Brainwaves: The Astute Goose

Ages: 8 - 14Manufacturer: Thames & Kosmos


Designed by German neuroscientists together with board game designers, The Astute Goose is one of a series of three boardgames created to exercise your mind and sharpen your memory. This fun game just might surprise you about how good (or bad) your short-term memory really is … or how you can improve it.

Players choose their degree of difficulty in setting up what looks like a police robbery suspect lineup from 25 Suspect Cards. To start, suspect cards are laid down with corresponding number cards. Players must look over the lineup and try to memorize the different features that distinguish one suspect from another. Oh, but did we mention they’re all facially identical? So, it’s their shirts that may be a different color, or their ties (or no tie), or their species of animal accomplices.

After scrutinizing the suspects, the lineup cards are turned over and the first player rolls the number die and the feature die. If the number die comes up with a 4 and the feature die shows a shirt, then that player’s challenge is to identify the color of suspect # 4’s shirt. The player confirms the answer by secretly looking at the suspect card: if right, the player adds that card to his or her point pile and replaces it with a new suspect for everyone to memorize (momentarily). If wrong, the card goes back into play unseen by the other players. Next player’s up. And the game goes on until no more Suspect Cards are in the draw pile. Winner has the most point-pile cards.

Logistically, The Astute Goose isn’t nearly as hard as it sounds, but it does test (and seemingly strengthen) memory skills. While a single player can play, it is especially fun for several players up to five.

Don Oldenburg ©2019 Parents’ Choice

A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of “The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion” (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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