Ender Wiggins
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In the past week, the Ender family borrowed Thebes from a family friend, and played it intensively for several days straight. Want to know what real children think about this game? I interviewed my eight year old son and ten year old daughter to find out what they thought about the game.



Here is what they had to say, in their own words:

Q: How often have you played Thebes in the last three days?
Him: Three times.
Her: Twice.

Q: How long did the average game take?
Him: One hour.
Her: Maybe an hour.

Q: Was Thebes hard to learn?
Him: No.
Her: It was actually not too hard, because we watched a movie first, and it explained the whole game. But mom also told us basically the main cards - what we had to do - and when it came to the really confusing cards like the shovel and the blimp, then she just explained it when it popped up.

Q: What do you like most about the game?
Him: That you get to go digging. Like that you have to choose how many weeks to stay, so if you want to do more weeks then you get more treasure.
Her: I think my favorite part is the blimps. Because the blimps are very cool. And useful. And I like the picture on them.

Q: What do you like least about the game?
Him: Nothing.
Her: The worst part about the game is when you only get dirt.
Him: Yah, yah! Put that down for me too.

Q: What do you think about the components?
Him: What are components?
Her: I like the digging dial quite a bit, and I like the little tokens in the bag that they have pictures on them. I like the bags themselves because they have the right colour border on it, and the special picture that matches the country. I also like the cards because they have pictures on them. They don't just say things like "pink knowledge" but actually have a picture of the book, and the blimp. They could make it better by adding a little shovel to dig with.

Q: What do you think about the theme?
Him: It's a good theme. I like digging.
Her: I think it is actually pretty cool, coz it basically is saying that you go to school, and then go to work, and pick up tiles. It is pretty straight forward.

Q: How well do the mechanics fit the theme? (for example, the dig mechanic)
Him: It's quite a bit like it, because you actually have to dig into a bag.
Her: I think that's actually pretty cool, because I like the way that when you dig, you actually dig into the bag. But it would be pretty cool if you had this fake shovel to dig with.

Q: How much of the game is luck?
Him: Quite a lot of it.
Her: One part of the luck is when you dig into the bag, and you get out the tokens. You want the ones that have the points on it, and that's basically lucky, and you say: "Oh you're so lucky that you got the right tokens!"

Q: Some people who rate this game a 2 or a 3 say "the huge luck factor spoils the game for me." What do you think?
Him: I don't think it spoils the game. I think it makes it more fun.
Her: That could be part of it, but I don't think they should rate it too low, because the game is really fun itself. The luck bit isn't too bad, because if you want to draw 10 tokens and draw only dirt, it's kind of funny, you hope for something and it turns out that it is all dirt!

Q: Did you ever get only dirt when you were digging for artifacts?
Him: Once when I picked out six.
Her: Once, and that's because we only drew three. No, actually I didn't ever have that.

Q: Did this make you dislike the game?
Him: No. Because when I went digging there there was only one treasure left there.
Her: No, it's kind of funny that you can draw only dirt. It's like: "Oh, I got dirt! And another dirt!!"

Q: How much of the game is strategy? Do you think people can actually be good at this game?
Him: Yes.
Her: I think the very beginning when you're moving around to the different places. You think: "If I get this, then he might get that" so you have to decide what would be the best choice to get.

Q: Do you have any favorite strategies to recommend?
Him: Well, you should try to go digging as soon as you can.
Her: I think whenever there is at least one shovel, you should get it. A really good way to get quite a bit of points is get the Congress. And whenever there is a special card like a car or blimp, because you never know when you'll need it. Whenever there's general knowledge, don't always get it just because there's two books. Try in stay in one part of the board, and don't always keep on moving around - try to get whatever you can in one area, and then move.

Q: What are your favorite cards in the game to get?
Him: The cards in Egypt. And the car, it's a lot cheaper when you move around, so normally by the end of the game you can do more digging. And the shovels, and the secrets. Because when you dig with the shovel, you have a better chance of getting more treasure.

Q: What is the highest score you've had?
Him: 100.
Her: 103.

Q: How did you get most of your points in that game?
Him: Most of it by treasure. I got 86 points from treasure.
Her: I think on Congress, that got us 20 points. I got quite a few points on tokens.

Q: What do you think about the Exhibitions?
Him: I don't really go for them. I do more digging.
Her: I think they're pretty good, because you both get a chance, and it's another way to earn points.

Q: What's the name of the designer who designed this game?
Him: What do you mean?
Her: I don't know. What is a designer?

Q: Do you care?
Him: No.
Her: Kind of, because the designer would make a lot of games, so if you know that designer, you might want to pick up a few more games like it.

Q: How would you compare Thebes with the average Reiner Knizia or Martin Wallace design?
Him: What do you mean?
Her: I don't really follow. I really don't know what those names are. I don't care.

Q: Who would you recommend this game for?
Him: Mr T.
Her: My friends. People at church. It would be a pretty good game for young people. Mr T would love it. I would recommend it for people who like to explore. And who like to dig.

Q: Is it suitable for adults or for children?
Him: For adults.
Her: It's suitable for both.

Q: What age do you think it is suitable for?
Him: Age 7-15.
Her: 7 or 8 and up.

Q: What about older than 15?
Him: They'd still like it.

Q: What would your friends think of this game?
Him: I think they'd like it. Most of my friends like strategy, and this game has quite a bit of it.
Her: They'd probably not like it, because they usually don't like weird games. They only like little kid games, and card games, and fun little short games. They don't like long huge games. They even like Uno, which is weird.

Q: If you could design an expansion for Thebes, what would it include?
Him: Nothing.
Her: It would include a little shovel for digging. I would design another part of the board, and make the years a bit longer. I would make it 5 years so you can get more stuff. And I would add another colour. I would add the colour red.

Q: Is there anything else that would make Thebes a better game?
Him: Nothing.
Her: If the years were a bit longer, it would probably make it more exciting, because you could get more stuff. But nothing else is wrong with it. You have to kind of have a bit of luck base, or else it wouldn't be any fun at all.

Q: One BGG user says that this game is "Strikingly similar to Monopoly in both gameplay and amount of fun." Would you agree?
Him: I think it's more fun.
Her: No. Well, kind of, because you're going around the board in years. But not really because there's lots more stuff happening: you can dig. You can't dig in Monopoly.

Q: What games do you like better than Thebes?
Him: Magic the Gathering. [considers this for ten seconds] Just Magic.
Her: I like Thebes best.

Q: What rating out of 10 would you give this game?
Him: 8.
Her: 10

Q: Nico Solitander on BGG says: "Thebes is another seemingly abstract European game with a beautifully integrated theme (with colonialist undertones), great production value and beautiful game pieces, with recycled and conventional euro-game mechanics revolving around balancing resources and gathering victory points. Rises beyond obscurity due to fast play, enjoyable family fun and some clever elements (time track, chronokle), but it is riddled with some luck. A very good lightweight Sunday matinée with good replayability: I give it 7.5 fedoras out of 10". What is your response to this comment?
Him: Nothing. It's too long.
Her: That's pretty true. But I don't understand some of the big words in it. But I think the main bit is pretty good.

Q: Would you like to play Thebes again tonight?
Him: Maybe.
Her: Yes.

Q: How quickly will you get sick of this game?
Him: In about five years.
Her: When the expansion comes out. Then I'll want to get the expansion. I don't think I'll ever get sick of this game unless I play like three times a day.

Q: Do you think we should give this game back to our friend who owns it?
Him: No, but if we do, I think we should buy it.
Her: No.

Q: Should we buy the game?
Him: Yes. It's a good game, and I like it.
Her: Oh yah, it's a really cool game and worth buying. It's best to play a game first and then decide to buy it. You usually want to try to borrow it from a friend and then decide.

Q: What do you think would be a fair price to charge for Thebes?
Him: $10.65
Her: $35

Q: Any last comments about Thebes that you want to share?
Him: No. So I can go play now?
Her: Nope. Oh one more thing. I really like the pictures from the items, for example the items in Egypt are Egyptian things. The one with the most points is the mask of Tutankhamen, and is actually found in Egypt, and is worth the most points because it is probably the most valuable thing.



Acknowledgements: Full credit goes to my friend Mr. Homo Ludens, who came up with the wonderful idea of interviewing children about games in his review of Tally Ho, and thus inspired the above review and some of the questions. If you enjoyed this, do check out his review and give it a thumbs up, the charming answers of his four and five year olds are laugh out loud funny!

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The complete list of Ender's "What children really think about..." reviews:
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/37597
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Andrew Goenner
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Great review, Ender! And your kids seem pretty spectacular. Good on you, sir! Also, you should be honored that this is my first post since procuring an avatar at long last.
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Scott Johnson
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Wow! one of the more fun reviews i ever read! You have a couple of great kids there! keep it up!
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Josh
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
EndersGame wrote:

Q: Who would you recommend this game for?
Him: Mr T.
Her: My friends. People at church. It would be a pretty good game for young people. Mr T would love it.


"I pity the fool who draws only sand!"
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Josh
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
EndersGame wrote:

Him: That you get to go digging... I like digging....you actually have to dig into a bag....when I went digging there there was only one treasure...you should try to go digging as soon as you can....by the end of the game you can do more digging...when you dig with the shovel, you have a better chance of getting more treasure....I do more digging....

Her: I like the digging dial quite a bit...They could make it better by adding a little shovel to dig with....I like the way that when you dig, you actually dig into the bag. But it would be pretty cool if you had this fake shovel to dig with....One part of the luck is when you dig into the bag, and you get out the tokens....I would recommend it for people who like to explore. And who like to dig...It would include a little shovel for digging....there's lots more stuff happening: you can dig. You can't dig in Monopoly...


We finally have the definitive answer on the luck factor in Thebes: digging is fun! (Although it would be more fun if there was a little shovel to dig with.)
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G. Gambill
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Great review. My seven and six year old children (and sometimes my four year old) love to play games, and we talk about them all the time, but I would never have thought of interviewing them to make a review. Who better to review games for kids than kids? They are often much more perceptive than people think, and also cut through the cerebral arguments of people who sometimes forget that if a game is fun, it's good. Sometimes I lose sight of that. Thanks for a great review of one of my favorite games!
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Martin
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Great review. Kids are always so candid and honest with their answers ;-)
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Andy M
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Quote:

Q: How would you compare Thebes with the average Reiner Knizia or Martin Wallace design?
Him: What do you mean?
Her: I don't really follow. I really don't know what those names are. I don't care.


Best answer of the lot. Stay away from Martin Wallace, kids!
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Great review!
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Stephen Stewart
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
EndersGame wrote:

Q: Nico Solitander on BGG says: "Thebes is another seemingly abstract European game with a beautifully integrated theme (with colonialist undertones), great production value and beautiful game pieces, with recycled and conventional euro-game mechanics revolving around balancing resources and gathering victory points. Rises beyond obscurity due to fast play, enjoyable family fun and some clever elements (time track, chronokle), but it is riddled with some luck. A very good lightweight Sunday matinée with good replayability: I give it 7.5 fedoras out of 10". What is your response to this comment?
Him: Nothing. It's too long.


FINALLY, Someone with the proper response to this question!!! And we had to find a young child to get it! Thank you.

Quote:

Q: Any last comments about Thebes that you want to share?
Him: No. So I can go play now?


ROFL gotta love it!!
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Awesome interview! I loved it. One question: is Mr T a personal family friend? If so, does he like Thebes?
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Christopher
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
great review!

and to the game designer: ADD LITTLE SHOVELS! arrrh
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Ian pearson
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Out of the mouths of babes ....

Wonderful review. Refreshing and straight to the point. Can we have lots more like this please?

All designers should make their playtesters read this before giving them a game to work on.
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Ender Wiggins
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
CapAp wrote:
Awesome interview! I loved it. One question: is Mr T a personal family friend? If so, does he like Thebes?

Mr. T is a personal family friend. For the record, it's not THE Mr. T (from The A-Team), pictured below on the left. Our Mr. T has slightly more hair above his face, and slightly less hair underneath his face - although there are have been undocumented reports that he has appeared in public with a look that would compete with his namesake both in terms of forehead chrome and designer stubble. He's pictured here on the right, doing a Magic draft with my children:



You can find the full pictorial session report here. As far as my children are concerned, he is THE Mr. T.
And yes, he does like Thebes. In fact, it was his game that we borrowed.
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Lindsay Thomas
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Yah, yah! put that down for me too.
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Bob Wilson
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Publishers and designers should read this very carefully. Kids will tell you directly what they think, and what attracts them to a game, will attract adults, too. Adults might want a bit more complexity or more conflict in a game than kids, but about all the other aspects, kids can teach us a lot!

Sounds like someone should sell miniature shovels to pimp copies of Thebes!
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Ender Wiggins
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
banzaibadger wrote:
Wonderful review. Refreshing and straight to the point. Can we have lots more like this please?
All designers should make their playtesters read this before giving them a game to work on.

By popular demand, I have since published several more interviews with children:

What Children Really Think About VIKINGS: A ten year old takes on the harshest critics of BGG
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/2884025#2884025



What Children Really Think About CIRCUS FLOHCATI: A pictorial interview with a 4 & 6 year old
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/359205



What Children Really Think About INCAN GOLD: An interview with five kids ages 4-12
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/358602

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Bryan Maxwell
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
EndersGame wrote:
For the record, it's not THE Mr. T (from The A-Team), pictured below on the left. Our Mr. T has slightly more hair above his face, and slightly less hair underneath his face - although there are have been undocumented reports that he has appeared in public with a look that would compete with his namesake both in terms of forehead chrome and designer stubble. He's pictured here on the right, doing a Magic draft with my children:


Thanks for clearing that up, I was questioning that while reading the interview. I was thinking "man, he must've made his kids watch A-Team reruns all the time."
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Bob Kohut
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Teach your children to worship Knizia. It's the right thing to do.
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Max Jamelli
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Quote:
Q: Nico Solitander on BGG says: "Thebes is another seemingly abstract European game with a beautifully integrated theme (with colonialist undertones), great production value and beautiful game pieces, with recycled and conventional euro-game mechanics revolving around balancing resources and gathering victory points. Rises beyond obscurity due to fast play, enjoyable family fun and some clever elements (time track, chronokle), but it is riddled with some luck. A very good lightweight Sunday matinée with good replayability: I give it 7.5 fedoras out of 10". What is your response to this comment?


Him: Nothing. It's too long.



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john mcnamara
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
MasterGeek wrote:
Great review, Ender! And your kids seem pretty spectacular. Good on you, sir! Also, you should be honored that this is my first post since procuring an avatar at long last.


i tried to buy an avatar, and it says i don't have enough geekgold......i want an avatar!!!! how much are these priviledges? is there a geekgold bank i can rob?
 
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Michael Matecha
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Q: What do you think would be a fair price to charge for Thebes?
Him: $10.65

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Andy Andersen
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
Thanks for a fun ride here. Cute kids.
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Diz Hooper
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Re: What Real Children Think About THEBES: An interview with an 8 & 10 year old
This is absolutely the best review ever. Keep them coming!
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