Late to the Game: An Ingenious Family Game for Christmas

Ingenious Board © Reiner Knizia
Ingenious Board © Reiner Knizia

If your family is anything like mine, then after the morning rush of present opening comes the post-turkey Christmas Day slump. The kids are playing with their new toys, one of which has probably already been broken and the adults are descending into an alcohol- and food-induced haze. That is until somebody pipes up “let’s play a board game.” The choice of game is always slightly treacherous ground, nothing too complicated (half the players are probably over the legal limit by lunchtime), nothing too noisy (you might wake grandma), and nothing that has sent people into a semi-murderous rage in previous years. In short, we’re always on the lookout for a new family game.

Ingenious isn’t actually all that “new”–it was originally published in 2004–but the chances are you’ve never heard of it. Designed by Reiner Knizia it has won a slew of awards over the years and has also been adapted for iPhone and Android apps. It is a strategy game with incredibly simple rules; place tiles shaped as two conjoined hexagons onto a hex board. Each tile contains two of a possible seven symbols and must be connected to another tile or starting space showing one of the symbols. The more straight line connections you can make, the more points you score in that color.

Ingenious Scoring © Reiner Knizia
Ingenious Scoring © Reiner Knizia

The interesting part of the game is the scoring and winning techniques. Placing tiles to create lines of matching color symbols scores you points; these are tracked using a scoreboard with peg markers to represent each color. However you must work to gain points evenly across all seven color-symbols because once the board is full, each player checks his scoreboard to see which color scored the least; the winner is the player with the most points in their least-scored color. This technique forces players to keep the board more open. You can run away with red tiles and score highly but if your blue peg is still down at the bottom of the scoreboard, that’s the one that will lose you the game. Along with standard gameplay instructions, the game also comes with solitaire and team play rules.

Ingenious is a simple game but one that will go down well with the family. It requires thought but doesn’t require deep strategizing or long turns, plus the kids will be able to play too (the suggested age is eight and above). If you’re looking for a new family game this Christmas, I suggest putting this one on your list for Santa.

GeekMom received this item for review purposes.