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Great game! Regarding missing pieces & different packaging...
on January 11, 2014
A lot of people are talking about receiving the game with missing instructions & pouch. Mine was also missing the instructions & pouch. However, I contacted Amazon, and promptly received a replacement along with a free-shipping RMA. To my surprise, the new one was very different.
First, the box is much bigger. It also has different labeling on the front. Most importantly, it seems to be made by different companies. The original smaller box (missing instructions & pouch) is made by Smart Elephant, where the new larger one is made by MindWare. There are also a few other differences in the front. The backs are completely different. I won't detail each difference, but I will post pics showing the differences.
After seeing the pouch and instructions, I don't see how the Smart Elephant version *could* contain the pouch alone, not to mention the pouch *and* instructions. The tiles are such a snug fit in the box, it would have to bulge in order for the folded pouch -- and particularly the draw-strings -- to fit.
And this is even though the bottom-front cover of the Smart Elephant box clearly states "Instructions Included", and the back also lists "1 bag" and "1 instruction booklet" in the list of components. So I'm not sure if this is a counterfeit or if it's just poor production.
Regardless, if you don't get the MindWare version, you should probably contact Amazon for a replacement. If anyone has the Smart Elephant version and it contains the instructions and pouch, please post in the comments.
As for the game itself, I think it's great. It's sort of a mix between Scrabble and Uno, where you have 6 sets of shapes and 6 sets of colors (36 total unique tiles x 3 of each tile = 108 total tiles). When you place a tile, it has to match *either* the shape *or* the color of the set of all adjacent tiles.
You score a point for each tile in any set(s) you create/extend (similar to scoring in Scrabble), plus a bonus 6 tiles for any sets (of 6 colors or shapes) you complete. The set you're creating/extending cannot contain two of the same shape (for a color set) or two of the same color (for a shape set) -- each set has to be made up of 6 or less unique tiles of the same color or shape.
Regarding age, the game is rated for six and up, though it could probably be played by an even younger audience. Of course, younger players may not be able to use strategy to the same level older players can, but most will still be able to have a good time. Our six-year-old actually was able to pull off some pretty clever moves against us (beating the three of us in the end), but at other times, he struggles.
The other thing to take into account is the level of patience some younger players may need while everyone else is trying to figure out their move. It may make sense to play less strategically in the interest of speed to keep their interest. This may be the biggest issue for us, and depending on the mood, a more fast-paced game may be more appropriate.
Regarding quality, the tiles (in the edition as of this writing) are painted wood. We haven't played enough to determine if they will eventually wear, but they seem of good enough quality. The pouch (assuming you get one!) can be used to store the tiles when not being used, as well as being used to draw from during play.