We recently reviewed a fabulous Haba ball track from The Toadstool and loved it. We had no idea that Haba also made fantastic educational games too! Having homeschooled for so long, to be honest I thought we'd already seen our fair share of educational games, and a lot of them are much of a muchness.
So for me to be impressed with a game, I'd have to be REALLY impressed. And I was!
The Haba Secret Code 13+4 game comprises of a game board, 6 wooden dice, 4 wooden player pieces, 15 number tiles and an instruction booklet. All made to Haba's high quality standards.
We especially loved the wooden player pieces - they are unique colourful pieces and its great to have such sturdy pieces.
The board game is illustrated as a museum and the players are secret agents who have broken into the museum with the aim of being the first to reach the precious 'Amun Re' mask. To do so they must first cross the 'light barriers'.
Each light barrier is allocated a number at the beginning of the game by placing the number tiles on them. The number tiles are double-sided giving plenty of different numbers to use. Factor in that there are 6 dice to use too and the huge potential of this game can be seen as players will be challenged each time they play to practise their arithmetic as they won't be able to simply memorise answers.
As each number tile 'light barrier' is approached, the player throws all 6 dice. Then they need to be able to get that number by using a mathematical calculation using any of the numbers on the dice. You can use addition, subtraction, multiplication and division (or a combination of any of these!). If they can figure out a way of calculating the number on the number tile light barrier, they can jump over it ready to tackle the next one.
That same player continues to throw any remaining dice (which they haven't used in their calculations) until such time as they cannot manage to calculate any more of the light barrier codes. Play then passes to the next player.
The game feels fast paced and exciting. I would describe it as challenging but not tricky because the beauty of it is that children can use the types of calculations they are already familiar with whilst also developing problem solving abilities as they try to see if there are alternative ways of getting to the answer they need, which will sometimes mean using operations that they are less familiar with.
The whole game takes around 15 minutes to play making it a favourite for all as it doesn't drag on (like some board games can!) and mum and dad can feel satisfied that they've had some good quality time with the children playing an educational game that is first and foremost fun and one that the kids have asked to play over and over again.
I cannot emphasise just how highly I would recommend this game. It is great for children who love maths because of all the potential possibilites of number combinations and equations, and also brilliant for reluctant learners as it is truly engaging and fun with sums that can be done quite simply too. Because it doesn't rely on pre-set sums, it remains interesting and lends itself well to different ages and abilities playing together.
At a great value price this would make an ideal birthday gift for friends or a great buy for your own children to enjoy with each other for years to come as a fun family game.