I am delighted to present our first ever guest post. You may have seen the short video review of Tsuro I made a few weeks ago. Well, the guy whose channel I was imposing myself on, Edo Baraf, has agreed to write a guest post here on his experiences as a gamer dad. If you haven’t done so already, please do take a look at his videos on YouTube, which are a great starting point for finding out about some highly recommended games.
After Rob did his Tsuro guest review on my YouTube channel (here), he asked me if I wanted to contribute to this blog. Of course, I did! First, because I’ll always return a favor, but more importantly because I love the idea of this blog and I am actively training two lil’ gamers myself:
Ethan Danger and Evan Adventure – The Brothers Trouble
Since this is a guest post, I decided that rather than doing a run through of a specific game with these boys, I’d give a few of my key pointers on Training a Gamer and some game recommendations. I hope this is helpful!
They are never too young
Kids are curious, kids play, kids are born gamers. Neil deGrasse Tyson nails it in this 2 minute video.
Always be inclusive
If Training a Gamer is important to you, never turn them away from the table. Even if they can’t play, they can watch, they can play with the pieces in front of you, they can hold your cards. If you want to have serious, adult only gaming, do it, but give them something fun to do – don’t push them away. With both Ethan and Evan we let them sit on laps and co-play as often as we could. When they are young, let them use games as toy and story sets.
Don’t get frustrated
Doing the above, or playing games with kids in general can be AMAZINGLY frustrating Whether it be them playing wrong, bending cards, not listening, or simply taking too long. Your top priority should be letting them have fun when they are young. When you start playing, assume it is going to be slow or not even finish at all. Engage with them how they are engaging. Let the other players at the table know what to expect.
Let them leave
This one was hard for me (well as was not getting frustrating). Often times, kids can actually play a longer or harder game conceptually, but simply don’t have the stamina to stick with it (Ticket to Ride for example). Don’t force a kid to play. You can try to keep them engaged and at it, but if they are done they are likely done. Remove them from the game, finish up the road for them, whatever. It isn’t a big deal. Thank them for playing!
Let them win, gracefully
Many may disagree, but I think there is nothing wrong with letting your kids win, especially when they are learning a game or leveling up to new challenges. There will be plenty of time and games to crush your kids in, but while they are learning to love gaming, letting them enjoy the sensation of a close victory (even if manufactured) is huge. More important is teaching them how to win when they win and how to lose when they lose. Be inclusive and positive.
There are many more things to consider of course, but these were the ones that stuck out to me the most. On the gaming side, there are a ton of early games to consider, but once they hit the 4-6 range here are the games I’ve enjoyed recently (many of which I’ve reviewed on my site :) ).
- Guess Who
- Spot It!
- Color Sticks
- Walk The Plank
- Seven Dragons
- King of Tokyo
- Chopstick Dexterity Deathmatch 3000
- Ticket To Ride
- Garden Dice
- Lift Off! Get me off this Planet!
- Ricochet Robot
Our play over the last month has dropped down a little, but we still did pretty well, with 18 plays of 12 distinct games. The multiple plays this time came from one of Miss B’s current favourite games, Coup, with four plays, plus Dobble (we’ve been playing the “Gotta Catch ‘Em All” rules lately), Family Fluxx, and the long-ignored Sleeping Queens, each with two plays.
So, for the year we still have no clear leader, though Coup has suddenly moved from absolutely nowhere to being in real contention. Dobble, Love Letter and Plyt have each had eight plays this year, and Apples to Apples and Coup have had seven.
Anything could happen now. At the current rate, Coup could easily take the 2014 crown by being one of the few short games that has really caught Miss B’s imagination this year. I would be very surprised if we didn’t get a couple of games of Apples to Apples in over the holidays, which probably won’t be enough to come in at the front, but given that it is a game that only really gets played when there are four or more people around and that doesn’t happen too often, it is impressive that it has scored so well. Plyt is almost certain to have at least one more play, and the others, well, who knows?
I came across a lovely fella called Ed Baraf when he was running a Kickstarter for a rather cool looking game about rescuing very cute aliens from an exploding planet (take a look here) earlier this year. Not long after the project finished, he started running a series of short video reviews for boardgames, intending them to be a little like the pitches that you might give to your friends at a games night when trying to persuade them to play something.
So this developed a little and Ed ended up inviting pretty much anyone out there who fancied a go to join in and provide a guest review for his channel. Against my better judgement, having never done this sort of thing before, I put myself forward and, a little to my surprise, Ed accepted my offer and sent me a load of really helpful advice on recording my video.
And so, as of today, I am a YouTube game reviewer of sorts. You can now go and see my review of Tsuro and hopefully see some of why I like the game so much. While you are there, I would strongly recommend looking at some of the other reviews on Ed’s review playlist, which includes some really illustrious company amongst the guests (boy do I feel out of my depth!). The reviews are mostly between two and five minutes and are a great way to get a feel for what people like about the games being covered.
Coup is a game I have played a few times in the past, but only recently got my own set. It is a game of bluffing and deception and I wasn’t going to suggest it to Miss B, but she got hold of the box and was very taken with the artwork (particularly that there were so many female characters, once you had looked at all the bonus alternate art cards) so wanted to play. The game isn’t really aimed at being a two-player game, but it does work as such, so we gave it a go.
So, a brief outline of how the game works… There are five different characters in the game, each of which allows you an action and/or a way of blocking another player’s action, and three copies of each card in the slim deck. For instance, the Duke is good at getting money and at stopping other people getting money, the Assassin can be paid to do a hit, and the Contessa can foil the Assassin’s plans. Each player is dealt two cards (which may, on occasion, be identical) and these are placed face down in front of the player, who may look at them at any time. Players take it in turn to use their character’s actions (and the characters can change in play) to gain money and attack other players. If you are successfully attacked by an assassination or an expensive, but unblockable, coup, you lose one of your cards. Lose both cards and you’re out.
That’s the basics apart from one small detail, which is that you can lie about the cards you have and can attempt an action that you don’t really have available. Anyone can then call your bluff, and if they are correct, you lose a card, but if you weren’t bluffing after all, they lose a card instead. So if I use the Captain to steal your money and you don’t have a card that can block it, you have to decide whether to challenge me and say that you don’t think I really have a Captain, to claim that you do actually have a blocking card and hope nobody challenges you, or just suck it up and hand over the money.
Coup is really a game for more players, but Miss B and I have now played it a few times, mostly with just the two of us, and it worked OK. In fact, Miss B really enjoyed it. Played with her, the game feels a little like Love Letter with additional, explicit fibbing — with more people you can kind of build up a bit of a picture of what people are doing, but with two there is rather more guesswork. But that is fine, and it turns out that she is better at it than I expected. Disturbingly so, it turns out.
Being a game of bluffing made me a bit nervous about playing Coup with Miss B. Is playing this teaching her to be a better liar? Is it confusing her about ethics? It’s difficult to know, really. She definitely seems to understand that it is OK to tell fibs in a game like this, but not in real life, but whether it is giving her better skills in the art of deception… Well, maybe it is, and I’m going to need to learn her tells and pay more attention. Playing games like this with her may help me in that respect. I’m seriously torn, but playing Coup with her is a lot of fun, so I’m going to roll with it and I’ll have to live with the results.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 7¾): “I really like the idea that you should not have to be the right character to play the same action. I think it’s a really good bluffing game and I recommend it. At first Daddy thought that I wouldn’t like it because there was lots of bluffing but I insisted on playing it, so we did and I really liked it. So I’d give it 9 out of 10.”
The game: Coup (Indie Boards and Cards), 2 to 10 players aged 10+.
As I commented in the last post, we have been playing quite a few dice games lately. In October, 10 of the games we played involved dice in some form, and of those, 5 of them had dice as the central feature, rather than just using them for movement or conflict resolution; I’m including Plyt in this as the game is entirely rolling dice and then multiplying the numbers.
So, over the month we player 24 games, spread across 17 different titles, so another good month by the standards of this year. Several games got played more than once: Appletters, Dino Hunt Dice, and Hobbit Tales all played twice, and Coup and Dragon Slayer played three times each. That’s also some write-ups I owe you, and hopefully I’ll get some more done over the next few weeks.
For the year overall, we still have no clear leader, with Plyt having now caught up with Love Letter on eight plays, Apples to Apples just behind on seven, Dobble on six, and Chess, Dungeon Roll and Gubs with a respectable five plays a piece. Right now, we could even gain a brand new entry that could storm through and steal the crown by the end of the year…
We seem to be going through a dice game phase at the moment, having played several different ones over the last few weeks. One of these is the new acquisition, Dino Hunt Dice, which I actually bought partly to top up an online games order to a free shipping level.
The game is actually almost identical to the better-known Zombie Dice, being a very simple, push-your-luck game where you roll three dice at a time (there are three types of dice, representing different danger levels — the T-rex die is most dangerous, while the mild mannered apatosaurus is only likely to stomp you by accident), hoping to roll dinosaurs but not stompy-feet. You accumulate the stomps and if you get three of them you score nothing and your turn is over. Dinosaurs score points, and after each roll you can choose whether to roll another three dice (putting aside dinos and stomps and replacing them with fresh dice) or stop and record your score.
So, simple rules and dice with dinosaurs on (apart from the ones I’ve already mentioned there are tricerotops too), so what’s not to like?
Miss B is getting pretty good with push-your-luck games nowadays. When things go wrong for her, she generally rolls with it rather than getting upset as she used to. I think it helps when she sees me having horrible runs of bad luck too. In our latest game I hit the end-game target score, leaving her with seven points needed to draw even, which is a tough target. She had a great spell of luck and quickly bagged six dinosaurs, which would normally be a good time to bank, but as this was her last turn she had to push on, and proceeded to make the worst possible roll, getting horribly stomped whilst within a hair’s breadth of a heroic comeback. We both groaned, then high-fived, and then moved on to something else. I’m very proud of her, especially at times like that.
The verdict from Miss B (aged 7¾): “Hello! It was a very good game. It was a bit annoying when I rolled a six for the end but got three stomps. Bye. P.S. It was nine out of ten. The end. By me.”
The game: Dino Hunt Dice (Steve Jackson Games), 2 to 8 players aged 6+.