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Subject: A 10-Year-Old's Revenge (You Never Let Me Win At Chess). rss

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Jack Neal
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I am lucky enough to have two kids that like playing games... 7 and 10... and we usually get out Pirate's Cove and Galaxy Trucker which are pretty advanced for their age. I tried Chicago Express and Memoir '44 and these keep moving further down the stack in the closet. After waiting five months for Steam to come out, three months on preorder, one week of shipping and three nights of waiting for someone to play it with me, I was finally able to play this game against.

I explained the rules and began playing on the Northeastern USA side of the board. After one hour the 7-year-old gave up because it was 10:30 at night and her head was literally starting to hit the table. Mom carried her to bed and the 10-year-old and I continued on from the sixth turn. She managed to bid for the Locomotive and started beating me over the head with it. By the time I could begin getting out of debt, she had destroyed me 30-15. Much of my problems had to do with competing with her younger sister while I foolishly left her alone to build up the western side of the board.

She announced that she loved the game and "I like complicated games... this one is great! You have to think!"

So tonight her and I went at the game again, this time with the 7-year-old in bed from the start. We played the whole map except went with one less cube per city and two cubes for each cube upgrade action. I ended up going mostly to the west, she started in New York and worked northward. She built her locomotive relatively quickly while I was building track and making shorter deliveries. Around turn 6 I was falling behind but I figured if I built up one of the towns on the southern end of my routes, I could catch up to her. I planned ahead for this by upgrading one of my cities with two cubes. Unfortunately, it was a city we both had access to and she had already built up a gray town. Two gray cubes four spaces away equals 8 points further behind.

"That reminds me of the time you took my queen with your knight, Dad."

By the time it was said and done, the game had finished at 11:00 at 35-20. If I had played my turn differently, it would have been a lot closer. What a newbie mistake!

Her analysis on this game is impeccable and I am amazed at how she can string her deliveries together so well. She tends to be more of a risk taker when she plays her games and Steam for the most part fits her style of play. She exhibits perfect confidence and thoroughly enjoyed kicking my can all over the place.

Needless to say, I really like Steam. I don't know if the wife will like this one. I think with my daughters and I explaining it, it will take some of the sting out of learning the game. I think a four player game would tighten the game up considerably and hopefully we can swing it this weekend.

I will say that certain actions are damn near worthless in the Basic Game on an open map with three players, namely First Build, First Good, and First Move. Engineer comes in handy occasionally, but the meat of the game is with the remaining actions and setting your routes up optimally toward the end game. I was also surprised how well the two-player variant held up and kept us engaged. The arc of the game is remarkable and the sooner you can come out of debt (particularly heavy debt), the better off you will be.

Overall, its a wonderful game. My 10-year-old usually is averse to new games and to find one that we both enjoy is worth enduring any loss of face. I'm looking forward to the next play and she wants to give it another try tomorrow - who am I to argue?
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Mark Crane
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Having just purchased this, I am delighted that it seems playable with (some) kids, as I have a 8/9/12 year olds who I am training to be gamers.

Was this a 90-minute session?
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Rob White
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My 7 year-old son is enjoying it. And the two of us played with my 11 year-old daughter (who doesn't like games except for Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game and Quelf) today. She actually thought it wasn't too bad a game. However..... it is a bit too long for them. We have to take a break halfway through. My daughter also feels that Kingsburg would be great if it was 3 rounds instead of 5. Oh well.....

Rob
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Jack Neal
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craniac wrote:
Having just purchased this, I am delighted that it seems playable with (some) kids, as I have a 8/9/12 year olds who I am training to be gamers.

Was this a 90-minute session?


First game with explanations was definitely 90 minutes... the 2 player beat-up-on-Dad session went from 10 to 11 tonight with full setup and ten full turns, no interruptions.

I like the pace of Steam. Very few AP moments with younger players. I think the track pulls them in and I think the instant reward of piling cubes for points or cash is great.

One other comment she made was, "It would be nice to start out with some money... can we start out with some money?" to which I said, "Nobody gives you anything for free, sweetie. Not even me and definitely not Martin Wallace." The thing I like about Steam (and Pirate's Cove to a lesser extent) is that you have to budget and plan and build your own way. Sometimes you can count on someone else screwing up, but these games do teach you to think things through, be patient, and to work for a higher goal. I think Steam does this the best because you can see it payout every two or three minutes each move you make.
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Jack Neal
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Rob in Richmond wrote:
My 7 year-old son is enjoying it. And the two of us played with my 11 year-old daughter (who doesn't like games except for Once Upon a Time: The Storytelling Card Game and Quelf) today. She actually thought it wasn't too bad a game. However..... it is a bit too long for them. We have to take a break halfway through. My daughter also feels that Kingsburg would be great if it was 3 rounds instead of 5. Oh well.....

Rob


I actually share your daughter's thoughts on the length of the game... I feel that Steam does have a tendency to drag a little toward the end. It really does take the full ten turns to bloom and the beginning may be rough for a younger player's morale.

A few tweaks, maybe giving the younger one $10 to start would be enough to keep her in it the next time.

The wife, that's another matter. She wasn't a gamer when I met her and I've been chipping away at it for a while now. We went from Uno to Milles Bournes to Blokus Travel Edition to 1960 (she's an ex-poly-sci major, so this wasn't too hard), then back to Transamerica. She didn't like the latest Monopoly Card Game (too confusing and too cut-throat) and I don't have high hopes for Steam, not because its too hard, but because she likes games that don't take that long to play.

I don't think Steam can be shoe-horned.
 
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Mark Crane
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Quote:
"Nobody gives you anything for free, sweetie. Not even me and definitely not Martin Wallace."


:D

Someone needs to start a geeklist: "Hard lessons in life that Martin Wallace taught me."
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Jack Neal
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Alright, just played again. This time the 10-year-old (Alpha) and the 7-year-old (Beta) and I played the German side. Beta got a starting $5 bonus for being younger. Alpha complains but I remind her that she is 2-0 and I haven't won anything yet so I deserve more of a bonus than she does. She complains.

Alpha picks northeast, Beta southwest and I stick to the top. Eventually I cut off Alpha and start building toward Beta after she moves her locomotive to 3. Beta moves her way to the center and we start fighting over stuff. Alpha is late to the party. I miscalculate a delivery thinking I could pull it off with a 5 Locomotive on the last turn.

In the end it was Beta 35, Me 35 and Alpha 20. Beta had an income of $10 to my $8.

0-3. I suck.
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Jack Neal
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I am now 0-4. She beat me 26-16.

I really need to get my wife to play this game with me.
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