Making math fun!

March 28, 2019

I recently had the pleasure of playing Mathemagician’s Duel by Scott Kelly of BS games.

What struck me most about this game was how much fun it was. Now, I’ve always been good at math and even completed a university degree with specialized honors in math and statistics, but I wouldn’t necessarily always call math fun. There are interesting challenges involved and lots you can learn, but nobody in my class ever cheered for it the same way they would when the teacher told us we were going to play dodgeball. 😊

When it comes to educational games, they tend to get a bad rap. That’s because many of them are very dry and dull. They focus so much on the educational aspects, while fun and engagement seem like afterthoughts.

Mathemagician’s Duel is different. Players take turns casting spells, either to enhance themselves, or slow down their opponent. The goal is to complete equations (called “incanquations” in the game) using numbers and operators (pluses and minuses), in order to unlock a spell and do damage to your opponent. Each spell has a different difficulty level, and the spells with higher levels of difficulty will do more damage.

Players may also remove cards from their incanquations to reach their goal, which is especially helpful when your opponent has sabotaged your plans!

Players start with 20 magical strength. The player who is able to reduce their opponent’s magical strength to zero first is the winner.

Me figuring out my next “incanquation”

Mathemagician’s Duel magical energy and spell cards

I talked to Scott about his experience playing Mathemagician’s Duel with students, and he said it has been overwhelmingly positive. Students actually asked to stay in or stay late so they could play the game. I’d definitely call that a success!

The great thing about Mathemagician’s Duel is that students really enjoy playing it, without realizing how much they’re learning and practicing their math skills. By focusing on the fun, students will really gravitate towards a game. I’ve had other teacher friends say that if they can trick their students into learning, they have accomplished their goal. We all need to make learning more engaging and fun!

Also, rather than just creating a game that resembles flashcards, Scott’s design partner, Bill, has created fantastic and thematic art, depicting the casting of spells and their effects on other players. The character art is fun, often funny, and always inclusive of different genders and backgrounds

The numbers and operators on the cards are represented both symbolically and using words. The game is easy to learn and fun to play, even for adults. Trying to outdo your opponent, throw monkey wrenches into their plans, and strategically complete your own equations, all make this an engaging and memorable experience.

You can learn more about Mathemagician’s Duel HERE.

What methods do you use to make learning fun in your classroom? What games have provided the best experience?

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