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[Student Question] Grouping Games

inactiveinactive Alum Member
in General 12637 karma

Hey 7Sagers, had a student email me with a question that I thought you could help with. Here it is:


I seem to be struggling with the grouping games. Like which diagram to use, and if any key words support a diagram decision. I would also appreciate any further advice? Any example from prep tests 76, 78, 79, 80, 81, 82, and/or all would be awesome.

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  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Alum Member Sage 🍌
    26321 karma

    That's a pretty broad question, so here's some ramblings on different types of Grouping Games as well as random observations I may have during the writing of this response. Hope some of this hits on what you're needing!

    In/Out games are where each game piece must be placed into exactly one of two groups. The defining mechanic is that you can place a game piece from knowing where it's not/can't be. If it's not in one group, it must be in the other. If you see a game that functions that way, you should use an In/Out gameboard. The words in bold may serve as potential keywords, but many other games will use similar language and structures. It's a little more holistic than that. It's one of those points on which you've got to understand what the setup is telling you and be able to execute with a board that represents what the setup is describing.

    One note about In/Out games is that they'll frequently put a whole other game within the In Group. So you may have an In/Out game with a sequencing or grouping game going on within the In Group. For example: PT 17 Game 4 (Don't use the most recent tests to figure this kind of thing out on. You should only be taking/looking at these tests when you feel like you've got a solid grasp on things. Use older tests to work through this kind of issue.)

    Chart Games are when you have two grouping elements instead of just the usual one. So you may have three travelers and four destinations, three diseases and five symptoms, or two kids and six summer activities. In these, you could establish groups based on either. So a chart set up is when you establish groups for both. Set one group on the x axis and the other on the y axis and they will intersect. Usually, your game pieces will then be X's and checkmarks to indicate whether or not the intersection happens (A check for Billy eats a corndog and an X for Susan does not eat a funnel cake).
    Example: PT 14 Game 4

    Sometimes you get games that are weird amalgams. PT 29 Game 2 is kinda wonky. It's a non-In/Out, two group game with a Chart-esque element. You could also think about it as an In/Out Game within the In Group of a larger In/Out Game, but I don't think this is the best way to go about things here. The important thing is to be flexible and allow yourself some creative license. It's not a neat fit, but it's not difficult either unless you're determined to force it into a clean category.

    Then there's your more standard Grouping Game. Frequently, there's three groups, but sometimes more. Sometimes the groups are interchangeable, sometimes not. There could be a sequencing element within each group or maybe one slot that is designated for a driver or manager or president or something. Again, you've just got to represent whatever is going on which may just take a little flexibility. So if the groups are unique/non-interchangeable, make sure you recognize that. If there is a sequencing element, number the slots. If there's a president in each group, block off the first row and designate it for the presidents. Just make sure it's represented.

    One important aspect of all Grouping Games is to recognize if the slots themselves are defined. Sometimes, you know that there's going to be four items in each group. That's great. Sometimes, you don't. Maybe you could end up with every game piece in one group. I'm not sure this ever happens once the rules are applied, but it's important to recognize when the setup theoretically allows it. When this is the case, the slots themselves become game pieces. You've got to play a distribution game on top of everything else which has unique mechanics and challenges. This can apply to any type of grouping game except maybe Chart, so make sure you know when you're playing a distribution game and when you're not, because it will be a defining component.
    Example: PT 25 Game 3 (I love this game. It's In/Out with Sequencing and undefined distribution, so it hits on so many different things. It also tests another key skill and its execution which I won't name to avoid spoilers.)

    The most important thing is just to practice. The lessons of one game will apply to another. The recognition and the representation and the procedure compound with more practice and more experience. That's your best tool for attacking LG.

    Also, this question is exactly why I don't like drilling games by type. It's important to begin your studies by type, but once you know how each works, recognizing the type--and the unique challenges of each game within each type--becomes a lot of the challenge. Drilling by type removes this challenge and so denies us development of this critical skill. So drill by section once you've nailed down the basic mechanics of each type. If you then recognize you're weak on any mechanics, then go back to type. If recognition is the problem though, you're going to really spin your wheels with type drills.

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