Stratos Spheres

StratosSpheres

  • Stratos Spheres
  • Publisher: ThinkFun
  • Plays 2
  • Ages 7+ (realistically, 4+)
  • Playing Time: 5-10 minutes
  • Initial Release: 2016
  • Elevator Pitch: Three-dimensional Connect Four that players take turns building.
  • Roar Score: 4/5

In terms of great educational games for kids, there aren’t many companies out there doing it better than ThinkFun. We’re big fans in this house, and games like Zingo!, Laser Maze, and Compose Yourself are all reliable standbys.

So it was with some excitement that I checked out ThinkFun’s new products at Toy Fair a few months ago. Stratos Spheres is one of the games that jumped out at me. So simple in its design, gameplay, and execution yet still a lot of fun to play.

Stratos

The idea here is really straightforward. It’s a four-in-a-row game, and players take turns adding colored spheres to either extend their own row or block their opponent’s. That’s pretty much it.

Play begins with a white neutral sphere, and two players play with either blue or yellow spheres. You can build in any dimension, so it requires a bit more thought and strategy than a two-dimensional game like Connect Four. But for kids who enjoy that game or the (sometimes cutthroat) challenge of four-in-a-row games, this will scratch that itch…and then some.

Photo Apr 09, 12 30 07 PM

Each sphere has three “pegs” that are used to connect to other spheres, but they can also be used to block a potential space for the opposing player. Since the pegs stick out, it’s sometimes impossible to place a new sphere in an adjoining spot without taking the entire thing apart. This also ramps up the strategic factor for young players.

We took the game with us on a recent roadtrip, and I have to tell you that it’s excellent for backseat play. We’re fans of 2-player games as it is, but this was perfect for the kids to hand back and forth to each other in the back seat. And it comes with a handy drawstring bag to keep all the pieces together. With 25 colored spheres, it’s all too easy for a few of them to “go missing.”

Stratos Spheres is a quick game, but it’s great for on-the-go play, and it can be quite a brainburner for younger kids. We definitely recommend picking this one up if you’ve got little ones with an appreciation for abstract thinking and play.

Photo Apr 09, 12 33 13 PM

Example of a “dead space” caused by a yellow peg

(Disclosure: I received a review copy of this game. All opinions remain my own.)

Jamie is a publishing/book nerd who makes a living by wrangling words together into some sense of coherence. He's the founder and owner of The Roarbots and also a contributor to Syfy Wire, StarWars.com, and GeekDad. On top of that, he hosts The Great Big Beautiful Podcast, which celebrates creativity in popular culture, science, and technology by talking to a wide variety of people who contribute to it.

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