Mastermind board game
by Amanda Nettgen
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The Mastermind board game is an oldie but a goodie that puts the CodeMaker against the CodeBreaker. It has survived the test of time to deem it a classic game of reasoning and conclusion.
The game and gameplay
Mastermind is very simple to set up and play, so long as participants understand the logic process.
You start by deciding who will guess first. The remaining player proceeds to pick out four colored pegs that suit their fancy to make up their “code” (with no peeking from the other person, that is!). The CodeMaker places his choices – be them all of one color, a pattern, or purely random – behind the game board shield.
He then signals to the CodeBreaker that the pegs are ready. The guesser has ten chances to try and determine what the CodeMaker is hiding behind there.
When you go to guess in Mastermind, your first move will be a shot in the dark. The CodeMaker will reward each subsequent turn with white and/or red pegs inserted next to your guess. A white peg means you got a peg right, but it’s in the wrong spot (peg colors must line up exactly to what’s behind the shield).
Red pegs are the lotto winners of Mastermind in that they signify a correct peg all-around (right hue and in the right location).
Your CodeMaker can’t spell out exactly which choices the white and red pegs represent, which is where logic and deduction come into play. You have to fiddle around with process of elimination and refer back to your previous attempts to crack the code to win.
You’ll want to do your best to stay on top of the analysis process, as each row you add to your guessing queue is another point the CodeMaker scores (they also receive a bonus point if you fill up the whole board and don’t get the answer at all). The winner is the coder with the most points following an agreed-upon number of plays.
There are various versions of this game, including Mastermind for Kids, Advanced Mastermind and Travel Mastermind editions. We’ll review them as soon as time allows.
Pros and cons
The Mastermind board game is a good game to use in math classrooms. It’s for people who enjoy actively using their thinking cap in games. It won’t be so fun for people who can’t comprehend the deduction process and instead shift colors around hoping to get lucky.
The game says only two people can play Mastermind at a time, but why not try playing in teams or have a tournament?
Mastermind is a good every-once-in-awhile thinking game best suited for those who love logic puzzles or don’t mind serious games. It has a lot of small pieces, so it should be kept out of households with very young children.