Top Of The Table – Stellar Board Games That Actually Teach
Publisher: Math For Love
Recommended age: 10+
Applicable subjects: Math
This highly replayable and enjoyable competitive game was created by a pair of mathematicians to help explore arithmetic from multiple perspectives. On the surface, Prime Climb shares some traits in common with children’s classics like Chutes & Ladders, in that it’s all about following a distinct track to a clearly defined goal space. However, this math-oriented strategy game offers a lot more to think about, and is a heck of a lot more fun for anyone old enough to grasp the fundamentals.
Prime Climb asks that two to four players attempt to advance their pawns to the space labeled 101 (at the center of the spiral board and the end of the track). To do so, players roll dice, and use the rolled dice as variables in an arithmetic formula using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. For instance, while on space 12, you might roll a 2 and a 6. With those numbers, you could choose one of several equations, but one option is to subtract 2 from 12 to get to 10, and then multiply by 6 to reach 60 – and then move your pawn to space 60. Players also get a special bonus card to help them out when they land on an all red space, which signifies a prime number greater than 10.
The color coding on the board spaces offers a fascinating way to understand math, as each colored space indicates tells you how it will multiply with any other space. For instance, 3 (a green space) multiplied by 10 (an orange and blue space) has a product of 30 (a green, orange, and blue space).
The colored spaces do two important things for the game. First, the bright primary colors look great as a board display against a stark black background. But funcationally, it also means that even young players who don’t know multiplication and division quite yet can begin to grasp the concepts through color; simply match the colors together to multiply. The same color coding works for division. It’s also easy to adapt the game to even younger players by limiting the available equations to only addition and subtraction. Cater your choice of when to start playing with kids to their current understanding of numbers and math.
The extra element of the cards and their special powers lends Prime Climb some layers of strategic fun, which lends the game some more depth. Game sessions last around half an hour. For a game that is a relatively pure experience of math equations, I think you’ll be surprised how much fun it can be for players of all ages.