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Subject: Gaming with my Second-Grader - a simplified version for 7-8 year olds rss

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Daryl Wilks
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My 7-year old nephew has been wanting to play "that game with the bugs" with my 8-year old son and I for a while and the opportunity finally arose. They wanted to be on a team together, so I recruited one of my 16-year old guy staff to round out the 2V2.

For the younger audience I made some changes for balance and simplicity. I eliminated the energize cards to mitigate the challenge of reading and timing them. In their place, I used the acrylic rubium crystals from Print and Play Productions. For the Monolith Reward we used a large crystal, representing 1 Victory Point. The smaller crystals were given as the "Losers Reward" when a defender was eliminated. These could be saved and traded 5:1 for a large crystal (1 VP) or spent 1:1 as Rubium.

Also to handicap the younger team, we gave them each a free human on round 1, fungoid on round 2, and a free crystalline on round 3. Also, I made sure a "2" mine and a Crystalline "1" mine were placed on the two intial exploration points for each player. All other exploration tiles were randomly placed.

Turn Order: Mr. Danger (7-year old nephew), Joker, Tiger Boy (8-year old son), and Scruffy (me). We decided to play a short team game to 15 Victory Points.

Game play. We started fast and furious with battles taking place on the second turn. I attacked Mr. Danger, but was mauled by his counter attack. I managed to get an early Rock Strider up on the Monolith, while Mr. Danger got a Dragon into play and Tiger Boy methodically built up a strike force.

After Joker make a move toward Mr. Danger, Tiger boy attacked with his advance force, taking Joker's "2" mine with minimal casualties. This really put the pressure on Joker, who made the common mistake of counter attacking with a small, expensive force without cannon fodder. The counter attack failed, which allowed Tiger Boy to push forward, taking Joker's home "3" mine. During this time, I made a move to try and take out Mr. Danger's Rubium Dragon. The dice were uncooperative, as all four of my Crystallines failed to take advantage of their native terrain, allowing his dragon to prove his worth in a war of attrition.

At this point things looked bad for Team Old-Guys, as the Young Guns had the advantage in board position, economy, and unit quality. Joker regained his home base easily due to some poor dice rolling by Tiger Boy. However, both my power and reach had been crushed so I withdrew to rebuild and set myself up for some "chump" points. The only thing we had going for us was the Monolith (which I still controlled) and an 11-9 lead in VPs. Their complete dominance was inevitable, so we made a last scramble for Victory Points. Both boys brought heavy units toward the Monolith, but my Strider dodged 2 breath attacks to pick up a fourth and final (for me) VP. Each team picked up a few points going into the crazy final turn.

On the last turn, Mr. Danger set up for a final assualt that would never come. Joker nailed the couple of points to get us over the 15 VP goal. We decided to play out the rest of the turn, so each person could have an equal number of turns. My son was set up for a big final turn, winning battles against both Joker and myself clearing my final Spider from the Monolith. Including the VP gained from the Monolith, Tiger Boy racked up 6 VPs to tie the score!

Fortunately, although I could not win a battle, I was able to send a dragon and a Strider on some "one-way" missions to pick up a couple of "chump" points (attack with only Rock Striders/destroy a unit with a Dragon's attack). These last couple of points gave us a close, hard fought victory.

Post-game thoughts...
Both boys (and Joker) had a great time with the game and would like to play it again. It was a closely contested game that would have swung far into the boy's favor had it gone any longer. The simplified variaint worked pretty well at keeping things streamlined and moving right along. The boys did great, I just provided some good honest advice when needed while allowing them to make their own decisions. My son was pushing to play the full version, and I think he is easily ready, having no trouble reading and playing the Secret Mission Cards. He has recently beaten me at both Nefarious and the The Adventurers: The Temple of Chac so I know it won't be long until he gets me at this one. A glorious day it will be, when my son beats me at Nexus Ops.

Game Rating: 8/10
Session: 9/10
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mar hawkman
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Glad to hear you guys had so much fun!
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