Nature Blog Network

Monday, August 11, 2008

Parasites Unleashed


Entoconcha is a small snail that parasitizes sea cucumbers. When the snail is ready to release its eggs, it makes the sea cucumber spit out its own guts.

Maybe it wasn't a great idea for Johann and me to play our first game of Parasites Unleashed as Tammy was fixing dinner.
"Cool! They leave the host through their snot!" (Dicrocoelium)
Of course, it didn't help that the game was interrupted by dinner, though the conversation about parasites wasn't.
"Mommy, did you know that there's a mussel that waves a fish-shaped piece of its mantle to lure hungry fish in and then spits its larvae in their faces?!" (Lampsilis ventricosa)

"The poor fish!"
But even with my poor timing, Zygote Games latest offering was a smash hit. The game is well paced and complex enough to hold interest, yet easy enough for an eight-year-old to grasp right away. The artwork of Fred Zinn is witty and fun.
"Wahooo! I'm asexual!! I don't have to play the mate card!"

"You're what!?"
Our introductory game lasted almost 30 minutes, but we were taking our time and reading the science tidbits on each card aloud as we played them. In part, we read them to enjoy the effect it had on Tammy in the kitchen. She said, "Eeeewww!" and "Grooooosss!" at all the right things, of course.

And Miriam, yes, you can be the Rhizocephalan - Sacculina sp. Or maybe you might prefer the colorful Leucochloridium paradoxum or Johann's favorite, the Entoconcha, a parasitic mollusc which parasitizes sea cucumbers. It forces its sea cucumber host to spit up its guts, releasing the snail's eggs. Johann's reaction?
"Eeeewww! How cool!!"
Yeah, I think this game has a permanent place in our house!


  1. Awesome review! I can't wait to get the game for our household. Although Elliot and Freya are much too young. I think my new coworker DUML will get a kick out of it.

  2. Johann has good taste (ok, not the best word choice) in parasites! The game sounds awesome - for those of us who are kidless, would it still be fun for adults?

  3. I think it would still be fun, though a tad less so since the gross factor is less entertaining.

    At $10 (with a 10% discount when shipped to a US educational institution) it's a good value.

  4. Tammy had a chance to play, at last, this morning and admitted that while a bit "gross" she thought it was a fun game.


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