Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Expanders {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Our family loves playing games -- card games, video games, or board games. We recently added the Expanders board game from SimplyFun to our collection.

Expanders looked easy when we took it out of the box but is actually quite challenging. The point of the game is to get rid of all of your colored markers by covering up numbers on the board. On each turn, you can either cover any single number, any pair of numbers that match, or expand a number. A number is expanded by placing a marker on a number and then also placing markers on adjoining numbers that add up to the original number. For instance, the number twelve can be expanded to be five plus four plus two plus one. That move would allow you to place five markers on the board in a single turn.

The big catch to Expanders is that all markers must be placed so that they join another marker of the same color (or the matching color side). Each turn must balance the two goals of placing markers and/or claiming territory on the board to use for future turns.

As you can see, the rest of the players managed to keep the pink player stuck in one area which made it more difficult for her to place new markers.

I was very impressed with the thought that went into developing this game. Instead of having a single board to use, the board comes as pieces to assemble. The numbers are printed on long thin strips which fit into the colored outside frame. When Lauren and I played a two player game, we only used four number strips and two blank strips which gave us only eight lines of numbers to use. During our four player game, we used six strips and therefore had a full twelve lines of numbers to work with.

In addition, the number strips reverse from smaller (one-digit) numbers to strips with numbers up to twelve on each strip. The difference isn't very significant in terms of difficulty, but it did give us a chance to switch up our thinking between games.

Lauren mentioned at one point that she wished there was a similar game that allowed her to do multiplication or other mathematical operations instead of always doing addition for the expanded numbers. I wonder if an expansion set with larger numbers that could be factored would work.

I enjoyed working with the smaller numbers because it gave me an opportunity to focus both on the possibilities and on board position. In the game I took a picture of above, I was using the orange markers and won because I managed to use as many small numbers as I could find and to spread out all over my side of the board.

Expanders has been a great addition to our game collection, and I look forward to using it on our homeschool game days in the fall. Math plus logic plus fun equals a real win for our family!

Expanders costs \$34 and is recommended ages 7 and up. The directions say that it can be played by 1-4 players, but I struggle to figure out how to make it work when I was playing solitaire. Each game lasts approximately 20 minutes.