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Subject: If you could buy only 3 kids games to build gaming skills (target ages 5-7)... rss

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ben card
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i'd like to add dragonwood to the list. fun little game.
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Nick Magles
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mekanikal fiend wrote:
i'd like to add dragonwood to the list. fun little game.

I'd like to second Dragonwood! Simple to play, but gives kids the chance to improve their play by thinking about probabilities and making good decisions.

Also, my niece and nephew (7 and 9) have really been enjoying Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. They're HP fanatics, which helps, but the game is designed to be played one "book" at a time, gradually adding more mechanics to teach players about deckbuilding. As they get older and read each book, they get to also play the next book of the game. In the meantime, they don't mind replaying the same book a bunch of times.

In the end it doesn't have as much depth as other deckbuilding games, but the scaling nature of it and the replay value I think would make it a top contender for an "only 3 games for kids" list, especially if they like HP. I probably wouldn't go younger than 7 though for that game.
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Nik Cochran

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We play several games with my kids. We started out with UNO with just the number and wild cards. My 3 yr old is getting the hang of it. Not only is it a good matching game it teaches basic card game protocol. I make sure they understand that the card stacks need to be neat and separated.

Other games we play with kids who can handle reading and numbers:

Munchkin Treasure Hunt (My boys love this game)
Fluxx
Pokémon CCG
King of Tokyo
Outfoxed
Hearts of AttrAction
ticket to ride

As for games at each age:
4/5 - Uno
6 - Ticket to ride
7 - Munchkin Treasure hunt

I would highly suggest everyone to checkout Munchkin Treasure Hunt. The rules are simple and the cards are hilarious. Not many games can you defend with a couch fort and defeat the fuzzy dragon with a full diaper and mystery meat. Basic math is involved and you can help each other as you travel the dungeon.
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David Recht

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Magleto wrote:
mekanikal fiend wrote:
i'd like to add dragonwood to the list. fun little game.

I'd like to second Dragonwood! Simple to play, but gives kids the chance to improve their play by thinking about probabilities and making good decisions.

Also, my niece and nephew (7 and 9) have really been enjoying Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. They're HP fanatics, which helps, but the game is designed to be played one "book" at a time, gradually adding more mechanics to teach players about deckbuilding. As they get older and read each book, they get to also play the next book of the game. In the meantime, they don't mind replaying the same book a bunch of times.

In the end it doesn't have as much depth as other deckbuilding games, but the scaling nature of it and the replay value I think would make it a top contender for an "only 3 games for kids" list, especially if they like HP. I probably wouldn't go younger than 7 though for that game.

I would second Harry Potter. I’ve been playing it with my 6 year old, at the same time as reading the books. Currently on the book 6 game, and he can’t get enough of it. It teaches the mechanics of deck builders, and then adds more complexity. Now my 6 year old can’t sustain attention through an entire game at game 6 level, as it takes over N hour to play at this point, but he’s good about self-monitoring and asking for a break. The book 1 game only lasts about 30 minutes. Now he understands deck builders, we have played many other games like Quest for Eldorado and Clank! very successfully.

I would also echo Forbidden Island and Mole Rats in Space as great coops that work well with younger kids.

Another coop that had a lot of life for the young one was Castle Panic. That gets pulled out a lot. We even added in the Wizards Tower expansion. After a while he started to make his own monsters, and I’d find little scraps of paper in the draw bag with his illustrations and definitions.

I run a family board game night at my school where I teach, and we invite families with kids as young as three. For the younger crowd, I find a lot of the Peaceable Kingdom games do a nice job of introducing coops to the 3-6 age range. Current stand outs in that line are Cauldron Quest, Hoot Owl Hoot, and Snug as a Bug.

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Andrew Nixt
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5 year old - Majesty: For the Realm is a great card drafting and set collection game, with a pinch of take that and it only takes 20-30 minutes. Over 10 plays in the last year, which is a favorite with my 6 year old boy, my 3 year old loves likes to collect the cards and play with the money/coins, and then my 10 year old likes it from time to time. Of course one of my favorite fillers too. Looking forward to an expansion!

6 year old - Downforce is a popular racing, betting and hand management game with a little take that and some variable power introduction...a favorite go to for our family with over 15 plays in the last year. My 6 and 10 year old will play this and team up against my wife and I, which makes it very difficult to even get in the top 2. With the expansion that came up and new variable powers, this is a permanent game in our collection.

7 year old - Santorini is brought to the table when we just want to play 1v1. This is a quick but fulfilling abstract game, with some fun pieces to build and a ton of variable powers. My 6 year old likes this one a lot and we just started trying out the variable hero powers. We have over 25 plays of this in the last couple years.

I can only choose 1 for each year? Yeah right...some others include Ticket to Ride Team Asia/USA/First Journey, The Wizard Always Wins, Jamaica, King of Tokyo, Camel Up, Dice Town...the list goes on and on.
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Sticking to true kids games:

Rat-a-Tat Cat— a bit memory and a bit press-your-luck
Outfoxed!—deduction
Tales & Games: The Hare & the Tortoise—a fun racing game that requires strategic card use

I don’t really buy that many kids games though as my kids also like to replay the same games, so I don’t have a wide base from which to make recommendations . My 5 yo and 7 yo have really developed their strategic thinking best through:

Coloretto
Splendor
Chess

And my 5 yo loves Rise of Augustus, so you might be able to try that one pretty soon.
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Misha Bernard

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So our kids are now nearly 13 and 15.5 and when they started gaming with us there weren't the huge range of kid interpretations of popular games (Settlers being the only one I recall). By 8 they were playing our games regularly if with suggestions and by 10 most things of the weight we usually play (2.25 in the geek).
That said, one of the first games we played with them from the oldest being 5 was Blokus. Getting younger kids to get the strategy of blocking out spaces took time, but they could do it. We played Carcasonne without scoring for a while in that age-range as well. We have Qwirkle, often olayed without KEEPING score but talking about how many points plays were.
Settlers (Catan) was also a favorite if you were willing to play PAST the win (often by an adult) to when the kids were satisfied they accomplished their goal. That was more me on summer afternoons, but with all four of us playing, the adults can council the kids not to make terrible trades.

Thoughts on gaming with young kids generally, but not specific game ideas.
We have a compliment of the usual card games like Uno, etc, but we just worked up to getting the kids to play our games and often they want that more than kid games (also, I would encourage games *I* like to play because I'll play them more than the others. I dislike Sorry a lot).
The one game that went over BADLY was Robot Turtles. I was happy to back it off Kickstarter because the kids REALLY wanted to play RoboRally, but it wasn't feasible. After 1-2 times of Robot Turtles (which I think is a good game), that was it. So the kids still wanted to play RoboRally.
Oh, and the kids generally didn't want to play each other, so it was me playing or all of us.
Last note, as the kids age, THEY alpha-game (well, my son-oldest) so playing Castle Panic or Forbidden Island was less fun. We don't do co-ops, now, but they were a favorite of his around 10. So maybe consider if you do a co-op working a way to train against alpha-gamer because THAT would be worth it.
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Sarah
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So I actually showed my 8 yr old the question and asked her what she thought as was curious to see her perspective and she instantly gave these:

River Dragons (some balance/dexterity, programmed movement and simultaneous action selection)
Dead Man's Draw - (kids captain carcass version with set collection and press your luck)
The Downfall of Pompeii

After a pause, she then added Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar and Pyramid of Pengqueen as apparent "must haves" and I said so you think they're good for gaming mechanics then? She then rolled her eyes and did that urgggh sound they make and her response was "I don't care about them, I'm not at university" with an unimpressed glare!

Fair point laugh
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Pete S
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My only child (daughter) is a few months shy of turning 4 but loves playing games with me, to my endless joy! We play a few games every night at her request.

I can't answer your question specifically for each of the ages you're inquiring about, but can tell you what we've been playing.
My First Carcassonne (definitely will be fun for kids even as they get closer to 10)
Chicken Cha Cha Cha (will probably become too easy/simple after age 6 or so I'd guess)
Richard Scarry's Busytown, Eye Found It (a co-op - definitely geared for younger ones but probably fun for a pretty wide range of ages)
Connect 4 Launchers (chaotic fun for all ages)
Villa Paletti (a decently interesting spin on build-until-it-falls)
Ewoks Save the Trees (from my childhood, definitely for younger ones)

We also own My First Bohnanza but haven't yet played it since I think she's still a little young for it. And I have 10 Days in Africa waiting in the wings as I think it'll be fun later and your kids of all ages will probably enjoy.

But, hands down, the game she enjoys by far more than any other and that we play at least once every night is another game from my childhood, Fantasy Forest. Don't misjudge it based on its appearance and think it's just a Candyland. My daughter and I have been playing a simplified version of the rules right now but I've been impressed with some of the interesting choices even at this level, and can't wait for the fun we'll have when we play with the full rules. Good training in hand management. Between the fun art, neat creatures, and excitement of getting good shortcuts, the game just hits a lot of notes with my kiddo. And, it was my own favorite during my childhood for many years.

It's long out of print but I see copies pop up for sale from time to time so you might be able to find it if interested. I just felt I had to mention it here based on how much my daughter and I have been enjoying it.

Happy gaming!
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Peter

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I have elementary age daughters who I introduced to board games around 4 or 5. Here is my best guess at the age that these could be introduced. You could move them forward or back a year depending on your kiddo.

I'm going to give you more than one because you'll know what type of game will work for her (and you), but if I had to pick one it would be the first listed in each age category. Also, don't be afraid to adapt the rules - especially if it makes the game more fun for her.

Age 4-5
Enchanted Forest - my girls couldn't get enough of this.
Please note - we did NOT play the official rules. That would be painfully long. If you look it up you'll understand. We always had two cards flipped up for items to search for and once you found an item you got it (no returning to the castle or whatever the rule was) and then a new card was flipped to join the other remaining item.


The Enchanted Tower (says 2-4 players, but really its 2 players). Simple enough they could even play with a friend or sibling.

Age 6-7
Ticket to Ride: First Journey - (still haven't upgraded to the original - everyone still has fun with this one and it's faster).

Age 7-8
Dragonwood - a little long, I just drop a lot of creatures out.
Also, in games with a lot of cards (this one & ticket to ride) my daughters just placed their cards face up on the table, but if that would ruin the game we found success with this playing card holder (Maddak 15-Inch Playing Card Holder, 4-Pack 712524015).
King of Tokyo
King Domino
Downforce - Drop the bidding for cars and let them pick the car(s) that work for their hand. You can add in the bidding for cars and the bidding on the winner if/when she is ready.

Just remember it's not about teaching strategies at this age as much as social skills and emphasizing the fun. That might mean the games the kids like (The Magic Labyrinth or Enchanted Forest) aren't your cup of tea, but you're trying to build a love of board games so take what she'll give you. One reason to consider getting more than one per year is you'll have a better chance finding what she likes and you'll want a break from her favorite.

One of my daughters struggles with losing (a good skill to practice) so we also took a step back for a time and mixed in a lot of cooperative games like Castle Panic (age 5-6) and Forbidden Island (age 6-8). Those usually ensured a positive experience for her and if we didn't do that I think she would have quit board games before she learned to lose with grace.






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John Herrera
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I was recently introduced to Men At Work and thought “this would be a great game for kids as well”, or maybe I’m just a big kid myself?
 
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Three kids here. Lots of playing done for the past years.

Instead of My First Carcassonne, check out Brandon the Brave aka. Richard Ritterschlag by HABA. This is brilliant, and It's not any more difficult to learn - my 3½ year old learned it and loves it, and we all enjoy playing it with him (a rare thing with little kid's games). Brandon the Brave has tile laying, pattern matching like MFC, but also has a sense of adventure, as you create this fantasy-medieval landscape and accomplish quests in it, like defeating dragons and giants. You flip the quest tiles over as well, so the're double the tile flipping excitement. It has just enough extra rules to keep every turn fresh: jousting tournaments happen and this errant knight keeps looking for his horse. And as opposed to MFC, Brandon the Brave includes decisions and fun. Decisions and fun are good to have.

If you're forced to play MFC instead, at least remove one of the no-brainer x-intersections.

When your kid turns 5, you're in luck. You can now move on from the baby games and play Reiner Knizia's Ribbitwith them. And after six, the world is your gaming oyster.
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Krzysztof Pecherski
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I often play with my 4,5 year old daugther. She likes the most:
1) Dream Home
2) My First Carcassonne
3) Spot it!

And with my son (now 10 years old) when he was 6-7 we often played in:
Hive and Dixit.

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Mike

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Below is a list of games my kids grew up with and loved. These are games that they wanted to play. I especially will call out whoowasit. It seems like every kid that came over loved that game.

Bugs in the Kitchen
Coconuts
The Joker Fun House Game
The Magic Labyrinth
Monster Factory
Push a Monster
Rhino Hero: Super Battle
Spooky Castle
Spinderella
The Enchanted Tower
Die verzauberten Rumpelriesen
Whoowasit?
Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters

One thing I will recommend is to play those games as long as possible to keep their love of playing with you. Your kid will likely be able to play more complex games much sooner but they won't get the same enjoyment out of them and it can end the fun of playing together.
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FrankNBeans13 wrote:
One thing I will recommend is to play those games as long as possible to keep their love of playing with you. Your kid will likely be able to play more complex games much sooner but they won't get the same enjoyment out of them and it can end the fun of playing together.
^These are wise words.
 
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Sarah
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FrankNBeans13 wrote:
Below is a list of games my kids grew up with and loved. These are games that they wanted to play. I especially will call out whoowasit. It seems like every kid that came over loved that game.

That's true actually as my daughter cannot stand co-op games and walks out half way through the game but she did always love this one. Still plays it occasionally now

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Rob Pettit
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I have kids who have been playing games in this age range for a few years. Our favorite games for this age group are:

Stop Thief: You can play many different modes from competitive to cooperative to 1 vs all and the kids love the app integration.

Downforce: Fun racing game that adults or kids. If you think this is too advanced the Hare and Tortoise is good as well.

My Little Scythe: Amazing family game that teaches multiple aspects of gaming.

Trekking the National Parks: This is a Ticket to Ride weight game (or lighter) and is fun for everyone. As they reach the upper part of this age range they should be able to grasp this.

My First Bohnanza: This game has rules built in that build up and teach them new things over time. It starts simply for little kids and then ramps up almost to the adult version later.
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Nicolette Tanksley
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As far as games that build skills go, I think that very much depends on what a child has experienced by the time that they are 5. I know some 10 year olds that couldn't play games that my 6 year old could. But, I'll muddle through as well as possible.

Dixit - Great game at 5+, really works on description, abstraction, categorization in a sneaky fun way. The only thing I had to do was take out some of the "scarier" cards.
Forbidden Island - Awesome game for cooperation, prioritization, coordination, I've played it with kids 5+
Viva Topo - Excellent game at 5+ Goal setting, Prioritization, risk management, dealing with randomness and bad results

But there are soooo many games to chose from out there that I'd be inclined to try more.
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C. M.
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Dragonwood is terrific for sharpening beginning math skills without kids realizing that they're "doing math - ugh"
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Robert Doolan
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If you have a child that loves games I think these could work. My son loved games of a high level at these ages whereas my daughter not so much.
I agree with others that it is about playing a fun game and learning simple techniques while teaching how to win and lose. Just getting them to play games is such a great step for future game nights.

5 year old- Uno or Carcassonne. Counting and also tile matching.

6 year old- Azul. Just used as a matching game that will play for years to come also. Dexterous and colourful.

7 year old- Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle. Great theme and game to suit teaching drafting.
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Meeple Me
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Thank you to everyone who has responded!

I realize my initial question was fairly limiting, but this was by design as I want to be somewhat restrained and intentional in my kids games purchases.

It was so great to hear what worked for you and your child/ren at different ages. Lots of interesting game suggestions, some of which I'd never heard of (the following were particularly intriguing to me: Brandon the Brave, River Dragons, Dream Home, and especially Dinosaur Tea Party because it puts two of my daughter's favourite things together in one game). This just reinforces the concept that all kids are different and will gravitate towards different things, which several of you touched on.

And then there were other games that got repeated nods (Spot it!, Viva Topo!, Outfoxed!, Kingdomino, Ghost Fightin' Treasure Hunters, and My Little Scythe) and are strong contenders for my future purchases (assuming I can find them). And there were a few classics mentioned, which I'm pretty sure are sitting in my parent's basement that I'll need to dig out (Enchanted Forest, and Labyrinth). It was also neat to hear how games could go hand-in-hand with literature (eg. The Little Prince: Make Me a Planet, Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle).

There were lots of great pieces of advice for gaming with children included with your game suggestions (eg. it's about spending time together, not growing a game opponent; play what your kid thinks is fun, don't try to push more advanced games too quickly; learning appropriate social interactions is more important than learning game mechanics; what works for one child won't work for others, such as competitive play vs. co-ops), and I actually appreciated those most of all!

Happy gaming everyone!
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Dan Goatley
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I've seen many references to Outfoxed, but these seem to link to a 2017 Kickstarter card game version which seems to barely exist. Do people mean the 2014 boardgame version instead?
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Nate Straight

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sniperdan wrote:
I've seen many references to Outfoxed, but these seem to link to a 2017 Kickstarter card game version which seems to barely exist. Do people mean the 2014 boardgame version instead?

Yes, the Gamewright title: Outfoxed!
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Jesse Lansner
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Ticket to Ride: New York is a good step between Ticket to Ride: First Journey (U.S.) and the full game. The game play is the same as the full version of Ticket to Ride, but on a scale that a 6-year-old can easily handle:
- 15 cars per player
- the longest route is only 4 cars long
- the most valuable tickets are only worth 9 points
- each game takes only 15 minutes
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Meeple Me
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I was considering TTR: New York in a year or two instead of First Journey. We do not have Target in Canada (anymore), so I'm not sure when it will see Canadian distribution.
 
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