Best of Lists Bunk

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

Best Children’s Games

Now there’s a topic I have an issue with. Just because Gulo Gulo or Loopin’ Louie are excellent children’s games doesn’t mean either of them are best for all children. I know this sounds like a “no-brainer” but it irks me just the same.

I made it clear when I started this blog that my gaming choices for my 5 year old daughter Natalya would be age appropriate. As she ages those choices will mature and change as well. My daughter loves Animal Upon Animal which is marked as 4-99. [You can read another of my blog posts about it: here] Now, would my 16 year old son like it? I suppose if he was playing with his little sister but it won’t be his “go-to game.” We’re looking at the start year here folks. I know it all sounds obvious but making a Best Children’s Game video, or podcast or geeklist is ultimately flawed.

Best Children’s Games need to be broken down into sub categories of Best lists. They should be broken down more like this:

Ages: < 3, 3-5, 5-8, 8+, 10+, 12+, 16+

Part of the problem is the gaming industry itself. Hobby games for the 8 and under crowd are hard to find and get even harder as the child gets younger. We all know Parker Brothers has an answer to this with their caucophny of children’s game like Loopin’ Louie, Cooties, Ants in my Pants, Candyland et cetera. Not that these are bad games (well they might be), they are not the usual choice for hobbyists like ourselves, the parents. However, there are two companies that come to mind that can come to our rescue. Haba and Gamewright. Haba has a huge line of beautiful, wonderful and cute little games for the young ones. Haba is hard to find in this country. There are a few on Amazon, but the majority of them are not available in the United States, at least not easily. Your best bet would be to seek out a specialty toy shop or maybe your FLGS can score one. Gamewright games on the other hand are much easier to score. Many of their games are small card-based games. (Granted I am a little partial to them as their headquarters is about 30 minutes from my house.) Go to their web site and check out some of the great offerings.

I think it’s ok to have lists broken down into genres like Best Party Game, Best Area Control Game, Best Worker Placement game, et cetera. But dumping all children’s game into one big box is not going to work. Now considering I am only starting at the low end of the curve here, I am sure a few years from now I will say this entire age-based break down is junk. But for now I think it works. Ask me again a few years from now.

Viel Spaß!

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Generosity of Gamers

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

Considering I’ve only re-entered the board game hobby a little over a year ago I consider myself a noob when it comes to our hobby. I have a long way to go before I can call myself anything but new to the hobby. Nor do I claim to know much about anything. I can only relate and impart my opinions and experiences on the games I play with and without my daughter Natalya.

In the past year, I have been blown away by the generosity of those in the board gaming hobby and industry. Take for example:

BoardGameGeek Secret Santa: BGG members often gift games far in excess of the program’s $50 asking value. And not only games being sent but toys for the kids, candy, fruit, all kinds of fun things. I cannot wait to do this again next year.

BoardGameGeek Print and Play Santa: Where BGG members craft PnP games for others. The construction, care and attention to detail of the components is truly outstanding.

Games for Troops: This organization donates board and card games to our servicemen and women around the globe and here at home. Visit them at Game for Troops.

The Jack Vassel Memorial Fund: A non-profit fund that was created in the wake of tragedy, namely the infant death of Tom Vassel’s son, to help those gamers in need. I cannot begin to tell you how awesome this organization is. I can also tell you, for certain, that this fund is making a difference and helping those in need. Go check out the Jack Vassel Memorial Fund.

So…

In the course of creating this blog, a reader had learned that I was awaiting a copy of Dweebies for my daughter for Christmas. But alas my (not-so) FLGS said he couldn’t get it. I could’ve ordered it online but I had some gift certificates from participating in the monthly game night there (give him $5 he gives you an $8 gc) and I was trying to help out the local business. So this reader, emailed me and said, “I’ll send you my copy.” I naturally said, “Sure. That’s awfully kind of you.”

Today, a rather large box shows up in the mail. I had no idea what it was until I opened it up. Inside was Dweebies – still in shrink. But wait, that’s not all! Also inside the box was Powerpuff Girls: Villains at LargeBogglePictureka Card GameDice Doodle and Rat-a-Tat Cat. Say what?! A note inside said, “Here are a few games my kids have enjoyed…hope you get a few plays out of them! Merry Thriftmas. -Pat”

Thank you Pat!! Your thoughtfulness and generosity is truly incredible.

It’s amazing how this community bonds together and helps one another, encourages one another and truly respects each other in our ideas, what we play, and why we play board games. Some of us/them go out of their way to step up and do something nice for someone else without even being asked. It’s truly inspiring and I am glad I am involved in it.

Viel Spaß!

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Huff and Puff

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

Rolling the dice in the Three Little PigsThree Little Pigs is one of my daughter’s favorite games and it should be yours too. Why? Simple Yahtzee mechanics that everyone understands. The theme is cute and solid. It also adds just a little more difficulty for other or all players with awards cards.

Published by Iello Games and designed by Laurent Pouchain with illustrations by Xavier Collette, it is part of what is now a two game “Tales and Games” series. The box looks like a book as does the second game Baba Yaga. Inside the box along with the game is a 6-page story book of the The Three Little Pigs.

The object of the game is to build houses out of the various tiles. The taller the house, the more points. The better the building materials, the more points. In other words, wood is better than straw and brick is better than wood. You can also score bonus points if the tiles have a little flower pot picture on it. But the game will end when a certain number of the stacks of tiles have been emptied which varies depending on the number of players.

Pink Dice!In the setup of the game, you have 9 stacks of 4 tiles each. Three roofs, three windows, three doors; each in their respective building materials: straw, wood and brick. C’mon, you know the story. There are 5 pink colored dice; three with black icons and two with white. The dice are pictured with doors, windows, roofs and wolves. A player rolls the dice, keeping what they want, and rolling the remainder up to two more times. If you can get 2 symbols, you can buy that straw part of the house. If you roll 3, you can buy that wood part of the house, and 4 lets you buy the brick part. You can also mix and match if you can “afford” it. However, if you roll one wolf, you have to put it aside and cannot re-roll it. (Note: wolves are only on the black imprinted dice and not the two whites) If you roll a total of two wolves, bad but fun things happen.

Wolf SpinnerWhen two wolves are rolled, the player stops rolling and cannot buy anything. He/she picks an opponent’s house and spins a spinner. For more unsanitary fun have the player blow on the spinner! Whatever the spinner lands on (straw, wood or brick) the wolf blows that down. Those tiles are removed from the game. Tiles on top of that collapse on top of the ones below. A house can have several windows but only one door and one roof. Although a door is not necessary, once a roof is put on top, it is completed. Uncompleted houses do not score any points at the end of the game. That’s it! There are optional award cards that can be put out on the table as well. If players complete the objectives on any of those cards, those players get extra points.

A nice collection of housesNatalya dominates at this game. Dice like her. They hate me. Iello has a real winner here. The components are top notch. The dice are nice and the tiles are thick and well illustrated. Be it known, I am not a fan of spinners. I am also not a fan of people “blowing” on my game bits. I wish they had included a single die with three straw sides, two wood sides and one brick side to replace the spinner as an option. I know…nitpicky. I have only played it with two people. Although it scales to 5 players, there would be some significant downtime for the others while they wait for people to roll. But overall the game is solid, plays fast and is a great time.

Viel Spaß!

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I am not an Animal!!

Animal upon Animal BoxThis post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

Natalya got Animal Upon Animal from Santa this year. He really knows his toys and games. Components are excellent as is the norm for all Haba games.

Game play is simple. The crocodile goes in the middle of the play area. In a two player game, each player takes one of each animal (7 each) to form his/her supply and returns the rest to the box as they will not be needed. Youngest player should always go first. Roll the die.

* If you get a one or two, balance that many animals of your choosing from your supply onto the crocodile.

* Roll a hand and give one of your animals to the other player for them to place.

* If you roll a “?” then the other player has to tell you what animal to place on the crocodile. If you roll a crocodile you may place one of your animals at the crocodile’s head of tail. This gives you more space to balance your animals!

If one or two animals fall while placing an animal then that player takes those two into their supply. If two or more fall, then that player takes two and places the rest back in the box out of the game. If the entire stack collapses, two animals go into the player’s supply and the rest go back to the box and you start over again.

First player to stack all their animals is the winner!

Placing a snake on top of the stack of animals

Natalya’s doing pretty well here placing her snake on the animals.

A stack of animals

After a few minor setbacks, Daddy places the penguin. Not sure if that was a good idea.

And the animals fall over

Nope, it wasn’t.

Animal Upon Animal comes with 29 wooden components. Four of each animal: snake, sheep, penguin, toucan, monkey, kangaroo (at least we think it’s a kangaroo), lion (again, we think so), plus one crocodile and a nice chunky wooden die. You also get a multilingual rule book. According to the box, the game is for ages 4-99 and is for 2-4 players.

This is a fantastic little dexterity game that plays in about 10 minutes. Great fun for the whole family. Roar!

Viel Spaß!

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Our 10×10 Challenges for 2014

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

I’ve decided to participate in the 10×10 Challenge for 2014. I thought it’d be a fun thing to do and track over the course of the year. I also thought why not let Natalya have her own 10 List. A couple of games I haven’t even ordered yet, but I will be in February and a few more are already on the way. The question is will I be able to fit in all these games, plus my others, plus Natty’s games, plus my gaming nights? We shall see. I have left Pandemimc off my list for now. I know my son likes to play it but it has lost some of its appeal to me.

Daddy’s:

Natalya’s:

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This is a Meeple

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

“This is a Meeple,” I say to my daughter as I let her hold the little wooden game bit. She calls it “a guy.” Fine, whatever works.

My daughter’s first foray into hobby board gaming was….

Carcassonne.

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She was 4 when I first taught her how to play. Granted we had a house rule. I eliminated the farmer placement, for now. As she gets a better grasp of the game, I will introduce it. Some people were impressed that a 4 year old was playing a game where the box clearly states ages 8 and up. I looked at the game from a different perspective. I see it more as a puzzle. And that’s how I explained it to my little girl. She can take the tiles and complete cities or make them bigger eventually closing them off. The bigger city, the more points. Or you can take the tile and make the road longer your thief is on. The longer the road, the more points. She loves cloisters. She goes on the hunt to find the best place where she can surround it with as many tiles as possible, and then places her Monk….I mean “guy” and, yup you guessed, get more points.

I think she is enamored with Casrcassonne in that respect. She sees that every game is different. Every map is a different shape. It snakes in one direction one night, and the next, it almost snakes right off the table.[/floatleft]

Believe it or not she has actually beaten me. Legit. No joke. Maybe I wasn’t feeling well. Maybe I was tired. Or maybe the luck of the tiles I was drawing just didn’t benefit me enough. The tiles like her. Just like dice. Dice hate me. More on that another time.

I think Casrcassonne is a wonderful game to introduce to anyone about our hobby but also kids. It’s simple and the puzzle-like, make-your-own map dynamic, I think will entice many kids to play.

Carcassonne is designed by Klaus-Jürgen Wrede and published by Z-Man Games. There is a whole plethora of expansions that can make it overwhelming and change game play dramatically. For starters, stick to just the base game which also comes with the River Expansion. Natty and I play that along with the Inns and Cathedrals expansion. This is a great place to start. If you enjoy the game, then later you can add more complexity with other expansions but keep in mind the game play does change quite a bit with subsequent expansions.

Viel Spaß!

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Shoo! Monsters!

2013-12-26 16.40.28This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

The other day, Natalya and I broke out Monster Chase by Antoine Bauza who has designed some other great, albeit more adult games, such as 7 WondersGhost Stories, and Tokaido. The game is marked pre-school and it’s a fun little game that anyone can play. The rules are simple and well written. The art work on the cards is well done and not “too” scary for little ones.

This is my daughter’s first cooperative game and she liked that we were working together to chase the monsters away with our toys into the closet!

2013-12-26 16.36.26-1Essentially you have a stack of cards (with a child in bed on the backs). On the face of each card is the monster that comes along side of the bed. On each face is also a picture of what the monster is afraid of: a xylophone, a teddy bear, a doll, a dump truck etc. Tiles of these toys are placed near the bed face down. If you correctly find the toy after flipping the tile, the monster goes under the “closet card” and is effectively “shoo-ed” or chased away. If you don’t, then a progression card is turned over of which there are three – red-sided and then blue-sided.

Close up of cards

[Sorry for the glare on my photos. Obviously I need some other kind of lighting in my dining room.]

When the progression cards are all the same color, another monster card is reveled and placed next to the bed. If the progression cards are all one color and the bed is surrounded by 4 monsters, the monsters win. If you can turn over the right tiles and find all the toys the monsters are afraid of and they all go to the closet, the players win.

Close up of Tiles

There are two extra blue tiles (socks and monster under the sheets) for the more advanced player who needs a slightly harder challenge. The socks tile doesn’t scare any monster instead you swap it’s position among the toy tiles with another one, making the memory mechanic a little harder. The other blue tile flips all the remaining progression tiles over and a monster appears. Stay away from that tile, kids!There are also variants for a game where the child cannot lose as well as competitive variant where you try to “win” as many monster cards as you can.

Close up of TileMy daughter really liked this game. It was her first co-op and she loved working with Daddy to beat the monsters and the game. There are a lot of tiles beside the bed, but as the players find the hidden toys and then turn them back upside down, memory prevails and finding those blocks, book or astronaut tiles becomes easier and easier. A great little filler game for you and the kids for about $10. A good deal.

Monster Chase! comes with 20 monster cards, 1 closet card, 3 progression cards, 10 toy tiles, 2 blue expert toy tiles, and a simple one page folded rule book. The game plays in about 10 minutes, for 1-5 players ages 4 and up and is published by Asmodee.

Viel Spaß!

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Our own silly dice tray

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

Every now and then I like making stuff. Sometimes it’s Print and Play games. Sometimes it’s cookies. Sometimes it’s other game stuff. Here’s how I made an inexpensive dice tray using only a cheap shadow box picture frame from Ikea. It only costs me about $2.15 to make. And it’s nice not having your dice bounce all over the table and onto the floor.

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Then lined it with cheap felt. A little glue…

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Add something under the glass for the bottom when it’s on the shelf not being used.

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Success!
Viel Spaß!

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Snowstorm-1 Natalya-0

The Three Little Pigs

The Three Little Pigs

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

Here in Eastern Massachusetts, we got hit with a fairly large snowstorm on Thursday night/Friday. The plan was to play a bunch of games but unfortunately the storm won as I had an enormous amount of shoveling to do at home. And once done with that, I had to go dig out my Mom. By the time we got back home it was late and I was pooped. Natalya was too as she liked to help Daddy shovel.

Here in Eastern Massachusetts, we got hit with a fairly large snowstorm on Thursday night/Friday. The plan was to play a bunch of games but unfortunately the storm won as I had an enormous amount of shoveling to do at home. And once done with that, I had to go dig out my Mom. By the time we got back home it was late and I was pooped. Natalya was too as she liked to help Daddy shovel.

So, Saturday afternoon was our game day in between watching The Dice Tower 24 Hour Gaming Event Live.

We got in a play of The Three Little Pigs. (Review coming soon) Natty had a bunch of houses finished but they were all made of straw and wood. And we all know that brick houses are worth more points. So, Boom! Daddy won that game.

Chutes and Ladders: Sesame Street Edition

Chutes and Ladders

Next, it was time for Natty to reach into the “Games I’ve Hidden in the Living Room Table.” Candyland. Ugh. But it was OK, since I won that one.

Third, she wanted to play Chutes and Ladders. She usually wins this game. Plus I thought it was time to replace the stupid spinner with a die. Much better game already. My daughter agrees. In the end, of course, Natty wins by a mile!

Lastly, we played a game of Monster Chase. (Review also coming soon) We had some trouble at first finding the dolly and the blocks, but in the end we vanquished all the monsters from around the bed and into the closet.

That’s it. A lot of people have been asking me for recommendations and I keep suggesting both The Three Little Pigs and Monster Chase and I still haven’t finished writing the reviews. Soon, I promise.

Viel Spaß!

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First Games of 2014

This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple

Hmmmm…not what I thought they’d be. But it’s all good.

1) One play of Carcassonne. She continually wins at this. I think my son coming home distracted me and allowed Natalya to score some serious points. Or I’m helping her too much. No matter. She loves it.

2) Four plays of Click Clack Lumberjack. This is my girl’s number one game right now. I will review this shortly. In fact the post is done, but it is technically supposed to be posted on another blog and once it has I will be able to post it here. It was a contest thingy. Let’s see how I do.

3) Two plays of Animal upon Animal (review coming soon) with my daughter. I won both. Maybe that’s why there wasn’t a third game.

4) Once my daughter was in bed, it was Daddy’s turn. Three plays of Race for the Galaxy against the GS robot. I won once, the robot won the other two. RftG is Daddy’s favorite game of the moment (tied with Space Hulk: Death Angel Card Game).

Overall, not bad for the start of 2014. But I am sure there will be more especially with a snow storm on its way to hit the Northeast in just a few hours. And while we’re on the subject of 2014, read my 14 Gaming Resolutions for 2014.

Viel Spaß!

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