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Subject: Simplest games for small children that still have some skill rss

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CARL SKUTSCH
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I was thinking about the Chutes and Ladders thread somewhere else and so wondered: What games are there that you can introduce to little tykes that involve some skill. By little I mean from like 4-8.

Tic Tac Toe was the first I thought of. Yeah, not much skill, but good play does beat bad play.

Others? And keep it simple folks! Start with the games for the 4 year olds, then move on to the bigger tykes.
 
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Steve Hart
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We enjoy the following:

Roll For It
Hiss
Dino Hunt Dice
Catan Junior
Labyrinth
Qwirkle
Spot it
Dragonwood( with help)
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TTDG
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Max is a cooperative game where the chief decision is which meeple to move (closest to the cat or 1 that can get to it's shortcut).

There is another one I'd need to recall that has a volcano in the middle and dinosaurs around. It is basically Max with an added memory element. But the volcano is COOL. Dinosaur Escape
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Nikhil Iyer
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Games that have worked with minimal rule tweaks for my daughter (started gaming at 4, now 6). She loves board games though, but it really depends. For example, her best friend (also 6) won't play any of these. So your mileage may vary. Anyhow, here is the list:

Busy Busy Airport
Spinderella
Monza
My First Carcassonne
Super Rhino
Doodle Quest
Catan Junior
Karuba
The Builders
Takenoko
Tokaido
Forbidden Island
King of Tokyo

Good luck!
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Chris Schenck
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My kids really enjoyed (and still enjoy) Gulo Gulo at that age. Their tiny sticky fingers actually gave them an advantage over the adults.

Another good place to look is the listing of the top-ranked children's games here on BGG:
https://boardgamegeek.com/childrensgames/browse/boardgame
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Kenneth Petr
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I'll second Doodle Quest and Forbidden Island. Forbidden Dessert is equally recommended. I started playing Castles of Burgundy with my son when he was 6-ish. Formula D and Suspend are other fun game he enjoys.

In list format I recommend:

Doodle Quest
Forbidden Island
Forbidden Dessert
Castles of Burgundy
Formula D
Suspend
 
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Rathma P.
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I think once your kid knows how to read and gets the concept of strategy and knows how the game mechanics works you can have them playing almost any game. I have 2 boys that are 6 and 7 and they both enjoy playing Pandemic, King of Tokyo, Small World. With my 7 year old i'm going to try to get him into more heavier games, like Star Wars Rebellion, as he's a big star wars fan himself. Will see how that goes once i get the game.
 
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David Janik-Jones
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4 year olds? Hiss and Sleeping Queens.
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Bianca G
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Ving wrote:
Games that have worked with minimal rule tweaks for my daughter (started gaming at 4, now 6). She loves board games though, but it really depends. For example, her best friend (also 6) won't play any of these. So your mileage may vary. Anyhow, here is the list:

Busy Busy Airport
Spinderella
Monza
My First Carcassonne
Super Rhino
Doodle Quest
Catan Junior
Karuba
The Builders
Takenoko
Tokaido
Forbidden Island
King of Tokyo

Good luck!

+ 1 for Monza and King of Tokyo.
Also
Differix
Animal Party
Brandon the Brave
Diego Drachenzahn
Ratzolino
Haunted Castle
are big hits here (2 1/2 + 5 years).
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Amy Ash
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Some favorites of my boys (ages 5 and 7):

Star Realms
Champions of Midgard
Colt Express
Citadels
Dragonwood
Dungeon
Hey, That's My Fish
Dixit
Tsuro
Coup
Bang The Dice Game
Labyrinth
King of Tokyo
Settlers of Catan (for the 7 year old)
Catan Jr. (for the 5 year old)

Co-ops:
Castle Panic
Mice & Mystics
Temple of Elemental Evil

Most of these games they can win at least some of the time, which is important for their enjoyment levels. The exception is Champions of Midgard, where they just love the theme so much they don't care if they lose.
 
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lampeter
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Tsuro (low player count=more room on board)
Sleeping Queens
Niya
Carcassonne sans farmers (or the My First one)
Forbidden Island (start out easier than easy and increase hand limit until they get the hang of it)
Yardmaster Express
Sushi Go
Scopa and Briscola (these classic Italian games use hands of only 3 cards)

Edit:briscola not broccoli...whistle
 
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Justin Strickland
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Pitchcar - pretty much 100% skill
 
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Justin Strickland
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rathmax wrote:
I think once your kid knows how to read and gets the concept of strategy and knows how the game mechanics works you can have them playing almost any game. I have 2 boys that are 6 and 7 and they both enjoy playing Pandemic, King of Tokyo, Small World. With my 7 year old i'm going to try to get him into more heavier games, like Star Wars Rebellion, as he's a big star wars fan himself. Will see how that goes once i get the game.


Wow, I would never have the patience to explain how to play Star Wars: Rebellion to a 7 year old. There is absolutely no way they could grasp the strategies involved to play intelligently or anticipate an opponents' moves against an adult. Nor do I think that a 7 year old would have the patience to sit through a 3 hour game, or even have fun mulling over 5 different decks of cards. Heck, I'm in my 20s and sometimes I barely have any patience to sit through that long of a game, I don't care how thematic it is.

If you want a simple thematic star wars game I would say to hunt down a copy of Star Wars: Epic Duels, get a core set of Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game and play without upgrades or pilot special abilities, or check out the new Risk: Star Wars Edition, the unofficial retheme of the highly praised Star Wars: The Queen's Gambit.
 
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Klim Chugunkin
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Sleeping Queens will teach basic arithmetic.
 
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Mike Smith
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Sleeping Queens - does not really require much skill, but is a kid's game that beats Candyland any day

Rhino Hero - simple dexterity game

Animal Upon Animal - another dexterity game

Spot it! - yes I count speed as a skill

Zombie Dice - not too much skill required unfortunately, but still good with little kids

King of Tokyo - granted you may be buying the upgrades for them, but still fun

Hive Pocket - depending on the child of course. I started playing chess and checkers at a very young age, so I could easily see me playing this one.

Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie or Magic: The Gathering – Arena of the Planeswalkers - granted you may have to house rule it a little to water it down for a 4 year old. An 8 year old could easily handle Heroscape though if you know the rules. Heroscape is OOP though.
 
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Samo Oleami
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4 year olds is tricky - they might play some games, but not necessarily understand the winning part of them. They'll just enjoy doing something.

Animal Upon Animal - 4 year old beat me once blush (who cares for spatial imagination when you have super steady hands)
Other stacking games
- Rhino Hero (simpler, but less toy factor)
- Catch a Falling Star (some boys love it - it's more abstract, more "engineering type" ("maybe this will work"))

Speed games
- with 4 y.o. they won't be speedy, with 6 y.o. some of these will be at full speed
- Spot it!/Dobble - not sure for 4 y.o. fine with 6 y.o. Takes some concentration.
- Halli Galli - it's kinda Jungle Speed, but stupider, at a certain point reflexes will win out. If you want more skill, then Jungle Speed, even more skill, play Jungle Speed with the Extreme Expansion (otherwise JS is popular with teens, it's best with a group that will play this to death, and then add the expansion and continue).
- Tutti Frutti - simplest we tried. no thinking, just speed. Hey, kids learn them "grab a coin token and don't let go" skills.
- Pick-a-Dog - this one's neat as takes some cognition effort and we play with storytelling variant. Kids beat their parents.

push your luck games:
- Duck Duck Bruce a.k.a Kleine Fische - very very very simple. I do believe there's skill to push your luck games.
- Incan Gold/Diamant - with smart kids as there's some rules. not pre-school kids though.

Drei Magier Spiele, Haba, Zoch (the mighty power of magnets)
- Spooky Stairs - this one is one I'd recommend for young kids. And still fun with older. But needs more players (3-4). Roll and move with constant back and forth as figures switch between themselves and you have to remember which one's yours.
- The Enchanted Tower - lovely 2 player game that works with more players as well. It's a hidden treasure hunt where one side knows where it is, but the other side has advantage.
- Spinderella - best roll and move game I've played. Adults were loving it (it's a bit evilish). Wouldn't recommend for pre-school kids. Maybe with guidance.
- Magic Labyrinth is nice as well, but the memory element is strong (not trivial), not sure if I'd recommend it for kids so young (lacks a story or direct excitement). Better pick some other of this list.
- Diego Drachenzahn - cute little marble flicking game.
- Pharaoh's Gulo Gulo - it's fun, not as fun as bgg ratings make you believe, but kids can beat adults as they have tiny fingers.

Some simple simple coops - not Forbidden islands (too many rules, even though quite engaging as far as theme and presentation goes, 10 y.o. at least).
Playa Playa - we got this as it's translated to slovene. A kid and her dad managed to play it and win. Not challenging, but cute and playable with a 4 y.o.
Hoot Owl Hoot! - out kids co-op of choice (german edition has some neat plastic owls). You can adjust dificulty level and makes it fun even for older (nongamer) kids as they feel they can solve the game (it is solvable - in a good way, you must start at a certain level. Still luck of the draw might make it impossible).

direct conflict games
- King of Tokyo too rules heavy at this age.
- Bang dice game better, but I'd recommend at 8+
- Rumble in the House - this worked fine though.
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lampeter
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I forgot to mention Hoot Owl Hoot! It is a cooperative gem for 3-5 year olds.

You are trying to bring the baby owls home to their nest before daybreak. Playing a color card from your hand will advance one owl to the next space of that color, but you get to choose which owl to move and any spaces already covered by an owl are skipped, sending the moving owl even farther ahead. It is a simple optimization puzzle that is perfect for the younger set.
 
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Jonathan S.
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Twilight Imperium. Don't coddle the little rugrats.
Seriously, though, my 5 year old son loooves Camel Up.
 
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Alexandre Santos
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for 4-5 years old, definitely Chicken Cha Cha Cha. They will murder you.

Later on, Animal Upon Animal is an option for competitive play with an adult.

From 7 years onward there are more possibilities. Hanabi was a surprise hit with my son.
 
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Quantum Jack
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The neophyte Dwarf and the 5-year old White Knight

But, on a more serious note:

Sputnik: a simple abstract for 2-6 players. Simple rules, interesting play.

Duck duck go: requires a little more forward thinking, but some little ones do well with it.

Midnight Party: remarkably fun roll-n-move game with multiple pawns, and enough decisions to keep gamer adults interested.

Ingenious: neat pattern laying abstract. easy to play. Very fun
 
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