Name: Bazaar
Gryphon Games
Number of Players:
2 to 6
Play Time:
45 Minutes
Grade Range:
Middle and High School
Return on Investment:
Analog Game

Bazaar Cover

Bazaar Cover

Bazaar is a reprint of the classic game by prolific American game designer Sid Sackson in which players are vying to be the most efficient and lucrative buyer, using gemstones to purchase wares from the local bazaar. At the start of the game, a set of ten equations set the exchange rate for the duration of the game. An example might be that a green gemstone can be exchanged for two red and one white. During the game, players can use these rates to exchange gemstones they acquire, working from either side of the equation. The goal is to be able to purchase varying priced ware cards from one of the stalls in the bazaar, the value of which is determined by how many gemstones the player has left over after the purchase. The fewer the stones, the more valuable the ware is for the player. After two of the five stalls have been emptied of wares, the bazaar closes and the player who purchased the most valuable wares is the winner.

Bazaar’s true strength is the depth of play opened up by a very simple rules set and it is this imbalance that gives Bazaar its high Return on Investment. Players either roll a die, taking the corresponding colored gemstone or they make an exchange. They can then acquire a wares card and their turn is done.With just a few simple instructions, students are able to fall into the rhythm of the game, using algebraic equations as the language of trade to find the best ways to maximize their interactions.

While multiple copies can easily facilitate several small groups, they can also be combined to make a large group game as the simplicity of play leaves little downtime for the other players. So, by simply doubling the number of stalls created during setup and needed to be emptied to end the game, a teacher can use two copies to accommodate up to 12 students. For three copies, simply triple that number. The game’s scalability extends beyond the ability to add players. The length of play can also be adjusted by adjusting the number of stalls that need to be emptied for the game to end. That condition can even be removed and students can simply play for a set amount of time, with the winner being the student who has the most points at the end of that time.

The game can also serve as a problem prompt for students where they are presented with a set of exchange equations, gemstones and available wares and are tasked to work out the best possible scoring possibility, sharing their problem solving approach. This is another example of how analog games can be used to create intentional instructional moments as the teacher has full control of what the possible exchanges are, making it as easy or challenging as they wish.


Some Ideas for Fall Play: Ease into the new school year with games that facilitate social interaction.

My new School Library Journal Article is out on alternative social games to help students get to know each other and learn to work together.

I have decided to switch formats and start doing reviews and discussions on games via video. My first foray looks at two great games that school’s can use to review and reinforce content with upper elementary and middle school students, Northstar Games’ Wits and Wager Family and Out of the Box’s Word on the Street Jr.

This is my first stab at video product so I can only say that I have room to improve but I am excited because I feel this format is much better at giving you the opportunity to get excited about the games.

Mindflex has finally made its way to my eagerly awaiting hands and I must say that its debut for any audience does not disappoint. Mindflex is a fun blend of dexterity and concentration as you work a ball around a circular obstacle course that you set up beforehand from the various accessories that come in the box. The basic mechanic has the player using their level of focus to control a fan inside the base unit. The more one “focuses” on something, anything, the higher the ball should go and vice versa. From my experience, I can’t say if it is “focus” but there is some attentive change necessary for manipulating the ball and that varies for the individuals playing. Some needed to talk to lessen their concentration while others can simply manipulate the ball with ease. In either case, the ability to affect an object with some aspect of your brain’s activity is impressive even if it is not true telepathy.

First go’s at the game usually comprise of just getting the feel for controlling the fan that makes the ball go up and down. Once you become comfortable, the next challenge is maintaining that control as you attempt the turn the knob that rotates the fan around the obstacle course. While this is the least impressive aspect of Mindflex, I will say that it still a bit of a challenge to maintain a certain level of focus while also manipulating the knob.

The obstacles are fun but can grow old after repeated uses. I can see Mattel putting out obstacle expansions to maintain playability over a longer period of time. That being said, they are good fun for you first adventures. Included in the box are posts that allow rings to be placed at various heights for the ball to be passed through. I find it much easier to maintain the high level of focus needed to  pass the ball through a higher hoop than the trickle needed to make it though a lower one. There are cages with adjustable walls and floors for making mini-mazes, as well as a few other interesting obstacles including a tube with a low entry hole that allows you to shoot the ball across the game with a “burst of focus”.

While not overly complex, each of the obstacles (and the game itself for that matter) leaves you with a sense accomplishment and wonder. It brings to reality one of those surreal moments where we dance close to our crazy dreams. Am I actually moving the ball with my mind? No… but I am actively adjusting the level of a fan with the electrical energy that is firing off in my brain and that is pretty damn good enough for me. What excites me is that this is the first mainstream foray that this technology has into the game and toy market. I can only imagine what the possibilities are as this technology matures and become more sophisticated and refined. Mindflex is an experience, one that I highly recommend everyone to at least try.