SNAP Review – Numbsters
Why was six afraid of seven?
Because seven “ate” nine, of course!
It’s for a single player, ages 8 and up, and it should take about 10 minutes to play.
Let’s talk about the art that’s used in this game.
All of the illustrations are by Luke Flowers, and they’re these cartoonish monsters. They’re number-monsters: “numbsters”. Get it?
I love that the 8 card is outlined in pink. It makes it immediately distinct from all the other numbsters.
So why is it important that the 8 card is different? That leads us into the mechanics of the game.
To play, start by shuffling together six of the regular number cards, plus the 8.
Now you have a hand (or “stack”) of seven cards, with the 8 somewhere in the middle.
Each turn has 3 steps.
- Draw – Draw a card and add it to the top of the “stack”.
- Move – Either move one card within the stack, or swap the positions of two cards.
- Eat – One numbster must eat another. Discard the “eaten” number.
How to Eat
The eater and the number to-be-eaten flank the 8 card (called “the mouth”). There are two ways eating can work.
Basic eating means two sequential numbers – with the 8 positioned between them – and the smaller eats the larger (remember, 7-8-9).
Or you may use the special eating rule specified on the top card of the stack. The mouth still must be directly between the numbster being eaten and the numbster doing the eating. If you use the top card’s special eating rule, move that card to the bottom of the stack.
How the Game Ends
Once the deck is empty, keep taking turns of moving a card within the stack and eating.
The game ends when nothing can be eaten, or when the mouth is on top of the stack at the end of the eating phase.
There’s only one way to win. Have the stack down to a single numbster on top of the 8.
So let’s talk about what I expected from this game.
This one looks like it’s for kids, which is fairly unusual for Button Shy. Most of their stuff tends to swing a little bit older.
But there’s more to it than that, so let’s talk about what surprised me.
We finally have a solo game from Button Shy that pretty much just plays in your hands!
Most of their games, especially their solo games, require a lot of table space. Think Sprawlopolis, or Unsurmountable, or even ROVE. You are laying out cards, you’re manipulating them around on the table. And so it’s really not portable once you start playing.
This game on the other hand, has: a draw pile, a discard pile, and cards in your hand. That’s it!
For kids who have trouble manipulating the cards, the rules do also suggest a way to play laid out in a row on the table. But that wasn’t really an issue for me, nor was it an issue for my kids.
What was an issue for me was how hard it was to remember the “basic eating” rule; until I could remind myself that it’s “7-8-9”. The smaller number “ate” the larger number. Every single time.
I was a little surprised at how hard this game is to win. I won almost the first time I played it, which gave me confidence. And I haven’t managed to win the game again.
I think there’s a lot of luck to how the cards show up in your hand. And then you have to make really consistent decisions about where you’re moving the cards and how you’re moving towards an ending.
I would recommend Numbsters for solo gamers who want something compact and fast.
This is a perfect game for me to play in the car, waiting for my kids in the pickup line, or at my son’s baseball game.
It’s definitely appropriate for kids, as well. The age range of 8+ seems just about right. They might like playing this in the car, like when you’re traveling.
I find it super great to have on hand, just to stick it in a pocket or a purse. I pull it out when I’ve got a few minutes to kill and I don’t feel like talking to people (which is not all the time).
It’s not a perfect game; as I mentioned, it’s actually quite difficult, because it’s hard to mitigate your bad luck (through shuffling). And if you make a single bad choice early on, it’s going to have ripple effects and make the whole game harder for you – which you might not realize until the end.
That said, I’m going to rate Numbsters 4½ monsters out of 5.
And that’s Numbsters, in a SNAP!
The Family Gamers received a copy of Numbsters from Button Shy for this review.
Find it on the Button Shy website or ask for it at your local game store.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Age Range: 8+
Number of Players: 1
Playtime: 10 minutes