Jeremy Avery
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Cross-post from Games in the Classroom forum.

So I've never done anything quite like this in a classroom, but I'd like to use the creation of a board game to motivate my 3rd/4th graders to research our Social Studies topics this year. Our curriculum looks at traditional ways of First Nations (Native American) peoples, including technologies, social structures, ways of life, as well as first contact with settlers including fur trade, treaties, changes to traditional ways of life, etc.

Good stuff!

After playing several games that come closer to these topics, like Greenland and (to a certain extent) Stone Age, the ideas of game-creation really clicked when I played A Feast for Odin. Ideas like boat-building, hunting, trapping, etc. work so well for my curriculum.

Of course, that particular game is too long and cumbersome for my age group, but I wouldn't want to use it wholesale in any case. But the framework of worker placement, resource collection and conversion, etc., all of it would work well.

So now we need to work on creating the game. This is where I need help. I need to think through the steps of how to teach this too the class, and how to walk out the design process. Here is what I have come up with so far:

Teach the idea of worker placement: This part shouldn't be too difficult. One thing I love about worker placement is how concrete and thematic it can be. I will teach the mechanics of placement, costs/requirements, and then carrying out actions.

Game balance:The next thing I will do is talk about game balance (using the AFFO mechanic of multiple workers for stronger actions). We'll talk about how this will be part of the ongoing process of design, making sure nothing is too strong.

Ideating for places: So then we will need ideas about what our workers can do, and of course that will come from their research. It will be my job to find appropriate resources, and then get the class started with one or two examples of possible worker placement options.

From there things start to get a bit hazy. The goal isn't really to have a playabale, balanced game, so much as have fun with the worker placement design process, thinking about requirements of resources or technologies, etc.

So, jump in! What else do I need to be thinking about? I'm an open book.








 
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Carel Teijgeler
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What age are those children?

Quote:
One thing I love about worker placement is how concrete and thematic it can be. I will teach the mechanics of placement, costs/requirements, and then carrying out actions.

You are wrong here.

You played Stone Age and you call that thematic? Historical inaccuracy is a better definition.

Most worker placement games do not have an action in the spot you place a worker (again: Stone Age).

What part of the US will you set the game?
Any reading on the cultures of the native Americans will show you the diversity of those cultures: from the farmers in the east, (semi-)nomads in the middle, food gatherers in the south and fisher men in the west (roughly speaking).

And what about the interaction between those nations? War and trade cannot be ignored.
Contacts with European settlers may be friendly, but can be hostile as well.

You should think about area control as well.

Perhaps take a look at Age of Empires III: The Age of Discovery, worker placement and area control as well, and the New World as setting.
 
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Jeremy Avery
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anijunk wrote:
What age are those children?


As I indicated in the title of the post, 8 to 9 years old.

Quote:
Quote:
One thing I love about worker placement is how concrete and thematic it can be. I will teach the mechanics of placement, costs/requirements, and then carrying out actions.

You are wrong here.

You played Stone Age and you call that thematic? Historical inaccuracy is a better definition.


People go out to gather clay, procreate, etc. Works for me.

Quote:
Most worker placement games do not have an action in the spot you place a worker (again: Stone Age).


?? Worker into space; worker retrieves clay. I'm quite certain we must be looking at this phrase "action in the spot" differently.


Quote:
What part of the US will you set the game?

Any reading on the cultures of the native Americans will show you the diversity of those cultures: from the farmers in the east, (semi-)nomads in the middle, food gatherers in the south and fisher men in the west (roughly speaking).


Canada, specifically Secwepemculecw - the traditional lands of the Secwepemc (Shuswap) people - will be my primary focus, but Inuit culture may be a larger overview first-run at some of the ideas of gamification. The Secwepemc people gathered (and continue to gather!) roots and berries, hunt for deer, fish for salmon out of the rivers, process salmon eggs and salmon oil, make clothing including bark capes and animal skins, build pit houses for wintering, beading, dancing, lehal, and (obviously) a lot more.

Good question, but these are things I have given some thought to and am lucky enough to have capable, knowledgeable Aboriginal Education Workers in my school who will be helping me.

Quote:
And what about the interaction between those nations? War and trade cannot be ignored.
Contacts with European settlers may be friendly, but can be hostile as well.


Mostly a trading people, actually. Both before and after contact with European settlers.

Quote:
You should think about area control as well.


This is more the kind of feedback I need. Mechanics to work towards (since I will be scaffolding and supporting the class with mechanics), and also ideas about how to administer the process of game-design-by-consensus (since it needs to be driven by research and student input).
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Carel Teijgeler
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Quote:
?? Worker into space; worker retrieves clay. I'm quite certain we must be looking at this phrase "action in the spot" differently.

I think we do.

What you describe here is not action selection, but a "no pain, easy gain" rewarding system found in many Euro WP games: put a pawn there and here are your cubes. Players have nothing to do. Cheap and lack of design.

When a game talks about action selection and WP I expect to do another game mechanic, as WP is just a container for other game mechanics. Gives players (and game designers) a more interesting challenge.
I consider the implementation of action selection in Alchemists a good one.

An example: players put a pawn on action "Fishing". Roll a die to determine how many fish have been caught. (die rolling as the other (additional) game mechanic).


Each may have their own preferences. Create the game you think fits your project. It is definitely fun to do.
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Charles Ward
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How does My First Stone Age work? Is it over simplified?
 
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Jeremy Avery
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ex1st wrote:
How does My First Stone Age work? Is it over simplified?


I've heard it is a memory game, not a worker placement game.

I like the idea of worker placement only because I think it helps young students understand the idea of people laboring in order to obtain something - concrete and not too abstracted.
 
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lampeter
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I am hardly qualified to offer advice, but I do know from participating in a few design contests here on BGG that designing even a very simple game can be really hard.

I wonder if it might be more successful for you if, rather than supplying the kids with "ideas", you actually supply them with the skeleton of a game that you have already figured out somewhat. Then they can do the (hard) work of plugging in the appropriate details and changing things that don't work.

I hope it goes well!
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John Breckenridge
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You could try looking at Lewis & Clark for a game that combines worker placement and card play, possibly just as a source for slightly racist Native American meeples that you could use in your game.
 
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Jeremy Avery
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jbrecken wrote:
You could try looking at Lewis & Clark for a game that combines worker placement and card play, possibly just as a source for slightly racist Native American meeples that you could use in your game.


The Secwepemc don't wear a feathered headband, so that's out! Simple cloaks would work better, so maybe I need to look Bruges for my meeple...
 
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Jeremy Avery
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lampeter wrote:
I am hardly qualified to offer advice, but I do know from participating in a few design contests here on BGG that designing even a very simple game can be really hard.

I wonder if it might be more successful for you if, rather than supplying the kids with "ideas", you actually supply them with the skeleton of a game that you have already figured out somewhat. Then they can do the (hard) work of plugging in the appropriate details and changing things that don't work.

I hope it goes well!


I think what I have working in my favor is that it doesn't have to be a good game, or a playable finished product in any sense that the publishing world would define it. The process of creating the spaces that are appropriate for our setting, and playing turns and refining our ideas - that is what would work best, and that doesn't require us to finish a game

The skeleton idea is what I had in mind, using some sort of hybrid skeleton of A Feast for Odin and Greenland..
 
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Josh Zscheile
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anijunk wrote:
What you describe here is not action selection, but a "no pain, easy gain" rewarding system found in many Euro WP games: put a pawn there and here are your cubes. Players have nothing to do. Cheap and lack of design.


That may be how you see it, regardless, this mechanism is called worker placement, so OP is completely right.

@OP: Sorry for my ignorance regarding the topic, but it was not one that was prominent on german schools' history curriculum.

I think your idea can work out okay, especially since you do not really care for playability but rather for the involvement and interest of your pupils.

Were the Secwepemc nomadic? If so, you could let them design places that are workable either in summer or in winter (or both, if the seasons do not matter for this activity). Also, I feel you should bring epidemics from the Old World into play when engaging in communication with settlers/traders/explorers. You could make it a surprise for the pupils by designing an appropriate event card that you bring into play once someone decided for such a communication action. You could also explain that these diseases originated from the people in the Old World living very closely with animals due to animal husbandry, which did not occur in the Americas, because there were no suitable animals around.
 
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Sean Callahan
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I would think that you should be looking at a cooperative game, like Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island, although not as Hard, focusing on the cultural as well as the survival aspects of Tribal life at that time.

It doesn't use worker placement, but more of a action selection mechanic, which may or may not be in the same ballpark for the experience you want to present.
 
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Joe H
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Lewis & Clark oozes theme but it is much to complex for the average 8-9 year old.

The rulebook has a sentence or two describing the roles of each of the 50+ characters in the game. Movement is thematic too. Native American maps used time to travel rather than distance as a scale and the game really feels this way. Too much cargo and unhappy workers slow progress of the main party.

But, I think you could adapt it. Use the basic cards and the board spaces as action spaces. Have a select choice of better cards require more workers to activate. You might introduce your own cards when you recruit more workers. For recruiting Native Americans the cards might describe a particularly helpful Native American. For non-Native maybe you have cards that describe the particular types of skills that were necessary or types of jobs that were done. These would only be for educational purposes, not game play. You could require camping after all the workers run out.

Good luck. Sounds like a fun project.
 
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