William Bekking
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Hello,

I am curious if anyone had played or seen any games at ESSEN which they thought might work especially well as a family/kids game. I am always on the lookout for these types of games and it seems an appropriate time of year to add a few to my watch/wish list.

I have been reading ESSEN experiences and what games people liked/disliked. However, I always assume that the games mentioned are geared toward gamers and as such may not necessarily work as family/kids games.

So, if you have found any games you think would be notable from a family/kids perspective, could you please share your experiences?
What do you think is an appropriate age range? What seems to be the optimal number of players? Stuff like that.

I have read that Die Säulen der Erde seems to be quite a gem as a family game. Also, On the UNDERGROUND apparently looks good as well.

If this is not a appropriate venue for this type of post, please accept my apologies.

Thanks
Wm
 
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Dave Bullions
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The game at Essen that was aimed towards younger kids was "Der schwarze pirat" arrrh http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/23890
It was the winner of the 2006 Kinderspiel Des Jahres award.
 
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David Seddon
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Nice subjest for a thread!

Wish more folks would put a better profile on kids' games.

Anyway, isn't that the one that's rather like Akaba?

I got Akaba for the kids last year and they really liked it.
 
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Dave Bullions
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I'm not familar with Akaba so I looked it up. It certainly seems similar from its BGG description.
 
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Richard Dewsbery
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Best start with a definition of family/kids game then.

Because round here, the "kid" is four years old, and got games like the Black Pirate, Twiddle Turtle (SChilde Schildkrotte), and Mare Polare.

Whereas the "family" includes older people, and might enjoy games like the Alhambra dice game (though so far it appears to be just Mik and I who see any merit in the game), Los Mamphos and Cartagena 2.
 
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Valerie Putman
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I looked at lots of kids games at Essen this year, in part because I was shopping for Dale Yu and his kids. (If you haven't read it before, you should read Dale's weekly column at Boardgamenews.com. Every week in addition to his regular column he reviews a kid's game.)

I bought all the new Selecta games without even trying them because they are pretty hard to get in the states. I also looked at and tried several of the Haba games. I couldn't bring myself to buy Dale the new Rudiger Dorn game about pooping donkey's, Los Mampfos, but lots of families looked like they were having fun playing it and Dale's informed me it will be on the x-mas shopping list.

I also stopped by the booth with Nacht de Magier. They had a tent so that kids could play it in the dark! I was already familiar with most of the other games they had on display--I was hoping for something new.

There are a TON of kids/family friendly games at Essen. In fact, that's their target audience. At every booth the parents and children outnumbered 5 - 1 us "freaks" (as one Spiel des Jahres judge that joined us for dinner one night labled the gaming enthusiasts who prefer gamer games--but don't let his meaning get lost in translation...it was not a slight).

If you ever have the time/money/inclination to take a family vacation to Essen, Germany in October, your kids will have a blast.

I'd rather be gaming,
Valerie Putman
 
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Sue Hemberger

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For what it's worth, I noticed that one of the personal comments re Hameln says that the reviewer's kids are enthralled by the game.

I'm also looking at Space Dealer and Mr. Jack, but that probably has more to do with the peculiarities of my offspring than with family-friendliness more generally. blush

We've had Black Pirate for more than a month now and I'm not that taken with it. Said offspring (now 9) has yet not deigned to try it.
 
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statonv wrote:
There are a TON of kids/family friendly games at Essen. In fact, that's their target audience.

I guess there's no Essen poll for kids games, like the Fairplay poll?
 
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David Seddon
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There seems to be something UP here. If families truly are their "target audience" why is not more fuss made of these matters at the press conferences etc and why aren't the many citics there encouraged to spend longer looking at these games?

Everytime you read or hear anything about Essen and "Essen buzz" (and not just here on the Geek) it's adult games. I don't mind that, but it seems a bit odd to then say that the focus is for families.

Perhaps what we need is a podcast/report/reviews etc on kids games!

Or is it because the well known personalities that go to Essen and report back are sponsored by the adult game companmies. And if so, then AGAIN what's all this about a family focus?

BTW, I really love the stuff about the adult games, but I do think there needs to be more on the kids' games!

Do you see my point about the dichotomy here?
 
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Valerie Putman
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David,
The reporters you likely read most often are "hardcore gamers" or "freaks" or "gaming enthusiasts" who spend their own personal dollar to travel halfway around the world to see and play games. Because we aren't sponsored by companies and we are doing this on our own time and dollar, we choose to look at the games that we prefer--adult gamer-games.

I had the opportunity to meet and chat with two of the Spiel des Jahres judges during this trip. I also went to the SdJ award dinner and met the woman behind the Spiel fair in Essen and a number of other people. In Germany, there are many reporters who write regularly about family and kids boardgames. But they are writing for their mainstream local papers, not for niche hobby websites like Boardgamenews and BoardGameGeek. Until boardgaming is embraced by the American public, you will find a few articles in the general media around the holidays on "top 10 party games to buy as gifts" and then a slew of articles and reviews on gamer-games from those of us who do this because we love it.

Sorry I can't reply with something more hopeful!
Valerie

Oh...one other thought. All attendees of the fair can vote on the Fairplay games. Die Saulen der Erde, one of my favorites from the show had lots of families with kids (age 8 - 12, I'd guess) playing it at the booth. To many Germans, our gamer-games are their family games. (Other examples include Thurn und Taxi, Ticket to Ride...heck...the SdJ winners!)
 
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David Seddon
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Quote:
The reporters you likely read most often are "hardcore gamers" or "freaks" or "gaming enthusiasts" who spend their own personal dollar to travel halfway around the world to see and play games. Because we aren't sponsored by companies and we are doing this on our own time and dollar, we choose to look at the games that we prefer--adult gamer-games.


Fair enough, but then all I can say is that there must be a LOT of money in the games reviewing market. A lot of the well-known ones get around an awful lot. It must cost a fortune!

As for the writing being mainly aimed at adult games - yeah it's what I expect, and for the most part it's fine. I would like it if RT et al would go and play a couple of kids' games in there somewhere, though...just for the balance and to show this "family targetting" - though I accept your point about TtR being a family game in Germany - it is in our house, too!

None of this is to knock the great reviewers - I read their stuff constantly and base decisions partly on what they say, but just to say that I wish they'd be a bit broader. If they're not getting sponsored to turn up, then why not?
 
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Christian Becker
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The big German companies that produce games for small children - Haba, Zoch, ... have their booths at the fair.
Hall 7 was "kids only" with some big toys for them to let off steam like a bouncy castle and a trampoline.
I played "Los Mampfos" and "Ramba Samba" and we had some fun playing them. My friends bought "Ramba Samba" for their children.
 
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Tim Goose
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Of all the games my group of aging gamers played the one that I think best fulfills the tag of "Family Game" was Project Skyline

It has a simple set of rules to be learnt, and yet provides sufficient nastiness for the most hard-hearted of parents.
 
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David Seddon
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Then you ought to read what some of the reviewers have been saying about Project Skyline. It's not positive.

I've not played the game. You may be right.
 
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Michelle Zentis
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If anybody's tempted to play Project Skyline, just go pull out Monopoly and stack the money sky high on Free Parking. You'll end up having just as much fun without having to buy a new game.

Morgan, Michael and I got brain-fried on Friday and spent our last hour at the Haba booth and had a blast. Here's what we played:

Trüffel-Schnüffel - immensely silly, loads of fun
Zoff im Hühnerhof - also silly, but not quite as much fun
Tier auf Tier - entertaining stacking/dexterity game*
Schloss Schlotterstein - not nearly as much fun as expected

Los Mampfos is a fun memory game (or guessing game, if you have a 2-second attention span like I do). The whole donkey pooping theme could be disconcerting for some audiences, though.

I also picked up Casa Alfredo, which looks like it could be an entertaining little game along the lines of Loopin' Louie, but I haven't played it yet.

*I ended up getting two copies of Tier auf Tier - one for me (to play mostly with adults) and one for my nephew's third birthday.
 
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William Bekking
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Thanks all for your replies. You've given me quite a few games to look at now. I will enjoy my research.

 
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David Seddon
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Thanks for those tips, Michelle,. Sounds like you had a blast! I bet it was one of the highlights of the show.

I have noticed Tier auf Tier before and I reckon that one especially might be a poss purchase.
 
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Sue Hemberger

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RE Los Mampfos. It's one of the games I brought into a kindergarten classroom last year and I thought it was sort of an annoying game to play, although I'm willing to chalk that impression up, in part, to context.

The little food/poop bits are small and hard to work with and seem at constant risk of getting lost. I really liked the concept of the game (not donkey poop -- but a memory game with a psych-out element (you share the color you choose with anyone else who chose it, so should you go for the one you think is second most prevalent, hoping everyone else piled on the most prevalent?) but felt that execution left something to be desired. Between the three different donkeys and the running totals (colors not chosen in any given spoils distribution are returned to the donkey's belly cavity) it seemed as if, for most players, the memory element was too complex to work and it degenerated into a guessing game pretty quickly.
 
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I was on the lookout for some kids games while I was in Essen, but very few of the new games really caught my eye. The best of the bunch I spotted pre-show was Fabulantis, which looks very nice, though if your kids are a bit older Hasbro were re-publishing Tal der Abenteur - a Knizia which won the Austrian SdJ and looks a decent family game. Both were relatively expensive, for Essen, so I picked up That's My Fish and Gulo Gulo instead, for the same price. I also picked up Kruez und Quer (Zig Zag) and Heckmeck (Pickonimo) which I think they'll enjoy. While it wasn't bought with them in mind, I think they'll also like Ave Caesar, though without the nastiness. Mostly older games I'm afraid but good choices for ones which can be played with the family and as a quick filler.
 
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David Seddon
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Thanks for those nice comments, Silke. It's not that I want to have a go at the reviewers just that I would prefer it if there was a bit more balance in what we get to read about - outside of Germany, anyway.

And, Gery, I have played a lot of those games and agree they're good. Ave Caesar has a theme that appeals, but I have Mississippi Queen (plus expansion) and I think that it's likely to better in the long run.
 
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W. Eric Martin
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Admiral Fisher wrote:
Quote:
The reporters you likely read most often are "hardcore gamers" or "freaks" or "gaming enthusiasts" who spend their own personal dollar to travel halfway around the world to see and play games. Because we aren't sponsored by companies and we are doing this on our own time and dollar, we choose to look at the games that we prefer--adult gamer-games.


Fair enough, but then all I can say is that there must be a LOT of money in the games reviewing market. A lot of the well-known ones get around an awful lot. It must cost a fortune!


David, I wish I lived in your world because the game-reviewing market has very little money in it. Publishers send review copies to folks who write for various magazines and websites, but they don't pay reviewers. The publications that run reviews generally pay nothing or very little per word, which means that reviewers are doing this more out of love than anything else.

Publishers do advertise on sites like Boardgamenews and my FunandBoardgames.com, but that money won't come close to paying for a plane ticket. As Valerie said, we pay for these trips ourselves because we like to experience these game conventions. I don't go to the movies, have cable, or spend money on many other forms of entertainment because I prefer to spend my dosh (mostly earned writing business and health articles) on games and game-related activities.

Admiral Fisher wrote:
As for the writing being mainly aimed at adult games - yeah it's what I expect, and for the most part it's fine. I would like it if RT et al would go and play a couple of kids' games in there somewhere, though...just for the balance and to show this "family targetting" - though I accept your point about TtR being a family game in Germany - it is in our house, too!

None of this is to knock the great reviewers - I read their stuff constantly and base decisions partly on what they say, but just to say that I wish they'd be a bit broader. If they're not getting sponsored to turn up, then why not?


Who would sponsor a reviewer to cover kids and family games? Family Fun runs an article perhaps once a year about games; Parenting has turned down my pitches repeatedly, as have other family-oriented publications.

Believe me, I'd love to have a regular job with a mainstream mag that involves reviewing games, but my efforts to land one have failed so far. Thus, I write reviews when I can for Knucklebones and other newsstand mags, run FunandBoardgames.com to try to create awareness of games in the U.S. mainstream market, and hope for a better situation down the road.
 
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David Seddon
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Well, I for one will do so! I wasn't aware of it until now, but I have now bookmarked it.

BTW, perhaps my take on reviewers being fairly well off was wrong - if so, then I am sorry as it seems that they deserve better. I know a wee bit about what happens in the Hi-Fi world and reviewers there are much better renumerated for their efforts!

Even so, my main point about the sad lack of reviews coming out about kids' games (except in Germany apparently) is, I think, a good one. In fact, the more we debate it here, the more convinced I am that I was onto something - esp given the aims of Essen.

May this change! And even if that's slow, may there be some evidence of that next year.

A hearty well done to all of those who have written in here and are trying their best right now!
 
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Gerard Boom
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We bought quite some games at Essen this year. One family game might be interesting for you. We had fun with it

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/21729

greetings
Geboom
 
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William Bekking
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geboom wrote:
We bought quite some games at Essen this year. One family game might be interesting for you. We had fun with it

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/game/21729

greetings
Geboom


Hi Geboom,
Thanks for the suggestion. The game looks very interesting... definitely worth looking into.
 
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Michael S
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caesarmom wrote:
Morgan, Michael and I got brain-fried on Friday and spent our last hour at the Haba booth and had a blast. Here's what we played:

Trüffel-Schnüffel - immensely silly, loads of fun
Zoff im Hühnerhof - also silly, but not quite as much fun
Tier auf Tier - entertaining stacking/dexterity game*
Schloss Schlotterstein - not nearly as much fun as expected

It was my first trip to Essen and after Space Dealer I would say the highlight of the show for me was getting direct access to the Haba and Selecta games.

I agree that the reviewers aren't getting paid well or at all in the majority of cases. Also, I've thought about possibly trying to start reviewing games in a category that's not being covered but not having a kid and not currently being a kid myself, I think it would be very difficult to objectively review the games. I'm sure it's similar with the reviewers. They're covering the categories of games they like and have the most experience with.
 
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