Rio Grande: One of the Best Publishers of Children's Games in the US
Mark Casiglio
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Ansonia
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My kids are a little too old for Children's Games, but between my friends' children and other family I do find myself playing a LOT of children's games! I've taken a great interest in them, in fact and I think Rio Grande is one of the best publishers for modern children's games. Obviously, Rio Grande publishes mostly games that have already been released in Europe ... but I'm not as familiar with that market so I cannot comment.

How do I define a Children's Game? - To me a children's game is any game I could successfully play with an average six-year old (or younger) with minimal or no modification. A child of six should be able to grasp most if not all the implications of each decision.

I think there's significant developmental growth between six and eight years that allow children to advance to Family Games.

Below I'm listing and giving my impressions of all the Rio Grande games listed as being playable by a six-year old, plus I'm tossing in a few more I feel are mislabled (and can be played with a six-year-old with little or no modification). I'd love to hear other people's opinions - especially on the games I haven't played. If you feel I've omitted a Rio Grande game that fits, please suggest it in the comments!

Games are listed alphabetically.
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1. Board Game: Bamboleo [Average Rating:6.39 Overall Rank:2265]
Mark Casiglio
United States
Ansonia
CT
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Like most dexterity games, Bamboleo plays well with young children. First of all, I've found the uncanny balancing of the Bamboleo platter is exciting to kids; as is watching it bob and dip when each piece is removed. Even the crash at the end of the game is exciting.

It doesn't take much trial and error to learn the basic applied physics of when to target a large piece, when to target a small one and how to leave the board difficult for the next player.
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2. Board Game: Barnyard Buddies [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:9246]
Mark Casiglio
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Ansonia
CT
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I don't have any experience with Big Top.

Recommended Age: 4 and up.
 
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3. Board Game: Capt'n Clever [Average Rating:5.64 Overall Rank:9507]
 
Mark Casiglio
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Capt'n Clever is a good game with great pieces, but I find it a little unintuitive for a six-year old. First of all, the boats don't act like boats ... they act like bridges. And the game possesses a strong left-right binding so as an adult playing with kids be prepared for a number of unintentional king-making scenarios. Adults will generally defeat children regularly at this game unless some kind of handicap is added.

But the theme of treasure finding is fun, and there's plenty of room for non-direct conflict (once children learn how to 'stick it' to the player on their left). So for a child that's got the patience and attention span this can become a very rewarding game.
 
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4. Board Game: Cartagena [Average Rating:6.70 Overall Rank:846]
Mark Casiglio
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I'm breaking my "age 6" requirement for Cartegena, because I really feel like it plays just great with six-year olds without any modification. The only difficulty is that young kids really don't want to move backward to get more cards. But other than that, the kid-friendly theme and the familiar movement mechanism (assuming they've played Candyland) make this one a winner.
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5. Board Game: Château Roquefort [Average Rating:6.85 Overall Rank:1078]
Mark Casiglio
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One of the best games on this list; but the game is going to be beyond most kids under six, and may involve too much strategy even for a clever six-year old ... but the planning is not nearly so steep as Capt'n Clever.

Highly recommended for older children.
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6. Board Game: Chicken Cha Cha Cha [Average Rating:6.62 Overall Rank:1381]
Mark Casiglio
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One of the best memory games out there.
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7. Board Game: Circus Flohcati [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1360]
Mark Casiglio
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Knizia is for kidz! Some children will do better with "push your luck" elements than others, but this is a good game for kids as young as six.
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8. Board Game: Dawn Under [Average Rating:6.37 Overall Rank:2785]
Mark Casiglio
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I have no experience with Dawn Under. A children's game about vampires? Really?
 
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9. Board Game: Fruttirelli [Average Rating:4.59 Overall Rank:14179]
Mark Casiglio
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A brand new release.
 
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10. Board Game: Galloping Pigs [Average Rating:5.73 Overall Rank:6271]
Mark Casiglio
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This is a game that has some strategy where good moves can improve your situation, but is still fairly random and has a moderate left-right binding.
 
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11. Board Game: Giro Galoppo [Average Rating:6.69 Overall Rank:2577]
Mark Casiglio
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I have no experience with this game (yet?)
 
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12. Board Game: Gulo Gulo [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:945]
Mark Casiglio
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I think this may be the finest children's game of all time. Cute, colorful and simple ... yet there's room for children to start developing strong tactical decisions. AND no matter how hard the adults play the kids and their little fingers will always have an advantage getting the eggs out of the nest.
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13. Board Game: Halli Galli [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:4421]
Mark Casiglio
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Ansonia
CT
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I've never played Halli Galli. But I have heard the bell being rung amongst excitement and laughter from across the room so there is that.
 
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14. Board Game: Igloo Pop [Average Rating:6.27 Overall Rank:2547]
Mark Casiglio
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Ansonia
CT
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The manufacturer recommended age for Igloo Pop is seven, but I really think it can be played by younger kids just as easily. I find it's mostly a guessing game but there is some skill and thought involved. Plus kids find it enjoyable.

The theme is a little creepy if you think about it ...
 
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15. Board Game: Mago Magino [Average Rating:6.20 Overall Rank:7099]
Mark Casiglio
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Ansonia
CT
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Another game that I don't know.
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16. Board Game: Pick Picknic [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:1433]
Mark Casiglio
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Ansonia
CT
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One of the first kids' games I ever got to play that I would enjoy even if it was just the adults. Rio Grande lists this as a game for kids eight and up, but the BGG users agree with me that it's perfectly good for most six-year olds. Young kids aren't always going to pick the best card, but they can play very competitively.
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17. Board Game: Pickomino [Average Rating:6.54 Overall Rank:1067]
Mark Casiglio
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Ansonia
CT
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I don't know much about Pickomino. Rio Grande lists its recommended age at eight, but BGG users say it's fine with a six-year old.
 
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18. Board Game: Piratissimo [Average Rating:5.76 Overall Rank:10302]
Mark Casiglio
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Ansonia
CT
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Another game I don't know; but it seems to have wonderful pieces.
 
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19. Board Game: Viva Topo! [Average Rating:6.86 Overall Rank:1622]
Mark Casiglio
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Ansonia
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Haven't played it, but appears to be appropriate for even younger children.
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