I picked up a fun little game called River Crossing at a yard sale this weekend. The basic idea of the game is to figure out how to get across a river using a specific set of tree stumps and a limited number of planks. The skill level of the game is determined by the placement of the stumps and planks. The harder the levels, the more they require you to think a bunch of moves ahead to actually figure out the winning path across the river.
River Crossing reminds me a lot of another game my kids love called Rush Hour. In Rush Hour, a set of cars, busses and trucks are placed on the board, blocking your car’s exit from the gridlocked city streets. In order to win the game, you need to slide the vehicles out of the way to allow your own car’s escape. The harder the level, the greater the gridlock on the board.
What I love about both River Crossing and Rush Hour is that my kids are forced to think logically and critically in order to figure out the puzzles. But better yet, because both of these games have configurations that range from easy to downright impossible, I am able to play these games with my 5, 7, 9 and 11 year olds and still challenge each one of them. And the younger kids learn how to think about the problems by watching their older siblings solve the tough stuff. Best of all, the kids really like these games.
If you know of other puzzle games in this same genre, I’d love to hear about them in the comments. You can never have too many games for birthdays.