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Consensus Junior Edition Review by Tony Silva

Mindlogic, Inc.
255 West 94th Street, Suite 11i
New York, New York 10025

Consensus, an engaging addition to the collection of "social board games" offered by Mindlogic, can turn a boring evening into a family fun night with educational benefits you might not expect from the typical board game of this type. If you've found social board games to be an opportunity to pit people against each other and create more conflict than fun, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that such issues have been removed from this game. Mindlogic chose instead to make winning almost secondary to creating conversation, laughter, and discovery. This is possible because the only way to move forward is to be in agreement with other players about which of ten nouns a given adjective describes. 

The game comes with a game board, two hundred noun cards, seventy-five adjective cards, and voting decks and pawns for eight players. The voting decks are cards numbered to match spaces on the board, with a different deck color for each player. The dealer places one of the adjective cards on the game board along with ten noun cards, one on each of the numbered spaces. After reviewing the noun cards, each player decides which noun is best described by the word on the adjective card. They place the voting card that matches the numbered space for the noun they've selected facedown. Once all players have made their choices, the voting cards are turned over. If a majority of players selects the same noun card, their pawns are advanced. The rules are clear and simple in explaining how to deal with different voting combinations. 

Consensus can be an effective educational tool if your focus is on the social aspect of the game rather than matching adjectives to nouns. However, a creative homeschool family can design their own noun and adjective cards to supplement those provided with the game. Some of the noun cards may not be appropriate for your family for various reasons. Parents can review the deck and remove any cards that are of concern to them. We found cards for nouns like witch, vampire, ghost, alien, and Santa Claus, as well as some that may not make sense to a homeschooling child, such as class clown, principal's office, and teacher's pet. 

Most board games are arranged in a racetrack format, with players' pieces moving in a circle around the board. Consensus is more like a drag strip; players advance across the board. Viewing the adjective and noun cards is easy as the words are printed on the top and bottom of each card. Descriptions on the noun cards are a little hard to read (and they're printed in a smaller typeface in one direction). However, if the dealer is sitting near the center of the table, he or she can read these descriptions. The board is a bit small for a game that is supposed to accommodate up to eight players, but our large family adapted well. 

We received our copy of Consensus just before New Year's Day, and it quickly became a family favorite. Rather than focus discussion on other players, the game opens the door to discussion about a variety of topics and provides plenty of opportunity for parents and adults to explain to children how consensus building--and learning about the views and values of others--works. Other social board games we've tried can sometimes put players in a position to feel teased by others. Consensus lets them have fun--and win together.

Product review by Tony Silva, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2010