Board Game Club for 8-12 year olds (list of games played)
Katrina @ Boxed Cat Games
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We recently organized a small monthly board game night for our son and several of his cousins and friends. Our goals are:

* to provide a fun social event for these kids
* to expose the kids to new games
* to explore various types of games with the kids (press-your-luck, party, dexterity, strategy, abstract, etc.)
* to encourage and promote good sportsmanship

Just a little info about the group:
We currently (as of 10/7/17) have two 8-year-olds, one 9-year-old, two 11-year-olds, and one 12-year-old in the group. There are two sets of siblings in the group. The group currently consists of 4 boys and 2 girls.

We meet for 1.5-2 hours.

I'm setting up this geeklist both to keep a record of games played for personal benefit, and to share our experiences in case it would be helpful to others.

Comments and suggestions are welcome!
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1. Board Game: Bounce-Off [Average Rating:5.82 Overall Rank:7455] [Average Rating:5.82 Unranked]
Katrina @ Boxed Cat Games
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Played: 10/6/17
Players: all 6 kids

We chose this game as our opener so the kids could release some energy and have fun. This was our first meeting and not all the kids knew each other, so we thought light and fun would be a good way to get them comfortable around each other.

We modified the rules and just gave every kid their own grid & five balls, and had everyone work toward one of the 3-, 4-, or 5-ball arrangements.

Our winner was an 8-year-old-boy, but the game was a hit with everyone.
 
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2. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:612]
Katrina @ Boxed Cat Games
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Played: 10/6/17
Players: all 6 kids

We moved into Incan Gold for our second game. Introduced kids to the idea of press-your-luck. We left out the artifacts for this game.

Challenges: we had one kid who, more than once, tried to check out what everyone else was doing before picking his stay-or-go card. Also, kids are hard on cards! My son is so used to taking really good care of components, but that value is apparently not universal.

The two 11-year-olds came in 1st & 2nd, but all the kids really loved the press-your-luck aspect of this game and said they can't wait to play it again.
 
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3. Board Game: Cat Tower [Average Rating:6.06 Overall Rank:4090]
Katrina @ Boxed Cat Games
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Played: 10/6/17
Players: all 6 kids

A unanimous selection. Apparently, the cats were too cute to resist.

Challenges: as usual in dexterity games, some kids were really good and some had a very hard time slowing down to stack carefully. Also, sitting still is hard for some kids, so the table got bumped multiple times.

The winner: our 12-year-old. The kids had enough fun that they wanted to keep playing to see who would come in 2nd, 3rd, etc.
 
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4. Board Game: Apples to Apples Junior [Average Rating:5.89 Overall Rank:4799]
Katrina @ Boxed Cat Games
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Played: 10/6/17
Players: all 6 kids

We wrapped up the night with a few round of Apples to Apples Junior. We weren't too concerned with keeping score, since we knew parents would arrive for pick-up in the middle of the game.

Lots of silliness and laughter. A couple of the kids got really wound up, so I might want to consider a not-so-silly game for our closer in the future.

Challenges: These kids were all too young to know what things like Teletubbies were. Some of the cultural references are outdated and mean nothing to this age group. But that didn't stop them from having fun and using the cards anyway!

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5. Board Game: Sushi Go Party! [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:145]
Katrina @ Boxed Cat Games
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Due to schedules, we missed November, but had our second gathering on 12/8/17. Five of the six kids attended.

Played: 12/8/17
Players: all 5 kids

We started this evening with Sushi Go Party. My son was the only one who had played it before; so there were four new players. I had gone through all the sushi options earlier in the day and picked the easiest-to-understand and the least-punishing (in other words, none that could end up giving you negative points, etc.). The four new players caught on quickly and it was a big hit.

Card drafting went seamlessly. For the first couple plays, I went through and pointed out what each child had chosen, following up with what they would need to do to maximize that choice going forward. Before long, I didn't need to give any play-by-plays; they were set.

Challenges: There was a clear correlation between age and ending score. The older kids (11-12 yrs) finished with similar scores, and were about 15-20 points ahead of the younger kids (8yrs). Perhaps with more plays, the scores will even out, and this was just a reflection of maturity helping the older kids develop strategies more quickly.

Regardless, all kids said they want to play this again soon!
 
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6. Board Game: Word on the Street Junior [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:4967]
Katrina @ Boxed Cat Games
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Played: 12/8/17
Players: all 5 kids, plus me, to even out the teams

Next up was a team game, and a word game -- two things we hadn't tried yet. Since we only had five kids, I played on a team with the two youngest (8 yrs), against the three older kids (11-12 yrs). I did my best to be helpful, but not unfairly helpful. Overall, the game was evenly matched. My team won, 8-7.

There was a *lot* of laughter and silliness with this one, more than I had expected. Though they said this game was their least favorite of the evening, you wouldn't have known that from watching the game.

Challenges: I do think this would play better with a more homogeneous group -- kids all within a grade of each other or so. We had a spread of three grades, which inherently meant a large range of vocabulary and spelling skills. We definitely made it work, since I could gauge how much help to be on a turn-by-turn basis, but if it were just the kids, a more evenly-matched group would be best.
 
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7. Board Game: Diamant [Average Rating:6.83 Overall Rank:612]
Katrina @ Boxed Cat Games
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Played: 12/8/17
Players: all 5 kids

Apparently, *all* the kids had raved to their parents about "this great treasure game" that we played at our first get-together. So when we had 20 minutes left at the end of the evening, we got out Incan Gold again.

We didn't add in artifacts yet, as I knew parents would be arriving, and I wanted them to have maximum play time without having to learn new rules/elements.

They all knew what to do, and had a blast. We had two who always got out early (they ended up coming in tied for second), two who always pushed their luck way too far (they came in last), and one who tried to do a little of each (the winner).

Challenges: I just wonder how long the "stay or go" cards are going to last -- they're getting pretty beat up after two games. Lots of folding, ramming into the table, etc., despite my encouragement to be careful with them. I'm thinking about using some red and green markers/dice/tokens/something in the future in place of those cards.
 
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8. Board Game: Ice Cool [Average Rating:6.92 Overall Rank:776] [Average Rating:6.92 Unranked]
Katrina @ Boxed Cat Games
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Finally had our third gathering on 2/9/18, after being derailed a bit by illness and family obligations.

We only had four kids for this get-together. 2 girls, 2 boys, ages 8, 9, 11, 12.

Played: 2/9/18
Players: all 4 kids for 2 games; 2 kids for a third game

Started the night with Ice Cool, which was a hit with everyone. The younger two soundly defeated the older two, as their penguin-flicking abilities were a bit better. Or maybe the older ones were over-thinking a bit while the younger two just flicked with abandon.

The kids came back for a second game of Ice Cool later in the evening (closer scores, with the 9-year-old winning overall). And the younger two played a 2-player game while waiting for their parents to finish talking with each other at the end of the night.

Definitely a hit!
 
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9. Board Game: Tsuro [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:774]
Katrina @ Boxed Cat Games
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Played: 2/9/18
Players: all 4 kids

The kids all seem to enjoy learning new games, and if I have a new one in "the stack" for the night, they'll ask to check it out.

So at this game night, we gave Tsuro a try. It was a new game to all four players. They all caught on quickly, and seemed to enjoy it. But none of them wanted to try any aggressive moves. Mostly, they all hung out in their own corners of the board as long as possible, and only sent others off the board when they had no other options. I'm not sure if future plays would find them playing a little more cut-throat or not, but they definitely seemed hesitant, so we might stick to mostly friendly games for now.

Success in this game was strictly by age order: oldest one, then next oldest, etc.
 
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10. Board Game: Sushi Go Party! [Average Rating:7.59 Overall Rank:145]
Katrina @ Boxed Cat Games
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Played: 2/9/18
Players: all 4 kids

The last official game of the night was Sushi Go Party. Three of them had played it at our last gathering, but one had never played before. Plus, my son and I had picked the cards ahead of time (to save time) and some of them were new to everyone. So we played one full practice round as a teaching and "getting familiar with the new card combos" round.

Again, a big hit. None of the kids had a problem understanding what to do. There was some friendly competition for cards, but all of them did quite well and ending scores were fairly close. I feel like this one will be a regular request at game nights going forward.

We didn't pick any cards that were *too* punishing (only one that could net you negative points if you didn't get enough). They enjoyed racing to get to 10 sushi rolls for one card, and earning points from others playing edamame.

This seems like a perfect game for this age range.
 
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