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Author Topic: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations  (Read 8304 times)

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Offline Garwoofoo

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Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Topic Start: March 05, 2016, 07:43:51 AM »
I thought I'd try something different here.

We've all got our gaming groups - people we play with regularly.  In my case I've got my son Holden, who's nearly 7 and completely enthralled by board games, card games and gaming in general.  We're having a lot of fun trying out different games together, some of which have been very successful and others less so.  I'm going to use this thread to talk about some of the games we've played together, and how we've each found them.

A word about Holden.  He's a very smart kid whose energies are focused in particular directions - not unusual, I guess.  He's incredibly good with numbers, maths and mental arithmetic, and has been since a very early age.  His reading ability is also excellent.  He's not phased at all by games with complex rules (in fact I think he prefers them sometimes) and his ability to memorise things regularly astounds me.  Against that, he's not artistic in the slightest (we won't be playing Pictionary any time soon) and isn't much into stories - prefers non-fiction books, doesn't really watch TV and so on.  So that has an influence on the kinds of games we prefer.  I guess we'll see as we go on.

Anyway, I'm going to post intermittently so bear with me.  If anyone else would like to chip in with games they've particularly enjoyed playing with their kids, I'd love to hear it.

Offline Garwoofoo

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #1: March 05, 2016, 07:54:38 AM »
So let's start with the game that started it all off, and it's one you'll all be familiar with.  It's Monopoly.

Here he is on the day we introduced it to him.  He was only just 4 at the time and I've come to recognise that look of intense concentration and interest as I've seen it many times since.



He was immediately enthralled by the game.  It was probably the first board game he'd played apart from Snakes & Ladders, which he'd been similarly obsessed with a couple of years previously, and it was without a doubt the numbers and the money that grabbed his attention.  He loved working out how much things cost, how much change people would need, and accumulating little piles of money.  (Both his parents are bankers; I wonder where he gets it from).  He always wanted to be the banker.  In fact he always wanted to play Monopoly.  It became a constant companion.

But the problem with Monopoly is, well, it's a pretty shit game.  It goes on for ages, it's very repetitive, and it's largely decided by who lands on what in the first couple of turns.  You get about fifteen minutes at the start where the game shakes out, and then two hours of plodding around waiting for the inevitable.  With a large group of people and lots of trading backwards and forwards, it's just about bearable.  As a two-player game against a very serious four-year-old who never wants to trade anything, it's interminable.  He loved it, and would play it today if I got it out, but I was thoroughly fed up with it after a few dozen games.

Matters came to a head when a well-meaning relative bought him a copy of Oceanopoly, which is a fish-based variation on Monopoly (don't ask).  It's 99% identical but has a couple of additional rules designed to give kids a route back into the game when they're losing.  I think the intention is to avoid tears but in actual fact the effect of this is to make the game virtually never-ending, as each time you're about to win some ridiculously random event occurs and the other player suddenly has all their money back.  We had a game of Oceanopoly that went on for four days.  Something had to give.

So I guess we have Monopoly to thank for not only getting him into board games, but also for inspiring us to seek out better ones for the sake of our own sanity.

Kid's rating: HIT
Adult's rating: MISS

Offline Garwoofoo

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #2: March 05, 2016, 07:57:23 AM »
As an aside, Monopoly Junior is the worst game ever made.  It's designed for very young kids and literally consists of plodding round the board randomly shoving one pound notes at each other until someone accumulates twenty pounds and wins the game.  It's awful.  He got three copies of it when he was five as birthday presents and he would have found it boring when he was two.  If you have kids in your life, do not under any circumstances inflict Monopoly Junior on them.

Offline Brian Bloodaxe

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #3: March 05, 2016, 01:38:03 PM »
On the other hand, Monopoly Junior only lasts 15 minutes, so it's not all bad.

My family (two adults, two kids ages 4 and 11) are currently playing Sushi Go! pretty much every day and we are all loving it. It's all about trying to make an excellent meal from the Sushi passing by on the imaginary conveyor. You are scored on getting simple sets of sashimi or tempura prawns, or for getting wasabi to dip your nigiri in, or simply for having the most pudding at the end. It's bright and cheery, doesn't try to tell a story and really, it's all about numbers and probability.

Offline Garwoofoo

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #4: March 05, 2016, 02:44:44 PM »
Sounds great! How does it play with two?

Offline feltmonkey

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #5: March 05, 2016, 03:19:38 PM »
Let me tell you about a little game called WWE Superstar Showdown...

Offline Luscan

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #6: March 05, 2016, 03:31:50 PM »
Let me tell you about a little game called WWE Superstar Showdown...

This guy right here gets it.

Offline Garwoofoo

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #7: March 05, 2016, 04:01:29 PM »
My boy's going to need to be a lot older before I introduce him to the delights of Moody Nipples.

Offline Brian Bloodaxe

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #8: March 05, 2016, 05:56:28 PM »
Sounds great! How does it play with two?

Fine. It plays better with more but it does work with two and there is an option to play with a dummy third player.

Offline Smellavision

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #9: March 06, 2016, 06:18:30 AM »
I've been playing Minecraft with my niece.

She's eight, just going on to nine, and at Christmas she got an iPad, and I set up a MCPE server for the two of us to play on.

Emma is an only child, whose mother suffers seriously from Depression - the upshot of which is that there's no real bond between them. My brother does his best, but the girl is physically and emotionally isolated.

Also, she's 300 miles away in Ireland.

In the short time we've been playing I've seen some changes in her. More willing to share, more willing to compromise and a growth in her imagination and creativity I thought I'd never see.

I've had to set some rules around when I can play at the same time as her, but she's happy enough to carry on playing by herself.

Outside of the server, from what I can gather, our play has helped her with her peers - they seem impressed that this 'cool' uncle in England is running a server for her!

We've been playing purely in creative mode, and I'm not sure if we will switch to survival at all, but I'd like to soon invite some more responsible adults and some of her friends to join in on something a little more community driven.

Offline Brian Bloodaxe

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Gar, you should also buy this: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Monopoly-Express-Great-Family-Travel-Game-100-COMPLETE-/331773638537?hash=item4d3f3ff789:g:FPsAAOSwUuFWuQ4m

It's a dice game where all the locations on a monopoly board are on the faces of the dice. You roll them all, trying to make sets while avoiding rolling three policemen. You then total up your score and pass the dice on. First to 15,000 wins.

It takes ten minutes, is fairly low effort, features maths, probability and a tiny monopoly board and is actually quite fun.

Offline cavalcade

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"He's amazing. A gifted child prodigy who has made 14 key discoveries in the areas of aeronautics, quantum physics and systems biology. Reading age of a 35 year old. Already has seven university degrees. Often scuba dives by himself."

Yeah. Mate. Children are all bright little things at 7. Get back to us when the hormones start flowing.

My kids all like different stuff, and add in my girlfriend's two kids too we end up with something of a dilemma finding something they all like.

Videogamewise it's Plants vs Zombies. Always Plants vs. Zombies.

Boardgamewise, the only games that have ever crossed all 5 kids (that I can remember) are Dice City, Formula D, Above and Below (which is amazing), Machi Koro, Biblios, Adventure Time Love Letter and the various flavours of Coup. After that it's a Venn diagram of likes and dislikes.

Eldest (tweenagers) - tend to like Ameritrash games (Zombicide, Gears of War etc....) Or strong themes (Memoir 44, Dead of Winter, Pandemic etc...)
Middle (8-10) - card games (Magic/Pokemon/Smash Up/Dicemasters), Dungeon Crawlers (Dungeon Saga, D&D series), or worker placement/euros.
Youngest (6-7) - more simplistic card games (Love Letter, Boss Monster, Murder of Crows, Lost Legacy) and tactile/visual/action-based games (Forbidden Island, King of Tokyo etc...)

Probably my absolute favourite family game at the moment is Above and Below. Mixes worker placement, village building, choose your own adventure stories, beautiful art, concise game time, limited but good player interaction, good turn structure, fabulous components. Brilliant game. Universally loved by all, including my g/f (largely because she always wins).

Offline Luscan

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The Tortoise and the Hare comes from a series of games built around classic stories. They're presented with wonderful art, a few placeables that people can interact with, in a box that looks like a big story book (this is the coolest - I love interestingly designed boxes. Burgle Brothers and Mafia de Cuba are other great examples!) and there's enough random chance and enough skill for it to be a safe bet.

I mention the tortoise and the hare because it's just a delightful game. You build a race track, bring in some racers (the tortoise, the hare, the big bad wolf, the little lost lamb and some skeevy fox as a sort of Grimm's avengers), set them at the start and then you draw cards. You're given someone you want to get over the finishing line first. You play cards until there's three of a kind and then you take that turn - the little lost lamb goes the number of cards played for them +2 but they have to stop at each river. The wolf can howl and stop everyone else in their tracks.  The hare just runs the number of cards that are played minus one. The tortoise only ever runs one or two squares.

It's great and I'd strongly recommend.

Offline Garwoofoo

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From the original favourite, Monopoly, to the current fixation.  This is Talisman.



Talisman's a game I remember fondly from my own childhood.  In many ways it's a logical progression from Monopoly, and it shares many of the same traits.  Games last for a long time, there's not a lot of interaction between players and it's random in the extreme.  Each turn you roll the dice, move your character, take a card and resolve whatever it says on that card, whether it's a monster or an item or something else entirely.  Over time you increase your strength and abilities until someone figures they're strong enough, makes a break for the middle of the board and triggers the endgame.

That's pretty much the gist of it.  As such it's not a game you should try and play competitively, or even take particularly seriously - it's more like a "random generic fantasy RPG adventure generator" and taken on its own terms it's fabulous.  If you can't see the funny side when you get randomly turned into a toad and eaten by a dragon, it's probably not the game for you.

It has a couple of drawbacks.  As mentioned, it can take a long time to play.  It's also a large game in terms of the physical size required to play it.  We've got three expansions so far - two of them just add cards and characters (more random stuff is good) but one of them adds a whole new board, which attaches to a corner of the main board and which you can see in the picture above.  Other expansions will add boards to the other three corners, making for a huge play area.  It's already too big for our dining room table which means when we play it, it has to be on the floor, which given the long play time is hard on the knees!  (That said, the expansions - of which there are 14 so far - are generally excellent, and it's a game that thrives on variety).

Also, thematically, and depending on the kids involved, you might be uncomfortable with the themes - lots of monsters and battles, some "scary" illustrations and a recurring Grim Reaper character.  Holden's totally unfazed by all this (and is much more interested in the numbers involved in the battling than what the creatures actually are, in most cases) but it's worth bearing in mind.

Anyway, we both love playing this.  It works well with two players, it's a hell of a lot more fun than Monopoly and every game pans out differently.  Those expansions can get expensive though.

Kid's rating: HIT
Adult's rating: HIT

Offline Garwoofoo

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And, for contrast, one that didn't make the cut.  We didn't enjoy playing Once Upon a Time.



The idea is that each player has a set of cards, containing generic fairy tale elements, from which they have to construct a story.  If a player can tell a coherent story that incorporates all the things on their cards and reaches a logical ending then they win the game.  Other players can interject when something appears in the story that features on their own cards, or by playing specific Interrupt cards, which means they get to continue the story from where the first player left off.  It's basically a game of improvisation.

The only problem is, no-one who's tried it here likes it at all.  Children seem to be paralysed by fear whenever it's their turn, and adults tend to just barrel through their cards as quickly as they possibly can to avoid anyone being able to interrupt them.  Maybe if your gaming group consists entirely of sparklingly witty adults, gifted storytellers and precocious children, you'll enjoy this, but normally after a round or two of the world's most abrupt and incoherent fairy stories, we're looking for something more structured to play.

(We've had some fun with the cards separately, using them in a non-game environment to do some creative stuff, but it's not really the purpose of the thing).

Kid's rating: MISS
Adult's rating: MISS