Math Agent

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Math Agent App Poster Image
Cool multiplayer math game lacks clarity, has glitches.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can practice calculating area and arithmetic and understanding different types of numbers (odd, even, prime, composite). Impact is lessened by subpar descriptions on the cards and little support when kids make mistakes.

Ease of Play

App should walk a new player through a tutorial, but it doesn't. You have to select it from the menu, and it doesn't cover everything you need to know about the cards. The iPad version is wonky and sometimes key buttons don't work.


Multiplayer play requires a "token" that costs real money (10 are included free). There's no parent gate for the purchase. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Math Agent is a virtual math card game that is designed to help kids practice their math skills. Some of the cards are fairly advanced -- fifth- to seventh-grade level -- including exponents, and the area of circles, triangles, and quadrilaterals, and there's no way to choose a grade level. Most of the cards have explanations on them, although they're not always clear, but kids should get the hang of it after a couple of rounds. The tutorial doesn't cover everything, either, so even kids who understand the math may find themselves confused at first. While the Android app worked fine, the iOS app was prone to glitching, including a frustrating issue where it would no longer allow you to play the cards for your hand. You could skip the hand (indefinitely) or forfeit the game. It also had display problems when pitting an iOS (iPad) player against an Android (phone) player. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared. 

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What's it about?

MATH AGENT pits kids against a friend or family member or an AI character. In single-player mode, kids play against the computer, but in multiplayer, they can play against another device on the same network. Multiplayer games require a token from each player. A game of rock, paper, scissors chooses the starting player. This player chooses an attack card and number cards. For example, the multiplication/division card allows you to choose two numbers from your hand and multiply them for an attack. The exponent card allows players to choose one of their cards and pair it with a 2 card to play that number times itself. There are also "Unstoppable Attack" cards that are not easily defended. The end result of the math equation is the attack score. The second player then chooses a defense that cancels out the attack score if possible. This could mean subtracting a number, multiplying by zero, or figuring out the perimeter of a shape using the value of one card. If the defense value is higher, nothing happens, but if it's lower, the defender loses the difference in points. The goal is to deplete your opponent's score before they deplete yours. There are various special cards, such as the x>y card, which means that the attacker is betting that the numbers in his or her hand add up to more than those in the defendant's hand.

Is it any good?

This is a clever way for kids to practice math skills together while having a lot of fun along the way, but the lack of clarity and the glitches are sometimes frustrating. Math Agent plays on the popularity of trading card games (such as Pokémon) while sneaking in lots of math. It's really quite brilliant and it's bound to draw in kids who love a bit of a challenge and a lot of competition. Unfortunately, the implementation isn't quite there in app form. The biggest issue is lack of clarity: The tutorial isn't as helpful as it should be, the card descriptions are lacking, and there's no in-depth glossary of available cards that explains what they do and how to use them. How would you know, for example, that you can't play a division card for defense unless the number can be evenly divided by the number you're playing? If you incorrectly play a card, your defense fails and you lose points. And you can expand each of your cards to see how they work (kind of), but not the opponent's cards, so sometimes you won't know how to defend because you don't know how your opponent's card works. Some of these challenges go away over time as you learn from previous mistakes, but it could turn kids off before they have a chance to get into it. Once a game ends, there's no way to return to the main menu. Your only option is to tap on the screen to play the next game or exit the app entirely to get back to the menu (i.e., if you want to switch from single player to multiplayer). These design choices hold true across platforms. The iOS version (on iPad), however, seems to hold a number of actual bugs that render the game frustrating and often unplayable. Certain conditions seem to break the attack button, so you can no longer play any cards on your turn. The only way out is to forfeit or keep skipping your turn until you lose. When playing a multiplayer game with an Android phone, the opposing player's cards suddenly appeared on the screen, and the display zoomed in slightly so the cards on the far ends of the screen were inaccessible. It's too bad, because Math Agent certainly has a lot going for it and it's likely to draw some kids in who might not otherwise be interested in math games. At this point, using it on Android is the best bet, with the caveat that you may need patience, but iOS (specifically iPad) is a no-go until an update happens.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about math in general and using apps like Math Agent to practice. What do each of the cards in the game mean? How might you use those skills in real life?

  • Families can talk about learning with apps. Do you think this is a good app for learning? Why, or why not? What can you learn? 

App details

For kids who love math games and apps

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