As I’ve mentioned before, my wife and I enjoy playing board games together. One of our favorites is Ingenious. It’s a tile-matching game – a bit like dominoes – using a board. There are 6 different colors that you keep track of their score individually. The twist is that the lowest score of any color is your score. (For example, if you have scored 14 points on blue, yellow, green, red, and orange but only 2 points on purple. Your score is 2. If you opponent scores only 3 points on each color, they win 3 to 2.) This means you have to score on all the colors while trying to prevent your opponent from scoring.
The game is perfect for us. It’s simple enough to allow us to enjoy a nice conversation, watch TV, or keep an eye on the kids while playing. Yet, there is a good amount of strategizing (scoring versus playing defensively) to keep the game competitive. It’s also a game where we are on completely even terms – we’ve each won about half the games we’ve played.
I got the game out a few nights ago for us to play after our children were in bed. The next day, my almost-3-year-old saw the game and wanted to play. My wife and I paused for a second, then said sure. One of the first things my daughter learned were her colors and she can easily match them. We were both thinking that this is a game that she would be able to handle.
After dinner we opened up the box and explained how to play. To make it easy, we all played with our tiles face up. My wife and I played first to show how it worked and then it was her turn. She grabbed a tile and placed in on the board. We told her she scored 1 point for yellow and her face lit up! We continued to take turns. When it was her turn, we would ask her what color she wanted to match then help her place the tile on the board. “I want to match purple,” (her favorite color) quickly became the answer every turn.
She lost interest in keeping track of point totals on her score card and played with the little wood markers instead. But she was having fun playing a “big kid” game with Mom and Dad. My wife and I were also having fun. We tried to play out our normal strategies, but would often get thrown off track by the “random” play of our daughter’s tile. Once when I closed off a color that my wife needed, our daughter opened it back up by playing the exact she color needed!
The game was a bit long for a two-year-old’s attention span, but she finished the game with just a little prodding to take her last few turns. My wife and I agreed that the “random factor” of her plays added a fun element to the game and we’re all looking forward to the next game.