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Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game» Forums » General

Subject: Playing with my Nephews, or "How do you Handicap yourself?" rss

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David Pontier
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I played X-Wing with my nephews this past weekend and I was wondering if you guys have a similar experience. I know some of you play with your sons, and probably can share some insight.

I played three different times with my nephews and time I tried something a little different. The first time we just each built 100 point lists.
I flew:
Soontir + PTL + Targeting Computer
Royal Guard + PTL
Krasis + HLC
He flew
Han + VI + Stealth
Blue + HLC
Proto + Shield upgrade

I talked with him a little bit about putting stealth on the Falcon, but he insisted it would protect against 1 hit. I didn’t push the point.

We played and I won while only taking 2 damage total. So after that I told him we would switch lists. So we each got up and sat down in front of the other person’s list. That was really hard for me and a nice challenge of how to make a non-synergetic list work. There was a point toward the end where he could have made a few different decisions and possibly won, but I won having lost the A-Wing and my B-Wing had 2 hull left and Han had 4 hull left.

As competitive as that last game was, it seemed a little insulting that the best way to handicap me was to have him build my list and I would build his.

The next time we played I was matched up against two of my nephews at once. I said they could each fly with 60 points. One of them wanted Soontir + PTL and a BH, which came to 63 points, so I let him. I built the other nephew’s list and gave him Carnor + PTL + TC and Royal Guard + PTL + TC. Their total came to 121, but I didn’t care. I probably should have put stealth on the two Interceptors as well, but I thought 120 pts was enough.
It wasn’t.
I lost a B-Wing, and took virtually no damage to my other ships. He had the firespray alive with 5 hull and we had to stop for lunch and he agreed we didn’t need to finish.

So, the third time I decided to give my oldest nephew a bunch of extra points and I built his entire list, and I flew something a little gimmicky. I flew a BH with missiles and HLC and two bombers, one scimitar fully loaded and Jonus with Squad leader. I gave him Chewie + PTL + Falcon, Garvin + Shield + R2D2, 2x rookies. It came to 122 points.

I lost. Again we had to end early, but I had a full health Jonus against a Garvin with 3 shields (but only 1 hull) and a full health Chewie. He still made a lot of mistakes while flying, and I think a stronger list from me could have beaten him. There were many times where he would Focus + Evade with chewie even though I had no ships that could shoot at him. I explained to him that a TL was a much better second action.

So, now I feel the best way to play them is for me to build their entire list, or at least ask them what they want, and then build something to match with a few suggestions. For example, I asked him what he wanted and he said a Falcon, so I gave him Chewie + PTL + Falcon. It is the easiest Falcon to fly and is very powerful. Then he asked for a few A-Wings. I sighed and told him no A-wings. I suggested X-Wings instead, and he agreed. I gave him Garvin and explained that he would be my primary target, so I gave him and extra shield and R2D2. Still on the second combat turn he had to roll 2 natural evades to survive my Adv Proton attack, which he did.

My wife asked me if I can just not try so hard. I don’t know how to do that. I don’t know how to purposefully land on asteroids or forget to take actions or stupidly use my action to target lock ships I don’t plan to shoot at.

Has anyone else found a good way to handicap yourself against weaker opponents?
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Michael Stone
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20-25 points, your 75 or 80 point list vs their 100 point list, but don't tell them about the point differential.

have your opponents run rebels.

lately I have started to run wierd lists which shouldn't work well like 3 shuttles.
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J Chav
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Maybe give them an extra rookie X wing or Two Academy Ties to balance any list above the normal 100.

That is my plan.
 
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Jeff Wilder

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When I play my nephews, to handicap myself:

Each turn, right before setting my dials, I (1) punch myself in the 'nads, and (2) give myself one minute to complete setting dials.

Luckily, I don't have any nephews.
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Crazy Fella
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My suggestion would be to not build a tournament level list.

You flew a great list with several high powered pilots that I think would do well in any situation against someone who has barely played the game.

You've got to fly simple list to even give your nephew a chance. Even then I think you'll have the advantage against him every time simply because you've played more.

The other best bet is to coach him along. Drop hints, ask him questions and get him to think critically about the unfolding battle. "Where do you think I'm going this turn?" You can't play his game for him, but nudge him along on his choices and grow him into a better player.
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Jon NyD

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I'd recommend they keep with the Falcons. The 360 degree cannon is much better suited to their abilities now than trying to figure out the nuances of how each ship moves. Have one fly Han + Luke + Chewie. Show them how powerful that is, to be able to decide if you like that roll of the dice or not. With that list, they are almost guaranteed to get a hit each turn they fire.

My Nephew likes to fly oddball lists, but he hasn't quite grasped the element of the fine maneuvering. That's okay. I encourage him to fly fun lists involving one or two falcons. His favorite 40 point list is one we titled "let the wookies win" - a smuggler, chewie, and gunner. He really enjoys maneuvering them through the asteroids and considers that a great accomplishment. If I fly tie fighters against him, the house rule is if a tie hits an asteroid it blows up. I'll even sacrifice one once in awhile.

I think the important thing is to make the game fun for younger kids. Yes, my idea of fun is a highly stressful battle of wits with my opponent across the table. But that's not my nephew's. Not now, and probably not for a long time (he's 14). So, we download sound effects. He had the idea of a worm sticker for the large asteroid (you can print one out too, I made a thread here with the image). Just get creative! If you have to play at that competitive level, build a 30 point list to their 40 point lists. Show them choices when they move. Ask them where they think you are going to move after you set down your dial. Talk out the strategies with them. You might even gently coax them to move to a MUCH better position without completely giving away what you are about to do. You may lose, and that's okay. Teaching them the strategies will help them enjoy the game more.

You could also do something other than the battles... like set up a Kessel Run Race all around the asteroids, shooting random tie fighters. Smuggle stuff. Have a group game against the big rebel transport. You'll think of something
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Alan Bull
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I don't give my son any extra points. Initially, I let him chose his own squads and for the first 5 or so games (full ones not the game mechanic version with 2 TIE vs 1 X-wing) as I revealed manouvers and chose actions I would explain why and what I was trying to achieve.

A few games later I made squads for him and he was explaining to me what he was trying to achieve. Now he's quite competent and quite capable of taking on the two adult friends I play. He does often seem to have outrageously good dice rolls.

He's not got the inclination to look at ship synergies, rather what he likes the look of and the pilots he likes. Sometimes I think he has the better idea, flying what you like, rather than what you think will win.

 
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Dangerous Partners
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You're not thinking like a dad (parent) - we handicap ourselves against our kids, if we want them to have fun at something instead of giving up on it straight away when super-competitive dad thrashes them, by playing easy against them.
Just because you can pick a brilliant list against them doesn't mean you have to, and just because you can pick the best moves each turn doesn't mean you have to. If they're young/inexperienced enough not to recognise you're slightly throwing a game then do it ninja - I'm assuming you still have fun playing the game even if you don't win every time, if not then you're probably not quite ready yet to be a supportive dad or uncle whistle.
 
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Kyle A

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BeerAndBoard wrote:
You're not thinking like a dad (parent) - we handicap ourselves against our kids, if we want them to have fun at something instead of giving up on it straight away when super-competitive dad thrashes them, by playing easy against them.
Just because you can pick a brilliant list against them doesn't mean you have to, and just because you can pick the best moves each turn doesn't mean you have to. If they're young/inexperienced enough not to recognise you're slightly throwing a game then do it ninja - I'm assuming you still have fun playing the game even if you don't win every time, if not then you're probably not quite ready yet to be a supportive dad or uncle whistle.


I would disagree. I have played many games against my nephew and i do not 'throw' the game. I will play normal and will try to win. However, I always make sure to use the entire game as a learning experience to help improve his skills. He is 8 years old, but understands and doesn't want to win because I let him. He still has fun and tries that much harder the next time we play because he wants to win.
 
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Dangerous Partners
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KickinAces wrote:
BeerAndBoard wrote:
You're not thinking like a dad (parent) - we handicap ourselves against our kids, if we want them to have fun at something instead of giving up on it straight away when super-competitive dad thrashes them, by playing easy against them.
Just because you can pick a brilliant list against them doesn't mean you have to, and just because you can pick the best moves each turn doesn't mean you have to. If they're young/inexperienced enough not to recognise you're slightly throwing a game then do it ninja - I'm assuming you still have fun playing the game even if you don't win every time, if not then you're probably not quite ready yet to be a supportive dad or uncle whistle.


I would disagree. I have played many games against my nephew and i do not 'throw' the game. I will play normal and will try to win. However, I always make sure to use the entire game as a learning experience to help improve his skills. He is 8 years old, but understands and doesn't want to win because I let him. He still has fun and tries that much harder the next time we play because he wants to win.


People can be different, no set rule - I speak from experience of bringing up a boy into his mid-teeens (and from brothers and friends doing the same with their kids) in that not providing a slightly equal playing field as they get used to a new experience and can get fun out of it is a quick way of them not wanting to try it again.
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Tim King
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When I played x-wing against my dad some 30 years ago, if I lost, he'd throw my miniatures into a sack and smash them with a hammer. Taught me resentment he did, and I turned out fine (facial tick).
 
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I really liked this article on "Uncle Gamemaster" playing with the kids.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB1000142405270230345300...
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Kyle A

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BeerAndBoard wrote:
KickinAces wrote:
BeerAndBoard wrote:
You're not thinking like a dad (parent) - we handicap ourselves against our kids, if we want them to have fun at something instead of giving up on it straight away when super-competitive dad thrashes them, by playing easy against them.
Just because you can pick a brilliant list against them doesn't mean you have to, and just because you can pick the best moves each turn doesn't mean you have to. If they're young/inexperienced enough not to recognise you're slightly throwing a game then do it ninja - I'm assuming you still have fun playing the game even if you don't win every time, if not then you're probably not quite ready yet to be a supportive dad or uncle whistle.


I would disagree. I have played many games against my nephew and i do not 'throw' the game. I will play normal and will try to win. However, I always make sure to use the entire game as a learning experience to help improve his skills. He is 8 years old, but understands and doesn't want to win because I let him. He still has fun and tries that much harder the next time we play because he wants to win.


People can be different, no set rule - I speak from experience of bringing up a boy into his mid-teeens (and from brothers and friends doing the same with their kids) in that not providing a slightly equal playing field as they get used to a new experience and can get fun out of it is a quick way of them not wanting to try it again.


Not disagreeing that trying to create an equal playing field is ideal. I think that is what pisqid is attempting to do. His statement was how do you do this without purposely playing very poorly. As a competitive person, this is sometimes hard to do. Now giving your son, nephew, etc an additional 50 points in ships may be the way to equal the playing field. I can still try my hardest to win, but the additional ships they control evens out lack of experience and mistakes of the youth. Again, this is what I think pisqid is asking, as am I. What is a good adjustment so that we can still play our best, but allow nephews/son a strong fighting chance to win.

Edit: I just read that article that was linked. THUMBS UP!!!!! Fully agree with things that were said there. Thanks for the link.
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KickinAces wrote:

Edit: I just read that article that was linked. THUMBS UP!!!!! Fully agree with things that were said there. Thanks for the link.


I did as well, especially teaching good sportsmanship and not to fear failure.
I believe many of the gamers out here learn from mistakes and ponder how to do things differently the next time.

Edit:Thanks for the Geekgold above.
 
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James Machin
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I'm guessing you are hoping that you introduced the game to them in the hope they will take it up.

If so then what you really want to do is create an environment where the outcome is positive experience and the way to do this is to stack the odds so that they will win.

I do this when playing my son who I recently introduced to the game, it's obvious that our thought process is more advanced and able to predict the movement and odds that you are facing, which really is the huge advantage - so what I have found is basically creating a game that is pretty much impossible to win - however to make the game enjoyable for me I give myself a secondary objective, such as destroying 50% of his fleet or a certain strong character before succumbing to the inevitable.

This is a lot more fun and will develop you more as a player and make the whole experience more enjoyable for everyone.

The other option is to play the A.I software that has been posted up here and play co-op with them, this will enable you to mentor them through the game and teach them tactics, prediction and of course if the computer wins, a shared defeat.

At the end of the day I play both options, the first is more exciting and can lead to more games as sometimes they are over very quickly and you can slowly add addition forces to your side to see where the balance is.
 
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Ed Raz
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Use a squad builder to build yourself a random list.

Maybe let them pre measure all if their moves.
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David Pontier
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edrazpgh wrote:
Use a squad builder to build yourself a random list.

Maybe let them pre measure all if their moves.


They premeasure everything without me having to give them permission.

I think they would know if I was trying to throw the game. The mistakes they make are subtle, and I have a hard time thinking like that. Plus, I still have the opportunity to learn from the game. I do take more risks when I play them. If I see that a 3-bank will easily clear the asteroid, but a 2-bank will cut it close, I do the 2-bank. Problem is, if I don't hit the asteroid, then I am in a prime attack position.

I do think they have fun, and I still have fun if I lose. In the last game where I built him a powerful 122 point list and I flew something I had never flown before, it was a fun challenge. It was like trying to solve a really hard puzzle. Most of the times you will fail, but in hindsight you think their might have been a way and are eager to try again.
 
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David Pontier
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BadSpeller wrote:
KickinAces wrote:

Edit: I just read that article that was linked. THUMBS UP!!!!! Fully agree with things that were said there. Thanks for the link.


I did as well, especially teaching good sportsmanship and not to fear failure.
I believe many of the gamers out here learn from mistakes and ponder how to do things differently the next time.


Yes, good article. Now someone has to introduce that family to some of the top 100 on BGG.
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Alan Bull
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One of the bast ways I found to increase the excitement with less emphasis on winning was recreating actions from the film. One of our most exciting games was escape from the Death Star.

Han in the Falcon with Chewie and Luke. (My son)

VS

2 x TIE academies + dark curse and Gundark (me)

To start off they feel the odds are against them 4 vs 1 but as they gradually knock off the TIEs..just like the film they start to feel a bit 'heroic'
 
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Jeff Wilder wrote:
When I play my nephews, to handicap myself:

Each turn, right before setting my dials, I (1) punch myself in the 'nads, and (2) give myself one minute to complete setting dials.

Luckily, I don't have any nephews.


Might work to keep from having children, too.
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I like the idea of simply playing your best against them but with a poorer squad--reduced points. And let them know you are handicapping yourself, and that this isn't because you want to let them win, it's an accepted practice in other games to, like in golf.

But even more importantly, I think it's a great idea to create an interactive environment with feedback both during the game and after. The nephews would be delighted to hear you compare how they play in the next game compared to how they played when they first started out, how their strategies are improving, how they are becoming more aware of how to do better.

And if they want to build their own lists, I would let them and only offer input if they ask for it. That kind of control, plus the story-building element that comes with it, is a huge amount of fun.
 
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In thinking about the OP's question of what to do...........try this, reduce the squad points on both sides.

30-50 points.

Not as much going on to keep tract of, simpler, then move up to 75 points when things go better (finally 100 points).
 
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John NotBatman

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When I play with my son (who just turned 9) I don't count points. I let him pick his side and let me know what he wants to fly and then I throw together a CRAZY-optimized set of pilots and upgrades, just ridiculously packed.

Oh, you want Interceptors and Boba Fett? Ok, here's four Ints (including at least Fel and Turd Ferguson) all with PTL and shields and whatever other stupid thing seems cool. Boba needs him an HLC, of course, engine upgrade, navigator, a mine or two. I mean, seriously, I should total up the points, sometime. It gets ludicrous.

Then I'll match that with a pretty modest XXXX or XXBB that probably squeaks in over a 100 points (because droids and engines and whatnot) and we just have fun.

It's more often an objective game (shuttle escort, run the gauntlet, space station defense/sabotage) but we just play to have fun and even at such a disadvantage, I'm not bringing whatever passes for my "A game."

We don't get to do it too often, so we really try and do it up when we can.
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Andrew Baker
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I have not played X-wing, but have been playing board games with my son who's now 6 for 2 years now. I'm really not a fan of intentionally playing poorly or letting younger players win the game. When I play with my son, I want to model the behaviours that I want him to exhibit. That includes being gracious whether your win or lose, and trying your best.

There are a few concession I will make. If I gain some knowledge that I normally wouldn't have (say from him counting values out loud or sorting cards), I will try not to take advantage of this. I certainly want him to have fun, so given the choice between two moves of equivalent tactical strength, I generally choose the one that helps me over the one that hurts him. If I notice that he's setting up a clever move, I'll often reward him for planning ahead by letting him complete it. But then I've "learned from my mistake" and I'll avoid it in the future. But I don't intentionally make poor moves. He's learning to improve his play both by learning from his mistakes and from seeing the success of other people.

When he wins, I want him to feel the pride of real success. When he loses, I point out the successes he's had. ("You completed all your routes and realized it was too late in the game to get more!" "You set up a good fork and took my bishop!")

That said, I think that a numerical handicap in a game like X-Wing is a great idea! It's an established practice in many games, such a golf and chess, as previously pointed out. It lets you accounting for different skill and experience without "dumbing down" your play. And especially in wargaming, how many times do battles take place between two "balanced" forces?

What about establishing a percent handicap that your nephew gets? If you gave him a 20% bonus, then he can spend 120% of your points. Let him build his own forces as this is part of the strategy you want him to learn. You can even adjust the handicap as your skills improve. For example, if he wins 3 games in a row, his bonus goes down 5% or 10%. If you win 3 games in a row, his bonus goes up by the same amount. Explain why there is a difference in your points and how it's going to work, and he'll feel pride in knowing his skill is improving as his bonus goes down.
 
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James Machin
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Ehzed wrote:
For example, if he wins 3 games in a row, his bonus goes down 5% or 10%. If you win 3 games in a row, his bonus goes up by the same amount. Explain why there is a difference in your points and how it's going to work, and he'll feel pride in knowing his skill is improving as his bonus goes down.


That's pretty much what I have been doing and it works very well. Another great method is to have them play their peers using the basic "quick game" and then act as moderator/games master.

You can actually bring the game more to life if you run a commentary dropping hints for both parties - I did this last weekend with my son and his best friend, they were laughing so hard and were very disappointed that it was too late in the day and everyone had to go home.

At the end of the day it's all about creating a "Fun" learning environment if you can do that then it doesn't really matter what method you use.
 
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