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AmeriTrash for kids?

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31 Jan 2008 13:00 #1715 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
I'm still up against some fairly short attention spans. Pit worked well, but I have doubts about getting any real AmeriTrash on the table. There was a fight in the gymnasium last night where some kids were playing soccer, so half the kids at my table had to run over and watch. A little while later, a boy walked in with a large bag of chips, and was instantly mobbed by 15 other kids, including all of my players. Nearly every other game, we were either adding or subtracting cards to adjust for changing numbers of players.

Can anybody think of an AmeriTrash game where players can easily be added or taken out of the game, in the middle of play? And what about really cheap AT games, where I won't have to worry much if components get trashed?

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31 Jan 2008 15:35 - 31 Jan 2008 15:49 #1720 by KingPut
Replied by KingPut on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
Shellhead, you've made my day the last 2 Thursday's hearing your war stories. With my suburban family gaming group that I run at the coffee shop I’m only competing with the noise of the Frapocino machine not some fight on a soccer field. Pits a terrific game so I’d keep with it. It scales from 3 to I think 8 players which is great when playing with kids. If one player drops it’s easy enough to re-sort the cards.

If you can get a cheap copy of Battleball, try that out. You need a pretty big table and it only takes 2 players but it can easily go to 3 or 4 players with teams or have players take turns. This game is really easy to teach. Also, we’ve played who ever scores first wins to shorten the games for the kids. The boys love this game because it’s basically cool looking football. Don’t worry about losing pieces the most likely thing you’ll lose is the dice and you can replace them (there is 2 of every dice anyway). If you lose a player you can play 10 on 10 or add in an army man or something similar size.

If you get 8 or more kids try werewolf. If you don’t want to use the fancy cards and rules you can use a regular deck of cards. I have kids begging to be the moderator now so I can either play or just watch now. Kids like to repeat games week after week more so than adults so you don’t need to add in new games as frequently as you would think.

The worst possible gaming environment I’ve ever tried to play games at was at an outdoor town festival next to a DJ, Live Music, food and Bocci ball. Over a few hours we did have 23 people play board games. Battleball was the big hit with 6 plays, Blokus (3), Cash & Guns (2), Chess (2), Tsuro (2), Cluzzle (1).

Good luck again. Let us know how it goes.
Last edit: 31 Jan 2008 15:49 by KingPut.

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02 Feb 2008 06:30 - 02 Feb 2008 06:31 #1779 by KingPut
Replied by KingPut on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
I just added Cosmic Wimpout ($5.00) to a game order for my family gaming group. This is a quick push your luck dice game that can take any number of players. The rules are very easy. The 5 dice is all you really need. Players can even be added late to game. Once the kids learn that I start running a craps game and make some money on the side.
Last edit: 02 Feb 2008 06:31 by KingPut.

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07 Feb 2008 12:03 #2171 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
KingPut, your posts encouraged me to go again last night, even though I have had a tough week involving month-end close and a stupidly long caucus on Tuesday night. So here's my latest update:

I went back for more last night. I was the first one of our group to show up last night (out of five), and I felt really awkward standing around. Some other group of volunteers was working the room last night, several semi-attractive suburban white women. They had hijacked our usual tables for a drawing contest, and were also using the nearby pool tables that are usually shut down on boardgame night so nobody gets bopped in the head with a carelessly aimed pool cue. Eventually our organizer showed up and located the activities coordinator, and they rounded up a couple of smaller tables.

First up was Connect Four. And maybe this makes me a bad volunteer, but I won’t play it anymore. The game is deadly dull, and the kids usually wander away or just fiddle with the pieces. I got out my Pit cards and started sorting them. One at a time, several of the Pit players from last week drifted by, one at a time, but I told them we needed at least 3 or 4 to play. Meanwhile, our group organizer set up a game called Rack-O.

Rack-O should be renamed Suck-O. Minimal interaction, too much luck, too little strategy, boring components, abstract, and too long. In other words, Rack-O was almost completely devoid of fun. None of the kids liked Rack-O much, it was only slightly more popular than doing homework. One kid just got up and walked away from Rack-O after two turns. Another kid who might have been one year younger than the minimum age on the box (8) sat there with a blank look the entire game, as one of our volunteers coached him on every single play.

I finally got a four-player game of Pit going, and tonight was the night when I decided to take the gloves off. I played hard and won. It was such a clear victory that one of my opponents immediately proposed a team variant, where each team would share a hand of 19 cards. I knew that it was a terrible idea for a variant, but I admired his creative thinking, so we gave it a try. It was pretty bad, because you automatically knew that every single trade was going to include the Bear, and the endgame would come down to pure reflexes. They won, but they knew that the variant was worthless, so all three boys wandered off.

Unlike the ladies in our group, I didn’t feel comfortable chasing kids down and asking them to play games, so I just sat and looked around the room, then sorted the Pit cards again. I saw that several kids were playing one of those lousy button-mashing side-by-side fighting games. Seeing Magneto kung fu kick Rogue in the face was just silly. I talked briefly with one of the ladies from our group, who asked if I was showing up for the big boardgame meetup on Saturday. If I didn’t already have a really cute girlfriend, I might have been interested in this lady, who had that pretty school marm look, the kind that can whip off the glasses and let down her hair and look pretty good. I told her that I only joined for this volunteer thing, because I already have a regular boardgame group and we just play AmeriTrash games.

AmeriTrash? She wasn’t familiar with the term, and asked, “Is that another name for Eurogames?” Uhhhh, no. I told her that Eurogames were all about auctions and growing crops and pleasing the Prince, while AmeriTrash games were about blowing things up and shooting people until they are dead. Her eyes got big. I also said that Eurogames tend to have brown boxes and drab themes involving boring jobs, while AmeriTrash games have great themes involving horror, war, science-fiction and fantasy. She smiled and said “Oh.” Not dismissively, but not necessarily interested either. Damn these Minnesotans and their cryptic politeness.

Next up, this crazy little white girl came up to our table. She was the one who was shrieking and throwing Connect Four pieces a couple of weeks ago just for the sheer chaotic joy of it. She wanted to play Blink with us. I asked her what her name was, and she stonewalled me. Then the librarian said “I’m Kristi, what’s your name?” The little girl leaned over and whispered in her ear. Kristi said, “I’m pretty sure that your name isn’t really Bob.” But that was all she would tell us, so we called her Bob. Maybe she was a Barb, but she otherwise spoke clearly, without any trouble saying her Rs.

That miniature insurance agent kid came over and wanted to play Blink, too. His name turns out to be Isaac, which made me wonder if he was actually latino. To tell the truth, I can’t easily tell. All these kids speak english just fine, and while some definitely look Mexican, others could be Caucasian. Even “Bob” might be latina and just unusually pale. Anyway, it turned out that Isaac didn’t really want to learn Blink, he just wanted to play War with the Blink deck. As I mentioned before War isn’t quite as boring or slow with the blink deck, because with only five numeric values, you get a lot of ties, so there can be some big swings in the game.

Isaac was wearing sunglasses propped on top of his, looking more and more like a tan, preppie insurance agent, but the effect was spoiled because the shades kept sliding down his forehead and over his eyes. By the time I had won about 80% of the deck, Isaac started cheating. He started making me play my card first, then cherry-picking a higher value card to beat me with. If I played a five, then he would pull out a one and let me win that one. Then Isaac started cheating outrageously, by playing the same five yellow triangles card, over and over again, except when I played a five. Did he think I wouldn’t notice?

Finally, a couple of Pit players rescued me from War. We roped Isaac into playing a game, but then he left. It was getting late and all the other boardgame people were leaving, but I managed to get together a group of five for Pit. We played several lively games and then we had to pack it up as they were shutting the place down for the night.

I did find out that one of my Pit guys is 11 and another is 9. It seems plausible that I should be able to get an AmeriTrash game on the table soon. I will go with Pit again next time, but maybe bring Kill Doctor Lucky, too.

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07 Feb 2008 16:56 #2202 by KingPut
Replied by KingPut on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
A very funny post again. I love the miniature tan , preppy insurance agent kid story. Usually, I only printout Matt and Barnes stuff but this made the cut.

Have you dragged one of your buddies or cute girlfriend there to help you with the games? Zone defense works with kids. One person deals with the children and one person deals with the games. I'm also thinking you should go straight for teaching the kid craps. There is a lot more math skills taught playing craps than playing War, Connect 4 or Rack-O. I guess they wouldn't ask you back if you did that.

You're making me feel guilty. While you were working with the kids' I was scheduled to play Ti3 with Malloc and 2 other guys at 8:00 PM. I also had a parent teacher meeting at 6:45 PM and I know I should have been focusing in on how my daughter should be paying attention in school and not daydreaming, but teacher and wife are talking and talking and they're voices start sounding like the adults in the peanut cartoons and I started daydreaming about playing the Mindnet in Ti3. Then, I look at my watch and it's almost 7:30 PM and I'm like come on ladies let's get on with this I need to blow up some shit.

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14 Feb 2008 10:39 #2738 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
Due to last minute hassles at work, I showed up a half hour late last night, but the situation was problematic. Last week was the last week of the old activities director, who was a college buddy of the leader of our boardgame volunteer group. So when I showed up, there were no gaming tables in place, some kids were playing pool, and the rest were competing in a dance competition with the R&B cranked up LOUD. My Pit players saw me, but they were all busy at the dance competition, cheering on whoever was up, and none of them came over to say hi. Our fearless leader was supposedly there, but I couldn't find him, so I left after ten minutes.

So I will check in with our group to see what happened. Maybe our volunteer activity has been canceled. If so, that's okay. I got the sense that these kids weren't wildly enthusiastic about playing games, it was just another way of staving off boredom, no better or worse than playing pool or drawing pictures or dancing to R&B. Come to think of it, that was how most kids thought about boardgames when I was a kid. Even I was fairly indifferent about playing classics like Risk or Monopoly. It wasn't until around 1980 that I started buying cool games that were strongly influenced by rpgs, early AmeriTrash like Intruder or Kung Fu 2100.

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20 Feb 2008 17:08 #3065 by Shellhead
Replied by Shellhead on topic Re:AmeriTrash for kids?
Boardgame night has been cancelled. The new activities director at the Boys and Girls Club has been ignoring our volunteer group leader, so he pulled out and everybody else gave up. I will keep an eye out for a similar volunteer effort, because I still think that the basic idea was a good one.

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