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AmeriTrash for kids?

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16 Jan 2008 20:56 #882 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
I didn't make it there tonight. It's already almost 8:00 PM, and I am just now getting ready to leave the office. I'm totally burned out. I would be more than two hours late for the Boys & Girls Club deal, and that's assuming that I skip dinner.

I came down with a cold near the end of my vacation during the holidays, then had to work long hours for the first ten days straight after getting back, closing the books on 2007. I did take last weekend off, but that was due to sheer exhaustion.

Then I finally got the final adjustments back from our CPA, only they weren't really final until late this afternoon. So now I am finally caught up, and should be able to make it next Wednesday.

So I will let you know then how things went. I'm still planning to go with the non-violent game themes the first time out, then break out the AmeriTrash for as long as I can get away with it.

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23 Jan 2008 02:41 #1284 by KingPut
Replied by KingPut on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
The Xbox generation of kids need fairly quick, easy and very violent games. More power to you if you can get a bunch of 6 – 16 year olds to play Euros. If I had a quiet room with 2 or 3 kids I can have them playing anything from Squad Leader to Caylus to Ti3 but if you have a room full of kids, I’d keep the games light.

I’ve ran a family game night in my small town and over the last 12 months we introduced board games to over 50 people. More than half of them are between the ages of 8 – 15.
This year I’ve learned quite a lot about what kids like to play. While some light abstract games have been popular (Blokus, Hey that’s my Fish, Tsuro, Ingenious) and some family / party games have been popular (Werewolf, Cluzzle, Wits and Wagers, Apples to Apples), it’s the Ameritrash Jr. games that keeps the kids begging their parents to come back. The 9 – 12 year old boys love games that they get to hit, shot and kill each other. I feel like a rock star in my town because I have a bunch of 9-12 year groupies that think I’m the coolest dad in town because I own games like Battleball, Kung Fu Fighting and Cash & Guns. That makes up for the fact that the moms think I’m Satan because I’m pointing toy guns at their kids and I’m yelling “say hello to my little friend” and I’m doing my endzone dance when I just blew-up a 10 years Heavy Tackle in Battleball. It also makes up for the fact that most of the kids will eventually grow up and think I’m a weird geek that plays board games. But there is hope that I will convert a few to playing board games in the future.

Must have games: Werewolf, Cash & Guns and Blokus
New Favorites: Ubongo and Outburst Extreme
Popular card games: Pit, Loot, Uno

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23 Jan 2008 11:10 #1291 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
I'm definitely going to the Boy & Girls Club to play boardgames tonight. Although I was planning to just take non-violent fare to appease my girlfriend, I couldn't find some of the games that I had in mind when I was quickly packing up games this morning.

So I'm taking Citadels, Werewolf, Kill Doctor Lucky, and The Awful Green Things from Outer Space. Citadels is the only non-violent game of the bunch, well except for the Assassin killing folks and the Warlord smashing cities. Oh well, it *looks* relatively non-violent.

If things go well, I will definitely bring Betrayal at House on the Hill next week, and maybe Zombies!!! I like Cash'n'Guns, but I think I will wait a while longer on that one, to get a read on the people running the place and also the other people in this boardgame meetup group. Just from looking at their profiles, they seem like fairly bland middle-aged people.

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23 Jan 2008 12:48 #1301 by Pat
Replied by Pat on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
Good Luck. Cash 'n Guns might railroad the overly sensitive adult types. This will then lead to whispering and finger wagging behind your back. All this at the expense of the kids so tread carefully the first go around.

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23 Jan 2008 22:57 #1335 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
I never got my games out of the bag. There were about 70 kids there, ranging from age 6 to 16, and maybe three were white. The rest were mostly hispanic, with a some black kids and a few asians. The kids who showed an interest in playing games with us seemed to be mostly in an age range of 6 to 10, maybe a dozen girls and a half dozen boys. Most of the other kids were loudly playing pool, ping pong, arcade games, or just running around and shouting.

One of our boardgamers set up a game of Eureka, which kept a half dozen kids occupied for two consecutive hour-long games. The rest of us played a little Connect Four and lots and lots of Blink.

For those of you who haven't played, Connect Four is a slightly more complex version of Tic-Tac-Toe. Young kids would rather just play with the pieces than actually play the game. Blink is the perfect game for young kids with very short attention spans.

In a 2-player game of Blink (the preferred version with these kids), each player gets nearly half the deck. A couple of other cards get flipped simultaneously to start things off. You play cards from your hand if they match either of the current faceup cards on the table, based on color, shape or quantity of shapes. The card you just played becomes the new top card of that stack. The game requires very quick thinking and very quick reflexes, because if you take too long to play a card, your opponent may have already played a card on top of the one you were going to play onto, and you may not be able to legally play on top of the new card, depending on the match.

So I played about 20 games of Blink with several different kids, winning slightly more than half the time. It was addictive fun at first, until the caffeine wore off and I started to feel burned out.

Then I watched while one of my fellow boardgamers played a game of Blink where he agreed to buy some girl scout cookies if he lost. Their game was like a mugging, with the girl cheating by holding her hand of cards over the faceup cards so that he couldn't see them clearly, while her best friend kicked him in the shins for most of the game. She challenged me to play for the same stakes, but I told her that I play for fun or not at all. She played me fair and square and I won with no bruises on the shins.

Then another kid came up and challenged me to Blink. I thought it was a girl because of the earring and the braid down past the shoulder blades, but it was actually a boy according to the other kids at the table. I guess the wifebeater shirt and the fact that he worse just one earring should have been a warning. At first, I was very impressed with his blindingly fast play, but after suffering two huge defeats, I got suspicious. It turned out that he was cheating like crazy, playing two or three cards extra cards down under each match he played. We switched to playing War with the Blink deck, and that was mildly entertaining.

After two hours, we had to start putting stuff away. They were closing early that night, because of something to do with new carpet being installed the next day. There was a public announcement about a reward offered for a cell phone that night, but it didn't turn up.

I will go back next week, because I heard that this night was unusually chaotic. It might be that there was an unusually high turnout due to the extreme cold. But if it's this chaotic every time, I will get burned out quickly. I haven't been around young kids much since I went off to college a long time ago.

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23 Jan 2008 23:05 #1337 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
Cash'n'Guns would be a huge hit with these kids. But then I would have to live with the knowledge that I taught a bunch of inner city kids that pointing guns at people is funny.

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24 Jan 2008 00:30 #1339 by Pat
Replied by Pat on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
Wow sounds busy. Cold as a witch's tit over here too. Cash n' Guns might still be a little too thematic in this setting, everyone would want to play though as it sounds.

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24 Jan 2008 10:28 - 24 Jan 2008 10:30 #1363 by Michael Barnes
Wow! That kid event sounds a hell of a lot more fun than most of the board game events I've been to, where overweight middled-aged men sit and stare at a table all day and quietly shuffle pieces around.
Last edit: 24 Jan 2008 10:30 by Michael Barnes.

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24 Jan 2008 11:55 #1381 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
If I had to choose between playing Blink for two hours with these kids or playing a couple of games of Puerto Rico with the frumpy guys at the local game shop... well, that's a tough one. I guess I would choose the kids, because at least I would know somebody was having fun, even if it wasn't me.

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25 Jan 2008 15:06 #1442 by Forelle
Replied by Forelle on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
If it wasn't apparent your first go round, I'd advise you to only take games that you can easily replace if need be. Kids are hard on games.

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25 Jan 2008 19:20 #1447 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
Great point. Yeah, those Blink decks are in brutal shape. At least a half dozen cards in each deck are marked now, due to folded over corners where somebody slapped them down on the table too quickly. That doesn't really matter in Blink, because gameplay is so very fast, but I would hate to see that kind of damage happen to any of my own games.

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27 Jan 2008 01:34 #1489 by KingPut
Replied by KingPut on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
Forelle wrote:

If it wasn't apparent your first go round, I'd advise you to only take games that you can easily replace if need be. Kids are hard on games.

I'm actually on my third deck of Werewolf cards. The younger kids are very hard on games. I've resorted to telling them if they bend the cards I'll make them play Agricola. That seems to have worked. I'd place my bets on AT gamer winning over 60 kids over a Eurogamer any day. But Good Luck anyway.

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27 Jan 2008 23:32 #1535 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
I bought Pit just for these kids. I have fond memories of playing it with my cousins when I was a kid. It was a large extended Catholic family, and Pit was one of the few games that could handle a larger group of players than the standard 4 or 6 that most games were designed for back then. The games got so loud that the adults made us play a silent version instead, until somebody got poked in the eye. So I figure the non-silent version of Pit would work well with this group of kids. And if the cards get beat up, I won't mind, because Pit is not exactly a tough game to replace.

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31 Jan 2008 10:22 #1709 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
Pit was a hit! But first we played Candyland.

That's right, I played Candyland with some tough inner city kids. This time around, it was all boys, ranging in age from 6 to maybe 10. To my surprise, they added an additional AmeriTrash rule to liven up the proceedings. Whenever your token moves ahead of other tokens, you get to knock each one over while making fake punch noises with your mouth or talking smack or both. (Fake punch sound = an explosive *psh* syllable.) I came in third, aka last.

Then we moved on to Pit. We roped in another kid for a 4-player game. And these kids really loved it. Trading was fast and furious, punctuated with cries of dismay when getting the Bear card, and accusations of cheating. Yes, there was cheating, where people sometimes traded me two cards that didn't match, like Cattle and Rice. But I didn't complain, because I was often looking for Cattle or Rice or whatever at least one those mis-matched cards were. Thankfully, my modern edition didn't have the bell, it had a piece of fancy cardboard labeled "CORNER!" that you are supposed to slap when you win.

Then we played another game and another... games varied from as few as 3 players to as many as 6 players. One kid walked up while we were playing, and he didn't look like a kid so much as he looked like a miniature hispanic insurance salesman, with his round face and conservative crew cut. He kept looking at the box and saying "I'm seven, I can play. I'm seven, I can play."

My favorite moment was in a 4-player game, near the end, when each of us was calling out "one one one" while each sliding our one card around the table face down, looking for a trade. It wasn't that we couldn't execute a one-for-one trade, it's just that by that point in the game, none of us trusted each other enough to trade even one card. Finally, I declared "okay" and quickly swapped cards with the kid across the table, and when I saw that he traded me the Bear, I quickly traded it to another kid muttering "one one one."

So what is Pit, in terms of classification? It doesn't have traditional AmeriTrash themes, narrative or conflict. It's too interactive and chaotic to be a Euro. It's absolutely not a wargame, and yet it seems to lively to be an abstract. Family game seems like kind of an empty and useless label, but maybe that's the best fit. But it honestly felt like I was playing an AmeriTrash game, kind of a Cash'n'Guns without guns, right down to the flying accusations and paranoia surrounding who might have the Bear card. Lots of shouting and swearing and energy at the table.

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31 Jan 2008 12:10 #1714 by ubarose
Replied by ubarose on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?

So what is Pit, in terms of classification?


Personally, I don't feel the need to shoehorn every game that exists into a classification. In real life, game classifications are primarily useful for certain kinds of conversation, such as:

You see a poster that says "Open Game Night Every Monday and Thursday" at your FLGS.
You: What type of games tend to be played at Open Game Nights?
Store Manager: Mondays are mostly CCGs. Thursdays are mostly wargames and Euros.

Or

Gamer1: I'm looking for a game with a knights theme. What would would you suggest?
Gamer2: If you like Euros, I suggest Rhienlander. If you like Ameritrash, I suggest Warrior Knights.

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