24/7

24/7 is an easy-to-learn game of strategy and chance for 2-4 players.

There are 4 sets of 40 tiles, numbered from 1 to 10. The tiles look a little like dominoes, a little like playing cards. There’s a folding board with a 7×7 grid. Each player fills her tile-holder with tiles drawn randomly from a bag. After one tile is placed anywhere on the board, players take turns adding adjacent tiles, diagonally, horizontally or vertically.

The object of the game is to place a tile so that it, along with tiles already played, creates diagonals, horizontals or verticals of:

  • a sum (of 7 or 24)
  • a run (a sequence of 3 or more numbers in, uh, sequential order)
  • or a set (of 3 or 4 of the same number)

At first, the scoring for each is a little difficult to remember (sum of 7=20, run of 3=30, run of 4=40, sum of 24=40, run of 5=50, set of 3=50, run of 6=60, set of 4=60, bonus=60). A quick referral to a page from the thoughtfully-provided score pad resolves that issue quite nicely. You get the 60-point bonus if, on the same move, you get the sum of 7 on one line and the sum of 24 on another. You also get a bonus if you are able to use 7 tiles in creating the sum of 24. Forgive me. I said “points.” The recommended term is “minutes.” Even though minutes are actually points, it does give you the feeling that you’re, so to speak, “playing for time” – which, clearly, is the theme of the game.

There are a few other rules of note. Every, so to speak, “time” you create a 24 you place one of those red, jewel-like stones on the empty spaces on either end of the 24 line. This helps fill the board a little more quickly, remind players not to create a sum greater than 24 (which one must never, never do), and explains why that bag of gem-like splendor is included in the game. In addition to all these scoring considerations, there are “double time” spaces on the board (indicated by hour glasses), which, when occupied, double the value of the score for that play, and add further complexity to your strategic contemplations.

There is always an element of chance (you have no control over what tiles you are given to play with), and an equal invitation to engage in much stratego-arithmetico thinking. The balance between the two is finely tuned, and combines just enough tension to keep the game engaging, with just enough sheer luck to keep you from taking it too seriously. Hence, it is close to the perfect family game.

There are several variations to explore – just enough to encourage you to create your own. Some educators and parents will find themselves embracing the game because of the arithmetic calculations involved, but we found the strategic considerations far more interesting and challenging.

Designed by Carey Grayson, the game is actually quite easy to learn. The whole game can be played in half-an-hour or less, so it will fit nicely with the attention spans of most casual game players. For a family whose kids enjoy games like Scrabble and rummy, 24/7 will quickly become a favorite. The tiles lovely to the touch, the wooden racks flawlessly functional. Because you can place a starting tile anywhere on the board, every game is different enough to engage your curiosity and challenge your reasoning. Fun whenever you have time (as it were) to play together, and I predict you will want to find the time (so to speak) to play this game!

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