It's a race to the treasure as the Orge is getting closer and players are working together to beat him there. At it's heart, Race to the Treasure! is puzzle game that presents some challenging decisions for younger players while helping develop mathematics, directional and programing skills. While normally we get straight into play, a discussion of setup is important because it provides an opportunity for introducing and exploring Cartesian Coordinates with young learners. Before the game starts, players must place the keys needed for opening the treasure along with an Ogre Snack which can delay the Ogre's progress onto the board. The board itself is a series of rows and columns with letters across the top and and numbers along the side. For items, the group rolls a pair of dice that gives a set of coordinates (B,4) to place the items. Once the items are in place, the game begins.
The players are trying to make their way from the start space at the top of the board down to the treasure at the bottom by creating paths between the two. Along the way they will need to pick up keys needed to unlock the treasure. On a player's turn they draw a tile from a facedown stack. If the tile is a path they can place it to extend one of the paths on the board. If it is an Ogre tile, they add it to the Ogre tiles making their way towards the treasure at the bottom of the board. If the Ogre tiles reach the treasure before the players are able to collect three keys and connect the path to the treasure, then the players lose.
Race to the Treasure! is a great example of what is possible in children's games, presenting young learners with challenging choices using a very simple rules set. Play is limited to drawing and placing a tile, but that placement holds so much value. The paths can be straight, corners or split paths. So players need to decide what orientation to place the paths, being careful not to paint themselves into a corner or take a less efficient route to the keys they need to win. They also need to decide if they need to spend time going after the snack to help slow the Orgre's progress. All of these choices create a very fun, tense and challenging experience that helps introduce and begin to develop key STEM skills in mathematics, problem solving and technology in young learners.