Saturday, January 2, 2010

Game Time

Our game cabinet, board games and playdoh on top, card games in the drawer.

We are a Gaming Family. Usually at least once a day someone will start asking who wants to play somethingorother, especially during vacations, when we'll sometimes play two or three board games a day. I love them because they're an easy way for us all to have fun together in an organized way. There's a beginning, middle and end, every person has something to do, there are turns, and generally there's no fighting because there's nothing to fight about.

Here's the lowdown on the games we got for Xmas, and the ones that we've had for awhile but still play all the time. I go out of my way to get new, interesting, educational, or even foreign games so we have a lot to choose from. Some I get from Amazon, and others from my favorite toy store, a little place called Child's Play, in Rockville, MD.

New Games for this year:

- The Munchkin series
We actually started playing the Munchkin card came about a month ago, but we added to it over Xmas, so I think it counts. Munchkin, a gaming-type card game with rules for boosting powers, attacks, race and class cards, etc, is hysterical because each set, which is completely compatible with all other sets, is a spoof of a set theme. For instance, Star Munchkin has cards in it that crack on any space reference you can think of; my favorite card is one of the monsters, "Level 12, Captain Quirk - bonus level to any female involved in taking him out'. We have the base card set, plus Pirate Booty, Star Munchkin and smaller booster packs. A few of the cards (mostly in the base set) have suggestive images and/or wording (ie Unbutton Top Button - distracts opponents, +2 in battle), and you could simply take them out, but the beauty is, most of the references go over kids' heads, but they're entertained by the cartoonish art anyway. Our kids LOVE this game, and have asked to play it almost every day since we got it a month ago. Takes about half an hour.

Also, I bought DH the Munchkin Quest board game, which may end up being an adult thing simply because it's pretty involved. Basically, you're exploring a dungeon, and add a room (cardboard link to the game board) each time you move. There are a lot more rules, though, and many steps per turn, so many kids may not have the patience. Once we get the whole thing down ourselves, though, we may be able to include them by skipping some steps and streamlining it somewhat.

-- Ten Days in Europe
This is one I picked up at the toy store I mentioned. The game board is a map of Europe (games for any continent are available, I just picked Europe because it has the most countries), and each player gets card holders with places for ten cards. You then have to make your way on a ten day trip around Europe in a way that makes sense. You can walk, fly or boat, depending on proximity (you can only walk to a neighboring country, and only boat to countries on the same body of water in a single voyage, and only between countries that have been assigned a similar color). You can't boat or fly for more than one day in a row (ie, days 2,4,6,8, but not 2&3), and you can't start or end your trip en route. It's fun, and a good way to learn geography. Also, each country card has population and capital information included. Josie really likes this, Patrick not as much.

-- Settlers of Catan, Cities and Knights extension
Last year, I got SoC on one of Amazon's Deals of the Day sales for less than half price, which was great because I'd been wanting to try it, but was unwilling to spend a lot of money on a game I had never played (they're about $40 regularly). We liked it, but it seemed to need a little more. This year, I got the Cities and Knights extension, which adds, obviously, a whole new dimension. Now, in addition to building settlements and collecting resources and evading the robber, we have tons of new buildings and incentives. To play SoC, you put together the board, which consists of a bunch of pentagonical shapes with numbers and pictures of resources on them. Each time, you can assemble it differently, so the game always changes. Players roll the dice, and whoever is next to the pentagons with that number on it gets to take resource cards, which can then be traded for roads, houses, etc. With knights and cities, you can upgrade from houses to cities, get knights to protect you from pirates and robbers, and steal things from each other. The game starts a little slow, but as you get a few turns in, and collect a few resources, your ability to collect even more increases, and it goes pretty fast after that. Our kids didn't like this one much last year, but that may be because we weren't proficient enough to teach them quickly, so we'll probably try it again with them. There are a lot of rules, and the rule book can be intimidating, but really it's a lot simpler than they make it sound.

-- Shut the Box
This is a Melissa & Doug game, and looks beautiful, but we haven't opened it yet. I'm hoping to play it this afternoon, actually. I have no idea what it's about yet, because it doesn't say anything on the box. M&D stuff is usually really good, though.

Other favorite games:

- The Scambled States of America - even little kids can play this geography game, but having someone play with them who can read helps. Ours have been playing since they were 3 or so. Very funny, and seven years later, we're still playing it. Takes about 20 minutes.

- The Enchanted Forest - a memory game mixed with a board game. Again, we've played this one consistently for about six years. Both kids like it; it's easy and straightforward. Takes 15-20 minutes.

-- Wizardology - based on the popular book. Not for very young children, simply because it's a little complex until you're used to it, and you have to have a good grasp of language. Takes 30-60 minutes.

-- Zooreka - you run a zoo, and collect resources based on dice and cards you draw monopoly-style when you land on certain spaces. Trade resources in for animals; get four animals and you win! Lots of animals to choose from, quick pace. Young kids can play pretty well, especially with an adult partner. Takes about 20-30 minutes.

-- and of course, Uno!

What do your kids love and ask for all the time?


d e v a n said...

fun! My kids are a bit young for most of those. We have the standard games: Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Don't Break the Ice, Uno, Old Maid.
For Christmas they got: Crocodile Dentist (no batteries, no noise, no pieces - best game ever!) and Pop Up Pirate and Monopoly Jr (which they are way too small for, but MIL got it anyway)

hackard said...

Glad you're enjoying the Munchkin games! You're probably right that MQ is a little better for older kids, but they might surprise you. Just be aware that it's got lots of little bits, so keep it away from the REALLY little ones.

Andrew Hackard
Munchkin Czar, SJ Games

creative kerfuffle said...

we have a lot of games too but don't play them nearly enough. the hubs isn't a board game player so that puts a damper on things. the kids and i usually play together though.

Marie Green said...

Our new favorite is Apples to Apples. Though our kids are a bit young for it unless there are a lot of adults playing. (I'm thinking of adding apples to apples JR for them).

We also like Catch Phrase (when playing with adults), Cranium, and Scattegories.

Our kids love UNO, and we just got Skipbo (we're probably going to play it this afternoon). They also just got Connect 4, which we play as a tournament. Whoever wins stays in and plays someone sitting out.

I have some friends that are huge into games, and their all-time fav is called Killer Bunnies. (There's a kid's version called Kinder Bunnies too.) Have you heard of this? I think you should check it out, if you haven't!