Game Playing Heaven

The Card Players by Paul Cézanne (Public Domain)

The Card Players by Paul Cézanne (Public Domain)

I recently returned from participating in this year's Mensa Mind Games, a weekend of board game playing heaven with other people who love games as much as I do.

Every year American Mensa puts on this gathering, to which game manufacturers submit games to be evaluated. All games that are evaluated get ratings and helpful comments, but participants also vote on the best games of the weekend, with the top five getting the privilege of being able to display the Mensa Select Seal. This is high praise for the game, because it means that a lot of game playing aficionados really enjoyed it. It also gets Mensa's name out there in the public.

While there were a lot of weak games at Mind Games this year, the winners are all very strong. I played four out of the five that won, and am still kicking myself for not playing the fifth. It wasn't on my "required play" list, but I'm not sure why I didn't make the effort. The winning games, in no particular order, are:

• Anomia - This is a fast-paced card game where you try to take as many cards as you can by matching patterns and giving examples that fit the given category. The rules are simple, and you will have a fun time.

• Word on the Street - This board game pits two teams against each other, each trying to come up with words that fit categories, where the words use as many letters still on the board as possible. You're being timed, though, so think fast!

• Yikerz! - This is an unusual game where you wrestle with magnetic fields as well as your opponents. You have to place stone-shaped magnets on the playing surface so that each magnet won't be pulled in by any other's magnetic field. The object is to place all of your magnets before anyone else does.

• Dizios - This is a wonderful game to play with the whole family. Place tiles on the board, matching the edge color, and watch a very swirly pattern form. Gain points by placing tiles next to tiles with higher scores.

• Forbidden Island (this one I didn't manage to play) - This is a cooperative game where everyone is working toward the same goal, getting off the island before it sinks. Apparently it is a bit like Pandemic, if you've played that one.

Every year since 1990 the participants at Mensa Mind Games have awarded the Mensa Select Seal to five lucky games. See all of the past winners on the Mind Games website.