Who Knew Adding Negatives Could Be So Fun?
There are games about adding and there are games about subtracting, but there aren’t many about adding positive and negative numbers. Negative numbers just don’t seem that popular in children’s games. Even the game SORRY! includes a card that requires you to move 4 spaces backwards instead of asking you to move “negative four” spaces. So when it comes to learning negative numbers there aren’t too many games to choose from, but there’s one standout from Haywire group called Robbin’ Eggs!
A game for players aged 7 and up, the Robbin’ Eggs centerpiece is a plastic nest with holes for numbered eggs. The numbers on the eggs are nicely hidden by the nest so until the game gets going, players only know that blue eggs are positive numbers and green eggs are negative numbers.
On a player’s turn they draw a card and roll the die. The number on the die is total they are trying to reach. The card tells them how many eggs they can turn over. The card may say a range, like “2 to 4 eggs,” or an exact number like “3 eggs.” Turning eggs over one at a time, the player is trying to exactly match the number they rolled. After they’ve reached the maximum number of eggs, or they’ve decided they’re close enough and would like to stop, they calculate how far they are away from their target number. If they rolled a 12 and flipped eggs that equal 10 OR if they equal 14 they score 2 points.
The goal of the game is to have the lowest score after five rounds and you can play with 2-6 players.
Not only does Robbin’ Eggs incorporate some important math skills, it also has some nice memorization. It’s interesting to see players try to calculate how they’re going to reach their number based on the location of numbers they know. If a player remembers an egg number incorrectly, it’s still possible to recalculate a solution that will give them a good score. Having both positive numbers and negative numbers makes it easy to correct flipping over an unhelpful number.
There are two special cards in the game that, when drawn, give the player a zero for the round. We chose to do these but not count them for a player’s turn. Despite scoring a zero for the round, players wanted the opportunity to flip eggs. Therefore, if a player flipped a Scrambled Eggs! card they had to mix up the eggs but then draw another card. The other special cards are the “Rob” cards. These allow a player to steal a set number of eggs from the nest during another player’s turn (both eggs they’ve already flipped over and ones they haven’t). Again, instead of setting this aside and taking a zero for the round we let them draw another card.
The instructions do give ways to play without the negative numbered eggs, but I think this is a great game to introduce the concept adding negatives without calling it subtraction. You will need an older, more experienced player to guide players through the first time playing as the scoring did seem to rattle some players.
Still, I think Robbin’ Eggs was a fun math game that is quick to pick up and employs some planning and calculation without sacrificing fun.
If you’re looking for an expert in the game industry, you’re probably looking for Kim Vandenbroucke. Not only does she review games at The Game Aisle, but she also designs them and is one of those people that companies call when they need to have a game designed.