If you lean in close, I'll confess something to you: I cheat at kids' games.
I don't do it to win. In fact, I'll often stack the deck in favor of my children. I do it to GET IT OVER WITH. I mean, for the love. Chutes and Ladders moves slower than my 9th grade algebra class and is often more painful. I've been know to presort the Candyland deck, to ensure we get the fun cards in the first few rounds, because we all know the game can't end until someone has gotten Queen Frostine. And it's possible that my kids aren't aware you're supposed to roll dice to put together your Cooties. It's so much more fun (and fast) when it's a let's-just-take-turns-dressing-up-our-bug game.
There are a few kids games I love: UNO, for starters, and it's crack cousin UNO Flash. Cranium's Hullabaloo is a fantastic game for kids young and old. Bonus: It's a moving game, not a sitting game. Guess Who is fast and creative, and Connect 4x4 is like Tic-Tac-Toe on steroids.
And now I have Qwirkle.
I was introduced to Qwirkle by the folks at MindWare, a toy company based here in Minneapolis that specializes in brainy, creative toys. Qwirkle is their baby, and it's won tons of awards, including the Parents' Choice Awards, the Mensa Select Award and last year, the Spiel des Jahres, widely considered the most prestigious award in the gaming industry. (Oh, and it's one of the many fabulous prizes in the grand prize package for the Big Bad Back to School Giveaway Bash. You've entered, right? More than $1500 worth of loot up for grabs?)
The genius of Qwirkle is its simplicity: Use the tiles to create rows of matching colors and shapes.
Sounds easy enough, right? And it is. My 4-year-old can play it. But like many classic games, to really master Qwirkle, strategy is required. Points are scored by forming new lines, adding to an existing line or getting one tile to touch multiple matches across lines. To do that successfully, one must think critically, which is one of those universal life skills.
Maybe best of all, Qwirkle is for everyone. There are very few actual rules. There is no real limit to the number of players. Everyone can play at their own level. It's simple but not easy, strategic but not complex.
And maybe best of all for my kids, I can't figure out a way to cheat.
Guess I'll just have to play.
For more about Qwirkle or any of the other amazing MindWare products, check out MindWare.com or request a MindWare catalog. My kids fight over that catalog when it comes in the mail. MindWare is a proud sponsor of the Big Bad Back to School Bash Giveaway, and while they did provide me with a copy of Qwirkle to review, they did not influence this post. I may cheat at kids' games, but I cannot be bought.