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Subject: On bringing some games home to mom and dad... rss

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Sean Heber
United States
Cedar Falls
Iowa
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Since discovering this hobby about two weeks ago (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/657882), I've had a couple of gaming sessions with my family back at home. This past weekend my fiancee and I brought home Settlers of Catan and Carcassonne and tried to goad some of them into playing...

One of my 14 year old cousins happened to be at my parents' house when we were there, so she immediately became our first target. Since she was bored out of her mind at the time, it proved rather easy to talk her into the idea. She took a look at both the Carcassonne and Settlers box and decided Settlers appeared more interesting (even though I thought Carcassonne would be easier to start with). As I set up the board, she got more and more nervous about how complex it looked. You can say "it isn't really *that* complicated" all you want, but when faced with all those cards, tiles, number tokens, settlements, cities, and roads all at once it can apparently be a bit overwhelming for someone who was raised on Monopoly.

Gladly she stayed at the table anyway and my fiancee and I explained all of the rules as best we could and then just jumped in. She took to the game almost immediately. Of course since it was her first time, she wasn't the most savvy player, but she did a good job anyway and had a lot of fun! Even though she ended up losing by several points in the end (I took the victory - yay!), she was very impressed by how fun the game was and seemed to want to play again sometime. I think she'll be there on Thanksgiving, so you can bet I'm bringing Settlers along for that!

Later my fiancee and I decided to try a game of Carcassonne with both my mom and dad (the cousin had left by this point). This was a minor victory as dad has never been one to play games (even when I was a kid). I was excited since, while I love Settlers, I think I find Carcassonne a bit more fun at this point (and it can be played with just two people which is a huge plus for me). We played with with the river expansion (which we used properly at the start of the game) and with the Inns & Cathedrals expansion tiles which we just played as normal tiles without the extra rules (to keep things simpler). Unfortunately, my parents seemed to be quite confused about the rules and how to really get points half of the time. I know they had never played before, and we tried to explain the rules to them several times, but they still seemed to just not "get" it. I can't quite explain it. Even though my mom seemed reasonably lost most of the time, she still ended up winning (thanks largely to advice from myself and my fiancee ). Dad, however, never seemed to be into it and didn't really ask even though it was clear that sometimes he wasn't always sure what to do to get ahead. So that was disappointing.

After the game of Carcassonne, dad had no interest in playing any more games but mom was open to the idea of trying out Settlers. So while everyone else took a break, I set up the Settlers board for the second time that day and got things ready to go. To my amazement, mom seemed to pick up the game quite well and enjoyed it quite a lot. Her least favorite part of the game was the robber - not having the robber land on her, but when she had to move the robber! She hated "being mean" to others. I suppose I didn't expect that reaction. Has anyone tried Settlers without the robber (maybe just ignoring 7s or something)? I'm considering trying it next time with mom and see how it works just for kicks. I think the robber adds a sort of balance to the game, but it might work reasonably well without it in any case.

I have to say to being slightly surprised by the weekend results. Carcassonne proved to be much more difficult for them than expected - especially given that the game is rated for ages 8 and up (I think). Perhaps it is just a little too different for them to grasp. Unfortunately I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to get dad to try any more board games now for another couple of years. arrrh
 
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Travis Bridges
United States
Nazareth
Pennsylvania
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Many experienced players play with a reverse robber. Meaning, when you roll a 7, you have to play it on the desert if no one has a settlement on the desert tile or yourself and yourself only as long as you are possible. You don't have to throw a resource away, but means you lose future resources, and keeps you from ganging up on others at the table, not that you would do that. If all the tiles you have settlements on have other player's settlements on them, you still have to play it on one of these tiles, but now can steal from the other player. Usually you would place it on your least productive tile, meaning it is someone else's least productive tile, making it not so evil. Maybe this little tweak will help you.
 
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Travis Bridges
United States
Nazareth
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PS...you should only do this when rolling a 7, not when playing a knight. What else would knights be good for then anyways?
 
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Chris Malme
United Kingdom
Peterborough
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I've recently introduced my mum to modern board games, firstly when she came to visit me, and later when I took her away for a week's holiday in a farm cottage.

My parents used to play board games with us as kids (30-odd years ago), and she still enjoys games like Scrabble, but had never played German games.

We tried out a basic game of Carcasonne, which was was an instant hit, despite some initial confusion.

Then, while on holiday, I came across a shop selling Ticket to Ride: Europe, and I had to buy it, as I have been playing it online.

We played a simplified version of the game for starters, playing tunnels as normal route, and without stations. We also played with open hands, so I could give her advice.

This worked surprisingly well, and we had a very enjoyable (and close) game. Next time we play it will probably be with closed hands, and probably with tunnels.

All in all, it was most successful, and now mum is quite happy to play "my games", if I will occassionally play Scrabble (which I quite enjoy, anyway).

I'm now tempted to take some games home for Christmas, where Mum and I will be spending the day with my brother, his wife and in-laws. It will make a change from watching the Queen's speech after Christmas lunch.

Chris
 
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Darren M
Canada
Fort Vermilion
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It can be very hit-or-miss when trying to introduce non-gamers to boardgames and especially parents who may have never really played a lot of games throughout their lives.

I think I'd try to find games that may have some tangential interest based on other hobbies or skills they may have. Maybe they are very knowledgable in certain areas and some sort of trivia game can allow them to use that knowlege in a game setting. Maybe they are pretty good with their hands and a fun dexterity game may be more up their alley.

Very often...a game you might not think would work could have a surprising impact when it's brought to the table as it may get that spark going and then allow them to see that these types of games aren't just for teens and adults who "never grew up".

Dexterity games, wordgames and trivia/party games...even if they may not be widely hailed as the "greatest" are often good ice breakers and allow the door to open up on better games.

I can certainly see how some games here on BGG that we generally regard as great gateway games like Settlers, Carcassonne and Ticket to Ride wouldn't necessarily be great entries into boardgames as they could easily be viewed as repetitive and pointless by some non-gamers.

Some games that may be worth looking at: Crokinole, Jungle Speed, Bausack, Polarity, Apples To Apples, Buyword, Smarty Party, Time's Up, Zendo, Cluzzle, Octiles.
 
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Mitch Willis
United States
Kathleen
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My parents are older (late 70's) and I've had better luck getting them to play card games. Quiddler is probably their favorite, but I've also got 'em to play Wizard, Mystery Rummy, 6 Nimmt!, and Gang of Four. One boardgame that I did have luck in getting them to play (and enjoy) was Blokus. They also surprised me by joining us in playing Werewolf at our family gathering last Christmas...and they had a blast!
 
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Ashfield
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When introducing games to relatives, I've had the best success with Bohnanza and Lost Cities. Half of them love Carc and the other half hate it. I think they'd love PoF if they gave it a chance, but I can't seem to convince them to start playing.
 
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