How Do Board Games Use Math?

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By Valerie Becker

Board games are a fun way to spend time with friends and family, but did you know that they also use math? From counting spaces to calculating probabilities, mathematics plays a significant role in board games. In this article, we will explore how board games use math and why it’s important to understand the math behind them.

Counting and Probability

One of the most basic ways board games use math is through counting and probability. Many classic board games such as Monopoly, Clue, and Risk require players to roll dice or spin wheels to determine their moves. These random events involve probability, which means that players must understand the likelihood of certain outcomes.

For example, in Monopoly, players must roll two six-sided dice to move around the board. The odds of rolling a seven are 1 in 6 (16.67%), while the odds of rolling a two or twelve are only 1 in 36 (2.78%). Understanding these probabilities can help players make strategic decisions about where to buy properties or which spaces to avoid.

Fractions and Percentages

Board games also use fractions and percentages in various ways. For example, in Settlers of Catan, players must trade resources with each other using fractions. They may need to trade 3 wood for 1 brick or 2 wheat for 1 ore. Understanding how fractions work is essential for making fair trades and getting the resources needed to win the game.

Percentages are also used in many board games. For instance, Trivial Pursuit asks players questions from various categories such as history, science, or literature.

Players must answer correctly to move forward on the board. The percentage of questions that a player knows in each category can affect their chances of winning the game.


Geometry plays a role in some board games as well. For example, in chess, players must understand the geometric relationships between pieces and spaces on the board.

The knight moves in an L-shape, while the bishop moves diagonally. Understanding these geometric relationships is crucial for making strategic moves and protecting one’s own pieces.

Logic and Problem-Solving

Finally, board games often require logic and problem-solving skills. Games like Sudoku or Mastermind involve using deductive reasoning to eliminate possibilities until the correct answer is found. Other games like Scrabble or Bananagrams require players to use their vocabulary and spelling skills to create words from a set of letters.

In conclusion, board games use math in many ways, from counting spaces to calculating probabilities to using fractions and percentages. Understanding these mathematical concepts is essential for making strategic decisions and winning the game. So next time you play a board game with your friends or family, remember that you’re also exercising your math skills!