Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

Microgames, Monster Games, and Role Playing Games

Epic Game Night With My Daughter

I’d set up for the Giants scenario, but my daughter quickly had us fighting with the Nurkott map on the reverse side…!

My son was out and about with mom on Saturday night, so my eight year old daughter demanded her chance for a big gaming night. Here’s how things fell out:

Pictureka — I’m not sure how this game turned up at the house. I’m not even sure if we were playing this right– my daughter taught me the rules by herself. If there was a borderline case, she adjudicated it by putting the card back in the bottom of the draw pile. After two passes through the deck, she decided it wasn’t that fun and put it away.

Cadoo — This is the Cranium board game adapted to kids. My children love it, but they are just a bit too old for it now. (I wish we’d gotten it a couple of years ago.) It contains Pictionary, Charades, and “Claytionary” type challenges. The kids really get into it, too. It is not, however, all that well adapted for two-player games. Complicating that, my daughter insisted that we remove the timer. (She really didn’t like that timer!) After two games of this, I asked her if we could please try something else.

Tickle Fight — I won this one, but my daughter claimed I had an unfair advantage due my greater size and weight. In retrospect, this was easily the most fun game of the evening.

Battleship — This would be a fun game, but my daughter can’t stand two things about it: missing… and getting hit. If I tried to clarify something to make sure we were communicating, my daughter would accuse me of unfairly fishing for clues.

Dragon Rage — It was time for my daughter to go to bed, so I got out my current underplayed favorite for a solitaire run-through. My daughter insisted on getting to play, so she got to stay up until 10PM– waaaay past her usual bedtime. I started to set up the Giants vs. Esirien scenario, but my daughter insisted that we play with the Nurkott map of “Orc Town” instead. We didn’t quite grok the rules for how the human units enter the board, so she just placed them together in the grass on the north side of the map. The Hero moved in with a unit to try to smash in a gate on the west side while the Wizard summoned an Elemental to start fighting inside the city. This resulted in a slow grind and pretty soon my daughter turned her attention to an entrance on the east side of the map. I ruled (incorrectly) that the wirlwind spell would open up the gate there, and soon we were fighting back and forth just inside the gate with several units. We both missed for nearly a dozen turns until I rolled two sixes in a row. This is when my daughter started to cry. I ruled that two sea serpents joined the battle on her side and she used them to pick off the rest of my orcs and bust down the seaside victory point hexes. One of her sea serpents died, but she ended up killing everything else.

Battleship (Again!) — The next day, she insisted on another game after catching me playing Commands & Colors: Ancients with her brother. I put all my ships together in the middle, thinking that this would give her a huge advantage. But then she put all her ships in nearly the same configuration as she’d done in previous games– all along the four sides! I made a total of five misses as I eliminated all of her ships. When I won the game, she had damaged or sunk all of my ships and only needed three or four shots to finish. This was a devastating loss to her, but maybe the lesson on ship placement will sink in– assuming she ever plays this with me again! (She was sure I was cheating somehow when she’d hit five squares in a line without sinking anything!!!)

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10 responses to “Epic Game Night With My Daughter

  1. Jason Packer November 11, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    What’s your strategy for guiding her in the direction of good sportsmanship and the always elusive “playing is what is fun, not just winning…”? I ask as a deliberate non-parent, so as to live vicariously through you.

    • jeffro November 11, 2013 at 4:17 pm

      When I play games with my kids, I am mainly giving them free access to my attention and sharing my love of games. The most effective way to teach sportsmanship is by giving children the space to play games with each other. They have a far greater sensitivity to justice than most adults and are swift to call each other out. They are also far less tolerant of the many varieties of bad play and are perfectly willing to do something else by themselves if things are not fun or fair. By putting children in situations where their desire to keep playing with an equal outstrips the short term benefits of poor sportsmanship, they will not only learn how to play well with others, but they will be constantly faced with a strong incentive to actually master these things. This positive incentive is far more effective and comprehensive than any amount of moralizing, teaching, or shaming from old fuddy-duddies like me.

      (Now… when a child comes crying to me because other kids won’t play with them, I will give them straight answers on what is going on. But yeah… I usually wait for the proverbial teachable moment.)

      • Jason Packer November 11, 2013 at 5:10 pm

        Here I hoped you had some sort of nifty sneaky way to sneak in those character building lessons. My father was a good sport when teaching me things like chess as a boy, but otherwise the worst sort of bad sport, especially when cards were involved. I learned from him to not be competitive at all, rather than risk being seen as a whiny pain in the ass.

  2. Jay November 11, 2013 at 9:13 pm

    That story about the only thing she dislikes about battleship is missing and getting hit was hilarious. Reminded me of my daughter many years ago. Funny stuff.

    • Bill Stec November 12, 2013 at 6:13 am

      It’s awesome that you game with your kids. So many parents are so self absorbed or too busy working to spend much time with their kids. I’ve got my 5-year old playing X-Wing, though with help since he can’t read the cards yet, and he still has issues with moving the minis w/o knocking over other ships. But it makes for good family time, and he gets his subtle indoctrination into gaming. :)

      • jeffro November 12, 2013 at 7:16 am

        Hey, Bill. Thanks for the encouragement; it’s a pretty rare thing to hear. I see parenting as being a lose-lose thing for the most part. Play games with your kids… get accused of being juvenile and wasting time. Spend time making sure they’re fed, clothed, and otherwise provided for… get accused of being distant and detached. Spend time teaching them about various big ideas… and get accused of brainwashing them and not allowing them to “find their own way.” Personally, I wouldn’t trade these experiences for anything.

  3. Bill Stec November 12, 2013 at 8:53 am

    I hear you there. I figure that I don’t need a village to raise my kid, and frankly given the choice of being lazy and let society teach my kid values that I probably don’t agree with, or step up and do it myself… I’ll take the time and do it myself, thank you. :) Being as I am a stay at Home Dad anyways, I have the time to instill what values I think are important rather than letting the State do it.

    Let ’em call you juvenile when you spend quality time with your kids. Who is more likely to have grown up kids that love you, spend time with you, and are less likely to put you in a nursing home when you become too much trouble to take care of? ;)

  4. Pingback: Some Childhood Board Gaming Memories. | Cirsova

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