MathDa, The Download (2000 Strategy Game)

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The MathDa is a challenging and refreshingly unique board game for 2 players (computer player is available) with a simple premise: place numbered tiles with values between 1 to 25 on the board until there is no more empty space. The only catch is that the value of each number you place must be between the values of the tiles next to it. For example, if there is a '2' on the left and '8' on the right, the number you can place between them must be 3 to 7 only. There are "wildcards" - tiles marked with * instead of a number that you can use to stand for any number you want. Your score is the total of the numbers you use, so if you used '1', '10', '15', '20', and '5' tiles, your total score will be 1+10+15+20+5 = 51. The winner at the end of the game is the one with higher score. You can also choose to play up to 4 rounds, in which case the score from each round (i.e. game) is accumulated to determine the final winner.

Although The MathDa may seem like a simple game, it is anything but. Even though there is only a handful of possible locations you can place each tile (which the computer helpfully highlights for you), you must plan your moves carefully. Putting a '20' tile at the end of the board, for example, may just give your opponent the chance to use a '23' tile and hence get a higher score. There are 4 levels of computer AI, 4 being the toughest, but it puts up a good fight even at levels 1 and 2.

Overall, I find The MathDa to be a thoroughly entertaining brainteaser that I keep coming back to during coffee breaks at work. The random layout of the board each time you play (i.e. some tiles are already placed on the board) combined with the fun challenge (i.e. it is possible to win every game and have all the spaces occupied with tiles) makes The MathDa one of the best brainteasers you'll come across. Highly recommended, especially if you like math and/or unique puzzles with no time constraint.


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