Publisher: Abacusspiele

Designer:  Peter Wichmann

Artist: Flore GmbH

Release date: 2017

1 – 4 Players 

Age 8+

15 mins

Favouritefoe #favouritefoefunlearning score: 8.5/10

We are a passionate polyomino family. Bearded Moon and I weaned on Tetris, and Mini-meeple already bosses it in Bärenpark. 

So when the legend that is Saggyhead told us about this game, we had to try it. It took one game for Bearded Moon to become OBSESSED with it. One game! And Mini-meeple is quickly following in daddy’s footsteps for sure! 

NMBR (0 to) 9!

So what is it about NMBR9 that has captivated my husband and son’s attention so completely?

Well, firstly, it is an incredibly easy game to understand. Each player has a set of cardboard polyomino tiles in the shape of numbers 0 through 9. And there is a small deck of 20 cards, two per number. 

The object of NMBR9 is to get the most points, and points are based on where each of your tiles has been placed; the level they sit on acts as a multiplier for the final value of those tiles. 

So, for example, any tile placed on table level is worth zero. Any tile placed on level one is worth 1 x the number of that tile, and so forth. 

But you can’t just place tiles where you want!

· Tiles have to touch an existing tile on the same level;

· Tiles can only be placed on higher levels if they can be positioned entirely over two or more tiles 

   on a  lower level. No gaps or overhangs allowed!;

· Tiles can’t be repositioned once that turn ends; and

· Plus, whilst you can tessellate like a titan, you can’t turn them over and use the reverse side. 

And that’s it. Someone around the table flips a card and everyone sets about positioning that number on their own space. Once placed, the next card is turned over, and play continues until the 20 card deck runs out. 

NMBR Crunching! 

So, ease of use has definitely drawn both of them in. Mini-meeple understood the rule from the get-go. But they both need more to keep them rapt. And the puzzliness of this simple game is the hook here. 

NMBR9 sounds like it is going to be an easy filler game. But it isn’t. Every time one of those cards reveals a number, it is nearly always the right number at the wrong time! 

Getting a 9 in your first few goes feels like such a waste as 9 x 0 = yep, big fat 0!!! Similarly, getting a 6 or a 7 sounds great if you have prime real estate up at level 1,2, or even 3 on which to lay it. 

But, when you realise that 8s and 9s are still lurking in the pack, you have to decide whether to “waste” it on a lower level, or hope that another shape will fit into it on a later turn. After all, you know you are going to need a flat surface to receive those point-tastic higher numbers. 

Mini-meeple loves the jigsaw aspect of the game. He loves connecting the tiles together knowing that he will be able to score more points in later turns. His towers may not be as tall as daddy’s right now, but when he can get an 8 or 9 up high, his face is priceless. 

Thankfully, he also handles the losses better than daddy who takes anything less than 80 personally! The engineer in Bearded Moon can’t always mitigate the luck of the draw in terms of number sequence, and it frustrates him in the best possible way. 

And whilst this game is multiplayer solitaire (with a BYOS solo mode), Mini-meeple injects socialisation as he offers up his “help” and suggestions to every other player! 

NMBR Practice!

As a maths whizz, Mini-meeple also loves the scoring aspect of the game. Like Take it Easy (review here), he finds the scoring as much fun as playing NMBR9 . And as a parent, anything that encourages a primary school child to add up and multiply, is golden in my book!

It also falls within Mini-meeple’s attention-span sweet spot; he is gripped for 15 or so minutes and then he is done. And that’s fine by me. Having home-schooled for over a year using a timetable split into hour long sessions, I know that he works and plays better in short, sharp bursts. 

As a family, we love this quick, puzzly game. The box is big, but the insert works to keep the numbers in place for in-game picking which is helpful. The tiles are also chunky, but they are only cardboard, and some of our corners are also beginning to lift a little – our fault for playing so much! 

I also will admit that I struggle a little with picking and placing the tiles due to the dexterity nature of it. The surface of each tile is shiny, and I can (and do) knock my tile tower by mistake (especially where I reposition a tile before the end of my turn). I have, however, found that a playmat which gives traction to the base level helps to improve stability for the base level. 

Overall, NMBR9 is a great little puzzle and it definitely gets an A as a #favouritefoefunlearning game!