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The greatest minds of history, from Caesar to Beethoven to Gates, have been brought together to challenge the way you think. All you have to do is play out your hand of Genius Cards. But which Genius you can play, and when, is determined by a "Secret Rule" that only one player knows. Figure it out first and you'll win. The 96 Secret Rules included can be used time and time again. And when you're ready, you can create your own Secret Rules!
The disclaimer first: I have long been the family 'game' king, meaning that when we embark on any game, it is understood that I will win. Well, this is the one exception to that. My dear little old mother smokes me at this game, as she does everyone else. In other words, it rewards abilities that are distinct from most games, and for that reason alone, it's worth a look.
What this game rewards is the ability to see 'what comes next in this series.' In each hand, the 'rules' are different -- that is, the pattern that dictates the order in which the cards must be played, is different, and it is up to the players to guess what it is by playing their cards in accordance with the pattern that they perceive. That round's 'moderator' tells players whether they have played correctly or incorrectly, and moves cards accordingly to their proper places. One wins by figuring out the pattern, and then playing out one's cards in accordance with that pattern, and correctly identifying it.
The moderator's position isn't totally passive. He or she must obey certain rules (that is, he must play a card that fits the pattern whenever he can, instead of putting one into the discard pile that doesn't fit the pattern, to avoid giving information.) But strategy creeps into his play, too -- it's in his interest to figure out how to deplete his own hand to avoid giving information in the future. And also, if he can play cards that leave the pattern correct but ambiguous, he should do that. So the moderator can affect his own score by the way he plays as well.
I have found that in this game it is not necessarily the best strategy to wait until the pattern is absolutely unambiguous before guessing it. My mother has an unerring sense of when to guess, even if theoretically, more than one pattern might still be possible.
The game's rules are simple, but sometimes newcomers have trouble with them, for example knowing which cards to place where, how the moderator must play his cards, and so forth.
The theme of the game is embodied in the cards, which show various kinds of 'geniuses,' whether they are Thinkers, Arists, or Leaders. The biographical information on the cards has nothing to do with the game play, but I find it to be a nice aspect of the game. I can imagine that a child who owned this game would not be able to avoid learning a bit of good history about important figures. Any kid who plays this game will remember who many of these figures are, and that's a fun bonus.
The game isn't ambitious enough to be worth more than 4 stars, and there are perhaps a few too many ambiguities in the patterns and rules of play, but these are very minor, and do not detract from what is generally a nice little invention. Recommended.