The Gassy Gnoll: Gaming with the Kids (Teach Your Kids to Game Week)

The Gassy Gnoll sometimes loses track of time. You know how it is. The world just keeps spinning, we get locked into our little routines, and forget to do the simple things. Like spending time with the mini-Gnolls.

TeachingKidsToGame-flatWell, this week is “Teach Your Kids to Game Week” – and like any good geek dad, I want to contribute to raising the next generation of geeks. Though both my daughters are avid gamers (on their DS’s, tablets, and on the Wii as well as with board games, card games, and role-playing games), we get so caught up in the daily insanity we kind of forget that kind of thing sometimes. So this week serves as a good trail marker to get us back on the right path as we head into the holidays.

Monday night we kicked it off by trying out a few different things. While dinner was cooking, I broke out a few games to try with my youngest (age 8). Took us a while to settle on something, but we had a blast even trying everything along the way.

We broke out Tokaido from Antoine Bauza and Passport Game Studios. Popped out all the cards and counters. Stuffed things in zip-lock bags. And looked at the directions, but failed to grok them quickly enough. Thankfully the Tokaido page seems to have a good walk-through video that I need to watch a few times so we can give it a shot.

Then I broke out Short Order Heroes from Calico Games (a product of a Kickstarter I backed a while back by Jesse Butler). First of all, let me say I *LOVE* this deck of cards. There’s nothing better than shuffling the deck, pulling three cards, and instantly having a NPC. It’s an amazing tool for a designer, writer, or GM to have in their bag of tricks. But let me tell you I was at a loss as to how to use it at the table as a game with my 8 year old. I think we can come up with some interesting ideas (perhaps we each draw three cards and tell a story about the character that forms from the qualities of those cards), but I wasn’t pulling anything out on the spur of the moment.

After that we moved to the card-based version of Dungeon Delvers by Brent P. Newhall. Now, I even wrote a short adventure involving a plague of rats for Dungeon Delvers, but I had a mental block with how to apply the cards to the rules. So like with Tokaido I need to take another look at the system and see what I can do to make this work. I’m always looking with a way to simplify gaming so I can get more in with my girls and this would be a great way to do just that.

story-war-cardsLastly we broke out Story War from Cantrip Games, which I backed as a Kickstarter back in February 2013. And this one, I have to say, was a lot of fun. We got my eldest daughter involved (the game requires three people at a minimum) and the volume escalated quickly into a number of entertaining (and well-intentioned) shouting matches.

The idea is that there are three kinds of cards. Battlefield cards, which give you the location for the battle. Monster cards, which give you the characters who are fighting. And item cards, which give your character a little more oomph during the battle. In the three-player variation, each round we had a judge and two combatants. For instance, in the first round I was the judge and one daughter was a Yeti and the other was a Ghost and they were fighting on a beanstalk. As we talked through the round, the Yeti was able to freeze the leaf they were fighting on, but I ruled that the ghost was floating, therefore wouldn’t slide off the leaf. The ghost then pulled out a shrinking item to shrink the yeti down to size. And when the yeti proposed a break-dancing competition, it slid off its own leaf falling to its death and the ghost won.

That was just the first round. With two sisters, you might imagine the competition got hot and heavy. After 2 full rounds (everybody got to be judge twice), we stopped, counted up the number of victories, and it turned out my youngest won. We will definitely be playing again and adding my wife to the mix, so the yelling will REALLY get out of hand when that starts. πŸ™‚

Long story short, we had a great time over a few hours. I look forward to playing more this week and into the holidays. We already have a continuation scheduled for the 4e campaign we started last Thanksgiving with some family friends… so that will happen on Black Friday. And who knows what else we may have in store?

Play with your kids my friends. They grow up too darn fast and we want them to continue the family tradition of remembering to play just as much as they work. πŸ™‚

Have to give a big shout out to the OneBookShelf folks (DriveThruRPG, RPGNow, and more) for encouraging family play every year. Though we should know by now we need to do it, it’s great to get a reminder now and then. πŸ™‚

Gassy Gnoll out.

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