Math Medalist™ has two complete games in one box. The full-size, double-sided game board is used for “Multiplication Zones” on one side and “Field of Hundreds” on the reverse. Both games are designed to be played in about 30 minutes each. Players should be about ages eight and up.
Both of these games are fun to play, even for adults. I think Multiplication Zones should be especially effective for helping students master multiplication facts without realizing that’s what’s happening.
As is true of all of the SimplyFun games that I have reviewed, the games are very high quality with heavy-duty components that look great and should last through lots of use.
On the Multiplication Zones board, numbers from one to ten are laid out in a grid by their multiples, both horizontally and vertically. So, for example, the rows for the number three have the numbers 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, and 30—both horizontally and vertically. (While this is a multiplication game, it is also great for learning factors.)
The numbers on the board are sectioned with bold lines into groups of numbers to form the zones. The goal is to control the most zones by putting your colored markers on more of the numbers in each zone than your opponent(s).
Cards in the game’s card deck have numbers from one to ten. Players have five cards in their hand to start. The dealer turns over the top card on the remaining deck. Players choose one of their five cards to multiply by the card on the top of the deck. Here’s where the strategy gets tricky. Players need to choose a number in a zone that works to their benefit in controlling zones. They have to do a lot of mental math to identify the best option each time.
You can make the game more competitive by having players choose their cards and laying them face down in front of them before letting their opponents know their choices. When you play this way, inevitably someone else will sometimes have chosen the same number you intended to cover, which might cause you to lose a marker. To make it easier, you can have each player choose their card and place their marker before other players have to commit to a particular card. That lets them change their choice if their first choice has been pre-empted.
Players who don’t know their multiplication facts well can scan the columns to figure out the products of the cards in their hands, and the card displayed on the deck. Doing so should help them master their multiplication facts, but the game will be more enjoyable for students who already have some mastery of multiplication facts.
The strategic aspects of this game make it lots of fun to play. Players can “battle” over particular zones if they want to by focusing on acquiring certain numbers just to stop an opponent from controlling a zone. (SimplyFun's fantastic Fourmation game uses a zone strategy like this for addition.)
While players have to multiply correctly, a player with weaker math skills can still win by playing strategically and being blessed by the luck of the draw.
Field of Hundreds
Field of Hundreds requires addition skills along with strategic thinking. Players add numbers up to one hundred and beyond, but all numbers are multiples of ten, so the math isn’t difficult. The strategic thinking—the need to weigh multiple possibilities to gain the most points—makes the game best for children about third-grade level and above.
Players draw two tiles at a time from a bag of “Addition Tiles.” A random tile is drawn to use as the starting point in the center. Each tile is divided by diagonal lines into four quadrants. Each tile can have only one or two of five possible colors for its quadrants. Each quadrant has a number from 10 to 90.
On each turn, the player has to match a tile by color to the quadrant on a tile already on the board. But in addition to matching by color, the sum of the numbers in both touching quadrants must be 100. Students score only the points from the quadrant on the tile they add to the board. If there are tiles already placed to either side of where a player wants to put their tile, the new tile being placed must match in color to adjacent quadrants on those tiles as well, but those additional connections need not add up to 100. You will end up with some dead spaces where no tile can be placed because of the matching colors requirement.
Players move their small, wooden, people-shaped pawns around a track on the outside edge of the board to count up their points. The track goes up to 800 points, and players can earn lap tiles to keep track of points if they are able to start around the track a second or third time.
Medallions with images of famous mathematicians (printed on chipboard) are to be rewarded to players. I realize that the medallions reflect the title of the game, but we didn’t care about using them.
The game is flexible in that you can increase the size of the playing area to handle more than two players or for two players to play a lengthier game.