On this installment of the Buzz, I'm really excited to take a closer look at one of my favorite board games: Telepathy. Looking back, it's very likely that my initial attraction to this game was due to my love of this classic movie scene:
Yes, that's the wonderful Bill Murray, as Dr. Peter Venkman, in the opening scene of Ghostbusters, conducting an ESP test involving two subjects trying to use their minds to correctly guess hidden symbols. Hilarious scene that works because, hey, it's Bill Murray, but also because it strikes at something we all seem to have a deep-seated interest in: the mysterious powers of the mind. How many of us have tried a similar experiment at one time or another? Who hasn't been curious about their own magical mental prowess? Yep, call it ESP, a sixth sense, clairvoyance, telekinesis or Telepathy, people the world over are fascinated by the hidden psychic possibilities of the mind. Well, with Telepathy, you have a chance to entertain that fascination with a really fun and challenging board game. But don't worry, no electric shocks when you play the game!
Having wanted psychic powers of my own for as long as I can remember, it's no surprise that when I first saw the game box I instinctively thought, "I need to know more. I need to play this game!"
I'm not alone in that reaction. Pretty much everyone that sees the box is intrigued to the point of wanting to play and learn what Telepathy is all about. The box then quickly gets cracked open and the components set up, which takes no time at all, a really nice aspect of this game: it's ready to play right out of the box with very little set-up time. Since you're just here reading this awesome blog post for now and we can't pop a box open and play, let me just tell you all about the game, what you get, and how it's played (don't worry, I'll get you details on how to pick up your own copy soon).
Developed in 2008 by Derek Chinn, Telepathy is a head-to-head strategy game requiring a mastery of deduction to beat your opponent. Each player chooses a secret square and then the race begins to correctly choose your opponents square before they choose yours. Telepathy is a challenging game for all ages, but is suggested 12 and Up. With some guidance, it's very easy for kids several years younger to play and get the hang of it. Telepathy can be described as a clever combination of some other classic board games: Mastermind, Battleship, Clue, with a hint of Sudoku thrown in there for good measure. Telepathy picks up unique elements of those popular games to create a familiar, yet completely new and exciting game experience.
So how do you play and what do you play with? Opening the box up, we have two colorful, large grid boards, one for each player, that make up the primary play space for the game. There are some dry erase markers and eraser, which will come in handy to mark up the board. The last component you'll use is a guide card with clip stand. These are used so that each player can jot down the secret square they choose at the start of a game to keep track of it. Trust me, after a few rounds in, it’s good to have this trusty guide close by to make sure you’re keeping track of your secret square and answering accurately. And that's it, simple components and set-up so that the focus can be all on the strategy.
The game begins when each player selects a secret square from the colorful grid board. Each square on the grid is defined by 4 variables: row, column, symbol and color, such as G 15 Yellow Star. Players jot down the variables of their secret squares on the guide cards, being sure to keep it hidden from prying eyes. From there, you take turns trying to guess your opponent’s secret square, saying all 4 variables of each guess out loud, for example “K 8 Orange Star” or “G 15 Purple Heart”. Starting out, the guesses may be random, or you can call on your intuition to try to give you an edge...What’s the other player's favorite color? What symbol will they like most?” Or harness your powers of Telepathy and simply see inside their mind to know what they're thinking!
After each guess, it’s smart to peek at the guide card to see if any of the variables of the secret square match the guess, repeating the guess out loud once again. If there is a match, the you'll simply say “Yes” but do not indicate which variable it is. If no variables match, you say “No” and all of those variables can be marked off the list of possibilities. A few No responses will really help with the elimination of variables, so those are key if you’re lucky enough to get them. When you get that first Yes answer, then it’s time for your brain to get in gear as you have to then apply your powers of deduction and logic to strategically narrow the variables, one or more of which you now know is a piece of the final puzzle.
Using the dry-erase markers, you can utilize all areas on the board to keep tabs on guesses, answers and eliminated variables as the game progresses. It’s always funny to see how messy the board ends up for some players! Some will choose to be neat and orderly, while others will try to use all the ink in the pen! I personally like to mark out entire rows and columns along with variables that get a No response.
As the game progresses and variables get eliminated, you begin to focus in on which variables and squares you think might be your opponent’s secret square. When you feel confident enough that you can correctly choose the other player’s square, declare that you are ready to make the winning guess. “B 3 White Heart”. It’s important - to win a player must announce that a winning guess is being made. Choose correctly and win, but choose wrong and you lose! This game lends itself to healthy competition, with players usually wanting to play many times in a row. With a suggested play time of 10-20 minutes per game, that's easy to do.
The rules and game components of Telepathy are simple and straight-forward, but given the open-ended nature of the gameplay, which allows for each individual player to develop and execute their own unique strategy, Telepathy provides an involved, challenging, and rewarding gaming experience each time it’s played. It's a great board game to help train the brain in ways of deduction, logic, reasoning, all while helping improve memory and mental skills that can be applied outside the game in school, work, life. It's those practical benefits that helped Telepathy win a 2009 National Parenting Center Award!
In addition to the original version, Mighty Fun has developed new games, including a younger kid's version, based on the gameplay of Telepathy:
We hope you've enjoyed taking a closer look at Telepathy and are inspired to pick up the game, or one of the versions based on the gameplay, for your collection so you can play, have a blast, and of course, develop your own powers of the mind. You can buy Mighty Fun games at our shop today!