June 26, 2012

Board games that I play with my kids that don't require heavy drinking to get through.

Kill me now.
Although I have managed to get in one RPG session with my girls, by and large, we mainly play board games.  If you're like me and have had enough of Candyland and Monopoly Jr., give these a try.  These games are simple enough for younger players, but enjoyable for adults as well. In other words, I can play these with my kids without falling asleep.  At the time of this posting, my oldest daughter (Chaos) is 8 and my youngest daughter (Mayhem) is 4.

(Full Disclosure: These links include Noble Knight Games affiliate codes.)

Seven Dragons: A domino-like, color matching card game with Larry Elmore art. Link seven dragons of your color and you win. The instructions include several variations of play, including a pre-school rule set (although, after a few games of that, your kids will likely be ready for the full rule set). The advanced game includes use of cards for messing with other players.

Labyrinth: Players shift the tiles of the maze on their turn, trying to create paths to treasure designated by a deck of cards.  Simple to understand, lots of fun to play.
Castle Keep: Each player tries to construct his own keep with tiles that connect based on color or shape. Instead of building your own keep, you can also destroy part of an opponent's keep by playing a corresponding tile on it.

Forbidden Island: A bit trickier than the others, but it is a cooperative game so it is easy to help the kids. After a game or two, they'll have it down.  Players work together to swipe artifacts from the island before it sinks.  You can also scale the difficulty if it gets too easy.

Cave Troll: Each player commands a small band of adventurers trying to gain control of a dungeon. The mechanic is very simple: each room is worth a particular gold value and the person with the most pieces in the room owns the room when it is counted. (Note: I actually own the 2nd Edition which, apparently is hard to find going by the price.  Funny enough, I got it on the cheap during a Fantasy Flight holiday sale).
Tsuro: Each player plays tiles trying to keep their token on a path that keeps it on the board, while trying to steer others off.  Teaches ruthlessness. You got to love it.

Oshi: A chess/checkers kind of game in which you must push all your opponents pieces off the board.  The more tiers a piece has, the more spaces it came move and the more pieces if can push. E.g., a 3 tier piece can move 3 spaces and push up to 3 pieces. Really fun game.

Fireball Island: (Amazon link there).  You must grab the gem and get off the island first!  Use of cards to screw over the other players and boost your own play keeps this from being a simple "roll and move" game. I've had this since I was a kid.  A bit pricey nowadays.

Heroica: Probably the best way to relate the whole dungeon-exploration concept to kids.  Lots of fun little parts and sort of includes campaign play.  I have to admit, though, the bloom is coming off the rose on this one for me because it is more or less a roll and move game. However, there is a rule that allows a player to control the monsters... that might kick it up a notch.

The Classic Dungeon: Actually, although I used to love this game as a kid, I no longer care for it much. "I move 5 spaces.  I attack the monster. Rinse. Repeat." Still, nostalgia gets this one some points and if you are going to play a roll and move game, might as well play one with purple worms, liches, and ghouls. It will be interesting to see if Wizards of the Coast improves it all when they re-release it.

Battleground: Crossbows and Catapults: Toys R Us sold these sets dirt cheap a few Christmases back. Now they cost a fortune on eBay, etc.  This version is a revamped take on the classic, with Orcs and Knights instead of Barbarians and Vikings. I haven't tried to use the actual Battleground rules for it yet which are suppose to be pretty decent and more like a war game.  Right now, we just set 'em up and see who can knock down the most figures.

June 22, 2012

Frost Giant Friday - "Yggdrasil, Gamemaster Screen" by Marc Simonetti

Marc Simonetti did this for a GM screen for a yet-to-released Cubicle 7 RPG called "Yggdrasil."

June 15, 2012

Cheap Pirate Minis at the Dollar General

I was in the local Dollar General store this morning and noticed a pack of 25 pirate figures for $1.00.  They are the same scale as your standard green army men.  Also, they are called BUCCANEER BRAWLERS, so what is not to like?

June 9, 2012

... now with Dungeoneering Kids.

I finally played an RPG with my girls! Since both of them (particularly, the oldest) are fans of Mouseguard, Redwall, etc., we played HarvestersHarvesters is Castles & Crusades re-skinned with an anthropomorphic take.

Here are some highlights:
  • We used 3d6 in order for ability generation. I did this mainly to keep it simple and fast, more so than any need to be hardcore or old school.
  • Chaos (my 8-year-old) rolled a 3 for dexterity. That' right; three 1s. Ouch. I was tempted to let her re-roll, but didn't. Tough love or being an ass? I haven't decided yet. My concern was that if I let her re-roll that, how would I explain that she couldn't re-roll, say, a to hit roll?
  • Mayhem (my 4-year-old) was on fire with 16s, 15s, etc.  I was worried how this would play out with her PC being statistically better, but it actually wasn't a problem overall. There initially was some unspoken jealousy from Chaos, but she took solace in Mayhem's low Charisma score, ha.
  • Even the highly abbreviated character creation I used wasn't all that fun for girls, who found it too long. I tried to keep it moving just giving them a quick run down of what the races, classes, etc. were like and simply let them decide what equipment they wanted.  "What kind of weapon do you want?"  "Do you want a backpack?"
  • Mayhem had a rather burly badger rogue named Stripe and Chaos had a rather clumsy, but wise, otter druid named Splash.
  • To keep things moving, I just gave Chaos an overview of the spells her druid had. 

Splash the River Otter Druid and Strip the Badger Rogue
  • Since I didn't have many animal miniatures, Chaos had the great idea to use Little Pet Shop toys. Mayhem opted for the dire badger mini, though.
  • I used the default Wheat Hollow setting and just pulled an adventure out of my arse:  rat pirates were stealing fishermen's fish and boats!
  • The duo encountered some wolf spiders on their trip south to investigate the piracy. They rolled well and didn't take a hit. Some random treasure scored them some rather juicy loot (ha, valuable  tapestries and books, which they found in the spider lair. "The spiders must have gotten them from merchants they had attacked!").
  • After a stop in the White Caps Inn for honey and hot cocoa, they tracked the three pirates to their cliff-face lair and took care of them.
  • Chaos's otter went to -2 HP in the combat, but she actually laughed when her PC dropped. Perhaps this is because I had emphasized that their characters may die and they could simply make new ones. Anyhow, -2 isn't a kill in C&C, so Splash survived. 
  • Soon into the game, I took down my GM screens because Mayhem was too curious about what I was doing and kept peaking. Ha, and as she pointed out, she can't read yet anyhow. 
  • I decided it was best to roll all the dice out in the open anyhow.  Kids are sharper than adults often realize and I didn't want any concerns of favoritism.
  • Chaos once said "Are you just making this up?" (meaning the adventure) and I tired to explain that that sort of was my job in the game.
I have 23 arrows left!
  • Chaos decided to draw a map and the events of the session on the white board table as the game went on. I hadn't thought of that and it was really cool.  It also was the only way that minis were used in anyway (i.e., I didn't use them for combat at all).
  • Getting involved in the story, Chaos started to explain what was happening around them. She decided that it must have been raining on their way to the inn, and that is why she wanted hot cocoa. That was great, so I certainly went with it. But then she decided that there were giants outside the inn.  I gently reigned that in and explained that I controlled the monsters, etc. That was kind of an odd feeling for me, because I certainly wanted the girls invested in the game.  On the other hand, I think it would have resulted in a complete lack of structure if I didn't establish that the GM/DM/CK explains the setting and they control what their characters do in it.
  • All in all, it was a blast.  Definitely will be better next time since they have PCs ready to go.  I also think short and sweet adventures are the way to go.

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