Thursday, May 30, 2013

Review + Giveaway: TENZI: Make a Decision and Roll With It!

No, it's not just dice. I can explain.
WHAT: TENZI from Carma Games, LLC
INVENTORS: Steve Mark and Kevin Carroll
DOES: good mood maker, great icebreaker, Q-bitz fans would love this, brings whole family together even the g-parents, absolutely adaptable for younger kids
INVEST:  $14.95
AGES: 7 and up (but you can definitely do younger ages!)
TOOLS: My Body Needs to Move, Lose and Win Gracefully, Social Scene Helper
GIVEAWAY:  TWO Winners will win their very own customized sets of TENZI.  (You can choose from the available colors- I am jealous that I can't enter this one so I'll be mad at you if you don't go for it.)

Go ahead, say it.  I know you're thinking it.  $15 for dice?  Just dice?

Well yes but no.  Yes, it is just dice but they're not just any dice.

If TENZI were a set of forty dice of the same color, then of course, I wouldn't buy it.  But TENZI's colors are anything but conventional dice colors.  Moreover, the magic number is not ten, it's 4 times 10 and if you ever tried, you'll find that it is hard to get 4 differently colored sets of 10 dice.  And these colors are really sassy!

The blue and red dice kill me.  I can't stop staring at them.  There were many different sets that I found at West Side Kids, but I feel like the blue and red dice chose me and not the other way around.

Even if you find all those dice for under $15, you still won't get the cool box and more importantly, you won't get the TENZI story.  Yes, the story of how TENZI came to the world actually comes in the box and that is important because there are very few games that even talk about the folks who made it.  I think that this is a missed opportunity for our children especially since the TENZI story is about two people who took an idea and turned it into reality.  They literally met on the street after not having seen each other in years, decided to collaborate, created a game, walked into a toy store and not only sold the idea but the store owner sold the games before the inventors even left the store!  What kid shouldn't hear that story?  Moreover, it is written in a language that kids can understand.

I think kids want to know who invented their games. The word inventor is a big thing for them and as today is the last day of National Inventor's Month, I figure today is TENZI day.

Frenetically Fun

But first, I better explain the game.  (or watch the video above) It's really quite simple.  Each player gets ten of the same color dice and then 1-2-3- GO! You are now in a race to see who can get the same number face on all ten dice first.  It doesn't matter what number it is, you just have to have ten of the same number. So simple. So fast.

But what do simple, fast-paced games do?  It basically makes you crazy.  That's why it is so wonderful to give TENZI to grumpy-just-got-home-from-work parents and watch them transform into happy-to-be-home-parents instantly. a.k.a. DAD TENZI.  It is also wonderful to see grandmoms competing neck and neck with grandchildren like they are out for blood a.k.a. Intergenerational Battle TENZI and it crosses the language gap (Gramms' first language is Korean) a.k.a International TENZI.

My mom, whom I am still trying to accept as a senior citizen, used to be a legendary restaurateur in NYC's Asian food scene back in the day, but now, she's been leaving her keys in the door and even burning food on the stove!  So I asked Steve to send me a set for her and he sent this rare set of translucent TENZI.  Thank you Steve and Kevin. She loves TENZI and knock on wood, the keys have been hanging out on the right side of the door these days!

But What Are The Skills? Why is TENZI in Toys Are Tools?

One thing about TENZI that is awesome is that because it is just dice, things are quite clear.  You quickly find out that you are fast or that you need to get faster. You make a decision and then you literally must roll with it.  What I find most interesting is how my brain is processing what I see and how my hands move quicker than my brain does.  I think I am many seconds slower than my hands because I often realize that I grabbed a dice that I should have left untouched.   However, I will not realize it until I had already swept up the dice.

I think that millisecond realization teaches all of us something.  That is, don't stop, keep going.  Make a decision and run with it. You made a mistake? So what? Whining over it will ensure your loss but moving forward means you are still in the race. And if there is one thing I've learned from all the experts that have been interviewed here is this: use the games to directly demonstrate to kids how they can employ this same strategy in their own personal pursuits.  I've been doing that, and believe me, the kids get it.

This award sticker may actually have an appeal to children.  I just realized that when my little one said to me, "Best Toys for Kids"  Most other medals are very adult-looking but the ASTRA label speaks to kids too and tells them that this one is the best.  How interesting!

Another lesson? There is one. When you are wrapped up in the game, it's easy to see that it's not about losing and winning.  It's almost fun to lose, especially when you are "OH SO CLOSE!!!!"

Open-Ended Game Play

Another great thing about TENZI is that they really are just dice.  In a sense they are game-building blocks and you can make up any game you like.  But again, it's not that simple.  Good design can set new moods.  You might get bored with the ten-dice-one-number TENZI game but you will still want to play with your TENZI dice and so maybe you just might make up a game....  or maybe you'll take some of the game suggestions inside the box.

The game comes with a few suggestions like this one called Splitzi

This is called Mega-Tenzi but in our house we call it Twenzi (pronounced TWON-zi)

This one is from me to you.  It's called One-Two-Three-Four-Five-Six-Zi a.k.a One-to-Six-zi  But seriously, doesn't this color scheme make you a little nuts?  I think there is some sort of illusory effect here. Also, note that you can make accommodations for the little ones just by removing a couple of dice.

I have yet to beat my husband.  Mine is at 22 seconds (Rockin' Roller) but my mom is already at the Master level. 

Worried about storage? All of the dice go back easily into the box and if you keep the directions/story scroll then your TENZI box will not be a baby rattle.

Last tip: In my house, it is always good to talk about when the game will end before you end it.  It prepares the kids and you can still keep going if you all agree to the next end.  ie. "We finish the game when someone wins 9 rounds, ok?"

Thanks again to Steve Mark (left) and Kevin Carroll (right) for providing this unique prize for our readers and thanks to all the great inventors of toys and games for proving that humans will never run out of new ways to invent fun.

And now here's your chance to win your very own Customized TENZI!  There will be two lucky winners!  Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Want to buy on Amazon right now? Use my link to support Toys are Tools.

Disclosure:  Toys are Tools has not been compensated by the manufacturer of this product for the publication of this post.  Our first TENZI product was purchased by me at West Side Kids and the translucent set was a special gift to Gramms.  Either way, reviews, as always, are never promised. 

We would love to hear from you.  Questions we're asking... what would be your dream color schemes in your custom TENZI set?  And what are your fave dice games and when do you play them? 



  1. Our favorite dice game is L-R-C (Left-Righ-Center). I liked the translucent dice colors best but I also think some neon color combinations might be interesting.

  2. Blues and grays. (Gianna)

  3. Just any old board game. (Gianna)