XACTIKA is an original card game, with three ways to play. Students can PLAY TO WIN: take the most tricks, high score wins. Or they can PLAY TO LOSE: take the fewest tricks, low score wins. Or PLAY TO BID, where the student must win exactly the number of tricks he/she bid (hence the name XACTIKA).

The three ways to play all teach critical thinking, math skills, and social and personal skills; however each way to play emphasizes different skills:

  • When students PLAY TO WIN, they must understand how to play each card so it has the highest probability of winning.
  • When they PLAY TO LOSE, students must understand the inverse of the rule and play each card so it has the highest probability of losing.
  • When students PLAY TO BID, XACTIKA challenges and builds their ability to estimate the outcome of a series of processes. Each student must evaluate the probability of being in a position to take other players’ cards that are laid down each round, based on the cards in his or her hand. The game is designed such that cards that appear to be likely to take a trick initially may become less likely to take a trick as cards are played and those cards that do not initially appear likely to take a trick, may now be viable to do so. Developing the ability to correctly bid their hands involves analytical reasoning and following the evolution of the play develops patterning skills. Students must recognize the value of their hand, not just from having the highest point cards in one of the four suits on each card, but also from an understanding of the chances that opponents may or may not have cards of similar value.

To play, students must examine their hand to find cards in specific suits that have values they think are greater than their opponents. Some cards are sure bets, but only if the player can take the lead. Others have a high probability of taking a trick, but this depends upon how the cards are played by others. So, careful attention must be paid to the moves of other players. This leads to an involvement that improves social skills. Each player must also prepare his/her hand for the end of each round, where he or she must be sure that he or she has a card that won’t take an unwanted trick. The outcome of a game is not determined until the end of the 8 rounds, so each player’s attention is kept riveted throughout each of the eight hands that comprise the game. Critical thinking must be applied to the process of taking, as well as avoiding, tricks. Every player will have a number of ways to play each hand, but finding the critical path to taking exactly the numbers of tricks bid is the object of the game. XACTIKA fosters social skills. It is a fast turn game, where the time a player has to make a decision is governed by the social interaction of the other players. Each hand provides a completely new opportunity to come from behind and take the lead. Even if a student is behind, he/she can win if the probabilities and skill come together.

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