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Posts Tagged ‘game night’

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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So our daughter is now on the school newspaper.  She is in 3rd grade, so it is a full journalism curriculum and she has to submit story ideas for the first issue.  After thinking about reviewing games like Ghost Chase, she turns to me and asks if we can run another game session at the library and she can write up a preview about it so we can get more families to come.  She noted the print date of late November and said we should do one over the Christmas break when kids are home from school.

Someone is getting a little too smart for her britches, but what a great idea!

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My friendly UPS man came by today and dropped off a package filled with 6 new board games!  Hooray!  I had to make the kids promise to finish their lunch and clean up a little and we tried out four of them in about an hour.  Here are some initial impressions:

Right Turn, Left Turn – Quick little card game, but not an easy one for my 5 year old.  You have to be able to differentiate between left and right based on the direction a traffic cop is standing on a card.  I modified it quickly to give each of them a couple of turns, but this one is going to need some work I think.

Number Chase – Another light card game, you lay out 50 numbered cards and one person selects one, writes it down.  The other players guess what card it was.  If you guess wrong, you flip over the card that you guessed and the writer has to answer the question truthfully to help lead the guessers to the card.  This was fun and teaches some basic algebra terms like range as well as other basic math rules.

M is for Mouse – This was a little more complicated that I had thought.  You have cards in your hand and cards on the table.  Each card has two pictures on it and two letters.  You have to match them up.  If you have a fish on your card and a card on the table has an F on it, then you matched!  Both kids needed some directional help to figure out how to make matches and there are three variations in the rules to help mix things up and change the game around.

Gopher It – This was our favorite one of the four we played.  You are a gopher trying to collect food for the winter.  There is a garden on the table (mixed up batch of cards) and you have to make groups of six of one of the food types.  You draw a card from the garden and either keep it or keep going, up to four times.  If you draw two of the same type of food in a row, you are done and have to discard all of the cards you just flipped over.  If you get more than 6 of one type of food, they spoil and you have to throw them all out!  Once you get 6, you get a gopher trophy for doing good work.  Collect three trophies and you are ready for the winter and win!

These are all designed by Reinhard Staupe and published by Bright Idea Games and Playroom Entertainment.

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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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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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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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