I was a little nervous about the prospect, but we’ve been getting on great with it. This is a game (it’s really a moderated puzzle, but we play it like a game) that Miss B is currently really enthusiastic about, and the set we have is good for travelling with, so I expect it will see a fair bit of use over the coming months. I think it’s doing my addled brain some good too.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 9¼): “Mastermind is a brilliant game because of how clever you have to be to work it out. I will rate it 99% for how clever it is for such a simple game!”
The game: Mastermind (Parker Brothers), 2 players aged 8+.
We’re back! Miss B has had a bit of a spell of providing verdicts for games, so you should see a few new posts over the next mumblemumble period of time. First up we have a lovely looking game about making mosaic floors in the Taj Mahal called Maharani. We’ve had the game for a while, and Miss B spent a happy time a year or two back just playing with it and making patterns with the tiles, but we have only just got around to playing it.
This is a game that is pretty much a classic Euro-style game where you are mostly working on your own project, and you can get in the way of other players, taking a tile or blocking off a space they wanted, but they will usually have other good options and can just get on with their life after a mild bit of fist shaking. And it’s all about earning points in ways that don’t really make a lot of thematic sense, but that’s OK because you are building something that looks nice using colourful tiles and little wooden workers.
In the case of Maharani, most of your turns are spent placing tiles onto the large floor plan, selecting your tiles from a rotisserie selection in the middle, and sometimes you also get to place workers on the new tiles. You earn points for having groups of tiles of the same colour and for having workers standing near each other (which requires different colour tiles because reasons), and then when each quarter of the floor is complete, you score bonus points according to the number of workers you have in the area.
It all sounds a bit dry, and maybe it is, but the components are so nice, and there is really something special about painting the board in those bright colours as you go. Miss B missed a couple of rules when I was explaining them, which was all sorted a couple of turns in, and then things flowed very well. It took us about an hour to play, and I think Miss B was getting a little bored towards the end when there were only a few tiles left and a handful of places to put them, so it was just a matter of figuring out the moves that eke the most points out of the last few turns. But the scoring of the last two quarters of the board towards the end lifted things up and made things more exciting.
To be honest, I love this sort of game, so it was great to get to play it with Miss B, even though it didn’t really fire her up. Hopefully a rematch will happen one day, though.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 9¼): “The game isn’t my absolute favourite of all time but I think I would give it a 10 out of 10 for presentation. For the actual game itself I would give it about 7 out of 10.”
The game: Maharani (Queen Games), 2 to 4 players aged 8+.
March’s gaming was dominated by the big gaming weekend I wrote about last week, where Miss B and I got to play loads of games, not all together. We also got a little more play in over the Easter weekend, when we were visited by assorted members of S’s family, some of whom joined us for a play or two.
The headline numbers are that we had an impressive 31 plays, so an average of one play of something per day, and these plays were of 18 distinct titles.
We had multiple plays of quite a few games: 6, BraveRats and Spyfall had three plays each, and Codenames, Love Letter, Odin’s Ravens, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, Pick Up Sticks, Push It, and Tem-Purr-A with two plays a piece. Of these, Odin’s Ravens was new to us, and was a gift that I am extremely happy with, and Tem-Purr-A was a game owned by Miss B’s aunt and uncle, which turned out to be a lot of fun, and I may have to get a copy of for myself.
One particular play I was really happy with was when Miss B came down to see me and ask if she could play Citadels with me. We haven’t played this for ages and it’s one of my favourite games, so how could I turn down such a request? It was also the first time in ages that she has initiated a game play. These things make me smile.
So for our yearly running totals we now have Push It going into the lead on seven plays, followed by 6 and Wetland with five plays a piece. There are several games on three plays, and another nine months to go, so we’ll just have to see how things develop.