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NMBR 9

How well can you stack twenty oddly shaped tiles? Earn points for the tiles that are highest up the stack and see how well you can score.

With a satisfying sense of getting just a little bit better every time you play, NMBR 9 is a puzzler with some fun ‘ah ha’ moments and a few ‘oops, I shouldn’t have done that’s.

Gameplay

The game consists of 80 tiles. Each shows a number (zero through nine) on top of a grid of lines. There are eight of each number in the game (which supports up to 4 players) and each set of number tiles are different shapes. There is also a deck of cards, two cards for each of the numbers. At the start of the game you set the tiles within easy reach of all the players, and shuffle the deck of cards.

Each player is building their own display of numbers. Each round, the top card of the deck is flipped over. Each player takes the number tile that matches that card and adds the number to their display. Your display can be several levels high, with the level on the ground counting as level zero. There are also a number of rules you must follow for adding a new tile. You may rotate the tile but the grid must match up with the grids on the other tiles in the display, and all tiles must be face up. It must be adjacent to another tile on the same level (except for the first tile you add to each new level). If a tile is placed on level one or higher, it must overlap two or more other tiles directly beneath it and each part of the new tile must have another tile directly beneath it as well. Once you have finished placing a tile, it cannot be moved.

After the last card of the deck has been drawn and everyone has placed the last tile, the game ends and players calculate their scores. Each tile is worth the number on the tile multiplied by its level in the display. Is the number 7 on the second level of your display? It scores you fourteen points. The player with the most points wins the game.

NMBR 9 Components

Review

NMBR 9 is a Tetris-like puzzle game that has you thinking spatially in a way that few other board games do. Everyone is faced with the same numbers and adds them in the same order to their display at the same time, so it’s all about how you place them and how good you are at planning ahead and visualizing how future numbers will slot into your display.

The shapes of the tiles are unusual, and finding the best spot for each one isn’t as easy as you might think at first glance. You can’t plan everything or stack your numbers the same way every time you play, because you have no clue the order in which the cards are going to be drawn.

Teaching NMBR 9 is quite easy. The rules are simple and learned in a matter of minutes. Even the tile placing rules are quite intuitive and easy to grasp. Kids and adults alike can easily play the game and enjoy it, either together or separately.

If you're looking for a high level of player interaction, you won't find it in this game. All players work in parallel on their own display and it’s not until it comes time to tally scores that you really pay much attention to each other — so it's essentially a competitive puzzle. The rules for playing solo are exactly the same as playing with a group, only you are trying to beat your own high score.

If you enjoy puzzles and testing your spatial awareness, you’re likely to find NMBR 9 an addictive hit, as you keep trying to do just a little better the next time it hits the table. It's a great example of a game that is dead-simple to teach but fires up your brain in all the right ways.

Pros: Challenging visual puzzle, deck prevents predictability, good for children and adults

Cons: No player interaction