Archive for March, 2009

Thanks for coming!

Phew!  That was fun.  It has taken me a couple of days to recover.  We had about 8 families come and we had six tables of games running at once.  It looked like the children really enjoyed themselves as did the parents & grandparents who played alongside.

The Hartford Courant  stopped by to check things out, so keep an eye on that paper for a recap of the entire convention, hopefully a nice mention of all the fun we had too!

If you would like to see if we can come to your library or event to run a children’s game slot, let us know!

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We are very excited that so many families are coming out today.  And a little nervous!  If you have not RSVP’d and would still like to come, we ask that you come after 3pm at this point.  The early hours are going to be crowded and we want to give everyone a chance to play some fun games and ask questions.  

We will have a note sheet for you to jot down games that you like and their publisher so you can go find them if you would like to buy them for your family.    Here is a partial list of the games we are bringing:

Bamboleo, Hamster Rolle, Ghost Chase, Gulo Gulo, Chicken Cha Cha Cha, Ducklin’ Dancin’, Pick Picknick, Bzz Out, Orchard, Cap’n Clever, Loot, Dead Man’s Treasure, Chateau Roquefort, Little Raven, Coloretto, Ice Cream, Hali Gali, Galloping Pigs, Barnyard Critters, Unspeakable Words, The Great Word Race, Animal Upon Animal, Bausack, Princess Sleeping Beauty, Wicked Witches Way, and more!

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So it looks like things are picking up speed for tomorrow.  We have just about 30 people coming.  Hopefully they will stagger out throughout the time slot, but if you all come at 1:00, please be patient as we get you started on some fun games.  It looks like we will have a good adult: child ratio, so we will be asking the grown-ups to supervise their young ones after we get them started if we have a full house.

Feel free to stay as long as you like.  You can also find a brief story about the convention in today’s Hartford Courant at http://www.courant.com/entertainment/events/hc-board-games-convention.artmar20,0,6002108.story

Haba games has sent a stack of their catalogs to give out and Rio Grande has done the same, but it looks like they won’t be getting here in time for the event.

Don’t forget that if you really like what you see, there will be vendors on site who may be able to order some games for you, but if they can’t we have some resources to help you out as well.

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The convention is getting underway today as people are setting up and getting things ready.  We won’t get there until Saturday morning though.  We will be packing up everything tomorrow night to bring down.  We have room for more families to come and play some games with us, so if you are still on the fence, drop me a note and come on down.  The convention also told me that if you are coming to our seminar and would like to stay later on to play other games, they will give you a special $5 per person pass for the remainder of the day.   There will be a huge game library to choose from, so we hope that you enjoy yourselves and come check out the rest of the convention.  There are a ton of games that are great for families as well.  We will be around after getting some dinner, so if you see us playing, come join us!

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In light of our upcoming seminar we will try to get as many of our games reviewed on here as we can.  I added a 6 – 8 age range and reviewed one of our favorite games, Chateau Roquefort.  Also added an adorable young children’s game, Animal Upon Animal.  It is a stacking game that Haba sent to us for the event.  Thanks Haba!

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I like Gulo Gulo because the pictures are nice, and easy to set-up. I really like when I win. There are wolverines in the game that need to find the baby wolverine who is trapped in the swamp vulture’s egg nest.  The grown-up wolverines have to get the baby out without tipping over the alarm.  The alarm tells the swamp vultures that someone is stealing their eggs.  I like to play it because it is fun to try to get the eggs out of the nest without knocking over the alarm.  It is also fun to jump ahead of other people when you pick the mystery tile.

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One reader noticed that I talk  a lot about modern board games, but I have not really defined the term or fully explained what I meant about it.  It isn’t an exact definition, at least from my point of view.  There are probably many serious gamers who could rattle off a liturgy about this topic.  I will focus on children and family games though, in order to help you understand games and determine what is right for your family.

I tend to think of modern games as being produced with high quality materials, made to last and a lot of attention to detail in the meeples, boards or other pieces of games.  While this does increase the cost of the game, you won’t have to buy several of them within a year if you play it heavily.

Modern games also have something critical that many games I might have played as a child did not have.  Modern games tend to allow the players to make critical decisions about what to do in the game.  Having a young child be able to decide what to do in the game makes the game more interesting for them.  Children are constantly looking for ways to control their own lives, and modern games can give that to them a little at a time.

Good decision making skills are important for everyone, young and old.  If a game can start teaching a child that their actions have consequences, sometimes bad ones, then they may be able to analyze real decisions they make in their lives when we (their parents) are not around.

Never forget the most important part though, it must be fun.  Even on the 5,000th play that month, it should be fun to play.  Kids and repetition go very well together and usually we adults can only stand so many choruses of “Best of Both Worlds” or “Wheels on the bus go round and round” before we go insane.  A modern board game can stand up to that level of playability and keep the fun going.

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One of the best things about having all these cool kids games is sharing them with friends and with your children’s friends as well.  Our daughter’s are friends with another couple’s two children of the same age and they all came over for a spontaneous game night the other night.  We had a blast and played a number of different games way past the kids’ normal bedtime.

Putting together a game night, even a spontaneous one, takes a little careful thought and it should go off smoothly.  The first thing is to not put any extra expectations onto the children.  While getting together with other adults is nice, the point is to play some games with the children.  Keep your expectations relaxed, let the children dictate the mood of the night.  We remind our two daughters that when their friends come over to let them pick the first activity or to suggest something that they might like rather than dictating what they will be doing.  The same thing held true for our little game night.  Simone held back and Jenna had clear ideas on what she wanted to play, Ghost Chase.

Be prepared to act as a coach for new gamers.  Jenna had played Ghost Chase before, but it had been a while.  I pulled some of the more confusing rules out of the game and her dad and Simone acted as the chasers.  Jenna did a great job figuring out the strategy and only needed confirmation from me that what she was doing was a good move.  As she grew more confident in her decisions, her game play improved and she eventually won the game.  Sportsmanship is important to us and Simone was genuinely happy for Jenna that she won on the first game.

Older children’s gaming needs really depend on their experience playing these modern boardgames.  The more they play them, the easier it is for them to learn new ones and figure out strategies to be successful at them.  Simone and Jenna are great friends and have played a number of modern games before.  Jenna was quick to peruse our shelves and pick out some things that Simone loves to play.

You can have some ideas on what should hit the table and prepare the game if necessary.  I knew that the group would love to play Nacht der Magier, which is a dexterity game that you play in the dark.  Key pieces glow in the dark and I had them under the lights for a while before suggesting it and they were all charged up and ready to play.

Your children may desert you though, which really is the goal I suppose.  Simone and Jenna went off on their own.  I had thought they were done with games and were going to play with their American Girl dolls.  Nope!  They tried out two games without any help.  One that they did try was not really a two player game, but Simone went through the rules and they seemed to enjoy it.  They played two rounds of Castle Keep as well.  It was nice to see them pick out some games and stay with the idea that is was a game night.  Be prepared to allow them to change activities.  You don’t want them to be forced to play games as if it were some chore.  I think finishing a game is important and so is putting it away nicely.  Once they are done though, allow them to be done.  They will come back to you for more eventually.

Younger children need more direction though and Chris had Camille and Jake playing Froggie Boogie pretty quickly.  If you are gaming with younger ones, only give them two options to start, keep the suggestions to short games as their attention spans may not last as long as they normally do when you are playing with them alone.

There are many games out there that can play in under 10 minutes.  The two of them were able to run around a bit, come play a game with their moms and then run around some more.  Also, be ready to modify rules to make them simpler and keep the games short.  Keeping rules to a minimum will help a young gamer enjoy the essence of the game and you can slowly add rules as they become more experienced.

Snacks.  Have them handy, but keep them away from the table!  While modern games are relatively inexpensive on an hourly basis, you don’t want to have some spill damage some of these meeples and boards.  The production quality is truly amazing in games like Giro Galoppo and some games with cards, like Ghost Chase, could become ruined in an apple juice flood.  If it does happen, try to keep calm and have paper towels handy.  Not sure if I could always do that myself, but I try to remember it!

The main point is to have some fun with your children and their friends, and even their friend’s parents.  Once the kids are done playing, it becomes a great time for adult conversation over tasty beverages.

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