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Cogno Deep Worlds Board Game Review by Tim and Tina Rice

Julie Heller Rosenfeld and Chris Lightner
222 S. Central Ave. Ste 1006
St. Louis, MO 63105
312/440-3900 Media Contact

Cogno Deep Worlds™ (Cogno) is a board game for two or more players ages 7 to adult. It includes all necessary pieces to start playing right away. Cogno has won numerous awards, including the 2004 Dr. Toy 100 Best Children's Products, the National Parenting Center Seal of Approval, and Dr. Toy 10 Best Games.

The object of Cogno is to move your game piece around the ocean while you collect survival gear, avoid the Underwater Trench, and win fuel cells by answering science questions. The winner is the first person that reaches the beach.

Cogno instructions state that you can begin to play in 10 minutes and a game will last 20 to 60 minutes depending on the number of players. It was designed for boys and girls. Players do not need to be interested in science or space, but most of the questions in Cogno are related to space.

Cogno plays much like many other board games. Players roll a die to progress from start to finish, answering questions to obtain the "fuel cells" necessary to win. The questions provided a good opportunity to discuss the answers given in the Book of Y. The incongruence between the undersea theme of the game board and the astronomy in the questions aside, homeschoolers should be wary of the evolutionary assumptions and the extraterrestrial focus of many of the questions. Many of the questions presumed that life on earth existed for millions (or billions) of years as the result of natural processes and focused on the possibility of existence of life on other planets.

A sampling of the questions follows, with the Cogno card answer in a parenthesis after the question:

T or F, the asteroid that killed Earth's dinosaurs 65 million years ago made two craters. One became the Gulf of Mexico. The other became the Indian Ocean, as the asteroid came out the other side of the Earth (F)

Earth formed from millions of chunks of rock and ice falling together. The closest object that best shows what Earth's surface looked like right after it formed is a) Jupiter's moon Europa; b) our own moon; c) a giant scoop of ice cream; d) Mars (B)

T or F: Venus and Mars were never capable of supporting life as we know it (F)

T or F: Since we cannot go back in time, there is no way to learn about the weather on Mars millions of years ago (F)

T or F: If we don't hear signals from intelligent life sometime in the next 10 years, it probably means we are the only intelligent beings in the universe (F)

Most scientists think that the Moon was formed from: a) an asteroid collision with Earth; b) a chunk of the sun breaking off; c) an asteroid that was caught in Earth's orbit; or d) thin air (A)

T or F: it is possible that life began on Earth, but then died off several times before the life we know of started (T)

No Wrong Answer Question: If a caveman somehow traveled through time to today, what technology would most amaze him?

If the age of the Universe were compressed into one year, humans appeared in the last: a) month; b) day; c) two minutes; or d) fraction of a second (c)

T or F: When large asteroids hit Earth billions of years ago, many scientists think they made our oceans completely boil into steam (T)

So, this said, what did the Rice family think of Cogno? My husband and I did not care for it. My children (5, 9, 13, 16) thought it was okay.

To begin, I gave the children the game box and told them they had an hour to figure it out and tell me what they thought. It took them almost 30 minutes to figure out the rules. They played for 10 minutes before the 5 year old dropped out (Cogno is recommended for ages 7+). They played for 20 more minutes until they got frustrated with the fact that it was an ocean theme with space related questions. The 16 and 13 year olds both agree that most 7 year olds will not be able to answer any of the science questions. My 9 year old was not able to correctly answer any of the Cogno questions she was given. My teenagers recommend this game for very smart 11 year olds and older.

Next, my husband and I played. Our game lasted almost an hour with no end in sight. We thought that some of the questions on the Chaos cards were interesting and though provoking; but for the most part we did not like the bias towards evolution and billions of years as accepted scientific fact. I would not recommend this game to any of my Christian friends, even those with budding scientists in their homes.

-- Product Review by Tim and Tina Rice, Contributing Writers, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February, 2006

And another perspective:

This is a colorful well-made science fiction board game that centers on an ancient alien ocean! The game is complete with a board, an attached spinner, game pieces of 8 aliens, survival gear cards, time machine token cards, special Chaos Cards that asks real science questions, and a trench board (which is like a mini board game within this larger game). You also have a die and fuel cells that are used throughout the game.

A special feature of the game is the Cogno's book of Y. This is a great bonus because if anyone is interested in the why behind the science questions, the explanations are given in this book. Each Cogno science card has a reference number that will direct you to the correct page in the book of Y.

Those that are interested in science fiction books would love to play this game. The object of the game is to be the first one to lead your alien around the ocean and back to the beach.

During the game you come upon situations that you decide if you can survive naturally or with assisted survival gear (which you collect throughout the game.) You also collect fuel cells (to be used later in the game if you need them.) based on the correct answer to "chaos cards". "Super chaos cards" earn you more fuel cells and an extra turn in the game. This is a busy game with a lot of activity.

I played this game with my younger children (ages 7 & 9). I think they might enjoy it as they get older, but at this point, there is too much happening to make for a fast enjoyable game. I was trying to keep up with what my alien was doing, and at the same time help my children decide what they should be doing with their aliens. I think my friend's ten and twelve year old boys would have a blast with this game.

-- Product Review by Ruth Hoskins, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February, 2006