Stats at a glance
Ages: 7 +
Publisher: Codes Card Game LLC
Ghosts, Pirates, and Treasure, Oh my!
There are spooky ghosts, thieving pirates, and questionable crabs on the Lost Island, and it’s up to a math-solving team to dodge the inhabitants and find the hidden gems.
Riches await, and hopefully, you’ve sharpened your math skills to unlock the coded chests.
Without further ado, let’s dive into Codes: The Lost Island and see what treasures are locked away.Codes: The Lost Island
Brief Overview of Codes the Lost Island
Codes: The Lost Island is an educational math card game at heart. It rewards players, ages 7 and up, for memorizing their multiplication table from 1-10.
Looking back, I wish I had been able to play this card game growing up instead of the constant drilling and repetition that I had to do in school.
In Codes, players are trying to open the locked chests that are spread throughout the 10 card piles. The first player to collect 8 of the magic stones is declared the winner. Pretty simple, right? It is, but only if you have your multiplication tables memorized.
To unlock each chest, you’ll need to match up 2 numbers that equal the product (multiplied together) of a card in your hand and the card in the draw pile.
Unboxing Codes: The Lost Island
Inside the box, you’ll find,
- 50 Treasure Cards
- 33 Digit Cards
- 2 Code Maps
- 1 Rulebook
The production value of Codes is pretty impressive for a small publisher. The cards are of decent stock and the box, maps, and rulebooks are all thick and well made.
The Code Maps are pretty nice and since there are two of them, one can double as a nice wall decoration in a classroom or kid’s room.
How to Play Codes: The Lost Island
Shuffle the 2 decks of cards (Treasure and Digit). Create 10 separate piles for the treasure cards, and deal 3 digit cards to each player.
Optional: Place the Code Maps in view of all players. The Code Map is basically just a multiplication table laid out like a pirate treasure map. Depending upon the level of the players, having the Code Map in plain sight can help players memorize the lower levels of the multiplication table, which is the point of the game.
Choose whoever you want as the first dealer and you’re all set to start.
- Flip Digit Card
- All players can unlock a treasure chest, if able
- Resolve treasure chest and redraw to 3 cards
- If unable to open a treasure chest, the dealer flips a new card.
During a round, the dealer flips over a digit card, creating a draw pile. Players must then multiply one of the 3 digit cards in their possession with the one in the draw pile to match a treasure chest.
If there is a treasure card with the number “20” on top of one of the treasure piles, it can be opened by 2 cards that equal 20 when multiplied together (4 x 5 or 2 x 10). One of the numbers has to come from the draw pile, so even if you have a 2 and a 10 in your hand, you won’t be able to play it unless you can use the draw pile card.
The quickest player to match the product (the result of 2 numbers multiplied together) with a treasure card in the pile wins that card and flips it over.
After they’ve resolved the treasure card, the player can redraw a digit card and they become the new dealer.
If a player shouts out that they have a combination but it turns out the multiplication product is wrong, then they lose a card, and can’t redraw up to 3 until they get one right.
There are 7 different possibilities hiding underneath the treasure cards, but you’re looking to collect 8 Magic Stones to win the game.
Magic Stone: These are basically point cards in the game. You’ll need to collect 8 of them in total to win.
Ghost: When you flip the ghost card, you won’t be able to draw another digit card until you solve another code. This leaves you at a disadvantage and a card short until you open another box.
Pirate: Pirates are the worst! They force you to give away a Magic Stone to another player of your choice. It’s a real bummer, but there is a counter to the pirate.
Rum: How do you get rid of a pirate? Give it a bottle of rum. If you draw the rum card you can keep it in front of you as a defense. The next time you draw a pirate you can keep your Magic Stones, but you have to discard the rum.
Angry Shell & Pearls: This heated clam-looking creature, when combined with a pearl card equals one Magic Stone. When either an Angry Shell or a Pearl card is drawn you have to give it to a player who has the opposite.
If you draw an Angry Shell, you have to give it to someone with a pearl. If you draw a Pearl, you have to give it to someone with an Angry Shell. If nobody has one you get to keep it, and if you have its partner you get to keep it.
Useless Cards: These work exactly how they sound. They are completely useless and don’t do anything other than wasting your turn. On the plus side if you’re lucky you’ll find a cute crab with a mustache. It doesn’t do anything, but it’s my favorite card.
Key Card: Hidden within the digit deck is one key. This lets the dealer open any treasure chest for free without doing any math or losing a card.
Pros & Cons of Codes the Lost Island
- Educational Value
- Easy to Learn & Play
Codes: The Lost Island is extremely easy to learn but the rulebook seems a bit off. You can understand the rules and dive right into the game by reading only half the rule sheet. Unfortunately, the clarification of cards and the thematic intro feel as if they’ve been written by a non-native English speaker, who didn’t thoroughly proofread the text.
Thematically, it could be literally anything, which is also true of a lot of board games. You could put any theme you want over the top of it and the game would still work fine.
With that out of the way, let’s look at the pros. I really like the artwork. I think it’s cute and my personal favorite is the questionable crab asking about “Peace?”.
Perhaps the biggest plus of Codes is its educational value. You often hear about games being fun ways to learn, but Codes actually embodies this. It takes a lesson that is typically taught through rote memorization or repetition and turns it into a competitive and fun game. That’s no easy feat and it does it well.
Codes: The Lost Island Review (TL;DR)
Codes: The Lost Island does a great job of making memorization of multiplication tables fun. The competitive and speed aspects make it more than just a drill exercise.
The theme and rulebook could use a little bit of work but it only detracts from the overall experience if you’re a stickler for rulebooks (like me).
Overall, it’s a well-thought-out math game that’s really easy to play and legitimately has academic value. I do remember dreading these lessons in 3rd grade standing in front of the class and reciting the multiplication tables or drilling with flashcards with my dad for hours.
Playing Codes is a much more effective way to gamify a tough subject for young kids, and to get academic value out of play time.
I’m not actually sure if memorization of the multiplication tables is still part of the standard curriculum but it’s definitely extremely useful and one of the lessons from grade school you don’t forget.
Codes isn’t going to win awards for the most thematic or story-driven game but it will be a great tool for those looking for a fun way to teach or brush up on some math skills.
I have personally recommended it to several of my math teacher colleagues and I think it’s a great way to gamify learning.
We hope you enjoyed our review of Codes: The Lost Island card game. Have you tried it with your kids or in the classroom? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think about using board games in academic curricula or outside school to supplement learning. We’d love to hear from you.
Looking for more Pirate Games? Check out our video below:
Before starting GameCows with his wife Kendra, he used to teach English Language Arts in the US. He combined his love of gaming with education to create fun game-based learning lessons until he eventually decided to run GameCows with Kendra full-time. He’s known for pouring over rulebooks in his spare time, being the rule master during game night, and as the perma DM in his DnD group. Bryan loves board games, writing, traveling, and above all his wife and partner in crime, Kendra.