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Genius Games, the company that brought us Linkage: A DNA Card Game , has announced a new game destined for Kickstarter!  Peptide: A Protein Building Game is in the end phases leading up to it’s own crowd-funding run!
Unlike Linkage , which uses a draw-then-play mechanic, Peptide is a drafting game. Where Linkage teaches you the process of DNA transcription this game has you make a peptide chain through the process of RNA translation.   Wondering about the difference between transcription and translation? Check out Peptide when it hits Kickstarter and you’ll never be confused again!
Peptide debuts on Kickstarter October 15, 2014!
Too excited to wait? The full instructions are here.
Want to know more about Linkage? Check out our review here.
Card artwork by Amanda Walker 
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2-4 Players
Ages 10+
10-15 minutes

COMPETITIVE

Have you ever dreamed of being an enzyme? Do your thoughts drift to Adenine, Guanine, Thymine and Cytosine more than you’d like to admit? Have you ever wished you could act just like mRNA? Well, you’re in luck!

Linkage is a fast-paced game of DNA transcription… that’s right, DNA transcription!  Players create a shared strand of DNA from a deck of beautifully designed nucleotide cards, and then use their own hand of RNA nucleotides to try to match it.  It’s as easy as protein synthesis!

I know what you’re thinking, “I left my DNA Helicase in my other genome”! It’s OK, you won’t need it with this game!  Gameplay starts with each player drawing 4 cards from the RNA deck, and laying out the DNA promoter next to the DNA deck.  The promoter starts the nucleotide sequence that you will need to try to match to when transcribing your strand. Each subsequent DNA card has a secondary color that corresponds with the color of the RNA nucleotide cards in your hand.

Play starts by laying the first card of the DNA deck next to the promoter, the oldest player then must draw a card and must play a card.  Of course, the goal is to match the laid down DNA card, however, that may not be an option! Once a card is played, the next player completes a draw-play turn.  The turn ends and the next nucleotide is drawn in the DNA strand.

Since RNA transcription is never as simple as it sounds, there are some other mechanics at play.  Chaperone cards act as a wild card and can replace any active nucleotide in your strand, DNA Mutation allows a player to switch out a card in the DNA sequence and any RNA card marked as a Mutation can steal a card from someone else’s RNA strand.

The round continues until the Terminator (no relation to John Connor’s T-800) is drawn.  Players then add up their points for the round, gaining points for each card in the sequence that matches the parent strand, and racking up bonuses for long strands.

Currently, there is no suggested “best play” number of rounds, but our test went well with three.  Playing like a classic card game, Linkage is very much a learning game that puts the entertainment in edutainment. Color matching lends to play with younger kids interested in science, while the more complicated strategic mechanics will keep older kids ribosomes revved up for transcription!

I can’t imagine a better game to teach budding scientists (or even those struggling with the concept of Uracil as a general agent of confusion) some tough concepts through play.  Though many of the mechanics seem advanced, little reading is necessary, as the game can be played via symbol and color recognition.  Children who have mastered games like UNO and Phase 10 might struggle a little with the DNA Mutation and Chaperone cards, but would be able to grasp it after a few rounds of guided play.

Now that the Kickstarter has ended, Linkage has a $19.99 price tag and is available here!

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Robot Turtles: A Game for Little Programmers

By: Jennifer Duetzmann

1-4 players (plus one adult)

Ages 3-8

Thinkfun (Dan Shapiro)

$25.00

Robot Turtles is a family board game created to teach kids computer programming.  It is simplistic and super fun.  The goal is for kids to is to place directional cards on a board to get their turtle to a matching colored jewel. It starts out easy, but as your child learns, you can add obstacles to make it more complex.   The children get to be the programmers and take control by playing out cards.  The grown-ups act as the computer, following commands and making all sorts of goofy noises as they play. The key is that the computer has to follow the commands exactly as entered by the kids. For example, turning left and moving forward twice is different than going forward twice and turning left. It is a sneaky way to instill in children the importance of the order of operations in programming.

You might have heard about this game in the news.  Maybe you’ve seen someone who has it.  Maybe you’ve seen it reviewed on a website. But, you’ve looked everywhere for it. It appears it was only released on Kickstarter and there might be a few copies left online. But it’s crazy expensive. Guess you will never have a chance to get it for your family, right?

Guess again.  Here is some wonderful news direct from Dan Shapiro (the game’s creator):

Thinkfun, one of the top publishers of kids educational games, is releasing a shiny new version of Robot Turtles this summer. And for anyone who preorders, they’ll include a really cool expansion pack.

Check out the link here:

http://www.thinkfun.com/robotturtles/

We really enjoyed playing as a family.  The biggest draw has been the scaling difficulty. It lets my sons play together despite their vastly different abilities. My 4 year old loved the basic game, and was super excited to have a robotic turtle with lasers.  My 8 year old liked coming up with 3 card at a time moves in advance, and my 20 something year old brother-in-law liked writing his entire program up front (he was even able to experiment with function commands) .  The game uses simple concepts to sneakily teach computer programming concepts and kids enjoy it.  From an educational standpoint, it doesn’t get much better.

We definitely think it’s worth preordering a copy for your family.

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