Ingenious is the US name for Einfach Genial (Simply Ingenious), a German abstract strategy board game designed by Reiner Knizia under commission from Sophisticated Games and published in 2004 by Kosmos. Across most of Europe it is titled as the local translation of Ingenious or Simply Ingenious, the notable exception being Mensa Connections in the UK.
- 1 game board
- 4 tile racks
- 4 cardboard scoring boards
- 24 wooden scoring blocks
- 120 tiles
- 1 rule sheet
With the exception of the game box and rule sheet (which require regional translations), identical components are used in each version of the game.
There are six coloured symbols used in the game:
- red 12-pointed star
- green circle
- blue 6-pointed star
- orange hexagon
- yellow 24-pointed star
- purple ring
Tiles are in the shape of two conjoined hexagons, with one of the coloured symbols in each hexagon. There are six tiles for each two-colour combination (e.g. red/orange) and five for each double (e.g. blue/blue). The combination of colours and symbols aids visually impaired players.
The game can be played by two, three or four players, with additional rules provided for solo and four-player partnership play. Each player has a rack of six randomly-chosen tiles which are concealed from the other players. The board is also made up of a number of hexagons, with the two outermost rings reserved for three- and four-player games respectively. The rules state that the youngest player takes the first turn, although where multiple games are played it is common practice for the first turn to rotate clockwise around the board in subsequent games.
Players take it in turns to place a tile on the board, scoring points by creating lines of identically coloured hexes. On the first turn, each player must place a tile next to a different one of the six printed coloured symbols on the board; thereafter players may place tiles on any free space.
Scoring occurs from each of the two symbols on the tile. Counting outwards in a straight line from each of the five available faces of the two hexagons (the symbols on the tile itself are not counted), one point is scored in that tile's colour for each identical symbol in an unbroken line. It is therefore possible to score points on two colours by placing a single tile.
Each player's score is public knowledge at all times.
If a player reaches a score of 18 with any colour, they declare 'Ingenious', 'Genial' or 'Mensa' (depending on which language version they are playing) and place a further tile. Achieving a score of 18 on two colours at the same time will earn two bonus plays, and bonus plays may earn further bonus plays by reaching 18 points on another colour. Once a player has used their bonus play for any colour, they will not score additional points or earn further bonus plays on that particular colour. All bonus plays are made from the player's current rack of tiles. Bonus plays must be used immediately.
Once a player has made their move(s) and scored accordingly, they may choose to swap their tiles if they hold no tiles of their current lowest-scoring colour (or where their lowest score is tied, if they hold no tiles of any of their joint lowest colours). Their remaining tiles are shown to the other players, a full hand of six tiles is drawn, and the discarded ones replaced in the bag.
If the player cannot swap their tiles or chooses not to, they refresh their hand by drawing enough tiles to bring them back up to a full hand of six. This is the end of that player's turn.
Any player scoring 18 on all six colours wins immediately. Otherwise, the game ends when no more pieces can be added to the board, at which time players check the colour in which they have the least points. Whoever has the highest point value in their weakest colour is the winner of the game. In the case of ties, the second weakest colour is checked, and so on.
The unusual victory condition ('highest lowest score wins') requires players to develop all six colours and drives a higher degree of strategic planning than would otherwise be the case. Tactical considerations include not only how many points a player will earn by placing a particular tile, but also which colours they will score on, often resulting in a trade-off between the two. Building large blocks of one colour also leads to higher scoring opportunities for one's opponent, and gameplay often revolves around a player tactically blocking a colour for which they have already established a scoring advantage.
Awards and nominations
- US Games 100 for 2005, nomination: Best Abstract Strategy Game
- Mensa Select
, a travel version of the game was produced by Kosmos, called Einfach Genial - Reiseedition
(US version: Ingenious Travel Edition
released by Fantasy Flight Games), for two players only. This is much smaller than the regular version, and the plastic board incorporates indentations to hold the players' tiles as well as holes for the scoring pegs.
Notably, there is a different tile distribution in the travel version of the game: 2 of each double tile and 3 of every other colour combination, compared with 5 and 6 respectively in the original game.
In 2007, Kosmos also released Einfach Genial Knobelspass (Simply Ingenious Puzzles) using the same tiles from the original game. The player has one of each of the 21 different tile combinations and for each puzzle must place these in the correct positions on a pre-printed sheet to match the coloured symbols.