Sunday, April 15, 2007

Iguana Factor, The

Subject: Math
Category: Arithmetic
Ages: 8 and up
# of players: 2 to 4
Time to play: 30 minutes
Mechanics/Game Type: Abstract strategy

Ratings (1 to 5)

Educational Value: 3
Gaming value: 3
Aesthetic value: 5
Price value: 2 (see comment about spinner)
Ease of play: 4
Younger adaptability: 5 (the game doesn't require you actually know any factors.)

My comments: This game is a good one for reciting or familiarizing, rather than drilling, products. It's abstract strategy gives the game some interest, even for older kids and adults.

The colorful, thick board is a multiplication table; the object of the game is to make a path from one side of the board to the other with your chips. You spin the colorful, cardboard, three-layered spinner (see comment below) to create a multiplication problem, then put your chip on the answer on the board. If the space you want to cover is already taken, you can place your chip on any space with that same answer (so if 2 x 3 = 5 and 3 x 2 = 5 are taken, you can put it on the 1 x 5 or 5 x 1 answer space, which reviews different factors for the same product.) If all the spaces with that product are taken then you can bump someone off of it. The abstract strategy is that you can "capture" (put your chips on) blank spaces if two of your chips align in a row, column, or diagonal. You can also turn an opponent's single chip to your color by surrounding it on opposite and adjacent sides. You have 25 chips; if you place them all on the board (and we have) then you must decide which chip to remove in order to cover the new product.

Two things disappointed me about this game. First, it requires no memorization of facts since all answers are revealed on the board. (I'll have to come up with some sort of modification for this.) Second, the eye-catching spinner doesn't spin well. You hold the bottom layer to spin the middle layer, then you hold the middle layer to spin the top layer. In each case the spinner does not make at least one full revolution before stopping. Since the spinners have 1 through 10 plus 2 "pick a factor" spots, I replaced the spinner with two dodecahedra (12-sided) dice, which work just fine. I do, however, like abstract strategy, so that keeps me coming back to play this game. link to this game:

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