Game Time: 10-15 minutes
During the March 2020 lockdown, Alison Critchley was thrown into home-schooling and struggling to persuade her daughters to practice their times tables. She has always loved games and was determined to find a way of gamifying times tables so that her children could have fun learning them. The original 'mum's math game' had number cards written on cereal box card, and to her surprise her girls loved playing it, even choosing it over family favourites like Uno or Cluedo. Inspired by their love of playing the game, Alison was keen to share it with others. It proved popular, so much so that she then went onto to successfully launch it under it's official name Tables-Tastic on Kickstarter.
53 x unique number cards
3 x times tables checker cards
2 x dice
1 rule sheet
Intrigued? Let's first of all take a look at how it's played!
For the multiplayer version play is as follows:
Deal seven cards to each player and place the rest in a central pile.
The first player roles two D6 dice and adds the two numbers together.
If that player has a card that is a multiple of the number they play it, otherwise they draw another from the central pile. There are three special rolls: a) Seven - if the player is unable to play a card, they may roll again without picking up b) A double - the player may play either a card in that times table or a square number c) Eleven - the player can play all their cards in the 11 times table.
Continue to repeat steps 2 and 3 for each player in turn.
If players finish the central pile do not reshuffle, just keep playing without picking up.
The winner is the first player to play all their cards.
The solo version is played in the same way as multiplayer, with the aim of the game being to draw as few additional cards from the central pile as possible.
The box is a little taller than a standard playing card size box, which is to fit in the two black and white plastic dice at the top. It is made of sturdy cardboard with a push in lid. As it is such a snug fit I have found that you have to insert the lip carefully to avoid damage.
The cards themselves are about as tall as playing cards but thinner, which I feel is helpful for little hands. For particularly little kids there is always the option of laying the cards face up on the table. They are of good quality and I feel that they would within reason withstand mildly rambunctious kiddos. Bendy plastic cards like you find in Radlands might have been preferable for extra durability but would have been less environmentally-friendly and would have driven up costs.
I would have perhaps preferred the rules to have been on a card like the cheat sheets/number cards rather than a folded paper sheet to avoid them getting dog-eared from repeatedly putting the game back in the box after each game. My sheet has already started to be a little bent at the edges from being put back into the box.
The orange, blue and white colour scheme is very simple yet cunning at the same time. The orange cards are square numbers, the white cards multiples of 11 (and some cards e.g. 121 being both) and the rest blue with orange numbers.
As a child learning my times tables it was all about boring-looking A4 sheets with lists of multiplications, dreaded mental arithmetic tests and parrot learning. It felt like a chore every time. I'd go as far as saying I hated times tables. I did however used to enjoy playing simple card games with my dad whilst on holiday, like Gin Rummy, and wish that Tables-Tastic was around back then as I'm certain we'd have packed it with us in the campervan on our holidays.
What's great about Tables-Tastic is that it turns times tables up to 12 x into a simple card game that a family can enjoy together, with children getting practice whilst having fun. There's also always the option of solo for a player to get extra practice in a way that's not just drilling them out boringly on a piece of paper. It's a compact little box that's easy to take out and about to play on coffee tables. I can see families coming up with different ways to play than the standard rules too.
It would be great in an educational setting as well. It's very easy to learn, and includes cheat sheets for less confident players meaning that players of different ages and competencies can play together in a friendly and supportive way with an edge of competitiveness. For younger players they can have their cards face up on the table for everyone to see and help, and for added difficulty you can remove the cheat sheets.
Tables-Tastic is fantastic, affordable and compact educational game that is highly portable and family-friendly. It definitely fulfils its own tag line of 'the fun game to master multiplication'. If I was rating it on its educational value alone it'd be a solid six. The only thing holding it back from that stellar rating as a whole is replayability, as I think for many families it might not be a game that children would be excited to play week on week.
You can buy the game now directly from the official website www.tables-tastic.co.uk with discounts if you buy in multiples.