Educational Games

Philosophia: Dare to be Wise is a new self-published game on Kickstarter from designers Joseph N Adams and Madeleine Cole. In Philosophia, 1-6 players take on the roles of famous Greek philosophers, trying to achieve monumental landmarks in debate and rhetoric across the whole of Greece before time runs out. Victory is achieved by amassing 3 labyrinth tokens, which can be accumulated one at a time by completing tasks, or all 3 can be awarded by finishing a player’s secret goal card.

Players can move to any marked location on the map of Greece, and take one of several actions. Players can tutor at a location to collect money, or place a follower (wooden block) at their location. Sophists can be hired for money, in order to convert other players’ followers to your own color. Schools can be built by spending 2 money, or tokens on the locations themselves can be gathered to place on a players board. At a Temple location, 4 money can purchase a study token, used to unlock one of your philosopher’s 3 locked Wisdom Cards. At Oracle locations, special ability cards can be collected, which can grant boons or obstruct your opponents.  

The Acropolis is a special location on the board, offering a further 4 actions. Players collect Sophistry and Syllogism cards by observing debaters, and these cards can be used in the second Acropolis action, to fuel public debate, an interesting card-on-card battle system. Players can progress the timeline at the Acropolis, hastening the end of the game, and finally players can initiate auctions for Athena Tokens, very powerful reward items.

Players earn Labyrinth Tokens by placing all of their followers, founding all of their schools, getting the correct Oracle tokens, unlocking all of their Wisdom Cards, traveling to and collecting each color of Location token, or winning 3 public debates. Once a player has 3 Labyrinth Tokens, they can participate in the final public debate card play to declare themselves victor. Of course, each player has a secret Olympic Card, which grants all 3 Labyrinth Tokens in one fell swoop if completed.

Philosophia is a beautiful, thematic game involving all the intricities that embodied active philosophy in ancient Greece, adding an educational element to varied game mechanics. The Kickstarter Project for Philosophia: Dare to be Wise is scheduled to continue through October 10, and the game should ship to backers by June 2020. For more information, check out the website for Philosophia here.

Genius Games, the masters of good, entertaining science games, have a new Kickstarter Campaign for the party word game Nerd Words: Science by designers John Coveyou and Eric Slauson. Genius has hit it out of the park in the past with science based board games, such as Cytosis: A Cell Biology Board Game (2017), Subatomic: An Atom Building Game (2018) and most recently Periodic: A Game of the Elements (2019). Nerd Words is a team based word game, in which a clue-giver picks a science term from two given clue cards. Clues must be a single word, and start with a letter from the original word, although the first letter of the original word is off limits until the final clue. Additionally, the clue giver may bet up to 4 points, if they think their clue is really extraordinarily good. I had a chance to look at an early copy of Nerd Words at GAMA Trade Show, and the game continues to succeed at Genius Games’ trademark ability to present real, sometimes complex, educational ideas in an elegant, simple manner. Nerd Words comes with dry erase boards for clue giving and guesses, and additional themed card packs are planned for the future, including Space Science, Earth Science, Medical Sciences, and Advanced Biology. The Kickstarter for Nerd Words: Science continues through April 11, and the game is expected to deliver in April 2019.

Coming soon from Looney Labs is a version of Fluxx you may have wondered why it didn’t exist already – Chemistry Fluxx. The newest entry to the series takes it’s propensity for educational, or at the very least informational, cards and themes them with elements and compounds. Definitely better than flash cards you’d have made to study up for a high school exam, this new set will add an introduction to the periodic table and how elements interact with each other while players attempt to bend the rules to favor their winning hand. As explained in the Looney Labs press release:

 “Chemistry Fluxx® is the elemental car game where the rules are always changing. Use atoms and laboratory gear to match the current Goal and win! Chemistry Fluxx® is the perfect compound of chance and skill, where you’ll not only be playing with elements and molecules, but you’ll also be learning about them! Chemistry Fluxx® is so much fun you’ll be playing it more than periodically.”

Honestly Chemistry Fluxx just seems like a no-brainer, for too many reasons and puns to count. For someone who wasn’t too great at learning the periodic table the first time around, I might have appreciated this version much more in my adolescence. Still, it’s never too late to learn more about science and the fundamental building blocks of our universe. If you’re interested, Chemistry Fluxx is set to release on May 25th and if you want see more titles from the education line (such as Math or Foreign Languages), please visit their web catalog for it and other varieties of the ever-expanding card game.

maze racer

In 2014, Andy Geremia submitted an idea to the BigLeap “Games that Make us Smarter Campaign”. BigLeap had challenged designers to create a low cost, educational game for kids. Andy’s design was for a game where kids designed and constructed a maze that other kids would have to navigate, as each player races to be the first to move a marble through their maze.

One month after submitting his idea, Andy received an email that, after consideration from a panel of designers and educators, he had won the contest and a $5000 award. This encouraged him to design an upgraded version. Originally composed of cut-up straws in a cut-out cereal box, the new version used magnetic walls and a white board. With the upgraded version in hand, he began to contact toy companies to gauge interest in the game. Within two months, FoxMind signed an agreement to produce the game which is commercially available.

This led him to consider the process of going from concept to store shelves. He identified eight steps, beginning with a good idea (critical I would say), through presentations and/or video of a mock up, to contacting companies, producing a prototype and, finally, negotiating and signing an agreement—all without diving into the murky waters of lawyers, patents, copyrights and non-disclosure agreements.

The summary of his story, can be found here. The complete story is available here.