Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Review & Giveaway ($240 total value): Coerceo: Strategy Gaming - Gangnam Style? YES!

All of these skills are precursor life skills and I think Coerceo is great because you can make it as hard as you want - Susan Schwartz, Learning Specialist   photo: Coerceo

WHAT: Coerceo  (Mensa-Select 2012 winner, strategy game)
DOES: Encourages creative problem solving as well as planning ahead;  this game is in the caliber of fine wine and cheese, you won't play it everyday but it will always be special when you doINVEST: MSRP  $50 approx. (in US dollars) (39.95 Euro); Luxury Version (attractive wooden box; 69 Euro- $87 US approx.) 
TOOLS:  Think Like a Scientist/Engineer (super visual-spatial), Lose and Win Gracefully - you won't mind losing to masters, Flexibility is My Superpower
AGES: 7+  (may possibly go younger but haven't tried yet)
EXPERT OPINION: Susan Schwartz, MAEd, Learning Specialist, Friends Seminary
GIVEAWAY: 1 Luxury Version of Coerceo and 3 Standard Versions of Coerceo (Overall total value= $240 approx.)  DETAILS BELOW  

When you give this as a gift, you convey not only respect for the recipient, but you also express your respect for games. Coerceo instructions are available in 15 different languages.  This is the luxury version's wooden box.  photo: Coerceo

Black Friday Is Next Week....   Next Week!!!!  ARGH!!!!!

This has been the most unusual November ever.  Two weeks ago, I was going to celebrate the one-year anniversary of Toys are Tools with one big bang of a beautiful game review but as many of you know, New York and New Jersey and other nearby areas have suffered the worst natural disaster its citizens have ever seen.

But the holiday season will still happen! I have another shop-and-support opportunity to share soon but in the meantime, I'd like to share a review that I've been saving for the upcoming holiday season.   

Coerceo [pronounced Ko-her-Kee-o] can be a great gift to a special family, to yourself, or your child.  I have a feeling that none of you know about this game and one thing I've learned while waiting on tables in my mother's restaurant is this: Sometimes we don't know what we want but when we get those kinds of unexpected-but-amazing gifts, we really cherish the people who gave them to us.  While it is true that there is no such thing as a no-fail gift, Coerceo is a game with a high potential to please. 

If you can get one more triangle in that empty spot in front of the black, you can eliminate the black pyramid.  photo: Coerceo 

Strategy Games: Practice Planning, Reacting, Adjusting, and Planning Again

"I think they are really fabulous skills for kids to develop for their whole lives," said veteran learning specialist, Susan Schwartz.   "You have to have flexibility because you have to react to your partner because your plan may have gotten disrupted."  (In this sense, this game is very much like chess).  "And that’s what happens in life," Susan gave an example,"You plan your day, you think about your schedule and what comes next and how the day is going to play out."  

That sounds right to me, and then our kids may hear of abrupt changes within a school day (study hall canceled, pop quiz...) and they must readjust.  Readjusting plans is not easy for this family.  That week of the hurricane we had to readjust plans several times a day.  We often didn't know if there would be school the next day or which trains would be running or if my husband's office would have power.   My neighborhood actually lost cable/internet a week after the storm!  It was crazy and it still is.

Intimidating? Yes. Regal? Yes. Fun? Most Definitely  photo: Coerceo  please note- this Exclusive Edition is not available for regular sale, you must inquire with the company.

It's really hard to explain in words how to play.  You just have to watch Number 1 and 3 play.  Enclose a tetrahedron (pyramid) by all three sides and you can eliminate one of your opponent's pieces until there are no more to eliminate.

Flexibility is Key

Susan mentioned this skill several times during our talk.  She had once surprised me by referring to it when talking about reading. I had always thought flexibility was more about changing old habits.  However to Susan, flexibility is an important academic skill. 

"It’s great for everything. It’s great for math.  It’s great for reading.  It’s great for writing because you have to plan ahead," she emphasized. "All of these skills are precursor life skills and I think Coerceo is great because you can make it as hard as you want," Susan advised, "and you know, it’s challenging for adults to play."   'Tis true!  I must agree! My son beat me here too.   My son the rulebreaker that he is actually loves game rules and loves Coerceo's rules.  "I just think it’s a great strategy game," Susan told me.

Gangnam is an area in Seoul, Korea that can be intimidatingly classy by day but outrageously boisterous by night.  Looks are deceiving with Coerceo too.  It's serious and yet it's seriously fun.

Simple is Chic but Only if it's Made of Good Stuff

Luckily Coerceo in many ways is a very simple game.  Unlike chess, learning how to play is easy and the rules of elimination are clear.  However, by no means is this game simplistic.  There are ways to actually decrease the size of your gameboard  and to even make swaps.  In that sense, like chess it is complex however, it still has the charm of great classical strategy games where you can have fun while learning how to play better.   That is the mark of a really good game, isn't it?  You can actually sense your own improvement. It's quite self-revealing.

Sometimes when I think of Coerceo, I think of the ultra-popular hit music video, Gangnam Style by Psy, which is near and dear to my heart, not just because I was born in Korea and Psy is from there but the premise of the song itself is about an area that is so classy and yet so exciting and wild.  

Coerceo is just like that too.   For weeks, I did not open this box.   I was so intimidated.  That feeling was not much different from the way I felt walking around the Gangnam area years ago where all the "beautiful people" (modern day nobles) were. 
Coerceo itself is quite regal and yet simple.  It's so black and white in nature.  There doesn't appear to be a space in which you can hide. I like that about a game because you get to know someone well this way. 

 It's hard to see it but by placing the white pyramid in that spot, you can trap the black pyramid.  See photo below.

For Holiday or Any Day or for Anyone from Anywhere

Speech isn't necessary here but it certainly doesn't inhibit it.  This means that someone with a speech delay can play with someone who speaks another language or someone who is verbose.  There isn't a single letter anywhere on the board game.  No reading glasses required! No translation required and no reading for the little ones who can't read yet either.   The absence of words levels the playing field here.  Shy people who don't speak much can be very expressive with this game.  You can pounce on and destroy opponents swiftly without saying a word.

It's so cool when my son removes a tile from our board.  This really challenges you to think ahead.

Lastly, and this is a big deal to me.....  As I begin another year of Toys are Tools, one of the greatest lessons that my children have learned was not just flexibility or visual spatial skills or fine motor skills, but rather, they were able to use their toys to see outside their window.  As a foreign-born person living in the U.S, I often forget that my children are living in the country where they were born!  I don't really know what that is like but I am betting they really don't think about how different people live on the other side of the ocean, even if they are speaking the same language.

It pains me that my little ones do not know more about the world.  Thank goodness I can use their toys to  help them look outside their window.

After Number 1 beat me at Coerceo, I challenged him to find the Netherlands on the map (from where Coerceo originates)  And no, he wasn't allowed to use Google Maps!  I couldn't believe how long it took him to find it.  (I know it's a small country but really?  10+ minutes? ).  It was almost as baffling as when someone asks me if I was born in North or South Korea.    I don't even know anyone from North Korea.  For those of us in the U.S., it is incredibly impossible to meet a person from North Korea.  But in truth, I don't know if I should be more shocked that I'm asked this question or if I should be shocked that I'm shocked.  Either way, I know we all can encourage our kids to be more internationally-minded and luckily our children's toys and games can help.  If you look at Toys are Tools toy reviews alone, you'll see toys and games from Belgium, the U.K., Taiwan, Germany, Canada, Japan, Honduras, Switzerland... the list goes on.

I know that Coerceo might cost more than your average board game but my point is that this is no average board game.  Not only did it win Mensa-Select this year but more importantly, the design of this game, whether you buy it in the cardboard box (Standard) or the wooden box (Luxury), your investment is in a way, an expression of how you value good play and good design.  If you are ever looking for a new family tradition or thinking of giving a special gift to people you love and admire, Coerceo is one very safe and classy bet this holiday season.

Now you can win your own!   Open to everyone WORLDWIDE!!!

Try the Rafflecopter widget below and remember... please follow the rules... If you are supposed to make a comment on the blog post, the rule of thumb is... if you can't see your comment then, it doesn't count as an entry!   Also, if you have trouble entering Rafflecopter via Facebook, try just using your email address. I'm sorry this system frustrates some of us.  If you have trouble email me.  I want to help. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Where to buy?  Sorry no link to Amazon this time.  Please go to www.coerceo.com    Currency should be converted easily at time of purchase.  And guess what?  FREE SHIPPING Worldwide until the end of this year!  WHOO- HOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Dare to be different this holiday season!

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools has not been compensated in any way by the manufacturer of this product.  The product was submitted to tester and expert to facilitate a review.  Reviews are never promised.  The giveaway prize is being donated by the manufacturer. 


  1. I don't know that I have a "favorite" strategy game but my favorite game that requires strategy is cribbage.

  2. i still think chess is one of the greatest games. i'm really bad at it, though...

    i'm from switzerland and some people i've known for years still ask me questions about sweden sometimes. (or stockholm. or oslo. or scandinavia. or smorgasbord. etc) americans are not good at geography.

  3. of course strategy games should be part of the school curriculum. it's never going to happen though, unfortunately. there's no money, and no time. most schools hardly let their kids have recess or a lunch break, and they are eliminating art classes everywhere.

  4. There are so many lessons to be learned from playing strategy games that it would seem that more teachers would attempt to incorporate them into their classes. ThinkFun offers support to teachers that use their games in the classroom.

  5. i'm thinking the kids outside of chess class don't know how to play, and the one who do may not want to get beat all the time y more practiced players...

  6. I think the kids in chess class see it as a chore instead of something to do for fun.

  7. I'm not one much for strategy games, but my son LOVES chess. And is very good at it. One of the ways I know he is brilliant despite less-than-stellar grades.

  8. I think school should include LOTS of ways to build strategic thinking, including games. AND include options like Chess Club, which my son enjoys.

  9. My son doesn't "take" chess per se, but is in Chess Club, went to Chess Camp, and was tutored by an older chess whiz friend of ours. And he will play with ANYONE. Very often, when I pick him up from aftercare he is playing chess with someone. The downside? I have to wait for them to finish the game!!

  10. oh I wish your son could play with mine!!! What a wonderful scene to arrive at when picking up your son! What a great aftercare program to have chess available to the kids!!!!

  11. I had the same experience with Rush Hour Traffic Jam. I remember thinking, uh, how come he is so good at this?

  12. I recently made a Sweden-Switzerland gaffe myself. I apologize!!!! And I feel badly because I love geography! But my sense is that American children may know less geography than other children in different countries. I also think size has something to do with that. It's hard enough to memorize all the 50 states. Still, I think we can do better and toys can help spark an interest.

  13. oh no!!! what a bummer.

  14. Yes, I think it would be educational and fun. Kids want to learn more that way.

  15. I think it's because a lot of people aren't really interested in it and they tend to play with those they know are. That's the way I was growing up.

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