Genius Games has carved out a niche-within-a-niche for itself, producing math- and science-themed board games like Genotype: A Mendelian Genetics Game and Periodic that are natural fits for home, school, or homeschool. Here’s their superhero-themed math game for elementary students:

(click to view transcript)

Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table. Here’s how you play Outnumbered!

This truck is carrying the Infinity Generator down to the Atomix Lab, but these bad guys are closing in. If they break through our defenses, they’ll steal the Infinity Generator and we’ll lose. And there’s only one way to stop them: with math.

So put the truck up here and the barricades down here. Deal everyone a Hero card. Shuffle the Bonus Powers deck and keep it handy. Then, shuffle up the villain deck. If you’re playing on the easier Sidekick mode, you just want the blue guys in the deck. But if you’re looking for more of a challenge, you can play in Hero Mode: you shuffle the purple cards in there as well, and add the Event deck. If you want a game somewhere in between Sidekick and Hero modes, you can play with either the purple villains or the Event deck.

This bad guy is Absolute Zero, the big boss. Cut the deck, shuffle him into one half of it, and put the other half on top. That’s how you make sure Absolute Zero doesn’t appear until later in the game, but you’ll never be sure when he’ll turn up.

You’re all working together to defeat the bad guys so they don’t steal the Infinity Generator. Pick someone to be starting player, and that person rolls the three dice.

You have to apply math to the numbers on the dice to match the numbers on the bad guys’ cards. Then you get to knock those villains off the board. I’ll show you some examples in a second.

At the end of everybody’s turn, you move the Infinity Truck down the board. Whenever it reaches a spot with a red burst on it, the villains move one step down the board too, and you deal a new batch of villains to the top row. If you’re playing on Hero Mode, you also draw an event card and do what it says. If you’re lucky, the Event card doesn’t do anything, but most of the time, it’ll make the villains move even farther down the board, or it’ll make extra villains appear on all these red spaces.

If a villain bumps into one of your barricades, you get rid of the villain and the barricade. But that leaves the Atomix Lab wide open: if a different villain gets through that spot on a later turn, you lose the game!

Let’s see how to stop the villains in their tracks, using the powers of math: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and squaring.

The easiest way to defeat a villain is just to match one of the dice you rolled to its number. So this villain has a 4, and one of the dice you rolled was a 4, so HUAH! Your number’s up. Now, you can’t use that die to defeat any other bad guys. It’s used up.

To defeat THIS villain, you can add two numbers together. So if you add 3 plus 2, you get 5. HUAH! Take five, evil-doer.

You can use multiplication to tackle villains with bigger numbers on them. This villain is a 10. You can multiply 2 times 5 to get 10 and defeat him. HUAH! We’ve got your number.

You can even use math in multiple steps, in any order you want.

You rolled a 2, a 3, and a 6, and you’re targeting this villain. 2 plus 3 is 5, and 5 times 6 is 30. HUAH! Now that’s what i call crunching numbers.

Don’t forget subtraction. 4 minus 1 is 3. Three times 6 is 18. HUAH! You really did a number on him!

But what do you do if you’re playing Hero Mode and you need to get up to some really big numbers? Well, you can square a number. That just means you multiply the number with itself.

3 squared is 3 to the power of two… Power it up! 3 times 3 is 9. HUAH!
4 squared is 4 to the power of two…. Power it up! 4 times 4 is 16. HUAH!

6 squared is 6 to the power of two…. Power it up! 6 times 6 is 36. 36 divided by 2 is 18. HUAH!
5 squared is 5 to the power of two…. Power it up! 5 times 5 is 25. 25 plus 6 is 31. HUAH!

Every player was dealt a random hero card at the beginning of the game, and each hero has his or her own special ability that you can use once per turn.

Egalitarian gets to change one die to the same number as another. So by changing this 1 to equal this 4, he can defeat this 4 villain – HUAH! And then he can multiply 4 by 5 to get 20, to defeat this one. HUAH! Your days are numbered.

Digitizer gets to turn a die to its opposite face. And here’s a secret about dice: two opposite sides always add up to 7. So the flip side of a 2 is a 5. And the flip side of a 1 is a 6. See? So if Digitizer is fighting this 24 villain, she can flip this 3 to a 4, and then multiply 4 by 6 to get 24. HUAH! She 86’d him.

M1-NU5 can knock 1 or 2 off a number. Powering up this 5 by squaring it makes it a 25, and subtracting 2 from that gets you 23 to defeat this villain. HUAH! Now he’s taking 40 winks.

Great Divide’s power lets you re-roll any or all of your dice.

Big Plus gets to add 1 to something. By adding 1 to this 3, he can defeat this villain. HUAH! We have zero tolerance for evil .

And Multipull can double a value once per turn. So to defeat this villain, Multipull can add 3 plus 5 to get 8, and then double that 8 to get 16. HUAH! How many more number-based one-liners can i think of? Zero.

There’s one more thing to know that will give you and your teammates the edge: if you defeat a villain on a yellow space, you get to draw a bonus power card. You can save this power for later, or use it immediately. Bonus powers do all kinds of helpful things, like letting you defeat a villain with a number divisible by 5 – that’s any number ending in a 5 or a zero. Or defeat a villain with a prime number on it. A prime number is any number that’s divisible only by 1 and itself. 7 is a prime number. 23 is a prime number.

Using bonus powers effectively is key to winning the game. Let’s say this villain is about to break into the Atomix Lab on the next turn unless you do something about it. But you don’t have the numbers to defeat it. Try defeating a villain on a yellow space instead, because the bonus power you draw could help you defeat that villain. HUAH! 23-skidoo. (See? I thought of one more)

When the truck reaches the last space, the final assault begins. From then on, the villains keep advancing on every turn, but you don’t deal any new villains out to the board for the rest of the game. And if you’re playing in Hero Mode, you don’t draw any more Event cards. If the villains advance and one or more bad guys breaks through an empty gap in your defenses, the villains steal the Infinity Generator and you lose. But if you wipe out all of the villains on the board before that happens, you’ve won the game.

You earn 10 points for protecting the Infinity Generator
Plus 3 points for every barricade left standing
Plus another 5 points if you defeated Absolute Zero using dice instead of a bonus power.
Plus another 5 points if you defeated Absolute Zero.

Keep playing until you and your team can achieve a perfect score of 30 points!

If Sidekick Mode is too tricky, you can tone the game down with these modifications:

Use 2 dice instead of 3.

Use the middle three lanes only. Get rid of the barricades.

Use a villain deck where none of the numbers goes over 10.

Skip the bonus powers, and nix the event deck.

If any of the villains make it through, put them aside and keep playing. Your goal is to let as few villains through as possible. Then, keep trying to beat your best score. If you make it through the whole game without any villains making it through, chances are you’re ready to try Sidekick Mode.

And that’s how you play Outnumbered. HUAH!


Get Your Own Copy of Outnumbered

You can snag a copy of Outnumbered on the Genius Games site, or at your friendly local game store!