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Bananagrams has proved to be a popular quick-to-play word game where players are tying to form intersecting words crosswords-style. It stands out from the majority of (boxed) games because the Scrabble-like letter tiles all fit into a banana-shaped fabric pouch. Möbi from Mobi Games Inc and The Happy Puzzle Company is very similar: it's also real-time game played using tiles in a fabric pouch, but in this game the tiles are numbers (1-12) and arithmetic operation symbols (+, -, x, ÷, =) and the bag is in the shape of a whale. We haven't yet fathomed the connection between maths and aquatic mammals but we've assumed it's a reference to Herman Melville's Moby Dick; tho' that tale famously involved a white whale rather than blue one.

You can play Möbi as a solitaire game but, played competitively, it takes 2-6 players. The operation tiles are piled in the centre and are freely available. Players each take seven face-down number tiles. The others are face-down in a pool. Players are racing to use these to complete equations but the equations need to be laid out crossword style so that they connect all the numbers. When a player has just one number tile left unused, they call out and all the players flip three more tiles and add them to their equations, modifying the equations if they need to. When all the number tiles have been taken, the game is won by the first player to use all their tiles in a crossword-style equation grid. Of course, the maths in the grid has to be accurate: if a player has made an arithmetical error, then they lose.

Möbi is a race game in real time so it's bound to be a quick game, especially at higher player counts. Games are unlikely to run to more than 10-15 minutes. For children, there's an obvious educational element. As you're only working with numbers up to 12, the maths is simple - so very accessible for primary school children - but racing to complete even simple equations in real time does help to promote arithmetic agility. Children who are used to reaching routinely for a calculator will need to cast their calculator aside to play. Teachers will also be pleased to be able to use Möbi to reinforce the BODMAS rule over the order in which operations are applied. Of course, there are no Brackets or Orders (powers or square roots) in the Möbi tile mix but players will at least need to apply their Division and Multiplication operations before they apply Add or Subtract: so 2 + 3 x 3 = 11, not 15! These are the equations you'll need to check carefully when declaring the winner.

Möbi makes for a fast filler-length game but it can be a useful tool too for teachers, particularly as a fun but educationally valid way of ending a maths lesson. Parents too will find it helpful as a game to hone their children's arithmetical confidence. And, as with Bananagrams, you can readily use the Möbi package to devise your own more elaborate variants.

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