19 February 2006

Growing My Own Gamers #3

Yes, it has been a while since I've posted about our game playing. The main reason is that I have been suffering from a bit of game envy. I listen to almost all of the boardgaming podcasts out there and I hear about all these games that I can't afford to get right now. Knowing that all these cool games exist makes another round of Pit almost unbearable.

My cheap solution to escaping game ennui is to explore all the different games that the kids and I can play with a standard deck of cards. When I was a kid, the only card games I knew how to play with regular cards were War, Speed, Spoons, and Go Fish. As an adult, I added Spades and various patience games to the list. With the help of the library, the kids and I have tried out the following games over the past month:

Crazy Eights
Stealing Bundles
Lose Your Shirt
Anchors Away
Snip-Snap-Snorem
Newmarket
Knockout Whist
Tressette

Snip-Snap-Snorem and Lose Your Shirt were the favorites among the kids, probably because they are easy. Lose Your Shirt is similar to War in that it can go on forever and I want to avoid games like that. Newmarket was just introduced yesterday and was a big hit with DJ and C2, who both like games with chips that you can win. C2 also liked Tressette and keeps asking to play again, which surprised me. She is my kid who struggles in school but she is attracted to the games with complicated rules. I may try some more two-player games with her, since the other kids prefer easier games.

Yesterday I got a pleasant surprise. The game I ordered on eBay, Reiner Knizia's Poison, arrived in the post. Since I just paid for it on Wednesday, I wasn't expecting to see it until the end of next week. Although the kids seem to enjoy anything we play, I like cards that are dedicated to a certain game. Good artwork and fun bits enhance my playing experience immensely. I played it with M, C2, and DJ; we couldn't convince C1 to play. The whole game is mathematical, so it is a good way to get my young ones to practice doing math in their head. DJ enjoyed playing but was resistant to doing the addition himself. He would always point to a cauldron and say "How much is that?" He consistently gets high marks in math so I know that he can figure it out for himself. Like M, I think he is good at math on paper but needs more practice applying it in the real world.

I'm glad that the kids enjoy being used as game guinea pigs for their mami, but I must admit that it is a little boring for me at times. I know that in the long run I will appreciate starting them out early. For instance, playing Knockout Whist gave them an introduction to trick-taking and the concept of a trump suit. This is laying the foundation for us to be able to play Spades or Hearts with them later. However, I am craving some adult competition. ABM avoids playing games with us the way I avoided Candyland when the kids were little. Honestly, I can't blame him. A quick root beer-and-pretzels game like Poison can be excruciating with kids who take much longer to make decisions. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get our friends together to do anything so I will just have to wait patiently for the kids to get older.
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