My family was recently given the opportunity to review Exact Change, a card game that
uses cards of various colors and values to teach your kids how to count money. The
cards come in four colors and all the basic denominations up to one dollar. In addition,
there are “Loose Change” cards, Wild cards and others I’ll detail a little later in this
Game play is fairly simple. Each player gets seven cards, with the remaining cards
placed face down in a draw pile and one card placed next to it face up to start the discard pile. The player then draws a card and has several possible options. They can: 1) discard a card of the same value
2) discard a card of the same color
3) discard multiple cards that add up to the value of the card played
If the player has nothing they can play on the top card in the Discard pile, they must continue to draw cards until they get a play. The first player who gets rid of all the cards in their hand wins that round.
For example, my son discards a blue $1.00 card. I look in my hand and see a blue card and a yellow $1.00 card. But I also see 3 quarters, 2 dimes and a nickel. Guess who just got rid of six cards on one play!
That quickly taught the kids a basic strategy of the game, which is to discard your lowest-value card for the next player to deal with. This discovery, coupled with the fact that three of our 4 boys were beginners to the concept of counting change, made the first round a little long . . . be prepared for this.
The instructions also recommend starting with the basic denominations before adding the extra cards. These include:
• Wild Card: can be used for any color or value, but the player must state the color and value they are claiming for it
• Loose Change: these are cards of various amounts which require the player to add up multiple cards to play ($1.06, for example)
• Bank Withdrawal: you can choose another player to randomly draw a card from your hand and add it to theirs
• Collect Tax: everyone EXCEPT the player who play this card must draw a card from the draw pile and add it to their hand
Scoring is somewhat random. The player who has discarded all of their cards gets to choose one other player who still has cards and add up all the currency value of their hand. This is the amount they get to add to their total. The first player to get to $2.00 wins!
As mentioned earlier, play can take a while if you’re working with beginners. On the plus side, our boys caught on quickly, and we were able to start incorporating the other cards. We started with the Wild cards, then the Loose Change cards. Then, finally, we added the Bank Withdrawal and Collect Tax cards. We found this was the best process for introducing this game to our kids.
We found that once we mastered the learning curve in Exact Change, our boys couldn’t get enough of it! My husband calls it a “stealth” game, where they’re having fun while learning something under the radar. Exact Change has become a welcome addition to our game night rotation, and in my opinion, is a bargain, retailing on http://www.continuumgames.com for only $9.99. Further, I discovered a number of other games on the website that interest me for our family, along with finding a store locator which showed me three different stores in my city that carry games from this company. Since I am trying to focus more on educational play for my family, this company was definitely a good find for me!