Prime Climb Review

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Colorful, well-designed, competitive and highly dynamic, Prime Climb isn’t just another race-to-the-finish board game, but can be an interesting and effective educational resource that can help kids (and adults) hone their math and strategic skills in a more dynamic and enjoyable way.

What We Like

Fun to play
Excellent way to practice and visualize key math skills
Visually stunning, well-designed board game
Encourages deeper, strategic thinking
High replay value

But watch out for

Not the cheapest board game out there
Requires some pre-existing math skill to play

What Is Prime Climb?

Created by Dan Finkel and Katherine Cook and published by Math For Love, Prime Climb is a strategy board game designed to help kids hone their math skills. 

With each roll of the die, Prime Climb has kids use their knowledge of prime factors, common multiples and numeric operations to advance their pieces until they reach the end of the board.

What Ages Or Grades Is Prime Climb Intended For?

Prime Climb is aimed at kids 10 and up.

This is largely due to the fact that it relies on students being comfortable with certain mathematical concepts that have been introduced and worked on by around grade four, such as:

  • Arithmetic patterns
  • Operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division)
  • Problem solving and word problems
  • Common factors 
  • Prime and composite numbers
  • And more

With that said, we feel that the game can be used by kids of just about any age (such as homeschooling students following a more advanced math curricula) so long as they are comfortable with the underlying math skills required and, of course, are able to sit still and learn, remember and adhere to the usual series of sequential and conditional rules that board games tend to involve (if a piece lands on X then do Y). 

Interestingly, we also don’t believe there is any real upper age limit to the game, either.

In our opinion, the algebraic puzzles baked into the game’s core mechanics, combined with its competitive gameplay and card-based strategic element, can make it a solid and rigorous mental workout for players of any age.

What’s Included

Prime Climb includes a few components in each box, including a board, a set of player pieces or pawns, a card deck, dice and a multiplication table. 


Like many other traditional board games, Prime Climb is played on a large cardboard base. 

This base is black matte and has a multi-colored inward-learding spiral of numbered circles printed on its face, representing prime and composite numbers from 0 to 101. 

picture of prime climb board showing dice, board and pieces

The board’s circles (which represent the spaces where user pieces will land) are color coded, with the prime numbers up to 10 being given their own color:

  • 2 = orange
  • 3 = green
  • 5 = blue 
  • 7= purple

Every circle on the board after 10 is then either red  (if its a prime number) or divided into several colors that relate to its prime factors.

For example, on the board 61 is a prime number, so its space is red.

picture of prime number in prime climb being colored red

While 40, being a composite of 5x2x2x2, is a circle made up of blue (5) and three orange sections (2). 

picture of prime climb composite number showing color coding

The board itself is made of the usual thick cardboard found in these kinds of games and felt fairly sturdy when we handled it. 

Consequently, we feel it should stand up pretty well to the usual rough handling that kids will put it through, being able to withstand the occasional light pulls, twists or turns that come from typical sibling play or arguments.

Player Pieces

Designed to be used by up to four players, Prime Climb comes with a set of 8 different colored player pieces (two for each player) in red, orange, green and blue. 

The pieces themselves are made out of sturdy plastic and kind of look a little like chess pawns.

picture of player pieces in prime climb

Previous editions made use of pieces with solid bases, but the game currently uses pieces with cut-out or hollow bottoms.

While this design does make the pieces a little more delicate to handle compared to a solid slab of ABS plastic, it also makes it easier for other players to see the space and number beneath a piece when in play, which is nice, particularly if kids are sitting at different angles from one another.

picture showing player piece in prime climb and number underneath

The design also makes the pieces a bit less of a choking hazard, although given the intended age range of the game this is probably less of a concern unless a younger sibling is around or unless the game’s competitive element gets a bit too out of hand.


Rather than the usual 6-sided die used in most games, due to the need to handle factors all the way to 101, Prime Climb uses a pair of 10-sided polyhedral dice similar to those found in role playing or fantasy games. 

To be more specific, the dice are smooth plastic pentagonal trapezohedrons, or kind of an elongated 10-sided diamond. 

picture of prime climb dice for demonstration

They are, much like the board itself, color coded and correspond to the first ten spaces on the board, which can make getting started a little easier. 

The use of 10-sided dice can take some getting used to for those more familiar with traditional board games and their cube-style dice, but in general they are pretty easy to throw and most should get the hang of them pretty quickly. 

Prime Cards

Much like other board games, Prime Climb also includes a deck of cards called Prime Cards that periodically come into play during the game and can modify play. 

There are 24 of these cards in all and they are printed on standard playing-card like card stock, with one side colored black with the game’s title printed across it and the other side with a set of instructions or commands that players need to follow.

picture of prime climb prime card showing instructions

There are two kinds of cards in the game, Action and Keeper, whose use and purpose we will discuss a little later on.

In terms of look and feel they are similar when placed face down, which adds a bit of suspense to each card draw.

Multiplication Table

Finally, Prime Climb also includes a sheet of paper with a multiplication table of sorts printed on it. 

The multiplication table is black with color coded numbered circles that match the game board, a design choice that can make it easier and more intuitive to use for students. 

The inclusion of a multiplication table is a very helpful addition for this game as it can be used to help students who are still a little less than secure in their multiplication work things out and generally have less of a frustrating time when playing. 

Educational Benefits of Prime Climb

Game-based Math Practice

As students play Prime Climb they are challenged to work on their operations and prime factorization skills. 

With each roll of the dice, students need to either multiply, divide, add or subtract numbers to get to where they want to go and, ultimately, win the game. 

In fact, the game touches on a variety of Common Core math standards, such as: 

  • Operations Use
  • Algebraic Thinking
  • Problem Solving 
  • Multi-step Word Problems
  • Factor pairs
  • Number Theory
  • Prime and Composite numbers

Repeated practice of these skills throughout gameplay can help students develop fluency, i.e. the ability to assemble and disassemble prime and composite numbers quickly and accurately, which can translate easily to their academic work. 

More than that, because all of this takes place in the context of a fun and competitive game, students get this practice in a way that’s more fun, engaging, dynamic and goal-directed than simply doing pages of computational drill or the usual math activities. 

Consequently, math practice can become less of a chore for everyone involved.

As a game-based math practice resource, it should be noted that Prime Climb doesn’t have all the bells and whistles that some digital alternatives have, such as a library of animated video games or an adaptive learning algorithm and progress tracking.

Its analog approach, however, doesn’t require an internet connection or electronic device, which can be a big plus for families looking to reduce screen time, and it retains its appeal as a casual strategy game even when students have already developed skill fluency in its underlying topics. 

Encourages Strategic Thinking

Beyond math practice, Prime Climb also encourages strategic arithmetic thinking and actually does so in a couple of ways.

The first way in which it does so is through the core mechanics of the game itself. 

With each roll of the dice, kids are given two numbers that they can use to move their pieces. 

They are, however, given the freedom to determine for themselves the optimal next move and how to get there, i.e. they must figure out what kind of operation will best serve their needs and get them to where they want to go.

They can, for example, go for maximum distance (without overshooting 101), keep their pieces close together or sacrifice distance to try and knock an opponent back.

In addition to these decisions, Prime Climb also has its Prime Cards, which can suddenly change up a game by modifying, restricting or amplifying player positions and performance. 

They can, for example, knock all other players in a given area back a few spaces, offer a free roll, restrict an opponent’s options, provide additional movements and so on.

They can also negatively affect the player who picks them up, such as by knocking them back a space or switching their digits into a less favorable combination, which is an interesting twist. 

As they play, players can choose to deliberately aim for a prime number, where they can gamble on a favorable outcome, or choose to avoid them altogether.

Similarly, some cards are Keeper cards, which allow users to hold on to a certain action that they can deploy when it most benefits them.

As a result, Prime Club’s card element can help teach players to plan ahead and come up with different tactics and strategies to deploy in game.

How It Works

Prime Climb’s game play is kind of interesting.

Intended for two to four players, once the board and cards are laid out, each player gets two pieces of a particular color and positions themselves at the start, i.e. at 0.

The overall goal of each player is to get both of their pieces to the space marked 101 without overshooting it. 

Each turn has a player roll the dice, which results in them getting two numbers – a 6 and a 2, for example. 

The results can’t be put together, so players can’t add, subtract, multiply or divide 6 and 2 in our example.

Instead the results of the dice interact with the numbers written on whatever space the pawn is currently on, so long as the result is a whole number. 

If a player’s piece is on the 4 space, for example, they can perform the following operations:

  • 6×4 = space 24
  • 6+4 = space 10
  • 6-4 =  space 2

Or they can use the 2 dice and move a piece to the following positions:

  • 4×2 = 8
  • 4+2 = 6
  • 4-2 = 2
  • 4/2 = 2

Should a piece land on a space where another player’s pawn is they can bump their opponent back to the start, a tactic that can be used as a weapon of sorts (although, interestingly, it can be double edged as a player can accidentally send their own piece back to the start, as well). 

As we’ve mentioned, if a player lands on a red space (representing a prime number), they can draw a Prime Card.

Action Cards can be used for immediate action while Keeper Cards can be kept for later and deployed strategically when needed.

The first player who gets both their pieces to the 101 space, wins.

Our Thoughts

With its mix of race-to-the-finish gameplay, competitive bumping and sometimes unpredictable cards, Prime Climb can be a lot of fun to play, particularly for kids who enjoy board games. 

The game feels somewhat similar to games such as Trouble, Sorry or Headache, but has an interesting and very useful educational twist to it that we really appreciate. 

The engrossing and competitive nature can get kids practicing their basic operations and prime factoring skills without it being too obvious, busy as they will be figuring out their next ideal move and how to best beat their opponent (something that can make things a bit more personally engrossing compared to more cooperative board games).

In this way we feel that, like some other games we’ve seen such as Tapple, it can be a good way to provide focused drill without frustrating them with mind-numbing exercises or rote work. 

More than that, we appreciate how the game introduces an element of goal-directed strategic math thinking, where students go beyond simply generating a simple answer and instead have to select operations that will yield a result to suit their needs and purpose.

Consequently, we feel the game can really serve to augment conceptual math learning programs, which tend to encourage the learning and deployment of alternative math algorithms and strategies in problem solving.

On the downside, Prime Climb does require some pre-existing fluency in prime factoring and mathematical operations in order for it not to become frustrating to players.

Similarly, if played between two players of vastly different skills and abilities in math, the more advanced player might have to slow down in order not to consistently blow out their opponent.

Pros and Cons


Fun to play

Whether players are racing as fast as they can to 101, bumping each other to the start or sneakily deploying cards, Prime Climb is simply a fun board game to play and its mechanics and gameplay should keep kids and adults interested for quite some time. 

Good way to practice and visualize math

Prime Climb’s mechanics and color coded materials are based on math operations and prime factors and playing the game can help students practice key skills and help them more easily visualize the effects of the math they come up with. 

Visually stunning and well designed

With its matte black background, multicolored layout and matching, color-coordinated components, Prime Climb is easy to use and really pleasing to look at. 

Gets kids thinking strategically 

Between deciding which move best serves their needs and figuring out how and when to deploy Prime Cards, there is a considerable amount of planning and decision making to be done with Prime Climb, which can help players hone their tactical and strategic acumen. 

High replay value

Prime Climb’s gameplay is also quite interesting, dynamic and well-thought out, with different plenty of strategic choices and options that not only hook players quickly but will have them coming back for more. 


Not the cheapest board game out there

Although very fun to play and quite educational, at nearly $30 for a complete set Prime Climb isn’t the cheapest board game we’ve ever seen.

Does require some skill at math to play effectively

Prime Climb does require some skill fluency when it comes to operations and prime factors in order to play effectively and smoothly. 

It may be a bit tough to start for kids who struggle with essential math skills and algebraic thinking.

Who Is Prime Climb Ideal For?

Students who hate traditional math drill exercises

Prime Climb’s game-based and interactive approach to mathematical operations and prime factors can be a welcome way of honing key math skills, particularly for students who just can’t stomach doing another page of math problems.

Parents looking for a way to help their kids learn to think more strategically

There is a lot of deep thinking involved when it comes to Prime Climb, from figuring out which of a series of potential moves will provide a best outcome to deciding when and where to deploy potentially game-altering Prime Cards.

As a result, it can be a good way to introduce logical and strategic thinking to kids.

Those looking to augment a conceptual math curriculum with some fun activities

Prime Climb seems like a natural fit for homeschoolers and others following a more conceptual approach to math study, such as those following the Singapore Math method or similar programs.

Two core elements of the game are understanding and applying the concept of prime numbers and understanding and dealing with multiple potential solutions to a given problem, two exercises that often pop up in conceptual math curricula. 

Fans of race-style board games

Educational benefits aside, at the end of the day Prime Climb is a fun race-style board game that will have players race, scheme and bump their way to a finish line and it should provide hours of entertainment for fans of the genre. 

Who Is It Not Ideal For?

Those who don’t like board games

As fun and as potentially useful an educational resource as it might be, at the end of the day Prime Climb is still a board game and may not appeal to those who don’t enjoy them.

Parents looking to work on math skills that aren’t related to its gameplay

Prime Climb touches a series of math skills (adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, algebraic thinking, prime and composite numbers, multi step problems, etc)  and does so quite well.

It does not, however, directly cover certain other topics (such as geometry, graphing, statistics and more) that some parents may wish to work on and may not be as useful for them.


Note: Prices correct as of writing, all prices in USD. 

Those interested in picking up Prime Climb can do so in two ways. 

It can be purchased as a ready board game for about $29.95, which includes all the relevant pieces and materials players need to get started. 

Alternatively, the board, cards and multiplication table can be downloaded as PDFs for $15, but players will have to supply their own pawns, dice.  

As always, parents should check out the latest prices for Prime Climb, as well as any discounts or offers that might be available.


Is It Worth It?

Ultimately, we feel that Prime Climb can be a fun and educational game for most families.

The game itself is fun and fast paced, with various competitive and strategic elements that ensure that kids will want to play it again and again.

More than that, it offers a good deal of value as a math practice resource, providing focused skill development in a variety of math topics, such as arithmetic operations, prime factoring, algebraic thinking and more, but without the need for page after page of boring drill questions. 

With its open gameplay and card-based elements, it is also an excellent way to help kids learn to, plan ahead, carefully weigh their options and generally learn to think logically and strategically about their actions.

Bottom Line

Colorful, well-designed, competitive and highly dynamic, Prime Climb isn’t just another race-to-the-finish board game, but can be an interesting and effective educational resource that can help kids (and adults) hone their math and strategic skills in a more dynamic and enjoyable way.

Picture of our tech author David

About the Author

David Belenky is a freelance writer, former science and math tutor and a tech enthusiast. When he’s not writing about educational tech, he likes to chill out with his family and dog at home.