When I first opened the Stratos Spheres game from Thinkfun, I didn’t get it. 24 yellow and blue spheres tumbled out along with a white one. It looked kind of boring, to be honest – which was surprising to me considering the source. I’ve reviewed many Thinkfun games and none of them have been boring. I was a little worried that I would even find someone to try this two-player game out with me.
Two enthusiastic third-graders who visit my classroom every Friday before school had no problem giving the game a try. At first, they weren’t even interested in the game; they just wanted to build with the spheres. They were completely entertained by using their imaginations with the pieces, and might have played like that for 30 minutes if I hadn’t suggested playing the actual game.
Stratos Spheres is similar to Connect 4 in that you are trying to get 4 of your color in a row, and the other player can block you with his or her color. However, Stratos Spheres “rows” are 3-dimensional. This gives you more choices for building your row of 4, which can also be diagonal. Play starts with one player connecting a colored piece to the white sphere, and alternates back and forth until someone creates a row or you both run out of spheres.
The spheres have connectors on their sides that can also be used to block. Players cannot remove a sphere once it is placed, which means that a perfect spot for your piece might be blocked by a piece by a connector. This can be frustrating, but can also be used to your advantage.
Winning is tricky. Sometimes you can win without even knowing it. One of my students was examining the connected spheres from every angle to decide his next play when someone pointed out to him that his opponent had already won. He’s not the only one this has happened to, apparently, as you can see in this video review of the game from “Dad Does.”
I am terrible at this game. My fourth graders easily beat me. This, of course, made me want to play even more – because I needed to earn back my street cred. However, we had some actual academic work that needed to be completed, so we haven’t had a chance, yet, for the number of re-matches it will take for me to improve.
Stratos Spheres is only $9.99, which is pretty good for a game that is light and can easily be transported in the supplied bag. Road trips or plane flights might be more palatable for kids 8 and up with this game to keep them occupied.
For more game recommendations, including several from Thinkfun, check out this Pinterest Board. With summer just around the corner, you’re probably going to want to stock up!
Full Disclosure – I received a free copy of this game from Thinkfun to review. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.