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Subject: Playing with Kids - The Perfect Game rss

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Lance Hampton
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I usually think of Carcassonne as the quintessential eurogame. Everyone plays their own plan, very little interaction with the other players (in the base game anyway), everyone gets points. The end is when the game runs out, not when everyone else has been defeated. One person just happens to have more points than the others. It seems more a reflection of their game than their place relative to the other players. One person just happens to finish in first.

Rules

The basic rules are blessedly simple:
1. Draw a tile
2. Place that tile next to any other tile such that all aligned edges match
3. Place a meeple on that tile if you want to; in the city, on the road, on the grass or in the cloister

My three year old daughter can follow those rules.

Playing with kids

When you play with kids, the first issue is, "can they understand the rules?" As I said above, my 3 year old can execute the rules. My 6 year old son can do the rules and actually plan a little bit.

They enjoy matching tiles and building their own cities and roads. My son loves placing thieves on the road so much that I call him "the highwayman" when we're playing.

The theme is entirely family friendly. Everything in the game is constructive, with no destruction at all. The happy little wooden guys come in bright basic colors that are friendly to the little ones. Best of all, they are called "meeple". This alone is a source of great amusement.

In short, the kids love the game and playing a game that the kids loves makes it a lot more enjoyable for me. They love the game so much that they both got plush meeple in their favorite colors for Christmas.

Fidgety kids

Of course, if you're playing with kids, how will the game stand up to those with the short attention span?

The cons are that a tile placement game is prone to being disrupted by impulsive hands moving too many tiles. Be prepared to realign the game many times. This gets better as they become more accustomed to it. It is also printed on heavy cardboard so it is vulnerable to spills, but we don't have drinks at the table during games so no problem.

The pros put Carcassonne uniquely alone among the games I own for playing with the kids. My 3 year old can't plan or play very well, she can only follow the rules. In fact, she can't reach across the board, so whe usually ends up just building her little area on her side of the board. This impacts the game in almost no way at all.

There are also numerous times when the 3 year old will wander off and miss plays. Again, this has virtually no impact on the game.

No kids get knocked out of the game and even if they don't win by getting the maximum number of points, they still get some points and are able to compare that to previous play. We haven't had any hurt feelings over this game yet. There are numerous "victories" along the way as each child completes cities. By the end of the game, each can usually claim some bragging right that they can hang on to such as "biggest city", "longest road" or just the general happiness to have a 14 tile city surrounded by 5 farmers (my daughters sprawling city last game, when your arms are short and your city is occupied, all you can do is place farmers).

Is it still Carcassonne?

Any time you play with kids, a game can take on a whole different flavor. Chess against my three year old in particular is difficult for me because her pawns can move eight spaces and anything I capture just appears again on her side of the board. With Carcassonne, any large disparities in skill are smoothed over by the minimal interaction. Big difference in skill? Just don't block that person, let them play. My son and I regularly block each other and play out good games decided mostly by farmer placement at the end.

Summary

Carcassonne is the perfect game to be played with kids. They can play it and be involved. They can enjoy their efforts of building their cities, roads and farms. I can enjoy that the game isn't ruined when one isn't paying attention. Indeed, I've used this as a benefit to wander off once or twice as well.

It's a fairly quick game that is still quick with kids and it still resembles the original game. I've rated it a 7, I'm quite happy to play it whenever. It remains a strong 7 even with both kids involved.
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Bill J
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Thank you for the tip. I've been playing standard Carc with my 7 year old, but have yet to intoduce it to my 4 year old. I'll give it a try!
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Lance Hampton
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Your 4 year old will probably know what to do with the tiles without being told.

Had an interesting play with Ticket to Ride and the 3 year old. She kept handing back the tickets and using them to move her trains from city to city. "Here's my ticket, I want to go here." There is no denying her when she takes her spot at the table.
 
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Chris Hillery
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Great review, thanks.

Remington wrote:
Any time you play with kids, a game can take on a whole different flavor. Chess against my three year old in particular is difficult for me because her pawns can move eight spaces and anything I capture just appears again on her side of the board.

And this is classic.
 
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Bryce V
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Decatur
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I'm surprised I have GG to throw around on frivolous stuff like this.
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I only have C:Hunters & Gatherers, but I've played it with my daughter (5) as a take turns puzzle game. Never bothered to keep score. It's a bit fiddly even with adults IMO.

Maybe we could just score rivers and forests and leave the fields out of it... hmm... there's a thought.
 
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Lance Hampton
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Darth_Skeeter wrote:
I only have C:Hunters & Gatherers, but I've played it with my daughter (5) as a take turns puzzle game. Never bothered to keep score. It's a bit fiddly even with adults IMO.


Yea, it wasn't really until my son turned six and entered first grade that he really developed a care for scores. You could keep score and test her interest in it. If she is interested she'll make a play and ask you how much it scored. It will happen at some point.

As a warning though, once it does happen, it opens up a ton of games for you. So plan on this and be ready to withstand the 20-30 purchases you'll make now that you have a gaming partner in the house. This really happened to me this past month during the middle of Christmas sales and now the credit card is due...
 
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Lindsay Thomas
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I agree, Carcassonne is a great game for sweet little 4 year old geeks.

For some strange reason, my 4 year old and 5 year old children prefer "Orange Carcassonne" (Carcassonne the Castle) to "Blue Carcassonne" (original Carcassonne).
 
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Bryce V
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I'm surprised I have GG to throw around on frivolous stuff like this.
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Remington wrote:
As a warning though, once it does happen, it opens up a ton of games for you. So plan on this and be ready to withstand the 20-30 purchases you'll make now that you have a gaming partner in the house. This really happened to me this past month during the middle of Christmas sales and now the credit card is due...


HAHA !! Yes, I have actually been patiently awaiting that day and stockpiling games in anticipation. My son is younger than my daughter, but I still want to horde some fun war or more action games that I can't get my wife/daughter interested in.

It's all about making excuses to buy more games, except these are actual good/cute/fun reasons to buy games.
 
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ladawna h
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Thank you for this review. We are trying to choose a great game for a family with kids 11, 9 and 6. Do you have a recommendation on which expansion is most friendly for kids?
 
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