Gaming with a 4 Year Old

As I mentioned in my first post, we have 3 kids. My oldest is an adult (He turns 20 on Sunday.), and our middle child is 16.

Then we get to, as I often describe her, our little surprise. Don’t get me wrong, we are extremely happy having Aleksia join our family, but we were not expecting another child when she came along. She brings an incredible amount of joy to my life daily, but there are challenges being a 40+ year old with a preschooler, especially 12 years after your last child.

The one great thing we get to do is share my hobby with her. She can’t read a book (Although we read to her.), she can’t throw a disc golf disc (Although we let her try, and even have a small one for her to play with.), and she gets frustrated quickly when playing video games (Although again, she tries really hard. They don’t make a lot of small kid video games that aren’t mobile.). But we can play board games.

Do I break out Power Grid? Of course not, but we have a good group of games that she can play, and beats us frequently at.

We’ve never played games to just let the kids win. Will we always put our full effort out there? No. Do we stop them from making an obviously bad move? Yes. But we also don’t try to lose.

We might help her optimize her move in Monza. We do help her out some in Ticket to Ride: First Journey (The game is 7+, so she needs help, but loves the game.). We help her make some of her moves in a co-op game, but most of the time, we show her what would happen if she tried THIS move instead, although if she insists, she’ll probably get her way.

Part of the joy of playing this way is when you notice that she is making the best moves on her own. I’m never sure if it’s just her getting older and understanding better or just learning from how we helped her previously. Probably a little of both.

It’s amazing to see her outgrow a game she was playing only a year ago. The games get too easy very quickly at these ages. She might still want to play Go Away Monster, but she won’t want to play it 4 times in a row. She remembers it being fun, but realizes it’s not as much fun as it was before she could play more complicated games..

Although I will warn you, expect to play some games a lot. And I mean A LOT. They are still young kids, who will obsess about something. And don’t worry about picking up something in a thrift store used, especially if it’s really cheap. We’ve had some terrible games we’ve bought this way that she loved. They still had a little educational value, and we’d let her play those on her own if she liked. There wasn’t any need to worry about the pieces getting lost. And you can use them to teach how to properly pick up games.

We definitely play the games we enjoy more often, but sometimes you just have to bite your tongue and play whatever, because she’s 4, and she really wants to play this game, no matter how much you suggest we could play this other game.

The good news is there are a lot of good kids games. The bad news is, some of them still don’t get a US release, but thanks to Amazon.de & BoardGameGeek, they are easy to get and there are often rules translations. Although it seems like the majority of the best ones are either already being made by US companies, or are imported by someone else.

Haba Games are kind of the gold standard of kids games. They often make clever games with fantastic pieces. They do make quite a few games, and not all are winners, but even the worst of them have some value to teaching gaming and game mechanics to kids. Did I mention the pieces are usually amazing? The one issue is that some of them can be quite expensive.

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Drachenturm from Haba. The Dragon pulls the string and the tower comes crashing down. You push the Princess token out of the tower, down the scaffold, and to the carriage, racing the dragon pulling.

GameWright here in the US is also a pretty good kids game maker. Haba might have better bits, but GameWright makes smaller, easier to afford games. I’m more likely to pay the $15 for Outfoxed, which is an fun young kids deduction game, than $50 for Drachenturm, which is a Haba game we picked up recently, but only paid half price. Beautiful, and a neat idea, but also a huge box, and a tad expensive. Had it not been 50% off, we probably wouldn’t have picked it up, knowing very little about it.

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Outfoxed from Gamewright Games.

You’ll even notice some of the department stores are starting to carry more games, especially for kids. I’ve seen Magic Labyrinth at Target. Target also has an exclusive on the US map for Ticket to Ride: First Journey. So some of the bigger chains are realizing that there is more than just Candyland or Chutes & Ladders, although they are still there too.

I have been exploring some kids based RPG’s too, although we haven’t tried anything yet. She has a vivid imagination, and i think she’d like them. I have a couple of really good ones I have played, but they require writing. I’ll try to get into a couple and try them this summer maybe.

I think I’m going to cut this off now, I’ve rambled on long enough. I’ll re-address this eventually, maybe once she’s 5. I’ll be posting some kid game reviews, maybe every other review at first, but maybe more often, kids games are often easier to review.

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Aleksia and I playing My First Stone Age, which I plan on reviewing next week.

 

Hello! A Not so Brief Introduction

Hello readers. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Ryan, Yollege on BGG.

A quick summary of me. I’m 44, a father of 3, and an avid reader (Mostly sci-fi and fantasy.), disc golfer, and gamer (Both board & video.). I also really enjoy craft beer and have recently been fermenting foods.

Now I’m going to tell my gaming history, so it will be a little long, and a little personal at times.

I’ve always loved games, but I grew up in a really small town where there weren’t others to play with. Most of my gaming memories as a kid were on my own. I could be impulsive with my purchases, I know I had Fireball Island and Conquest of the Empire, and played them on my own.

I looked into games when I was in college, but again I was buying and not playing. I also had some social anxiety about meeting people. I collected RPG books and CCG’s (I still have my original Netrunner cards.), but again was rarely playing. Dina and I got married in 1997. We had our first child Joseph in 1998.

Things changed once we moved to the Minneapolis/St Paul area after Dina got a job up there. I had some friends that lived in the area and we were looking for excuses to hang out. We started by playing the Wizards of the Coast Star Wars RPG, but we screwed around too much to get anywhere in a night, so we moved onto Heroclix.

Heroclix gave me a reason to go to the game store. I found Blokus. That led me to BGG. I’ve had an obsession ever since. This was probably around 2000-2001. We added a daughter, Katlyn, in 2002. We started getting a regular weekly group together, several people that are still close friends today. I was buying a lot of games, but the others were bringing some too. Most of us had kids or had to be to work early, so we tried to be done playing by 9-9:30 (Typically Thursday nights.). We had Saturday game days occasionally to get longer games played. We started going to the Con of the North, and were making friends there too.

But in 2009 that all changed. Dina’s job was leaving Minnesota. We were suddenly moving our family to Kansas. We found out the weekend of Con of the North, so we had a fun time there, knowing we were leaving soon (We had about a month/month and a half to get moved.). We had a final game day with our friends, and left for Topeka.

Gaming has been on and off since moving. We found a good group of friends here, but none of us have been able to make a weekly gaming night stick, but we were getting together often. We even threw our own single day Con to help raise money for a friend who had a heart attack.

Then in September of 2011 everything changed for us. A mentally ill neighbor shot Dina in front of the older kids and me. She only spent a few days in hospital initially, but had to have spinal surgery due to bullet fragments lodging in her spine. Needless to say, gaming took a back seat, and I auctioned off a significant chunk of our games to local gamers and friends in MN. The Con this time was for Dina.

We never stopped gaming, but it slowed quite a bit. We gradually got it going again, although most of my plays were with the family, but we still saw our friends to play occasionally. The collection started growing again. In 2014, our family grew. We added another daughter, Aleksia. A bit of a surprise, but a wonderful surprise.

Dina lost her job in 2016. Again we sold off a chunk of the collection. This time as more of a panic sale.

But now, in 2018, I am gaming a lot again. The majority is with the family, but we try to get together with our friends when we can. Joe is absolutely a gamer. Katlyn has lost interest, although if that was due to the shooting, or just being a teenager, I’ll never be sure. Aleksia loves games, which means we have acquired a big bunch of small kids games again (For obvious reasons, we had passed on the games we had to friends when the other two outgrew them.). Dina tries to play with us when she’s feeling up to it, she still has a lot of pain due to the shooting. I have also started playing games solo on occasion, which was something I never did.

Our game group down here have become our friends and family. When we get together, we are just as likely to sit and chat than we are to play games. They helped us a lot after the shooting, and have helped us move twice. And we have helped them when we could with things. We try to get together at least once a month, but scheduling occasionally gets difficult.

Ok, I am sure I could have cut half of this, but I was on a roll and didn’t want to stop once I got going. Future posts should be shorter, but I’m not making any promises.

Here are a couple of pic, one of the family and the other being our current collection, except the kids games, which are mostly off camera to the left: