ArithMagine is great for any age, but some multiplication skills required
ArithMagine is a system for practicing math skills, so players do need to know the basics of addition, subtraction, and multiplication, but they don’t need to be experts at it (since the game is there to help with that). Most schools in the US are introducing times tables in 2nd or 3rd grade, so this could be great for a lot of kids age 7+ based on the skills being used.
With regards to the story and game themes, that can be whatever you want, so you can make it to fit your particular group of players! It’s a system for building your story with to meet the needs of your group, family, or class.
ArithMagine is setting agnostic
Because you can use any setting that you want with ArithMagine, it gives you the freedom to apply it to your goals with teaching AND to your players’ interests so they stay engaged.
For kids in 2nd or 3rd grade, stories spanning themes from Octonauts or The Magic School Bus or Spidey and His Amazing Friends could be really easy to fit with and capture kid’s interests.
For older kids who are maybe incorporating additional math concepts (like exponents), you can adjust the story to fit themes from Percy Jackson or, like Garrett from Two25Games did, make a story to cover something like The Epic of Gilgamesh to combine with other lessons.
You can also take existing TTRPG stories from other games, like Starsworn or Adventures on a Single Page, and use ArithMagine with them so it fits in with your math class lesson plan or to meet math practice goals at home.
ArithMagine characters are easy to set up
ArithMagine uses the StoriesRPG character sheet, which I’ve previously covered here, and gives tons of flexibility to allow players to make the character that they want for the chosen setting. It also has some wonderful prompts to make sure that your characters have a backstory and personality without needing to have a lot of prior experience coming up with characters..
I’ve used this character creation method with my kid during games for previous reviews, in home games with players who are new to TTRPGs, and at a local community center with players who had varied TTRPG experience, and it’s worked great every time.
Mechanics in ArithMagine
Cards and math and learning
The mechanics for ArithMagine are its core element and focus on practicing multiplication, addition, subtraction, and possibly other math skills.
Each player has a hand of numbered cards from a standard playing card deck and, when faced with a challenge, needs to play cards that will let them meet a target number that is drawn from the deck by the story teller.
So, if the storyteller draws a 4 and a 7, the target number is 47, and players need to play cards from their hand that will multiply, add, subtract, etc to get as close as they can to 47.
If you get an exact match, it’s super successful, +/- 5 from the target number is a success, and, as you get further from the target number, you start incurring troubles or failures for the challenge.
I thought these mechanics were pretty easy to understand and pick up, and they get players practicing math together, using order of operations, and maybe even strategizing what cards they keep in their hand for future challenges as they intuitively start to see which numbers are more useful.
When incorporated into the fiction of the story and the group, it gets players invested in that practice and in teaching each other (rather than competing for grades) so the group can succeed in their game. These mechanics are a fun math card game on their own, but, when combined with a story with outcomes tied to the players practicing math, it creates that investment and connection that you don’t get from just a card game.
Easy difficulty scaling
There’s also a couple suggested options for difficulty scaling by allowing players to count their cards as 10’s to make things easier and usable with kids who don’t know multiplication yet or to set a timer to make things more challenging.
I could also see this being easily modified to allow other math operations, like exponents or making the target number a decimal to practice division, depending on the math skills that you want to focus on.
Overall thoughts on ArithMagine
I really enjoyed getting to try this game out (I played solo first and then with my partner since kiddo is at least a year or so off from starting multiplication), and I think it could be an awesome tool for games in general or for classrooms. It’s an easy system to learn, and it gives kids a fun reason for practicing math skills while being flexible enough to fit into a lesson plan or propose as part of a school program.
Find a copy of ArithMagine
You can find a copy of ArithMagine on itch.io!
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