(last updated 31 December 2023)
In this game, two or more players compete to build the highest-scoring team they can. Teams are comprised of four STUDENT cards together with any SCHOOL cards all students on the team are attached to. Each STUDENT card can contribute an initial score to the team, and student or team scores can be augmented by color bonuses, TOOL cards, and TEACHER cards. Players can affect the course of the game by playing ACTION cards or by responding to ACTION cards with STAFF cards.
Prior to the start of the game each player must assemble a deck of exactly 55 cards. The deck may consist of any cards the player chooses, so long as no two cards have both the same name and the same color. A card's name consists of the words in bold type in the text box at the bottom of the card. A card's color is the color of the letters and numbers in the top left corner of the card. Available colors are blue, orange, red, green, and purple. Each player shuffles their deck and places the deck face down on the table; this deck becomes their draw pile.
Each player turns over their top card and places it face up on the table as the first card in their discard pile. All discarded cards go face up onto the top of the discard pile. Each player reads the two domino digits of their card as a two-digit number. The domino digits are the two small numbers in the top left corner of the card arranged vertically. For example, if the domino digits are a 6 on top and 3 on bottom, the two-digit number is 63. If there is a tie for the highest two-digit number that is showing, all players with that number turn over a new card and place it on top of their discard pile; this process repeats as necessary until a unique highest number is showing.
The lowest two-digit number showing gets added to 200 to determine the win number (see below for how to win the game). For example, if the lowest two-digit number is 63, the win number is 263. Each player draws six cards from their draw pile into their hand. The player with the highest two-digit number showing in their discard pile takes the first turn, and play proceeds clockwise.
On a player's turn they may dispose of any number of cards in their hand by playing or discarding each card. A player must play or discard at least one card per turn, and a player may play a maximum of one ACTION card per turn. Cards may be played as described below. At the end of each player's turn they must draw enough cards into their hand or discard enough cards from their hand to bring their card count to six unless this rule is superseded by an ACTION card.
SCHOOL cards may be played by placing them face up onto the table in front of the player. In order to play a SCHOOL card the player must pay TOOL cards into the discard pile worth a total of at least 10 points times the number of SCHOOL cards with the same name that are already on the table in front of any player. Any SCHOOL cards with matching names played by the same player attach to each other automatically as part of the same school team.
STUDENT cards may be played by placing them face up onto the table in front of the player. Each STUDENT card may be attached to a school team if the school name on the STUDENT card matches the name of the SCHOOL card(s) in the school team, or the STUDENT card may be placed without attaching it to a school team. In order to play an elementary (Elem) or high school (HS) STUDENT card that is not being attached to a school team with two or more SCHOOL cards the player must pay TOOL cards into the discard pile worth a total of at least x/10 points where x is the student's score as indicated on the card. In order to play a middle school (MS) STUDENT card that is not being attached to a school team with two or more SCHOOL cards the player must pay TOOL cards into the discard pile worth a total of at least x/2 points where x is the student's score as indicated on the card. If the STUDENT card is being attached to a school team with two or more SCHOOL cards, the STUDENT card may be played for free.
TEACHER cards may be played by placing them face up onto the table in front of the player. Each TEACHER card must be attached to either a school team or to a STUDENT card when played. Any TEACHER card may be attached to any STUDENT card, but a TEACHER card may only be attached to a school team if the school name on the TEACHER card matches the name of the SCHOOL card(s) in the school team. TEACHER cards may be played for free.
TOOL cards may be paid into the discard pile to play a SCHOOL or STUDENT card as described above. In addition, a player may pay TOOL cards worth at least 5 points into the discard pile in order to attach a previously-played but unattached STUDENT card to a school team, or to detach a TEACHER card from a STUDENT card or a school team and attach it to a different STUDENT card or school team, or to detach a previously-played TOOL card from one STUDENT card and attach it to a different STUDENT card. A player may also send any TOOL card played by an opponent to that opponent's discard pile by paying TOOL cards worth at least twice the value of the opponent's TOOL card into the player's discard pile. Payment of TOOL cards may also be required in order to implement certain ACTION cards. Finally, TOOL cards may be played by placing them face up onto the table in front of the player and attaching them to any STUDENT card or to any group of three or more SCHOOL cards that are attached to each other.
ACTION cards may be played by placing the ACTION card into the discard pile (unless directed otherwise) and following the instructions on the card, subject to any modifications imposed by a STAFF card played in response to the ACTION card. If the instructions on an ACTION card contradict any of the existing game rules, the instructions on the card take precedence, and existing game rules are suspended to the extent necessary to allow for implementation of the ACTION card. A player may play only one ACTION card per turn.
STAFF cards may be played into the player's discard pile to counter the effect of an ACTION card or another STAFF card. STAFF cards may be played during anyone's turn but may only be played immediately after a player plays an ACTION card or a STAFF card. Only one STAFF card may be played in response to each ACTION or STAFF card, so if multiple opponents wish to play a STAFF card, the privilege goes to the one whose turn is most imminent.
Each STUDENT card on the table in front of a player has a score equal to the high score printed on the STUDENT card (multiplied by 5 if it is a middle school card or by 1.5 if it is a high school card) plus the value of all TOOL cards attached to that STUDENT card, up to a maximum score of 300 points per STUDENT card. If a TEACHER card is attached to the STUDENT card or is attached to the same school team as the STUDENT card, the values of all TOOL cards attached to that STUDENT card are doubled, keeping in mind that the TOOL card values can be doubled only once regardless of how many TEACHER cards are attached and that the maximum score for a STUDENT card is still 300 points.
For any group of four STUDENT cards on the table in front of a player the group's all-star score is the average of the scores of those four STUDENT cards, plus a bonus of 50 points if all four STUDENT cards are the same color (blue, orange, red, green, or purple) and a TEACHER card of that same color is attached to one of the students.
A school score is calculated by taking the average of four scores from among the STUDENT cards attached to the same school team, plus a bonus of 50 points if all four STUDENT cards are the same color and a TEACHER card of that same color is attached to one of the students or to the school, plus the value of all TOOL cards attached to the group of SCHOOL cards in the school team, with the caveat that no more than 100 TOOL card points attached to the group of SCHOOL cards may be counted toward the school score.
Winning The Game
The game ends when either one player has assembled an all-star score or a school score greater than or equal to the win number, or when one player is unable to draw enough cards to replenish their hand at the end of their turn. If a player achieves the win number, they win the game. If the game ends due to a player running out of cards, the player with the highest all-star score or school score at that point wins the game.
Single deck variation: If you have only a single starter deck available, you can play a mini version of the game by splitting the deck between two players. One player will take all the blue cards and orange cards along with the 25-point TOOL card. The other player will take all the red cards and green cards along with one of the 20-point TOOL cards, and the other 20-point TOOL card will not be used. Rather than burning a card prior to the start of the game, the win number is fixed at 200 and players figure out between themselves who will go first. Please note that our playtesters have concluded that this version of the game is decidedly less interesting than a game where each player has a full 55-card deck, but this will give you a flavor of how the game works while you convince your friends to get their own starter decks!
Team play variation: In this four-player game, teammates sit across the table from each other and work together to build their math teams like in the normal game. Players continue to only play cards (other than STAFF cards) on their own turn, but cards they place on the table in front of them can attach to cards played by their teammate (players are strongly cautioned not to mingle their cards with those of their teammate as this may make it difficult to reallocate the cards after the game is over). Because of the larger number of playable cards available, the baseline score is 300 instead of 200; in other words, the low number showing at the beginning of the game gets added to 300 to determine the win number. For purposes of ACTION cards, teammates are not considered opponents.
Players are encouraged to try other variations on these rules and let us know at email@example.com what you find to work particularly well. Possible variations include limiting STUDENT cards to a single age group (Elem, MS, or HS), making the baseline win number 250 or 300 instead of 200, requiring all players to display the cards in their hands face up, requiring a winning score to consist of a school score and not an all-star score, using different multipliers for the student score, requiring TOOL cards to be the same color as the STUDENT card they are attached to, modifying the restrictions on which cards may be included in a deck, or playing for second or third place in a multiplayer game.