We have been massive fans of the different Oaka Board games for a few years now so I was very interested to give the harder Biology Scramble board game a try. It is a game aimed at KS3 ages which is perfect for us as my daughter is in Year 9 and I have been trying to focus a bit more on Science.
Okay first impressions – it looks very similar to the other Oaka board games when it arrives – it’s in a nice box, with the cards in the a4 page format (you just need to pop the cards out), a folded up board, pieces to play the game, question cards and of course merits (their version of money or points).
But I quickly noticed a few things. They have included extra blank question cards (genius!!). So the kids can write their own questions on the back of these cards and pop them in with the other question cards (I can not stress how much we love this little fact because we have actually added a few of our own question cards to other board games but then the cards look a bit different, so it is great that these blank question cards still have the same appearance as the normal question cards).
Also without even starting the game I could see that it was going to be slightly more complicated. The game comes with the standard question cards (purple cards with a question mark on them) but it also comes with 2 extra set of cards (the blue Bacteria Cards and the multi-coloured Biology cards). The bacteria Cards – are a mix of penalty type cards and extra bonus cards. So if you land on a Bacteria square and get a Bacteria card you are never sure if you might gain or lose. And then Biology Cards. There are different colour Biology cards and your aim is to try and collect all 7 Biology cards in one colour. (each colour is a topic – so the green biology cards deal with cells, the pink are reproduction etc etc). So there is definitely more going on with this game then there was with the other KS2 Science games (Which by the way we highly recommend).
Okay so actually playing the game. Our first round was just the two kids and myself and I took on the role of Head Biologist (the person doing the question cards and giving out the merits). To begin with we were not entirely certain about the Biology cards and the kids ended up focusing on landing on the normal purple question squares. But we quickly figured it out and once the kids had selected their colour to collect (They need to collect all 7 cards in one colour of the Biology cards so they can get to the main square and end the game), they quickly realised that landing on the other coloured Biology blocks game them a lot more merits that the normal question squares.
Question wise – the questions included are a definite step up from the questions in the KS2 Science board games. I did find that within the question cards there were easier and harder questions and because my youngest is only Year 6 I did sort through the cards a bit and made sure to give him the questions on topics he had covered so he was not out of his depth and so he actually enjoyed playing the game. (With my oldest she just answered whatever question came up). The first round of the game probably took us about an hour to play and I have to admit it was a fantastic Friday activity. It really was a great way to remind ourselves of some facts and the game resulted in two very interesting discussions (on Biology).
Then over that weekend my daughter asked her dad to play the game with her (that right there is a very good sign – the fact she wanted to play a Science game over her weekend – WOW!). So second time round, we understood how it all worked and the game took off a lot quicker. But two things happened the second time round – my son realised that some facts are actually on the board (he just had to look really carefully) so that meant I could actually include some harder answers for him. (My daughter refused to look at the board for potential answers she wanted to do it all from her memory). And I also noticed that questions that they had gotten wrong the first time they were now remembering and getting the answers correct the second time (I was impressed).
I have been really impressed with this game. It is a step up from the KS2 games but it is still interesting and a great way to revise facts (really prefect for an end of week activity). We have only just started playing this game but I am confident we are going to be using it a lot with both of the kids.
Admin – I have been wanting to try this game with my daughter for ages and when Oaka Books asked if wanted to review anything I immediately asked for this game. I have NOT been paid for this post or Paid for any comments concerning the Oaka Book range