To enter the Wizard’s Guild, you must master the art of summoning Gigamons, elemental creatures. This family-friendly game puts a new twist on the traditional game of Memory.
At a glance: Gigamons is a memory-matching game for 2 to 4 players, ages 6 and up, and takes about 15 minutes to play. It retails for $15.99 and is available in stores and online. Because the base mechanic is matching tiles, you can easily simplify the rules to play with preschoolers, and then add in the special powers later, but the game is primarily for kids and not necessarily for adult gamers.
- 42 Elemon tiles (6 each of 7 types)
- 7 Gigamon standees
- 3 Rock tokens
- 4 reference cards
The Elemon tiles are small square tiles with rounded corners. Each one has an illustration of an Elemon—a creature based on an element like air, water, or fire—along with its name and a small icon indicating its special power. The Gigamons are large cardboard standees with plastic bases: each of these is also tied to an element (and also depicts the matching Elemon). The standees are a lot of fun and even my older kids liked them, though they’re big enough that they tip over easily because the plastic base is so small. The Elemons and Gigamons are very cute and (mostly) cheerful.
The whole thing comes in a rounded box with a flat base—it reminds me of a box for a kids’ jigsaw puzzle or something.
How to Play
The goal of the game is to be first to summon 3 Gigamons, which is done by matching Elemon tiles.
To set up, set all the Gigamons to one side, and shuffle all of the Elemon tiles. Make a 3×3 grid of Elemon tiles, face-down.
The basic move is like classic Memory: flip over two tiles. If they match, you keep them (and refill the empty spaces). If not, you flip them back down.
However, if you do get a match, a couple other things happen. First, you get to use the power of the Elemon. Each of the seven Elemons has a different power:
- Polymon always makes a match with any other tile.
- Floramon lets you take an additional tile from the draw pile for your collection.
- Pyromon lets you discard an opponent’s tile of your choice
- Hydromon lets you secretly peek at 4 tiles in play.
- Geomon lets you put a rock token on any of the tiles—that tile can’t be touched until the beginning of your next turn, when the rock is removed.
- Aeromon lets you trade one of your Elemon tiles with any tile from an opponent.
- Electromon gives you another turn.
And then, if you’ve collected 3 identical Elemons, you discard them to the box and claim the associated Gigamon—even from another player. Get 3 Gigamons, and you win.
If the draw pile runs out, you keep going until there are no more matches, and the player with the most Gigamons wins—ties go to the player with the most Elemons.
For younger kids, parents often end up playing the same games, simply because younger kids are still learning things like taking turns and counting, and may still be developing the ability to remember where something is once you cover it up. So that often means playing games like Memory even though there’s often not much of a challenge for older kids or adults, while the younger kid keeps turning over the same tile they’ve already seen again and again. But developing memory is an important skill, and Memory is one of the easiest and simplest games to practice that.
Gigamons takes the basic flip-and-match mechanic and adds a few twists that make it interesting enough for older kids (and, yes, the parents) to play without going batty, while still remaining simple enough for younger kids, with some help.
First, if you’re playing with the very young, you can just set out a large number of tiles and ignore the powers. Since there are six copies of each Elemon, you’ll have more matches anyway, and the game will progress more quickly.
Playing with the full ruleset also tweaks the game in a few ways: for one, since there are only 9 tiles to choose from at a time, kids don’t get overwhelmed with choice overload. Also, since you refill empty spaces as matches are made, the makeup of the tiles is constantly shifting, which can help in those cases where younger kids keep flipping the same tile—in this case, that tile could change! Finally, even though you may have to explain the powers to younger kids, they’re not too tricky and, in most instances, they speed up the game.
For instance, the Polymon is a wild card, so that makes matches more frequent. Being able to take additional tiles or peek ahead means you may be able to cut out a turn searching for a match. Aeromon’s switching ability is a good way to get 3 of a kind and grab a Gigamon, and protect those Elemons from getting stolen from you. Finally, since the game ends when somebody manages to collect three Gigamons, you don’t always have to play until all possible matches have been made—quite often, the game may end sooner.
The powers also allow for a little more strategy for older players, because the choices of which tiles to swap for, or destroy, or cover with a rock token, all require a little bit of planning and thought. You can even use a rock to bluff, putting it on a tile that you want the other player to flip, so that they waste time trying to figure out what it is. And the set-collection aspect means that not all matches are equal—you really want to find a match for Elemons you already own, so that you can trade them in for Gigamons. If you know where a Polymon is, do you just flip it for a guaranteed match, or do you take a chance, hoping to get two identical Elemons?
Overall, Gigamons is still a fairly simple game, so it’s not one that I’m probably going to break out often at a game night with my adult friends. But my kids have been enjoying it, and it’s one that I’ll gladly play with them when they request it. My 10-year-old and 3-year-old have even been playing it with each other on their own, and it’s always delightful when my kids get out a game and play it without my invitation. It’s a great spin on the classic memory game, so if you’re looking for something that’s a step up for your young gamers, it’s worth checking out!
Review copy provided by Blue Orange Games.