Monday, May 20, 2013

The Grasshopper's gaming education

Over the weekend, the topic(s) of games with kids, ages of kids, and what the Grasshopper (age 7) plays and likes all came up several different times. I've been meaning to write something like this for a while in connection with the writing I do for ChambanaMoms, but that would have to stand along here as being a little less directly relevant to what I do for them.

The first thing I really started playing with him was when he was a few months shy of 4 years old. It's a card game called Coloretto, where the goal is to collect cards with chameleons in different colors (but not too many different colors). Normally, you can either draw a card and add it to a row that has fewer than 3 cards, OR take a row. We just made the modification that the rows had to get filled completely before taking rows. I then made him grab the container of crayons and help count out his points.

His sister was born when he was about 4.5. The summer after that, he had a knack for asking for attention just as she was getting fed/changed/put down for a nap but not yet asleep. This is when the Grasshopper moniker was acquired (patience, Grasshopper). That summer, we worked on a slightly modified version of Carcassonne. He was able to do the tile-drawing and matching part of the game; we modified scoring to be that completing a road, city, or cloister scored one point per tile in the feature. This last fall, I've finally taught him something closer to the real rules (still leaving out farmers); he beats me about half the time in a two-player game but doesn't far as well in multiplayer games.

I've played Pente with him several times, although that doesn't hold his attention as well. One of the next things we started on were the two Blokus games I own (Trigon and 3D). At first I just let; him play with the games, he was over 5 before we started trying to play by the rules. Similar to those, he's played Ingenious a few times, but I think doing well at it is still a bit over his head.

A favorite of his is Battleball. I acquired both this and Forbidden Island the summer before he turned 6, if memory correctly serves. My only complaints about Battleball at the moment are that it's a strictly 2-player game that I can't figure out how to hack to accommodate more people, and his 3-year-old sister would be all over the pieces in such a way as to mess up the game. Despite Forbidden Island claiming to be ages 10+, he does a really good job of running his own turn, with only occasional suggestions about re-sequencing actions, especially if he has the Diver (one of his favorite roles).

His birthday present last October was Dungeon!, and we're finally to where it'll play pretty quickly if the Munchkin doesn't mess things up. He's also played Attika (and does surprisingly well if it's 2-player), Roll Through the Ages, and Race to Adventure! more than once each. There have to be other things he's played more than once, but I can't recall them all right now. He'll play almost anything at least once - those include Dominion, King of Tokyo, Rattus, Guillotine, RoboRally, Castle Panic, and Monopoly (I own the original Star Wars edition) that I can quickly remember. Sorry and Battleship factor in there too, although I can't get them into the sequence.

I'm publishing this now without links because I anticipate getting called back to a recovery room to see my wife pretty soon, but I'll gradually add in the links over the next couple days.