Zendo, a game of guessing and logic by Kory Heath (creator of Why Did the Chicken, one of my favorite creative party games) was first published back in 2003 but has just been re-released by Looney Labs in a new and improved version.

Zendo is a game of inductive reasoning, rather than the deductive sort. That is, rather than narrowing down the scope of your search (a la a sleuth ruling out suspects, or a codebreaker eliminating possibilities in the old game Mastermind) you are instead including new possibilities that guide you towards your conclusion. Let's take a look.

Players take turns being the moderator and presenting a structure using the beautiful playing pieces - pyramids, wedges and blocks all in various colors. The structure follows a hidden rule that the players must guess:

Of the two structures above, the one on the left has been marked with a white stone by the moderator, showing it follows the rule. The other one is marked with a black stone to show it does not. One guess could be "The structure must contain a vertical block". Or "The structure must contain a vertical wedge". An included deck of cards contains lots of possibilities for hidden rules; players can also invent their own rules once they become experts.

Zendo is a fascinating game because it is at once elegant and open-ended. The flow of the game is quite simple once you grasp it - it is merely a matter of presenting a visual riddle and adding additional visual guesses which are classified as following or not following the rule. The additional information coming into the mix is what makes it an inductive logic game. It requires a different mode of thinking and some players will need to adjust to it a bit, but once you "get it", it's a  revelation. What a great feeling when you find the secret rule and guess correctly!

The game comes with plenty of pieces and hidden rule cards in various difficulties. I also appreciated that in addition to the game manual, there is a second book called "Going Deeper," for those who want to explore further. But go easy on the guessers in the early going - this game can be very difficult for the uninitiated. Start with the easy cards!

I'm very pleased to see Zendo make its return. The addition of the new shapes (not just pyramids any more) and the variable rule cards are great. A very different sort of game for healthy brain exercise and fun. Because remember - if you don't use it, you lose it! Check it out and order now at Looney Labs.