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Comprising a deck of number cards and two standard six-sided dice, Alison Critchley's Tables-Tastic is an easy-to-play card game that's a fun way for kids to reinforce their 'times tables'. It comes in a tuck box that's tall enough to accommodate the dice as well as the cards.

The 2-5 players are each dealt a hand of seven cards. The cards all display numbers that can be found in the 2-12 multiplication tables, and the game incorporates three 'checker' grids showing the tables. Most cards are printed orange on blue, but numbers in the 11X table are printed blue on white. Square numbers are all printed blue on orange.

On your turn, you roll the two dice and you play from your hand any card that is a multiple of that number, tho' it has also to be in the tables up to 12 (so if you roll 3, the rules say you cannot discard 60 even tho' it is a multiple of 3). If you cannot play a card, you have to draw one. The winner is the first player to empty their hand. You can also play Tables-Tastic as a solitaire, with the object of getting rid of your cards in as few turns as possible.

There are special rules governing the 11X table cards: if you roll 11 you can discard all the cards in your hand, not just one. Rolling a double allows you to discard any square number card instead of one in that number's multiplication table. Finally, if you roll 7 and have no 7X table cards to play, you can re-roll without having to pick up another card.

Tho' the purpose of the game is primarily educational and the rules are simple (idiosyncratic exceptions notwithstanding), there's nonetheless scope for tactical decision-making for players savvy enough to play the odds on the frequency of dice rolls. Often you'll have in hand more than one card that can be played, so it's likely to be best to pick the card that's likely to come up with least frequency. Usually that means discarding cards with higher numbers in preference to lower numbers. That said, inevitably there remains a high luck factor in that you can know your multiplication tables backwards but that won't help if you happen to roll numbers that simply aren't factors of the numbers on the cards you were dealt.

In our plays at Board's Eye View more precocious youngsters griped about the rule that prohibited them from playing cards that were multiples above 12. If you find the rule troubling tho', it's easy enough to substitute your own house rule to permit all multiples. We were more troubled by the fact that the numbers are printed prominently in the centre of each card. This is great for the clarity of each individual card but it has the unfortunate downside that you cannot read the cards when you fan them in your hand. This means you probably need to use card racks, just as we have in our Board's Eye View 360.

Parents of primary school age children will get good use out of this educational game, and, once your children are completely confident in their knowledge of their multiplication tables, you can tweak the rules of Tables-Tastic to play it as a speed game.

If you have difficulty tracking down a copy at retail, click here to you order the card decks.

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