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Modifying Boardgames for Children

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05 Feb 2016 01:00 #221780 by Jexik

I worked in child care for a long time, and kids like playing games, but sometimes the games that they're most excited about playing are the ones that are over their heads. It was part of my job to figure out how to modify activities for kids age K-6, and I like teaching games, so this is something I'd like to work to get better at. Most Euros seem pretty hard to scale back for younger players because they're such tightly controlled systems, but modular games with dice and minis generally seem a bit easier, despite how complicated they can get. I've also got four nephews and a niece, and started the oldest two (now a 13 y.o. nephew and the 11 y.o. niece) at 6 and 4 on Heroscape. My girlfriend's 5-year-old son has watched us playing some games and of course he wants to be involved.

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05 Feb 2016 09:58 #221781 by Mr. White
You're right. Games like Heroscape and even Dungeon are simple enough to modify for the 5 year old set. Like you mention, games like Hey That's My Fish, There's a Moose in the House, the many HABA offerings are all great kid fair.

To your question though, I feel like I've successfully modified a few 'older' games for younger kids.

Ticket to Ride: We give each kid 9 (three sets of three colors) of those glass beads. The type you find in games like Pente. Anyway, the kids play their ticket cards face up and put one bead on the ticket (say a blue one) then the other two beads of the same color on the two destinations. They can then use these visual cues to help them see which two cities they need to build between for a given ticket. It's worked well.

Zooloretto: We have two awards at our table. A winner by points (standard rules) and a winner that has the most babies. This is the prize the kids usually shoot for as they simply try to collect the most mature animal pairs and see who can have the most babies in their zoo.
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05 Feb 2016 10:53 #221789 by dragonstout
Great article idea; very timely for me!

My 5-year-old is very interested in playing games, and he can completely read and everything (at school he apparently reads the rules of games there to other classmates), but is mostly terrible at having the patience to follow the rules of the game, even for little kid games, of which we have many; he inevitably starts making up rules, which is fine except that his rules tend to be some variant of "he can't lose".

Bizarrely, one of the best jobs he's ever done playing a game completely by the rules was X-Wing, a few days ago...with FULL RULES, no kidding. I think it's that he's been so damn curious about the game and wanting to play the game by the "advanced rules" (we had played it a month ago by the quickstart rules) using all the tokens in the box etc., that he was willing to make a real effort. He even made all the decisions about the dials and actions all by himself (and measured range by himself). That was really a miraculous fluke, though. We also played Dungeon a few months ago.

He's SO interested in playing the grownup games, and this kind of "how do I simplify these games" is exactly what I need. It's very hard to talk him out of wanting to play with EVERYTHING, so I need to somehow hide the fact that we're playing something simplified.

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05 Feb 2016 11:26 - 05 Feb 2016 11:28 #221797 by Columbob
I got Dungeon! for my nephews (then 7 and 8) last year, it turns out that the eldest isn't that patient with playing games (though he will play plenty with me, and they will all readily play something like Blood Bowl: Team Manager with a bit of guidance), and their younger sister (now 6) is just as willing to play, especially with the second brother. It doesn't get much simpler than Dungeon!
Last edit: 05 Feb 2016 11:28 by Columbob.

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05 Feb 2016 11:47 #221801 by the_jake_1973
A couple that I know like to play Agricola and a couple of their kids enjoy playing as well. The children are 8 and 6. They have grasped the concepts of the game and do not get board while playing it. One concession that they have made for play with the younger child is that when the sheep go to the kitchen and the output is food, the sheep are making the food in the kitchen for the family.

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05 Feb 2016 11:50 #221802 by Shellhead
Don't sell kids short when it comes to learning games. My dad taught me how to play Acquire at age 6, though I wasn't playing well enough to win until age 9.

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05 Feb 2016 12:00 #221804 by Columbob
I don't make concessions regarding where meat comes from with my kids. Understand that you're eating an animal. If it's disgusting for you (and my youngest has never really been crazy about meat, same as her uncle when he was a kid), then there are alternatives.

I think a lot of people would become vegetarians if they only understood/witnessed the process behind meat: slaughter, butchering and sometimes transformation.

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05 Feb 2016 12:27 #221806 by Black Barney
Transformation into something delicious

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05 Feb 2016 12:36 #221807 by Shellhead

Columbob wrote: I think a lot of people would become vegetarians if they only understood/witnessed the process behind meat: slaughter, butchering and sometimes transformation.


Historically, the opposite has been true. Outside of India, the vegan thing is a very recent concept, and only arose after a protracted period when people were mostly absent from the process of turning an animal into meat. In times past, people were more likely to witness where their meat came from, and they didn't have a problem with it.

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05 Feb 2016 13:22 - 05 Feb 2016 13:33 #221811 by SuperFlySwatter

Columbob wrote: I don't make concessions regarding where meat comes from with my kids. Understand that you're eating an animal. If it's disgusting for you (and my youngest has never really been crazy about meat, same as her uncle when he was a kid), then there are alternatives.

I think a lot of people would become vegetarians if they only understood/witnessed the process behind meat: slaughter, butchering and sometimes transformation.


I agree with this.
I pretty much only eat fish because I could (and have) looked a fish in the eye and killed the fucker. I just couldn't do it to a cow, so I am not going to be a pussy and pay some other person to treat it like shit and do it for me and put it in a package so I dont have to see what really happened. I certainly could not slaughter/cut up/process it even if I did somehow manage to shoot it in the head.
But I'm not getting on any high horse since I have eaten meat, on rare occasions still do.
Its weird though that the dairy industry always manages to get a free pass on being complete cunts to the animals, but we're lucky enough to have some local farms that adopt a totally different animal friendly method, it costs quite a lot more but we think its worth it.
Stuff should cost more, in general, stuff being cheap is usually the result of someone being a &/)& to someone or something else.
Except Heroscape. That shit should be cheap.
Last edit: 05 Feb 2016 13:33 by SuperFlySwatter.

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05 Feb 2016 17:46 #221836 by mads b.
Just to get back to board games I play X-wing with my daughter who just turned seven. We play without upgrades and usually have two or maybe three ships each. Also no asteroids because they stress her out. We don't usually finish the games, but that's okay. But the last time we played she had the Falcon and the 360 degree firing arch was great for her.

I've also played Dungeonquest with her and at one time the three year old joined in. He basically just wanted to go and wake up the dragon, but had fun nonetheless. And for Dungeonquest you don't have to change anything except for using the original combat rules (we just got a used copy of the original Swedish/Danish edition, so that's sort of a given now).

At other times the eldest has joined in while I played Robinson Crusoe, and we also play Dungeon Roll and recently Drako together which is quite fun. And then there's kids games, obviously, but that's something else, I guess.

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06 Feb 2016 16:48 #221859 by SuperFlySwatter
are you in Köpenhamn dude? I heard there was quite a big game culture over there, of course, its a city I love to visit in summer and get pleasantly intoxicated while sat in nyhamn enjoying the view, but maybe one day I'll get to meet an actual FATtie - are you a fan of Heroscape :)

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06 Feb 2016 18:16 #221863 by mads b.

LAP wrote: are you in Köpenhamn dude? I heard there was quite a big game culture over there, of course, its a city I love to visit in summer and get pleasantly intoxicated while sat in nyhamn enjoying the view, but maybe one day I'll get to meet an actual FATtie - are you a fan of Heroscape :)


I used to live in Copenhagen, but now I reside some 40 minutes away by train in a relatively small town. But I'm there for work quite often.

And yes, there's a big board game café (Bastard Café) which has really gained momentum and is almost almost full. And by full we're talking 150 or 200 people playing board games. And I also know that a few of FFG's living card games and especially X-wing have quite active communities centered around the FLGS Faraos Cigarer.

I had a Heroscape set which I sold for some reason some years back. But it was a lot of fun. Let me know if you're in CPH at some time and maybe we can meet up at Bastard for some gaming.
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