Betsy, I agree that the directions are confusing. Here are some class rules we use. *If on your turn you can name the missing array and demonstrate that it is the only possibility and it is already used, you can capture the cards. *Students are encouraged to put some of the bigger arrays in the center to start.
It can be done either cooperatively or competitively. I let students decide which way they want to play.
Be sure your students understand that each small array must go all the way across the big array (not just across the unplayed space). That is, every small array must have a dimension that matches the big array it is played on. Although this is stated in the directions, I find students new to the activity often try to build a patchwork of small arrays to fill the big array. Keeping the dimensions the same helps students think about how they can break apart a big array (including much bigger ones than on the array cards) into manageable pieces to solve. Once students are experienced players, I let them use more than three arrays as long as the dimensions still match. Nancy