NMBR 9 Overview
Spatial puzzles are nothing new. Made famous with Tetris, games with polyomino shapes are popular with gamers of all skill levels. Blokus, Patchwork, Metropolis, Cathedrals, FITS, and even the brand new game Barenpark are all great examples of this largely abstract style of games.
In NMBR 9 players will build up their own personal play area of 20 tiles using the numbers 0-9. Each number will show up two times which means each player will place two zeros, two eights, two nines, etc. At the end of the game players receive points by multiplying the tile’s face value by its placement in the stack. The player with the most points wins NMBR 9.
How to Set Up NMBR 9
NMBR 9 comes in a beautiful box with a killer insert. The game plays up to 4 players which means that each number has 8 tiles, and the insert perfectly accommodates this as you can see below. It’s functional and attractive. Additionally the bottom of each of the number wells has that number inset at the bottom to help remind you what goes where.
One of the great things about NMBR 9 is that every time you put the game away, you’ve just set it up for your next play. The only thing you’ll need to do is to shuffle the deck of 20 cards, representing the tiles you’ll be drawing throughout the game. Place the deck in the middle of the table, and make sure each player has a decent amount of space in front of them to build upon.
How to Play NMBR 9
NMBR 9 plays out over 20 rounds. At the beginning of each round a single card is drawn from the deck. Each player will draw the corresponding tile from the box and place it in their play area. Once all 20 cards have been drawn, and all 20 tiles have been placed, the game is over and scoring begins.
NMBR 9 Placement Rules
So how do you place the tiles? There’s just a few simple rules:
- Tiles must be placed colored side up, but may be rotated in any direction
- With the exception of the first tile, each tile must be placed face to face with another tile (no diagonals)
- Tiles must fully line up with the adjacent tile. Use the grid on the face of each tile to make it easier
- Tiles may not be stacked in such a way that there is empty space underneath a tile.
- Tiles on levels 1 or higher must be stacked upon at least 2 tiles.
- Any tile directly touching the table is said to be on level “0”. These tiles will not score at game’s end.
Let’s see some examples of these rules:
In the image below the tiles at the top right do not have their grid lines properly lined up. The tiles on the bottom right only touch at a diagonal point.
In the image below the 1 tile at the bottom right is upside down.
In the image below the 4 tile on the left is not fully supported. The 1 tile is only supported by a single tile.
How to Score NMBR 9
When scoring NMBR 9 the simplest thing is to remove tiles in stacked order and place them to the side in groups. Group all level “4” tiles together, group all level “3” tiles together, etc. Use the image below as an example:
Remember that any tiles directly touching the table are level “0” and are worth zero points. The tiles on each other level are worth face value times the level number. So tiles on level 1 are worth their face value times one. Tiles on level 2 are worth face value times two, etc.
The final score for the above stack would be 88 points. The player with the most points wins the game!
What I Like About NMBR 9
NMBR 9 is a striking game. The colors are rich and vibrant, the shapes are interesting and fun to look at, and the tactile nature of this game means that you’re going to spend as much time handling the tiles (rotating and twisting them) as you will placing them on the table.
NMBR 9 is a really simple game: both to teach, and to play. You’re doing a single thing on your turn, placing a tile. While it starts off quite easy, later turns definitely get longer as the decision tree about where to place a tile increases in breadth. Do you spend potentially valuable tiles on level “0” to build a foundation, or do you hamstring yourself in future rounds by putting them on a higher level?
Lastly the insert is great. It’s very clear where things go, they fit back in tightly enough that the pieces won’t slide around, but loose enough to make getting them out fairly easy. Abacus Spiele included deep recesses next to each of the tile wells to make retrieving them a snap.
Dad joke: Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 ate 9!
What I Dislike About NMBR 9
NMBR 9 is a pretty great game, but there’s a few quibbles I have with it. The most impactful is a cultural one. This game originated in Europe and most Europeans don’t count the “ground floor” of a building in their numbering, or if they do they consider it floor “0”. Thus the first floor of a building is that floor which is “one level” off the ground.
This means that when explaining the rules to an American, a dance needs to be done to make sure that people understand that the “second floor” of your play area is actually “level one” when considering scoring. It’s not hard to get once you play NMBR 9 once, but it does add additional complexity. Z-Man Games will be bringing NMBR 9 to the states later this year, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they American-ize the game slightly to make explaining that rule easier.
Final Thoughts on NMBR 9
All in all NMBR 9 is a great game. I heard so many good things about this game that I had to have it, I actually ordered my copy from Amazon.de. It’s a wonderful addition to my collection, and since it is in essence a solo game, you can even enjoy it all by yourself…if you want to practice, or have a night where your normal gaming partners aren’t available.
If you’re a fan of spatial games, numbers, and challenging spatial puzzles, then NMBR 9 was tailor-made for you. Pick it up and put it in it’s place…in your gaming library that is!
What do you think about NMBR 9? Give us your opinions about what you like and/or dislike about the game in the comments below!
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