About a year ago, we discovered an awesome game called Numbers League: Adventures in Addiplication, put out by Bent Castle Workshops. We first played it at the 2008 Mensa Mind Games in Phoenix (see my post on this year’s Mind Games winners). At the end of the weekend when it was time to vote for the top games, Numbers League was very high on both our lists. It is a fun and easy to learn game, it has great re-playability and kids dig it. Unfortunately, enough other people didn’t agree with us, and it was left out of the top five. I feel it got the short end of the stick, so I’d like to make sure all the GeekDad readers are aware of this incredibly fun and unusual game.
The first thing you’ll notice about Numbers League is the gorgeous artwork. Bent Castle Workshops invented several heroes, superheroes, villains and supervillains, and drew them in full color with an incredible amount of playful details. It’s fun to mix and match the different head, torso and feet cards to create unique heroes.
The second thing you’ll notice about the game is that the instructions are a bit confusing when you play for the first time. They aren’t written in a systematic way, but more like a comic book. But if you read all the instructions through once or twice, then play a practice round, you’ll very quickly understand how the game is played. Also, there is a tiny bit of ambiguity in the rules, so in certain places you may need to decide on some extra house rules.
The game play is very simple and straightforward. In each turn, you work to build one hero at a time that you will use to capture the villains. Then you use whole superheros, the sidekick if he or she is available and sometimes a device to make mathematical combinations equal to the number on the villain card you wish to capture.
Our daughter, who is almost eight, also loves this game. Our five year old son has even played it with a lot of help. This is one of those few games out there that parents and kids can play together and everyone has a good time. It is recommended for ages 8 and up, but of course it depends on your kid!
Once you’ve mastered the Hero level, try the Superhero level. This one incorporates the number zero, negative numbers, subtraction and multiplication. You can use much more elaborate combinations to capture the bad guys in this level.
If you sadly can’t find anyone to play with, you can play this game by yourself and just keep track of how many rounds it takes you to conquer all the villains. In general, you can play with one to four players, but we found that the Hero level works best with two or three.
As I was looking up some background information on Numbers League, I discovered that there is finally an expansion pack, called Infinity Level Expansion. It includes addition and multiplication of simple decimals as well as multiplying negative numbers. This expansion pack is recommended for ages 10 and up, and allows up to six people to play.
Price for the main game is about $15. The expansion pack is about $7-10, depending on where you find it.
Bent Castle Workshops has worked with schools, formulating improvements to the game. They are now finishing up a hero level expansion to the game, called Numbers League Dinosaurs. It will be a 30 card expansion, but the cards do not add more complexity to the game. There are 27 more hero cards, which make it easier to play with more people, plus 3 infinity level villains. Here is an early peek at the cover of the new expansion pack, never before seen!
Wired: The visuals, the multi-generational and educational game play, the infinite re-playability, the great price.
Tired: The instructions are a bit confusing at first, and the base game needs more cards to best play Hero level with four people.
(Images: Bent Castle Workshops)