Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Spring 2010 Games
Ages: 10 & Up
Price: $39.99
If you like chess, you will love this 2 player strategy board game. Played on an 8 x 8 square grid with four black trap squares near the center of the board, each player sets the 16 animal-shaped pieces in any arrangement on the two rows closest to them. Players take turns making up to four moves on any combination of pieces with the objective being to get one rabbit piece to the other side of the board.

Though the rules on the game are simple, many layers of strategic play quickly become evident. Pieces can be moved left, right, forward, or backward (except rabbits). An opponent's piece can be pushed or pulled by more powerful pieces and pieces adjacent to more powerful pieces are frozen unless a friendly piece is also adjacent. And when a piece is pushed into a trap square, it is removed from the game, unless, again, there is a friendly piece adjacent. A typical game takes 60 minutes to complete.

The rules to Arimaa are pretty straightforward, but this is one of those games that you have to play to fully appreciate the rules. Complicated situations quickly arose during early play and testers really had to think to apply the rules. Only after testers played a few times, were they able to use the rules to their advantage and develop strategies. The Arimaa website provides a helpful tutorial that runs through all the rules and gives lots of examples.

The game was inspired in 1997 when, for the first time, a computer beat a chess champion. Omar Syed set out to create a game that would show that humans could outsmart a computer. Since 2002, Syed has challenged the scientific community to develop a computer that could beat a human at Arimaa. He has $10,000 for anyone who can.

Finally, the board can be turned over to reveal a standard checkerboard on which you can play standard chess with the Arimaa game pieces.

Ellie and Don Homce   ©2010 Parents' Choice
Don and Ellie Homce are the parents of two sons. Ellie is a former chemistry and physical science teacher and trainer in the hazardous materials field. Currently a professional volunteer at local schools and a thrift shop, Ellie continues to pursue her interests in art. Don is a health and safety and environmental science professional who enjoys building and fixing things. He has been a Boy Scout Leader for the past ten years.

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