Sunday, 4 November 2012

family boardgame outing

The children are growing up (5 and 7 now), and there are more and more games that I can play with them. Some are children games, but many are "normal" games not designed specifically for children, or games that adults can enjoy too. We are no longer playing with the components, and I seldom need to invent simplified rules for grown-up games. They often request games. I hope they continue to enjoy them as they grow up, and that they'll continue to play with me when I get old and senile.

20 Oct 2012. Chen Rui playing Viva Topo!, a game about mice racing to grab the biggest pieces of cheese without getting caught by the cat.

Shee Yun only has one "strategy" - no one gets left behind. She moves all her mice evenly, like a family sticking together. In this game, this is not always a good idea. She is too kind and cannot bear anyone being left behind.

On 26 Oct 2012 we visited Meeples Cafe again. We stayed three hours, playing a total of 9 different games, some new to us and some not. It was a fun outing.

Captain Clueless. I teamed up with Shee Yun again, and Michelle teamed up with Chen Rui. The children didn't want to be blindfolded, so Michelle and I played the captains. My team (red) had very lucky cards. All our destinations were nearby (Roatan, then Montego Bay, then Kingston), and we quickly completed our voyage and returned home.

Forbidden Island, the family version of Pandemic by the same designer. It is a cooperative game where players need to collect four treasures and fly off in a helicopter before the island sinks. The core mechanisms are the same, but the game is streamlined and slightly simplified. There are some differences. The game is very well designed. It is still quite tense. We played the lowest difficulty level.

The treasures look very good.

We made a rule mistake in the first half of the game, which caused the island to sink more slowly than it should. So the game was even easier than Very Easy level. Still, the tension did build up and I felt that we were not far from the verge of losing. This was late in the game. Quite a number of areas were flooded (the blue and white tiles) and some had sunk. Later even more areas sank into the ocean, but we made it eventually.

When playing this game, Michelle and I guided the children most of the time. It was still a little beyond them. But they felt they had participated and they enjoyed it. We presented to them the few better options, or if they were making an obviously poor move or missing a golden opportunity, we gently suggested the better approach. I think they liked working together as a team.

I didn't expect much from Forbidden Island, because I thought it would be just a simpler little brother to Pandemic. However it turned out to be quite refreshing. I don't need to own it, but I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. It's a good gift choice for non-gamers.

Ubongo Extreme, where the shapes are made of hexagons. The general idea is the same as Ubongo, which I own. The scoring is a little different, simpler in fact. The puzzles are tougher. There was one I simply couldn't get after trying for a long time. Eventually it was Michelle who solved it.

Similar to Ubongo, the puzzles are two sided. This is the easier side, needing 3 pieces. The harder side needs four pieces.

Escape: The Curse of the Temple was a hot game at the recent Essen game fair. It's a 10-minute, real-time, cooperative, dice game. To win, players need to explore a buried temple, collect enough gems, find the exit, and all must leave the temple before time runs out.

All actions are done using action dice, and everyone gets five of them. You do your own thing using your own dice, all in real-time. You can coordinate with your fellow players, because some tiles need multiple players in order to fully utilise.

Three had escaped from the temple. When we played this, Michelle and I had no time to guide the children so we had to let them fend for themselves. We were busy enough managing our own dice and actions. They knew the basic idea and played on their own, although I don't think they strategised much. Chen Rui (5) mostly enjoyed rolling the blessing side and she kept asking who needed a blessing (to get rid of curses). Shee Yun (7) went off in a different direction exploring the temple by herself. Or maybe I should say we moved too fast and left her behind. Both the children seemed to enjoy themselves. I think this being a cooperative game helped. We all won together.

Actually we probably didn't win. We did "beat" the game by collecting enough gems and exiting the temple, but we didn't use the soundtrack that comes with the game (which is a timer) and I'm quite sure we spent more than 10 minutes.

Toss Your Cookies is basically a card game. Everyone has a hand of seven cards, and the goal is to collect 5 biscuits of the same type plus the milk card, of which there is only one in the game. In this photo, the two leftmost cards are jokers.

Every turn a player rolls two dice, and everyone follows the instruction given by the die roll. This combination here means the person with the milk card must give it to another player, and then get another card in return.

This combination means everyone passes two cards left. If the "TOSS" word were face-up, then everyone would toss two cards face-up onto the table, and race to grab the cards they want (still restricted to the hand size of seven).

Michelle won. Toss Your Cookies is a simple game suitable for children and casual players. Mostly a party game.

Dixit. I have played this with the children before. This was my turn to be the storyteller. The clue I gave was "animal". Since this was such a generic word, I was sure there would be others contributing cards with animals, and it would be difficult for everyone to guess the correct answer (the goal is to only have some players guess your card correctly). It turned out that all cards contributed had animals. A dragon is considered an animal, right? Albeit a mythical one. However, that turn everyone guessed my card correctly! What are the odds of that?!

Apples to Apples. First time for all of us. The idea is that every round a player takes the role of judge, and flips over a green adjective card. Each other player then picks a red noun card from his/her hand to play. The judge decides which noun card is the best, and whoever played it gains 1pt. The contestants can try to be creative in picking nouns. They can also try to present their reasoning to persuade the judge to pick their cards.

My hand of noun cards.

The game didn't quite work with the children. Too many concepts and words they are not familiar with. Even I don't know much about Clark Gable. There is a children's version of Apples to Apples. Maybe that would have worked better. At least it wouldn't have any adorable oil spills.

I thought my Infomercial card would surely win. It didn't. Gall Bladder won.

We also played two dexterity games at Meeples Cafe, Hamsterrolle (which we have played before) and Bamboleo. We didn't even last one round of Bamboleo. Shee Yun toppled the platter on her first turn. The game took less than 20 seconds. Chen Rui sulked and said this game sucked.

All in all, it was a wonderful outing and a great way to spend time with the family.

27 Oct 2012. Playing Uno at home with the children. I bought two card holders (which was suggested by a reader here - thank you!). Only my younger daughter Chen Rui (5) really needed one, but I bought one for elder daughter Shee Yun (7) anyway.

Chen Rui used to spend a lot of time peeking at her cards one by one because she couldn't hold them properly and had lay them face-down in front of her. Now she spends a lot of time trying to stick her cards into the card holder instead. So the end result is we still need to wait for her when he turn comes. Hopefully she'll get better at using the card holder soon.

This is a very old copy of Uno from my childhood. I counted the cards once, and one was missing. Doesn't bother me though. I don't even remember which card it is.

Once when I was about the shuffle cards, this little mischief Chen Rui intentionally blocked my way. So I shuffled the cards on her forehead. She thought that was funny, and since then she has been requesting me to do this whenever we play Uno.


Paul Owen said...

I definitely recommend getting Apples to Apples Junior for kids. It made all the difference for us, although my son was a little older at the time (nine, I think), so it might still be a little while before your little girls are ready for it.

Kids are wonderful for reminding us that the purpose of playing games is to have fun, and that there are more ways to have fun than just winning.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Indeed! Gaming with children let us become children ourselves for a while. :-)

Scrabble online against computer said...

I think board games are always best enjoyed with the family. great pictures too, looks like everyone had a good time!

gfe-board-games said...

Great to see Viva Topo here. I think its a great kids board game and I am suprised its not more popular.

sasha said...

My daughter loves fairy tales, she composes it and draws pictures to it, but she often sits alone. We decided to buy board games to play it whole family.
Dixit have become the game we need - a vastness for imagination and so beautiful pictures! It's a good board game for children and adults.