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Subject: Short games for a Middle School club rss

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Kenneth Lewandowski
United States
Evanston
Illinois
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Talked to a new gamer who is helping out with a Middle school gaming club. He was looking for suggestions (an hour or less to play)

Here is what I suggested... what else would you suggest?

Ingenious
Blokus
Rumis
Can't Stop
No Thanks
Hive
Set
10 Days in ...
Transamerica
Transeurope
Some of the gipf series
Cloud 9
Quirkle
Catan Dice Game
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Blue Alien
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BoardGameGeek » Forums » Gaming Related » General Gaming
Re: Short games for a Middle School club
Forbidden Island
Love Letter
For Sale
 
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Patrick
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Orem
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I'm just repeating a comment I made a couple years ago when someone was starting with some typical games like Settlers of Catan and Ticket to Ride. My experience seems to match more of what you have on your list:

I do a Jr. High game club, and most games like Ticket to Ride and Settlers go longer than you are used to. The games usually have a full complement of players, there are often new players, those who have played before still often forget rules since they're only getting to play once a week and they usually divide that time between many games, they will take a long time thinking on turns when their competitive juices get going and they don't perceive that their drawn-out search for one more point affects others, and they talk and joke and enjoy each others' company a lot during the games.

Plus, they often struggle to efficiently teach each other games, meaning play is slowed down when they have to wait for a clarification from the teacher who is bouncing back and forth between multiple games being played simultaneously. This improves with time, but it's just a lot different than gaming with experienced adults.

So I would get even shorter games, especially at first. Most of the kids start at the Monopoly strategy level, so even simple games feel fresh and stimulating to students new to good games. I have found great success with: Blokus (Rumis/Blokus 3D would probably be well-received as well), Ubongo, Hey! That's My Fish!, For Sale!, Bohnanza, Rol-it (4 player Othello with colorful little balls for playing pieces) Roll Through the Ages, TransAmerica, Coloretto, The Great Dalmuti, Pass the Pigs, and Incan Gold. [2012 addition: Shadow Hunters and Resistance would go over well too I think.]

With these games, I can quickly get groups started without making others wait too long in the first couple weeks. They are also easier for the students to teach to each other making game time more efficient. By the 3rd week, I can get 4 volunteers for longer games and take the time necessary to teach the game (even after an explanation, they need someone right there for the first few turns) while the others play the more simple games learned previously. I can get the sharper game rule retainers to teach that game to others and gradually get most of the students playing the longer games autonomously.

TTR, Settlers, and Carcassonne have worked perfectly in this regard, though they struggle to finish Settlers in a timely manner. I have recently started Tobago with them and it has been a hit, but required even more time and questions at first as all the players get used to the mechanics.

I thought Citadels was going to be better received, but it plays kind of slowly sometimes for what it is, and the direct confrontation was too much for my students. Getting their gold stolen right when they were ready to build and especially being assassinated really deflated them. I think certain groups could have a better dynamic with it, but it kind of flopped.

Finally, they LOVE a round or two of Werewolves of Miller's Hollow which works perfectly with the teacher as moderator. However, it can be a challenge to keep it from dragging as they banter and argue during the phases and we have had some occasional hurt feelings from the public discussion in the lynching phase.

I hope that helps a little.
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