Parenting: Da Vinci's Challenge

David Murphy is a fan of Da Vinci's Challenge, a game that forces you and your kids to think in different ways all at once.

January 27, 2011 2:14:57 AM PST
Da Vinci's Challenge was an accidental find for us (the Murphy family), but has been great as a parent/kid activity.

My wife discovered it in the game aisle as she was trying to flesh out the holiday gifts a few years ago. My 8th grader took to it quickly and we continued playing through his high school years.

The game board is a depiction of Leonardo Da Vinci's Flower of Life drawing, shown on the box cover above. Two players (or teams) are supplied with a generous helping of pieces that mirror the various shapes formed by the lines in the artwork. Players take turns placing their pieces one-by-one, scoring points by forming various pre-determined images. The more intricate the image, the more points are scored. The game plays out until the board is filled. Points are then tabulated to determine a winner.

It gets complicated, because the patterns overlap and it's difficult to see everything forming at once. I have to admit that my son was better at this game than me, always finding a way to sneak a high-scoring, elaborate image into the game board while I was focused on other details. But it was great practice for both of us in thinking spatially, and on different levels all at once. It's a definite mental work-out, and a nice shift away from the video game console. Kids who enjoy strategy games like chess will probably like this one, although the strategy is a little more complex because so many possible moves toward points can be occurring at the same time.

Each game only takes about 20 to 30 minutes to play, so several games can be played in a single sitting.

For more information, you can check out the game maker's website. The designers say the game is okay for ages 8 and up, but I think you'll find that kids will get better and more into Da Vinci's Challenge the farther along they move through grade school and high school.

As with my earlier suggested game buy, The Settlers of Catan, I'd recommend doing a general web search for the best deal, rather than buying direct.

---David Murphy

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