07 August 2013

The Games We Play

We have always been a family that plays games, board and card games that is.  Matt and I played a lot of Scrabble and Monopoly when we were first married.  I also taught him how to play Cribbage so I would have someone to play with besides my grandfather.  We periodically had friends over for game nights and have added to our collection of fun group games.

We started playing games with Isaac as soon as he was able, which we insisted was younger than the ages noted on the boxes and in the game instructions.  We went through Candy Land and Don't Break the Ice and have added to our collection of "kid" games in the past eight years.  Some we have also given away as soon as Isaac would part with it.  Hungry Hungry Hippos is just so loud!

Last year we started playing "Euro" games.  These games are more strategy based and are usually focused around economic rather than military themes.  We started with Settlers of Catan and have expanded our repertoire in the past few months.  We still like to play as a family and look for games that can be played by three players and that we think Isaac will be able to learn.

On many Friday nights you can often find us at Geeksboro Coffehouse Cinema for game night.  A local game club brings in a collection of games for people to play.  It is rare that Isaac does not ask to go.  We try to find a new game each time and also play something that is familiar.  It has become one of our favorite family outings.

I thought I would share some of the games, Euro and traditional, that Isaac has particularly liked over the years.

Stratego: We have an old version.  The box is disintegrating.  This war strategy, capture-the-flag game has been around forever.  Matt taught Isaac to play it when he was four.  Isaac likes to cheat.

Chuck-It-Chicken: This is silly kids' game, but one that I find less tedious than others.  Players try to get their hens to the rooster at the top of the henhouse while other players attempt to knock their hens down with a rolling egg.

Marvel The Incredible Hulk Smash:  If I never have to play this game again I will be happy.  The set up is a pain since you have to build your pieces out of playdo.  Then players move pieces around the board or Smash other players' pieces to keep them from reaching the finish line.  Obviously, the smashing part is where the fun comes in.

Uno:  We taught Isaac this game a few years ago.  This series is great for number and color recognition.  Our deck is a Batman: Dark Night version we found at Target on clearance.  Isaac has never seen the movie, but knows all of the characters.

Pictureka:  This is a timed picture recognition game where players are trying to win cards by spotting the picture first. Not my favorite.

Cirkus:  This is a strategic tile game where players are trying to score points by completing shapes before their opponent.  Isaac beats me almost every time.

Swap/Ratuki/Skipbo: More fast-paced card games.  These are also great for quick number recognition.  Games do not take too long so these are good to play when attention spans are short.

Loot:  In this game players are trying to win treasure by playing their pirate ships.  You have an edge if you are holding one of the captains or the admiral.

Blackjack:  Matt taught Isaac this card game to help him with his math skills.  It was scary how quickly he caught on.

Yahtzee:  More math skills.  I played this a lot with my family growing up.  It was nice to continue the tradition with Isaac.

Settlers of Catan:  Our first Eurogame.  Players try to earn victory points while building roads and settlements.  Lots of strategy involved and some cooperation is needed as players barter and trade.

Ticket to Ride:  In this game, players try to connect cities on a map by building train tracks.  Failing to connect all of your cities will lose you the game. I know this first hand.

TransAmerica:  This is similar to Ticket to Ride, but Isaac likes it better.  It is faster paced and players can piggy-back on to tracks other players have put down to help them reach their destinations.  Both of these "train track" games are good at beginning map recognition.  Isaac is not necessarily learning detailed American geography, but he is starting to recognize the names and locations of major American cities.

Flux:  This is a card game that is different each time you play.  Players try to match a goal by playing different kinds or cards.  The rules change throughout the course of play, hence the name.  A game could take ten minutes or a half hour.

Aquarius:  Another card game.  This one reminds me of dominoes as players try to connect seven cards that match their picture goal, which is one of the seven earthly elements.  The player with the longest hair always gets to go first.  Score!

Love Letters:  Matt and I flummoxed that this has become one of Isaac's favorite games.  It is a deceptively simple 16-card game in which players try to get their love letter to the Princess.  At the end, the player whose card is closest in rank to the Princess wins.  It is a game of nuanced courtly intrigue, which Isaac doesn't understand at all.  But he knows which cards beat what and don't think he won't win.

We bought a few more games this past weekend at a nice game store in Wilmington -- Smash Up, Spot It and Befuzzled.  Smash Up will be a favorite with Matt and me and I think Isaac will like it once he learns.  (It is always best to learn and play the game at least once before trying to teach an eight year old.)  We hope to try the other games soon.

Anyone want to come over for a game night?

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