It’s time, once again, to announce the annual winners of the Mensa Mind Games competition, held every year in April. This is when members of American Mensa gather for a long spirited weekend of tabletop gaming. At the end of the weekend, the participants vote for the top games they played. Votes are quickly tabulated with the top five games declared Mensa Select games for that year. Those games are allowed to carry the Mensa Select seal, and are generally fantastic games. This year, there were 63 games competing for the privilege. Here are the winners for 2016.
New York 1901
Blue Orange Games
In New York 1901, players are developers who race to construct buildings in New York City. There are rules, of course, about what you can build where, and your decisions of how to build can come to hurt you later on. But don’t worry, you can demolish buildings to make room for new ones. I’ve actually played this one (see Bristol-Liu Con 2015), and can vouch for its entertainment value. It’s a light strategy game that is fun for families to play together. For ages 8 and up.
Circular Reasoning is an abstract strategy game where players race each other toward the middle of the board, using their square, triangle, and circle tokens. Players can block each others’ progress, however, and the gates to move from one track to another rotate around depending on how many tokens are on each level. For ages 12 and up.
World’s Fair 1893
Renegade Game Studios
The Ferris wheel is the central image of this game, which is based on the World’s Fair of 1893. World’s Fairs exhibited advances in science, technology, culture, and more, and this particular Fair, held in Chicago, had some significant advances, such as spray painting, the third rail, and printing books in Braille. In this game, players are organizers for the fair, collecting exhibits to display in each of five exhibition areas and increasing their influence and support. Win the game by having the most points at the end, which is based on support gained throughout the game and the diversity of exhibits at the end. A well-designed game for families or small groups age 10 and up, World’s Fair 1893 comes out in late May.
Favor of the Pharaoh
Bezier Games, Inc.
Move ahead in Egyptian society, making connections and influencing others, by rolling special game dice and placing appropriate tiles. In the end, only one player can win the Pharaoh’s favor. Replayability of this game is high, since each time you play, you use a different combination of characters. There are also special ability dice and tokens that can affect players’ turns. Imagine Yahtzee combined with Egyptian culture and a drive to please, and you’ve got Favor of the Pharaoh. An app for the game will be available in the future as well. For ages 13 and up.
The Last Spike
In this cooperative train game, players work together to build a railway across the country, while also competing to amass land speculation money before the railway is completed. The railroad needs to be built across river and mountains to make it to the other side of the country, which means higher costs for the more difficult construction. This game was originally published in 1976, but has been redesigned to appeal to today’s train/euro/strategy gaming enthusiasts. Great for families with kids 10 and up.
Check out the excellent games that were previously awarded the Mensa Select Seal!
Note: The recommended ages for these games are only a guideline. You know your kids best, and it’s often true that younger kids can play the games without trouble.