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"Black Box" is a term used by scientists to describe an unknown, mysterious quantity; an object or system that operates in an unknown way, even though outward "reactions" can be observed when stimulating it.
In the game Black Box you are to determine the compound of a molecule enclosed in the Black Box by shooting rays into the box. Observing in which way rays are diffracted by the molecule enables the scientist (one of the players) to determine the contents of the Black Box -- in this case, the structure of the molecule.
- 1 gameboard
- 5 glass marbles
- 32 marker pieces
Average Rating: 3.8 in 5 reviews
I have owned this game for over 20 years. I have yet to see a better game for logical deduction and geometric concepts. The game can be played with others or by yourself. I have been looking to get another copy of this game for over 10 years. Thank you Funagain Games. Anyone that would rank this game below a 3 probably likes dice games.
I used to own this game as a kid, but I never played any of the solo variations. I never cared much for solo play on any game that wasn't electronic...
I agree with another of the writers that at the time this seemed really high tech. For something made of plastic, I think this would be one of the few games that could hold it's own overall in 'appearance' as well as having nice game play.
One major downside though as a 2-player game; there is a way to hide your 'marbles' such that the the last one your opponent will be guessing is in one of two 'squares' making it a 50% guess for them and not pure logic. I distinctly remember being able to do that and used it as a means of beating opponents. That's why I rate it only 4 stars. But think of it as an upside for a child/teen - they have to get to that point - which is a fair amount of logical reasoning!
I guess I'm just nostalgic and like the one-on-one interaction that a board game provides vs a computer game. I fondly remembered the 1978 domestic version and recently ordered the Franjos import to play with my 3rd grader and 1st grader, and we have had a great time. One practical consideration of the current Franjos incarnation is that the Black Box itself is a felted mat, and the marbles that one places to guess locations tend to roll around too much to be useful. We have successfully substituted pennies for the marbles. The Parker Bros version of the game -- a true plastic black box, as I recall -- tended to be designed a little better for ease of use. A fun game, in any case, for curious, logic-minded folks.
I enjoyed this game as a kid. I liked the 'board' as it seemed so high-tech next to cardboard playing surfaces of most board games. While I admit that computers offer faster and flashier interfaces, some kids like a more tactile play experience. The lid closes on a set game, and preserves it for resumed play at a later time. I especially liked the markers with the symbol cutouts, they were just the coolest to use as stencils in drawing.
One thing the previous reviewer didn't mention was that the game can be played solo using the 40 games listed in an accompanying booklet. The player decides were to send in a ray and then looks up the result for that ray. The list of results substitutes for a second 'player'. Additionally a second player could supply a list of results and the game could be played in turns by two people remotely using mail or email. (Actually, you could do this with a paper grid, but the Black Box is just so COOL).
At one point back in my childhood, I had Black Box. In the game, one player establishes a secret map of several balls on a grid. The other player then sends hypothetical 'rays' into the board grid, and the first player tells the result of the ray entering. It might ricochet around because of the balls' effect on them, it might be absorbed by hitting a ball head-on, or it might be reflected right back. The second player tries to determine the array in as few turns as possible.
I played this a lot as a child, with my dad willingly setting up the puzzles for me to solve. I don't see how it could have been much fun for him.
And that is why I find the game so disappointing by today's standards. One player essentially sits out, only serving as moderator for the other player's efforts. Each player is only really having much fun when they are guessing, so games must be played back-to-back. In this day and age, computers are readily available to take the part of the moderator without complaint. There are some decent freeware and shareware implementations of the game out there, and the computer never messes up on its evaluations (something my dad did on occasion).
About the only way I would recommend Black Box is if you are in a situation like mine was. You have a precocious child and want to spend some quality time as you help that child develop deductive powers. For a pair of adults looking for a game that is fun to play together, definitely look elsewhere.