Maths Games: Happy Times

Happy Times is a fun Happy families / Rummy style card game where you collect sets of cards in the same times table to win. Playing helps you learn about the fun of numbers with a focus on times tables, multiplication, division and prime numbers. Start to gain an understanding of the patterns in numbers.

Rules for 2 Players

You need:

  • one double pack of 32 ‘Happy Times’ cards (ie two sets of 16 cards)

To win

The first player to declare 3 sets of 3 cards from the same times table wins.

To play

multiplescards1Deal out 6 cards to each player. Place the remaining cards face down in a pile in the centre. Place the top card face up in a discard pile. Youngest player goes first.

Players take it in turns to EITHER take the top card from the discard pile OR take the top card from the face down deck. They then can declare a single set of three cards from their hand if they hold a set and would like to.

multiplescards2A set is any three different cards that are in the same times table (eg all in the 3x table). (See the extension section for some variations on what makes a set). Once declared the sets cannot be used again.

If the player does not declare a set in a turn they must then discard one card from their hand, face up, to the discard pile. If they have declared a set of cards then they do not discard a card. Play passes to the next person.

When the face down deck runs out of cards, shuffle the discard pile, placing it face down. Turn the top card to start the discard pile and continue.

If the player who played first declares all their cards, then the second player has one more turn. It they declare all their cards in that turn then it is a draw. Otherwise the first player to declare their cards wins.

Patterns to spot

Some cards (like 12) are more useful than others as they are in more than one set. Think carefully about whether to declare them or keep them in case they are useful for making another set. As there are more numbers from the 2x table in the pack than from other times tables, think carefully about which even numbers to use in a set.

Notice that the times tables a card is part of is indicated by the small pictures at the top. You may notice that some numbers are in no times tables than their own, so their card has no small symbols. These are called prime numbers! Others are in several times tables (they have lots of divisors) and are more useful for making sets.

1 is not a prime but is in no times table (apart from the 1x table) so is no use for making sets at all. It is a ghost that appears on no other cards.


  • Allow prime number sets to be collected.
  • Allow odd number sets to be collected.
  • For 3 or more players, include the same number of sets of 16 cards as players.


Copy on to card then cut out two sets of Happy Times Cards (each set numbered 1-16)

Happy Times was created by Paul and Daniel Curzon.

Other maths games to try

Maths Games: Ten – an addition card game