Knock-Out

Knock Out is the second game from the Muggins people to get a Major Fun award. Again, it's made for durability and ease of use - a wooden board, marbles, plastic trays for holding the marbles - and elegantly conceived. And yes, like Muggins, the first "educational game" to receive a Major Fun award, it's value, at least for adults, lies in the learning opportunities the game provides. And, even more importantly, it's fun.

Numbers, from 1-18, are spaced clockwise around the board. A hole above and below each number can be filled in by marbles. Throwing three dice, the object is to use the break up the combined number to capture as many of the numbers as possible. A number can only be captured when both holes are occupied by the same color marble. As you play the game, you get a vivid lesson in probability. The lower numbers are always the first to go - and the most hotly contested. It's a remarkable opportunity to be explore the machinery and mystery of math.

Variations allow for more sophisticated play. There's a "Place Value" level in which the dice can be arranged so the first die represents tens, the second units and the third can be added or subtracted from the total, which is then broken down to its components. For example, a 6, 5 and 3 are rolled. The 6 and 5 become 65. The 3 can be added or subtracted to make 62 or 68. 68 can then be broken down to a 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 12, 15 and 17.

Above all, it's fun enough to want to play again and again, especially for elementary school children. Major Fun. For kids.

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