Title: 7 ate 9
Publisher Out of the Box, 2009
Designer: Maureen Hiron
Artist: John Kovalic, Cathleen Quinn-Kinney
Specs: 2 - 4 Players / Ages 8+ / 5 min
Style: Math-centered Card matching game for families with elementary-school-age kids
From the box: "Fast and Fun Number Crunch'n! Players add, or subtract, 1, 2, or 3 to the number the top card on the pile to determine if they have a card that can be played next. Sounds simple, but with everyone playing simultaneously, the options are constantly changing."
Part of Out of the Box's “Fun to Go” series, the game contains 73 cards, each with a large yellow number (1 through 10) and a small one in the corner indicating "plus or minus" 1, 2 or 3. A card is laid to start a central pile, then the rest of the cards are dealt out to all the players. Players race to add the next card to the center pile. As an example, a card with a large yellow 5 and a 2 in its corner could be covered by a 3 or a 7 card (which is 5, plus or minus 2). The first player to run out of cards wins.
We found this to be a great teaching tool, and a good brain exercise for us older folks. I can't say that it's really fun, and I don't think the kids will ever choose to bring it out. The question "Was it fun?" met with a wrinkled-up nose. Not so much, I guess. On the other hand, once my brain got into the arithmetic groove, it was pretty easy to process the sums in a hurry, and that made me feel good about myself anyways.
Near the end of the game there were no playable cards in anyone's hand. The rules accommodated this by calling for a new starter card to be drawn from the bottom of the central pile. That seemed like a clunky solution to keep the game going—sort of an afterthought on the designer's part.
Speaking of the game's pedigree, Ms. Hiron designed several other games, noteably “Stick Around” which is a pretty nice little puzzle game, and "Continuo" which has been published in several versions. (I particularly like the "Hexago" version from 2006, published by Schmidt Spiele.) The artist first credited here, John Kovalic, has many credits in the game world, not the least of which is Steve Jackson's "Munchkin" and the Dork Tower comic strip. He also happens to be co-founder and co-owner of Out of the Box Publishing (kind of a shoe-in for the art contribution on this one).
The version I have is in a tuck box with a hang tag on it. There's another that's in a tin, which might be preferable, and can be found for about the same price, though it comes enclosed in a mostly-air-filled cardboard box (not sure what's up with that).
Recommendation — if your kids are budding mathletes, or could use some brainercise, go for it. Play several quick rounds while you're waiting for the popcorn to get done, then go watch that movie. If you're after a rollicking good time, or a party game starter, you might pass this one by.
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David McCord has over a half century of board gaming experience, and has been designing games for decades. As an avid gamer, he focuses primarily on family & casual games intended for a wide audience, but still enjoys an occasional multi-hour heavy simulation as well. Over the years, David has grown a collection of nearly 2000 table-top games, has constructed reproductions of antique parlor games, and conducted game workshops. Original game designs and ideas are showcased on the website at www.NewVentureGames.com, which also includes contact information.