Sunday, 21 April 2013

gaming with the children

23 Mar 2013. I recently taught Shee Yun (8) to play Lord of the Rings: The Confrontation, and she liked it very much. The strategies are still slightly beyond her. To handicap myself, I ask her to randomly arrange my pieces before the game starts (but the identities are still hidden from her). It turns out that this handicap is not as big as I thought it would be. She has only beaten me once, when I played as the Light player. My Frodo was in a bad position and I couldn't get him out. I think the initial board positioning is more important for the Light player, because their character abilities are more specialised. Because of this game, Shee Yun kept asking me about the story of Lord of the Rings.

24 Mar 2013. Shee Yun requested to play Lord of the Rings the cooperative boardgame. This time even Chen Rui (6) wanted to join. This game is definitely beyond them, but since it is a cooperative game, I can still guide them along the way. It worked out well. They enjoyed themselves. Chen Rui didn't really understand the overall strategy, but she was happy enough. She knew she had to collect the sun, ring and heart tokens, and she understood it was bad to go near Sauron.

Such a game would intimidate many adults.

We played at the easiest level. We had some unlucky tile draws in the early game, but after that things went quite smoothly, and we eventually destroyed the One Ring quite comfortably. I tried not to dictate what the girls did, but sometimes they felt lost and asked me what they should do. I tried to present them their options and encourage them to decide for themselves. However I think the reminders and tips I gave probably influenced many of their decisions. Anyhow, all is good as long as they enjoyed themselves.

None of the hobbits were very near Sauron by game end.

This is the final scenario board - Mordor.

30 Mar 2013. We had another family outing to Meeples Cafe. This game is Sticky Stickz. Every turn, the active player rolls three dice, and everyone races to pick up the tiles which match what the dice describe, using sticks with suction cups at one end. The game ends when three stack of tiles run out.

In this photo, the dice specify that you need to pick up tiles with only a single yellow furball, and its expression must be one of shock. Some dice combinations give multiple criteria, e.g. either 1 or 2 furballs will do, or either green or blue furballs will do.

This is how you do it.

The components of Feed the Kitty are cute. You get a bowl, wooden mouse-shaped tokens, and two special dice.

On your turn you roll the dice and they tell you what to do. The bowl icon means you need to surrender a mouse to the bowl. The mouse icon means you take a mouse from the bowl. The arrow icon means you give your neighbour to your left a mouse. The sleeping cat icon means nothing happens. When all but one player run out of mice, this last player with mice wins. You don't immediately lose when you lose all your mice. You just don't get to roll dice temporarily. You may get a mouse from your neighbour, thus bringing you back into the race.

This game is like LCR. There is no decision-making at all. I guess it's OK for entertaining children. It's not something you want to play with adults, unless you're gambling, or you're drinking.

Chen Rui had two mice left.

What kind of expression is that...?

I explained Monster Chase to the children. This is a cooperative memory game. In this game a child's bed is being besieged by monsters, and the players need to work together to banish all the monsters to the cupboard. Every monster is afraid of a particular toy. These face-down tiles in this photo are the toys. To banish a monster, you need to flip over the specific toy tile that the monster is scared of. More and more monsters will appear, and the players need to keep them in check and not let them surround the bed on all four sides. If the child's bed is surrounded, the players lose. The players win by defeating all the monsters in the monsters card deck.

That's the child in his bed on the left, and a monster on the right. This monster is scared of books.

These three cards are a countdown timer. Whenever a player fails to find the right toy to banish a monster, one of these cards is flipped over. When all three are flipped, a new monster card needs to be drawn and placed on a vacant side of the bed.

The first thing that came to mind when I saw these cards was - "Draw me like one of your French girls".

We played Escape: The Curse of the Temple again, twice. This time we used a timer. We didn't use the CD, so our game was a little easier. With the CD, there would be some points during the game that everyone needs to return to the start tile. Anyone who doesn't loses a die. We used my watch as a timer. We also set a slightly longer time than 10 minutes. We still lost our first game, but we won the second one. This photo shows our first game. We were close. The remaining two adventurers were very near the exit when time ran out.

We also played Qwirkle. I had played it once before, and had found it not bad. It was Michelle's first time playing, and she immediately liked it. She asked me to buy a copy. When the lady boss says so, who am I to object? Never underestimate the charm of a Spiel des Jahres game!

This is the first game I bought in 2013. Almost a third of the year is gone and only one new game in my collection. Looks like I will likely meet my self-imposed quota of no more than 18 new games per year. Maybe I should try to go for 12 this year.


Luke Eastlake said...

Great post. Good to see kids getting involved.
I'll be heading to visit family soon and will be trying out some of my collection with my younger cousins. Carcassonne and LotR (Co-OP) will see some play. Will probably leave Race for the Galaxy at home though :P

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

Nope, Race for the Galaxy is not exactly a children's game. :-)