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Author Topic: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations  (Read 8303 times)

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Offline cavalcade

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I have it. Not given it a proper run out yet. It has a staggering amount of tokens with it....

I'd also say Machi Koro, but I wouldn't go for it without any of the expansions. If you can find the Deluxe Edition, go for that.

Offline Garwoofoo

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Added a copy of Machi Koro Deluxe Edition to the birthday haul - his birthday's on Monday so I'll update you next week on how the various Soc recommendations are going down.

I should probably say a bit about Pandemic because it's become a bit of an obsession in this house.  It has the advantage of being the one game we've bought that my wife also really enjoys, so we've played it quite a lot.  It's not a bad game to play with kids as long as you're OK with the theme - everything's satisfyingly abstract (tidying up cubes and collecting sets of coloured cards are the kind of activities that are easy to explain), it's all fully co-operative and cards are on display at all times so it's easy to help out younger players with suggestions as to what to do, and there are a couple of the player characters that are notably easier to play.  Holden enjoys being the Medic, which has the benefit of being fairly straightforward and also probably the most useful character, but he's pretty reasonable with all of them now and definitely has a good grasp of what needs to be done and the best way to win.



The downside of Pandemic is that one experienced player can easily override the rest, to the extent of even taking others' moves for them when they think they know the best thing to do, which is a particular problem when you're playing with kids or new players.  You need to slow down and let them make their own choices, which isn't always easy.  It just takes a bit of self-restraint while other players get up to speed.

Flush with success, we got a copy of Pandemic Legacy which is the one-time-playthrough, evolving game version of Pandemic.  We're only three months into this so far so I won't talk about it too much right now but it's incredibly cleverly designed.  Although it starts off just the same as Pandemic, it rapidly starts to add new rules and features and gets more and more complex as it progresses, so we're needing to spend more time before each game going through the rules and strategies and making sure we're all on board with what's happening.  It's also a bit more thematic, with an evolving storyline, with concepts Holden hasn't come across before, so we have to talk through that too.  We're all absolutely loving the game though and it really is something quite unique.

Offline Garwoofoo

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Some initial thoughts on the birthday haul then.

Sushi Go is brilliant.  Fast, knockabout fun with a surprising amount of strategy to it (certainly you need to keep an eye on what everyone else is doing).  I can see it getting repetitive over time but as a quick ten-minute filler this is going to fit well into the Walk The Plank niche, something to bring out to entertain the family whatever the situation.

Deep Sea Adventure is a bit dull.  I like the minimalist design and it's thematically very nice but it's missing something.  It's nicely tense as all the players are descending but once someone makes that first grab for treasure I think the air in the submarine goes down too quickly and it's far too common for people to fail to make it back.  As a result the way to win this is to play conservatively and not do anything too risky, which makes for a fairly dull game.

Caverna is insane.  Just so much stuff in the box.  16 different double-sided boards which you use in different combinations depending on the number of players and type of game you're playing, and overlays for these as you start to build up your farm and cavern system.  Over 400 little wooden figures of various types (sheep, cows, pigs, dogs, donkeys, stone, wood etc), acrylic tokens for ore and rubies, hundreds of tokens and counters... it's absolutely mental.  Just look at it:



(This is early in a two-player game, using the simplified version of the game rules, so reasonably tidy and straightforward compared to how it can get.  A full seven-player game would require half a house).

It seems like a really great game though.  Although it's complex, the rules and general design are exceptionally clear so although the first game took us a long time to play (it took us 45 minutes for setup alone) we've pretty much got the hang of it now and looking forward to our next game.  It's impressively open-ended, with lots of viable strategies for winning: do you mine for rubies? raise animals? arm up and go on expeditions? farm? all of the above?  Everything you do scores points and it's not too punitive for things you've missed out so totalling up the scores at the end is quite exciting.  If you've got plenty of time and a really large table, this could well be worth looking into.

Offline Brian Bloodaxe

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I'm glad you are enjoying Sushi Go. I wouldn't worry too much about it getting dull, I find that the different mix of active card means that everyone ends up stealing each other's favourite strategies.

Offline cavalcade

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Is this just the "games Garwoofoo is playing" thread now then?

Deep Sea Adventure benefits from a larger group of players. The balance of the game comes from a herd decision to embrace risk or not, so I imagine its very dependant on the group you play with. With smaller groups it's worth houseruling - either adding a D6, or changing the air rules slightly. I wouldn't say it was brilliant, but we've had good and bad times with it.

Offline Minx

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I've been enjoying this thread, very educational. Although I'm not sure what ages all your kids are. Any chance of mentioning age in a post? Would be very helpful in the future for people reading back through the thread.

Offline Garwoofoo

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Sorry Minx, missed your post.  Holden's just turned 7.

Though I'm coming to realise that age doesn't mean much when it comes to board games.  Holden's drawn like a magnet to the most complicated games, loves reading through the manuals and will happily play games that take hours.  He doesn't mind losing.  I don't think that's necessarily typical.

He's got three cousins he tries to play with.  The oldest (10) isn't really that interested in board games at all, she'll play if he's persistent enough but tends to panic whenever she has to make a decision and never really seems to be enjoying herself.  The middle one (7) is insanely competitive and throws a strop every time she loses.  The youngest one (5) just likes smashing plastic superheroes into each other.  They're all very different kids.

So the only advice I can give really is treat the age guides on the boxes with great scepticism and work out what your kids like - as with any adult, they'll have their own preferences, preferred themes, and so on, and you just need to work out what they're into and build from there.

Offline Brian Bloodaxe

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Yeah, I have to agree that age ratings are vague guidelines at best. Bloodaxe Junior has just turned 12 and despite loving boardgames for years now, he is absolutely rubbish at them. Little Miss Bloodaxe though is four and a half and is already showing better grasp of tactics than her brother. She wanted to play D&D with me one day so I dug out Lego Heroica and played that with her. It was a great success except that every time one of her characters got hit she burst into tears and ran through to the hall and thumped down onto the floor with her arms crossed. Each time I would ask her if she wanted to stop playing at which point she would leap up and run back to the board to take her next turn.

Offline Garwoofoo

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #38: August 29, 2016, 02:14:58 PM »
We've played a fair bit of Camel Up this weekend.  A great game for all ages, I think.  Its great mechanic is that it hugely rewards early bets, but doesn't punish players unduly for getting it wrong, which encourages everyone to make crazy punts on things without worrying that it's going to screw them up.  At one point my son bet on everything simultaneously and still managed to turn a profit.   Generally we've found that kids start off cautiously (which isn't a problem - they like shaking the pyramid and moving the camels, which is what you do when you're not taking betting tokens) but quickly get into the swing of things once they see the money flying around.

We've also played some more Deep Sea Adventure, which is better than I'd originally thought (we'd misinterpreted one of the rules a bit) but is flawed for the same reasons that Camel Up is good.  DSA is too punishing - the rewards for pushing your luck are slight (you can risk everything for a tile that turns out to be worth nothing) and the punishment for pushing your luck is too harsh (one step too far or one unlucky roll and you drown and lose everything).  So it encourages cautious, unexciting play with everyone playing it really safe all the time.  I'll take Camel Up's enthusiasm over DSA's caution any day.

Offline statusjones

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #39: October 10, 2016, 04:14:06 AM »
Camel Cup!

anyhow, I got a copy of The Hare & The Tortoise and it went down well with the kids but rather less so with my wife (who hates boardgames) which rather renders it a two player game & it doesn't work quite so well like that

I also dug out Nexus, which is a Cheapass game I picked up years ago and is kind of like Carcassonne but with just the roads - another one where more players would be better but it works fine with just two



Offline cavalcade

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Re: Gaming with kids: reviews and recommendations
« Reply #40: October 10, 2016, 08:44:56 AM »
The argument over Camel Up and Camel Cup has no answer. Even the game designer is vague about it.

Offline Garwoofoo

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If your kids are as obsessed with Harry Potter as mine is, you might enjoy Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle.

It's a co-operative deck-building game: you play cards each turn to gain tokens, use the tokens to buy more cards from a selection, and these then get shuffled back into your deck to increase your options in future turns.  All the cards feature villains, locations, items and spells from the Harry Potter series (with illustrations from the movies), and players have to work together to defeat the various baddies from the series.  But the game's also got a strong Pandemic Legacy vibe.  When you open the box, there are seven separate sealed packs labelled Game 1 to Game 7, and each corresponds roughly to one of the books.  You start off with Game 1 (very simple and straightforward, basically a learning experience), and when you're done you open up the second box, mix in the cards, take account of the new rules and play Game 2.  And so on.  As the games progress they get more and more complex and difficult, with new cards and components.  It's not really a Legacy game as such, as you can revert to and replay earlier games any time you like and there are no permanent changes, but it's a great way of increasing the complexity of the game gradually and ensuring you get new things to play around with every time.

We've only played the first couple of games but it's already great fun: simple enough to pick up very quickly but very strongly themed (as you'd expect) and having new stuff to open each time is great.

(Not my picture. Laptop not included!)



(One further note. This isn't available in the UK, presumably due to the licenses involved, so I had to import from the US.  Postage was expensive and I then got slapped with customs charges and a handling fee, so it was quite a hefty purchase in the end.  It was for a birthday present so I didn't mind too much, but be warned).