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Subject: Play Ball - A Mini Review (Children's Game) rss

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All of my reviews aim to offer a brief overview that allows people to get a good feel for what the game may offer them. I feel that other reviews can be sought if detailed game mechanics is what you are after.

As this is a game based on educational principles I am also able to draw on my experience as a primary school teacher (Australia) when reviewing them. I hope you find this insight useful.

Play Ball consists of 55 cards using the theme of Baseball. Each card has a colourful picture of a child playing the game and 44 cards from the deck are numbered from 1 to 9 and come in four different colours. These colours represent different teams. There are also 7 Wild Cards and 6 Action Cards, which I will outline later.

The first appealing feature is that Play Ball offers 3 games in one. Game one is called ‘Nine on the Field’ and it is a basic matching game. Nine cards are turned face-up on the table and each player is dealt 3 cards. On a players turn they can take any card from the table and add it to their score pile if they have a matching card in their hand. New cards are turned over once a match is made and if a player cannot make a match they draw a new card to their hand. The game continues in this fashion until all cards from the draw deck are exhausted and the player with the most cards in their pile wins.

Game two is called ‘Hard Ball Nine’ and uses the same set-up as ‘Nine on the Field’. Again players are trying to make a match to win cards but this time more maths comes into play. Matching the same valued cards is still ok but now players can use multiple cards to make a match. For example a player may be holding an ‘8’ card. If there is a 5 and 3 on the table they can say 5 + 3 = 8 and take all three cards to their score pile. Again all cards are replaced and the game ends when the last cards are taken. There is one extra rule called the ‘Bottom of the Ninth’. This takes effect when the draw deck is exhausted but there are still cards on the table. Now it is possible to use multiple card values from your hand to make a match with a card on the table.

Game three is called ‘Field of Teams’ and this is for older children as all of the Action Cards are used. The aim here is to be the first player to field a full team of 9 in all four colours. Each player gets 5 cards and the draw deck is put to one side with one card turned face-up. On a players turn they can draw the face-up card or a card from the draw pile. They must then try to make a ‘Team of Nine’ by playing cards that add up to 9 in the same colour. This is possible by playing a yellow 4, 3 and 2 for example.

These are kept in front of the player and they then draw cards to return their hand to 5 cards and their turn is over. If a player cannot create a team then they must discard a card to the discard pile to end their turn. Play continues until 1 player has fielded a team in each of the four colours. Now to the Action Cards.

The Pinch Hitter allows a player to take any numbered card from the discard pile or a random card from another player’s hand. Very useful. The ‘Yer Out’ card forces 1 player to discard any 1 of their completed teams. Nasty! A ‘Time Out’ forces any player to lose their next turn. This is useful to slow an early leader. There are also 7 Wilds that can be used as any colour

The Final Word

Play Ball is a really neat game. Boys will respond very well to the sports theme and girls may also find it appealing, as softball and baseball are very similar games. Play Ball is a great maths game that offers good value for money as each game caters to different age groups, as your children get older.


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