We bought Valence on a whim. My son really enjoys board games and especially card games, so it seemed worth a try. Within just a few rounds, he was hooked.
The main idea of the game is fairly simple, although there are a few fiddly rules to make it interesting. We played without them for a few rounds to get the hang of the game, then added the details in once we were comfortable. We’re not sticklers for following the rules in our house, we do whatever works for us as a family!
The game is based on forming molecules with your cards to gain points. The harder it is to make a particular molecule, the more points you’ll get. In the meantime, try to break down your opponents’ molecules to destroy their points. The reactions you can make are based around common types of reaction: e.g. a metal with oxygen to make a metal oxide. If your opponent makes a metal oxide, you might attack it with an acid to create water and a salt.
Your child doesn’t need to know the chemistry, and doesn’t need complicated maths. They’ll need to be able to add, for example -1, -1 and 2 to get zero. The cards are colour-coded by type, and all the points are clearly written on the cards, so you don’t have to remember the chemistry to play. It’s pretty low-level stuff, and fairly young children should be able to manage it, but it’s not for the very youngest children. If you want to check whether you think it’s suitable, you can read How to Play on the website, watch a video, and even download the full instructions.
The cards are really colourful and fun, and each element has a different ninja with a picture and story. It has been really well-designed to use colours to make the chemistry easy and intuitive. This doesn’t feel like a science game, it just feels like a game. And a fun one.
If I had one criticism, it’s that we liked it so much that we wanted more! So we’ve ordered the sequel, Valence Plus. I’ll add a review of that once we’ve played it a bit.