Monday, December 9, 2013

Game Review: S'Match

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: A matching game younger kids can play
Cons: None for me
The Bottom Line:
Spinning and matching
Many more matches make it
Easy for the young

A New Spin on a Match Game

The joy of having a four-year-old niece is getting to discover new games.  When I was visiting for Thanksgiving, I played several rounds of S'Match.  I’d never heard of this game before, but it turned out to be something the entire family enjoyed.

The game consists of 30 cardboard tiles and a spinner.  To set it up, you mix up the 30 tiles and then place them face down on a table top (or floor, of course).

Now here’s where the spinner comes into play.  When you take your turn, you start by pushing down on the spinner.  When it stops, it tells you what you are supposed to match.  The options are number, category, or color.

Confused?  Actually, it is quite easy when you start playing.  See, each cardboard tile has all three on it.  It might be 1 purple cow or 2 green trumpets.  There are only two numbers, so those are the easiest to match.  There are three categories, animal, instruments, and transportation.  And there are multiple colors.  So if your mission is to match number, you could match 1 cow and 1 plane.  Category?  You can match a cow and a pig.  And color would find you matching two purple tiles no matter what was on them.

As I said, it is very easy when you are actually playing it to get the hang of things.  Of course, you still need to remember what has been turned up, but matches happen much more quickly.  After all, instead of having one exact match from the entire field, there are multiple for every tile.  Luck plays a much bigger role in creating matches than in the traditional match game.  But as someone who can never quite remember where the tiles he wants is, I appreciated that.  And this also means that my niece can play and do reasonably well if not win outright.

When I said earlier that the entire family can play and enjoy, I meant it.  The first time I played was after Thanksgiving dinner, and we had three generations sitting around the table having fun with the game.  We had five people playing at that point, and it went just fine.  Later, just my niece and I played, and the two of us had just as much fun.

Often with spinner games, the line between sections seems to come up fairly often.  This spinner was designed to keep that from happening, and I never saw it once the entire time I was playing.  Only once did we have to end a game with two completely unmatching tiles on the table, something that surprised my brother who had never seen it happen before.

And as I say, this is fun.  My niece was super excited about it both times we played it, and both times those playing were sorry when we had to stop.

Young kids who aren’t quite ready for a full matching game will enjoy this simpler alternative.  Yet adults will still find it fun.  That to me makes it a perfect S'Match.

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