Archive for the ‘Opinions’ Category

So, like most blogs, this was full of good intentions and short on content.  We had a lot of ideas for it, but life just got in the way of writing.  Debating deleting it completely or leaving it up and maybe turn it over to my daughter if she wants to write about board games.

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Dancing Eggs

Contents: 9 rubber eggs, 1 wooden egg, 2 dice, and 1 packet of instructions.

Dancing Eggs is a really fun game, in my opinion. There are nine rubber eggs, and one wooden egg. Each rubber egg is worth one point, but the wooden egg is worth TWO points, as it is slippery.
The way this game works is that you are holding eggs in many different places. As I said before, the wooden egg is more likely to slip and fall, so that’s why it’s worth TWO points.
The action in this game is, well, the action die! It has six sides, each with a different symbol. One of the pictures, the bouncing egg, means that you have to bounce the egg from up high and the first one to catch the rubber egg wins it. Obviously, you can’t do this with a wooden egg because wood doesn’t bounce. That’s why the rest of these eggs are rubber, so they can act like bouncy balls, jumping around. And that’s only one of the six activities!
The catch for this game is that another die controls where you put your egg once you win it! There’s: in between your knees, in your armpit, underneath your chin, in your elbow, on your shoulder, and the jack which is any one of those options.
Well, I hope you play this game soon at one of our Game Days!

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Buying games

I love shopping, well most of it.  I like wandering down aisles, poking at things, seeing what is there.  Unfortunately, most places don’t have a game store that will accommodate that need.  I have a couple of small shops that stock some games, but not very much.  Even the so-called educational stores only stock games that would put your whole family to sleep or get them back on the Wii.

That leaves online shopping.  Not as much fun, but at least you can get your hands on games that are worth dropping $50-60 for.  I typically start off at BoardgameGeek, checking out the nominations for Children’s Game of the Year in Germany.  Just because a game didn’t win, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check it out.  In fact, you should!  Poking around that site is always worth some time to get ideas and see what new games are coming out and then hoping to find them here in the US.

Language can be an issue, especially with games geared towards older kids.  That’s why the Geek rules.  People will let you know how language dependent a game is.  I just bought a new game from Germany that requires no reading at all during game play, and it is a blast.  The rules are usually translated into several languages and it is always fun to try to translate the titles of games with your kids.

So go and do a little research online and poke around the different internet retailers to see what they have to offer.  Check out a few as the prices vary wildly as do shipping costs.  Many stores have a magic number that will reduce the shipping charges to zero.  Most of these shops are small enterprises and if you get confused, give a call, I bet you may find an actual person on the end of the line who actually likes to play games as much as you do!

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Well, what a turn out today!  I think we had over 50 people come and play our games.  It was a great time and there was a lot of laughter and fun for the full three hours!  Some of the tops hits were the classics.  Chicken Cha Cha Cha, Chateau Roquefort, Viva Topo! and Ghost Chase all saw significant table time.  Dancin’ Eggs, Giro Galoppo, Castle Keep, Kids of Catan also had multiple plays happening.  In keeping with the weather, Igloo Pop drew some interest, which was nice as I had not played that one a lot since we got it when my own kids were little and it was too much for them.

Other break outs were Loot, Dead Man’s Treasure, Hamster Rolle, Ice Cream as games were flying off the show table and onto playing tables.  The biggest question I had was about where to buy these games and when we were bringing them back.

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Frank’s Zoo Review

Frank’s Zoo is a really fun animal card game!  You have cards with animals on them. Every animal can be eaten by another animal except for the killer whale because it is special.  The animal[s] that can eat your animal are on the top of your card.

You have a place where you pile up your animal cards.  If you don’t have any of the animal[s] that eat the animal on top of the card deck, then you have to pass or put two of the same animal that’s on top of the deck.  Every time no one can play, the deck goes to the discard pile.  Then the person who last played gets to start the next round.

In this game there is a JOKER.  The JOKER can only be played with another card.  tthere is also mosquitos.  If you put a mosquito with an elephant, the mosquito turns into an elephant.

This game is for 4-7 players.  Aged 10 and up.                                                       Contents: 60 cards: 4 mosquitoes, 1 JOKER, and 5 each of 11 other animals.

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Ingenious:             I like Ingenious because it is a really fun game.  You have tiles with two colors on each tile.  For each identical symbol that you line up, you move one square on your score board.  When you cannot place a tile on the game board, the game immediately ends.  You count up your points by seeing where your color that is closest to zero. Then you go up with your finger to see what your score is.  The player with the highest score wins the game!  The  really cool thing about Ingenious is that you can play by yourself and the more players, the wider the board gets.  The best thing about Ingenious for me is that my dad can never beat me!

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Hi there, long time, no blog.  Sorry about that, life got a little busy.  I did do something fun today that I thought I would share.  Some lovely co-workers also have children the same age as mine (or younger) and were asking me about games.  So today, I brought in Chicken Cha Cha Cha, with the Ducklin’ Dancin’ expansion pack.  The child-free adults were not so excited about the poo, but the rest knew the excitement that comes along with being able to play with fake chicken poop.

There were some ooh’s and ahh’s at the meeples and the tiles as I set the game pieces out around the lunch table.  I briefly explained the rules, but did not want to get into some nitty gritty (not that there is much of that with this game) and had a nice little six player game while we ate lunch.

My emphasis in rule teaching was also to explain how to modify the game for mixed groups of children and I quickly got yelled at when I changed course in the game to explain a mod that I frequently use.  The game was a pretty big hit, even with those adults who are child free.  There was lots of laughter, a curse word or two and even a friendly punch in the arm when mistakes were made.  I think this was a hit today and am planning on brining in some other games for some lunch time hijinks.

My purpose is to show some parents and other adults how much children’s games have changed and that they do  not have to suffer through the same roll and move style game that most of us played as kids.  Folks were impressed by the meeples and the way the game ran, which was no surprise to me.  I mentioned that my copy had been played hundreds of time and the pieces still looked new and the tiles had no apparant damage at all.  Try playing a mass market game that many times and see how many of the bits you still have!

Up next, Gulo Gulo.  Or maybe Viva Topo!

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As you may or may not know (or care), many of the great games that we own and that we are talking about on this site are designed by Germans.  Germans seem to love their board games more than any other group, I think.  Every year, there is a gigantic convention in Essen, Germany at which designers, publishers and the general public mingle and play new games together.

Once per year, the Kinderspiel des Jahres award is given out to a new children’s game.  Many of our favorite games have won this award in the past and this is a good starting point when you are searching for that next game you would like for your children.  Each game is also linked to Boardgamegeek.com, which needs some discussion as well, but that is for another time.

It is nice to see what won the current year, but your chances of getting it are slim.  If you can find someone who has imported it, great!  Just be ready to pay a few bucks.  Instead, if you are new to gaming or to buying games for children, explore the past winners.  You will have a better chance at getting the game, it will probably even have rules in English and you won’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get it.

Here is the current list of Kinderspiel des Jahres winners and links to the ‘Geek:

Year Winning Game Designer
2008 Wer war’s? Reiner Knizia
2007 Beppo der Bock Klaus Zoch & Peter Schackert
2006 Der schwarze Pirat Guido Hoffmann
2005 Das Kleine Gespenst Kai Haferkamp
2004 Geistertreppe Michelle Schanen
2003 Viva Topo! Manfred Ludwig
2002 Maskenball der Käfer Peter-Paul Joopen
2001 Klondike Stefanie Rohner and Christian Wolf
2000 Arbos Martin Arnold and Armin Müller
1999 Kayanak Peter-Paul Joopen
1998 Chicken Cha Cha Cha Klaus Zoch
1997 Leinen Los! Alex Randolph
1996 Vier zu mir! Heike Baum
1995 Karambolage Heinz Meister
1994 Loopin’ Louie Carol Wiseley
1993 Ringel Rangel Geni Wyss
1992 Galloping Pigs Heinz Meister
1991 Corsaro – Irrfahrt im Piratenmeer Wolfgang Kramer
1990 My Haunted Castle Virginia Charves
1989 Gute Freunde Alex Randolph

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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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