Random Gaming Thoughts

Welcome to Cthulhu Mom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gaming family.

I’ve had a lot of thoughts bouncing in my head lately, but none of them long enough for a compelling post on their own. So I’m going to follow the example of some of my fellow bloggers and just hit you with those thoughts this month. Maybe the thoughts will be more compelling when compiled. Or not.

Next month I’ll talk about con prep with a Kindergartener and how my LARP design is going. I’m waiting until next month to talk about the LARP design because I’ve stalled a bit on that. There’s a couple of reasons. First up is time. I’ve been overly busy, to the point of getting ill. So I had to drop some activities and since I have some time for this, the LARP went to the back burner. Second is writer’s block. I ran into some issues I needed to solve and plain just couldn’t. See reason number one for one of the biggest road blocks there. Third is that I am waiting for confirmation on the space I will have at the convention. Location will affect some of my planning. So, in the next couple of weeks this will be my new focus item, and then I’ll have something to tell you for real.

SIX IS AWESOME! So is having friends with kids a little bit older than Yog.  Not much older, but old enough. Old enough for what you may be asking? Old enough that when the kids want to cross the parking lot to play on the swings when we’re at a mutual friend’s house for a party I have no problem letting them go on their own. My husband and I got to play in whatever game we wanted all day, whether that was together or not. We didn’t have to think about where we sat. Neither of us had to volunteer to sit out to be available for Yog’s needs.  Yog on her own is still a little tough. But I can’t fault her at that. Being the only child in a house where the adults want to play a board game when you have no interest and no one else to play with must be boring. She can still be really needy and our usual tactics need to come into play. Though I will say I was particularly let down at the latest gathering. Prior to the party I told Yog what we would be doing that weekend and she told me that she would “sit on my lap and roll dice for me”. That happened a total of ZERO times that weekend. Even when I asked her and reminded that she told me she would to that. And no, I didn’t expect her to ditch her friends to sit on my lap and roll dice. I’m not crazy. Well. I am, but not like that. When she was on her own though it would have been nicer than the whining. Also, I was looking forward to just having her with me.

I consider myself to be one of the luckiest gamer girls in the world. I hear horror stories from other women about experiences at conventions, gaming stores, or in their own gaming groups. I have not one horror story. Not one bad gaming experience that was a direct result of my femininity. I’ve had bad gaming experiences. Ones where the game wasn’t for me, or where personalities didn’t mesh, but gender identity wasn’t the issue. Or at least I never felt it was. I had one bad game store experience, but my husband had the exact same experience, even when I wasn’t there, so I don’t think it was me being a woman that caused the problem. That just wasn’t the store for us. We do however have an awesome game store that we love to get to when we can. The owner knows our names, despite the fact that we’re only there a half dozen times each year. Even the other customers are awesome. I can’t think of a time when I haven’t wound up having a random conversation with another customer, and it was never about “why is a woman in a gaming store?”. I’ve not been to a ton of different conventions, but again I’ve never been made uncomfortable because I’m a woman. I am one of the luckiest women in the gaming world. And I try to not forget it.

I love games, but I tend to play one game to death, then move on. The good thing is I play the hell out of a game. The bad thing is that I may never go back to that game again. There are almost too many games in the world for me. But I can also be easily overwhelmed by too many choices. I have to avoid some diners because there are too many choices on the menu.

On that – I’m of the opinion that if your description of a game is “it plays like X” I probably am not interested. Either I’ve never played X, so it doesn’t matter. Or I have played X and I like it, which means I don’t need another game “like X”.  I have X. I like diversity. However, I know this is inherently a problematic stance. For one – there are only so many ways to combine cards, dice, random draw bags, etc. into a balanced, playable, enjoyable game. So uniqueness is hard to achieve. Secondly the human brain works well on comparison. It’s quicker to say “this game is like X” than it is to try to explain the details of the new game. I understand it’s a shortcut and that it really works for a lot of people. However, if you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time you’ll know I’m just weird. Mass marketing tends to work against me going for your product in any arena.

LARP is such an interesting cross section of talented people. Everyone brings a different set of talents to help tell awesome stories. Some are great at costumes. Others, make up. Still others, character creation. And everyone is willing to share their talents without breaking each other’s banks. I love collaborating with such an eclectic group of people to just  have fun.

I hope you enjoyed the random thoughts. Please use the comments to expand on them, share your experiences, or ask my random thought on a topic.

Until next time – Happy Gaming!

The Others

Welcome to Cthulhu Mom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gaming family.

I think one of the biggest challenges for any gamer (or human for that matter) is finding a group with whom you really connect. There are so many different types of games out there. And different ways to play those games. And some people take their game play very seriously and others don’t. Schedule conflicts. And let’s not forget since we’re all sapient beings that personalities need to gel at least a little to be a successful gaming group.

Take all of that and toss kids in the mix. Does everyone with children hire a babysitter? Do you pull resources and hire one sitter for the group of kids? Is one of the kids in the group old enough to be that babysitter? Do you just bring the kids to the game session and know you’ll be interrupted every ten seconds (knowing that if it was just one family’s kids you might get a whole uninterrupted 30 seconds)? Are the kids invited to play?

A running theme in this blog is my awesome gaming group/awesome friends. While they are childless they are all very accepting and understanding of the challenges that come with having a child while trying to game. However we also only have one child and up to six adults. The adult gamers have a decided advantage over the situation.

But what do you do when the children equal or out-number the adults?

You jump on the internet and hope to find other gamer parents with whom to bond!

In a passive way that’s what I’ve been doing with this blog. However, about two months

Meet Up lk
Here’s Meet Up’s logo. “Our” group is called “Gaming Parents”. Seriously. Why didn’t we think of this sooner?!

ago my husband got a notification from Meet Up that there was a local gamer parent looking to meet other gamer parents. We’ve lived in the same town for ten years and we
knew we couldn’t be the only gamer parents in town. We just had no idea how to meet them. Despite the fact that we both have Meet Up accounts. Yeah. Sometimes you get so wrapped up in how you’re used to doing things you forget about the tools at your fingertips. Lucky for us someone else didn’t.

We had our first initial meet up and it went well. Mostly. Unfortunately everyone attending was new to Meet Up, so none of us knew how to find each other at the chosen location. My husband, Yog and I had arrived to the pub early. We had spent the whole day doing some heavy lifting around the house and by the time we were done we didn’t have time to shower and eat before going, so we chose to have dinner out as a reward for our hard work. We were seated at a table, watching hockey, chatting, eating, entertaining Yog and waiting for the others to arrive. Around 7:05 I said to my husband, “So, how do we find this group? I’ve never done one of these before”. To which he responded “I don’t know, the few that I’ve done I was never the first one there and they flagged me down when I came in”. So I decide to use my phone to see if there was info on the page. Of course my phone didn’t want to connect to the internet. Then I couldn’t remember my password. Then I couldn’t reset my password. Twenty minutes later I finally got on to the site and found a message from the organizer letting everyone know where he was. My husband was going to go find him as I typed in that we were in the enclosed outdoor area (I know that’s a bizarre statement). Our organizer found us! We started chatting and about ten minutes later I saw a gentleman walking through the area looking like he was trying to find someone and thought he might be one of the other group members. I caught his eye and said “Looking for group?” and he was. He went and got his wife and we all started getting to know each other.

Our gaming experience is all over the place, but I think there is plenty of space to find games we can play together. From the three families represented the kids aged from “due in May” to 11, averaging close to Yog’s age.

Unfortunately since we got together at 7 pm and Yog’s bedtime is 7:30 the timing was tough for us on this one. We knew we wouldn’t be staying late but since it took us a while to find each other we chose to stay a little later. Yog was doing all right through most of it, thanks to our fellow diners. Yog wanted to sit on the sidewalk outside and since there was a wall between the sidewalk and parking lot and the seating area was enclosed in clear plastic allowing us to see her, we sent her out. Where she garnered a lot of attention and even had someone bring a ball out to play catch. When the restaurant emptied is when the trouble started. She was bored. Despite the fact that I brought a purse full of toys for her. In fact, that was the only reason I brought a purse. It was also after 8 pm. We excused ourselves, closed our tab and headed home.

We’re very excited to get connected with other gamer parents in our area. The next step is to keep the ball rolling. I think that may be difficult though. As stated before, we’re all new to the Meet Up concept, so I think there’s going to be bumps in the road figuring that out. Add that to the normal bumps families experience and it may take a while to get this one rolling. For my part I plan on contributing to the page at least once each month and encouraging everyone to get together. Avid readers of my blog know that the spring and fall are very busy times for me and I have very little free time. I may not be able to make a meet up until summer. However, by then our chosen meeting place will have the outdoor dining area uncovered and the kids will be able to run in the surrounding grass. And interrupt the game to their heart’s content. At least that’s what I’m hoping for.

Please feel free to share how you found other gaming families in the comments.

Until then, happy gaming!

What Every Gaming Parent Needs…

Something I’d like to start doing more often – sharing articles I enjoyed with you. This one tackles the tough concept of finding a game that will entertain your child AND you.

Big Imagination Games

So, when I was putting the finishing touches to the Loopin Louie video review, I found myself somewhat downcast… Of all the games that I’ve reviewed so far with my pint-sized progeny, there’s no doubt Loopin’ Louie would be the one I’d recommend…

And yet according to my scoring system, it came in third place, behind First Orchard – a beautifully-produced game for really young children that does at least have one decision for players to make, but remains for grown-ups an experience more akin to First Tortured

So I got to thinking about what it is I personally want when searching for games to play with my kids Ezra (nearly 4) and Eli (2) and whether I need to rethink the rating system. The answer was a little disturbing…

All I care about is me!

20170205_162823.jpg Me! Devil horns and all…

Bear with me a second though gang.

Let’s be honest, here. Kids are easily…

View original post 730 more words

LARP Mama

Welcome to Cthulhu Mom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gaming family.

I’m going to be a bit self-centered this month. As I started pre-writing another post (yes, I write ahead when I can – it’s how I stay on top of things!) it occurred to me that in all my ramblings about gaming that I was leaving out a game type that was my launch into the gaming community and has become a large part of my current gaming schedule. LARP. For the un-initiated that’s Live Action Role Playing.

Over twenty years ago one of the RAs in my college dorm stopped by on rounds and noticed my “Interview with a Vampire” poster and said “My friends run a vampire LARP, you should check it out”. I knew about table top RPG, but had never heard about LARP. So I grabbed a friend of mine and drug her to the first meeting where the storytellers would be introduced, new characters could be made, and the plan for the year discussed. At that time the game was run once per week, usually in the conference rooms of the Student Union (any student could book a room for any reason). I was hooked. I loved my new hobby and the new friends that came with it. At that time I had never done improvisational theatre because “it was too hard”, “I’m not funny”, and lots of other “I can’t” and “I’m not” reasons that over the years have been conquered. I had never played a table top role playing game and the hardest board game I had ever played was Parcheesi.

As time went on the people running the game rotated in and out, as seniors graduated and players stepped up to story tell. The game matured and changed. Eventually I became a Storyteller myself, though I wasn’t heavily involved in the plot. Most of the story line plot had been mapped out way before, when I was still a player. I was all right with this as I had tried on several occasions to be a writer and felt that I failed often. My main involvement in this team was to further the plot by playing non-player characters (NPCs for those in the know, which is now all of you).

I was lucky to live close enough to the college where I had been playing so that after I graduated I continued to play the game for another year. It didn’t hurt that the head Storyteller at that point was himself no longer in college either, so he understood having a job while continuing to LARP. This extra year, in a way, was the first step in me having this blog today. Playing that extra year after graduation meant that I met the incoming freshmen class. In that class was the man I married and with whom I started my family.

Not only did I meet my future husband, but I found a partner with whom to write and produce LARPs. When our Vampire: The Masquerade game wrapped up that was the end of that game with that group at my college. Too many of us had graduated and moved on and we hadn’t focused on recruiting new players, which was fine as those of us making the game happen were burning out. However, as is often the case, there was a new generation of LARP organizers to fill the void. In this case that was my then boyfriend and myself. My husband was very interested in the Cthulhu mythos and the Cthulhu Live! Role playing game.

We produced three games before he graduated college, one pre-written scenario, one he helped write, and one we wrote together. We had a lot of fun scrounging props from second hand shops and turning the student union conference rooms into various locations.

It was sometime during my late college/recent college grad days that I became aware of ‘boffer’ LARPs. I avoided looking too much into them though because I was afraid that I’d wind up getting beaten up by people who actually knew how to swing a sword. Also, most of the games I was aware of at the time were high fantasy, and while I enjoy that genre in most cases, it wasn’t what I wanted in a LARP.

Shortly after my husband graduated from college, friends of his contacted him and asked if he wanted to help set up and NPC a few Cthulhu Live! Games at a convention in New Jersey. This was how I was introduced to PST Productions and the Double Exposure convention series. We helped set up the space for the games and then my husband would NPC while I played. At first we only attended Dexcon. Then PST introduced a campaign game and I begged my husband to go to Dreamation so I could play in that run of the game. Being the huge gamer guy he is, it was really hard to convince him. Not.

Joan Werner - PST Productions Book of One Game
This was my first long running character since college. She was a fish out of water farm girl tossed in the middle of some really creepy stuff.

The longer we attended the conventions the more LARPs I got to try out, though I still avoided the boffer style. However not only did I get to play more LARPs at the convention I made friends with more LARPers. We, of course, love talking about our game experiences, so I began to get a glimpse into the real  (and much gentler than I had believed) world of the boffer LARPS and my curiosity was piqued.

One of the many convention LARPs I tried out was written by a  friend of mine based on the Dresden Files book series. I had read the books and was in love with the world, so I NEEDED to be at this LARP. Unfortunately I had no one to watch Yog for the first two hours of the game, so I couldn’t make it. Lucky for me the awesome Shoshanna Kessock held a character for me and let me come into the game late. I was hooked. This is the longest running LARP character I have ever played to date.

I was enjoying my LARPs at the conventions so much that I found myself pining for the next convention almost as soon as the previous one was over. So about two years ago I decided to finally try my hand at a weekend long boffer style LARP. Lucky for me there are two that are relatively close to where I live and I have friends who play in them. It took me about a year to get the nerve up to go to a game. I bought a rule book for one of the games and lurked on the Facebook group for the other. I talked to my friends who had played in either game to get a feel for where I felt I would feel most comfortable. This wasn’t just about the genre, rules,

or the people playing, but me dealing with my anxiety issues.

In the end I decided to try out Doomsday, a sci-fi game based in Hamburg, PA. The first weekend was a bit stressful as I tried to figure myself out (sleeping, eating, playing), but I had a blast. In March 2017 I will have been attending games for a year. I didn’t make every game, but I made a good portion of them.

The only reason I’m able to do this is my awesome husband, who is willing to be left on his own for the weekend with Yog. I usually leave before dinner time on a Friday and don’t come back until Sunday afternoon. Effectively the last time he or my daughter see me is Friday morning at breakfast.

There are times when I feel like I’m missing out or being bad mamma for not being there for so long. But then I get so wrapped up in the game that I just have fun. Which is good for me. I come home exhausted, but invigorated and full of game stories. As crazy as it sounds LARP has become my form of self care.

So for the foreseeable future I’ll be spending a weekend a month being someone else in another world. And twice a year I’ll get to squeeze in handful of games in one weekend. It strangely keeps me sane.

And when she’s old enough, maybe Yog will join me.

Until next time – Happy Gaming!

 

Dreamation 2017

Welcome to CthulhuMom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gaming family.

Another wonderful Double Exposure convention has come and gone, though this one felt particularly fast. I suppose the change in schedule didn’t help that.

Yog is in kindergarten this year, so we couldn’t go on Thursday as a family as we had in past years.  This took some extra planning on our part. I was still running three events and assisting at a fourth. My husband had decided to run a few events. So the question  was how were we to maximize our gaming time without asking too much of our friends?

I went up on my own on Thursday. This gave us two advantages – we could secure the connecting rooms we would need for our village to take care of Yog and I could get a jump-start on running some events and playing.  Yog and my husband came up Friday night after school and work. It was stressful for him, but I was prepared with pizza, soda and game books.

But I get ahead of myself. Thursday. I arrived early on Thursday afternoon to allow myself the time I needed to get three people’s worth of luggage and groceries and one person’s worth of LARP costuming up to the room and unpack well before dinner. While I love the craziness and energy of a convention I find that I need to ease into it. I got the room set up and had a realization – we had bought way too much food. We typically get stuff for breakfast and lunch and eat in the room. We also typically have had more people eating breakfast and lunch for multiple days. On the upside, we can go light on grocery shopping the following week. Once the rest of my crew arrived we went to the pub for dinner. When we got back the registration desk was open, so we got our badges and started the gaming.

My opening game for the weekend was a table top game named Omnisystem; “Rememorex: Dischord and Rhyme” by Eschaton Media. It was a fun romp through my childhood and reminded me of a John Hughes film. The GM went the extra mile to have cassettes and other late 80’s/early 90’s memorabilia on the table.

Friday morning was the first of the events I was running – Family Game Table. I was, unfortunately, alone for the two-hour block. I did however work on my Ice Cool skills and may be able to finally get my penguin to curve the way I want it to about half the time. I also played a few solo rounds of Fuse. This was not completely unexpected since when I got to the convention floor Friday morning it was very quiet. I have a feeling I wasn’t the only lonely GM that morning.

Friday during the official lunch break I ran my LARP Character Development seminar. I had another great group of people. As always it was a ton of fun seeing how everyone interprets the same exercise differently.

I went right from the seminar to my last table top game of the weekend a game called “Damn the Man, Save the Music!: Revolution Records – Open ‘til Midnight” by Make Big Things in which I played a troubled artist working at a record store in the 90’s. The game used a standard deck of cards and six-sided dice to drive the story. I loved the simplicity of the system and the twists the cards could create.

While I was playing my afternoon RPG I got a text that pizza had been ordered for the room. My game ended on time and I headed to the room to get ready for my first LARP of the weekend  – Cthulhu Live! 3.5 “You Can’t Get There From Here” by PST Productions – and greet my family. It was as I was conferring with my roommates as to how to style my hair that I realized I was about to play in my third 1980’s era game of the weekend.

Traffic had been bad, so Yog and my husband were running behind. They arrived at 7:40 to find me in high waist pants, heavy makeup and poufy bangs. I got Yog a slice of pizza and a cup of milk and sat her down. I gave my husband his game books, poured him some cola and sent him off to the registration desk to claim his badge. My awesome friends took Yog from there and I was off to be a go-getter reporter. Somehow I didn’t go insane or die. Though I almost did join a cult. But then they all turned to ash. I think I made the right character choice.

Saturday morning was the second run of “Family Game Table”. Yog was very excited. We went to registration, got her badge, then picked up our GM form and headed to our room. This sounds all normal and it was except for one thing, Yog was dragging the heavy suitcase full of games through the convention space while dressed as Wonder Woman.

021817-dreamation-3
This is what LARP planning looks like.

I was simply her escort. She was ready to run the event herself. We got to the room and I set up Ice Cool, Jenga, and Pirate Dice. I thought that having the games on the table might get more attention than two people sitting in a room. Yog and I spent some time blowing bubbles when she had an idea. She wanted to “play in a dress up game like mommy”. So
we started brainstorming ideas for a LARP for children. Her first idea is that “It’s a game where all the kids get to be superheroes”. From there we came up with some other basics and when I later talked with my friends I think we have a workable idea for our next convention. Kids. They make you do the darndest things. I had retired from writing and running LARPS years ago and here I am jumping in with both feet again because Yog asked me to! We were joined for the last half hour by an 18 month old and her mom. Yog enjoyed playing building blocks with the Jenga pieces with the other girl, who enjoyed tasting the blocks.

 

Saturday morning was also the premier of a new LARP – Bright Story “Pilot” by Phoenix Outlaw Productions. I REALLY wanted to play, but it ran concurrent with Family Game Table and my time with Yog. I had a couple of friends who wanted to do a sister group of characters with me and I couldn’t resist! So we planned the characters out, I put together a costume and hosted The Family Game Table in my Bright Story character costume.

After Yog and I had cleaned up from Family Game Table we went on a dragon hunt. At the past few events there has been a large blow up dragon somewhere on the convention floor. Yog was determined to find it, so we went off adventuring. This was fine by me as it enabled me to keep her moving and I could direct her to places I wanted to visit. Like Bright Story. We stopped down because I wanted to say hi to my friends. The players were amazing. When we peaked in to the play space someone came right over to us to say hi, at which point Yog informed him that we were looking for a dragon. I had forgotten that another friend of mine was playing a dragon in the game and this kind player went off to find her. She came out of the game for a few minutes and chatted with Yog with her dragon puppet, which Yog loved. I can’t wait until the next time this game gets run and I get to play.

Yog made her first Dealer’s Room purchase ever on Saturday afternoon as we wandered around. She bought a pair of hand-made horns. I had purchased a pair earlier in the convention, so we wore our horns together for the rest of the day.

I took two hours to go play Puerto Rico Saturday afternoon. It’s been years since I played that game, but it all came back. All but the strategy that is. I came in last place, but had fun anyway.

Saturday night my husband got Yog to dinner and bed with the help of our friends while I disappeared early to help set up The Dresden Files Fate LARP Rules “Empire State Chronicles: Magic Night” by Phoenix Outlaw Productions. Sunday we packed up and headed out after our routine of one last pass through the Dealer’s Room. My husband had to use Yog’s cuteness to get me home as I kept stopping to say “a quick goodbye” on the way to the parking lot and getting swept up in conversations about the weekend’s experiences and games to come.

I will say that this felt like a whirl wind convention for me, even with the time on my own. My family events did not have the success I continue to hope for, but I did come out with an idea for a new game for next convention. So the next few months will be rife with me writing and planning. And relying on my awesome friends for advice.

Until next time – Happy Gaming!

Holidays 2016

Welcome to CthulhuMom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gamer family.

The holidays came, they celebrated, they ate, they played and they moved on. Or so it felt. Adult life kept getting in the way this year making the holidays feel a bit disjointed, but we still made time for fun. Which of course for us means game time!

We had several parties between Thanksgiving and New Year. All went well with many games played, and for us more than we have in parties past. Here’s why:

Age Five is Awesome!!!

So is having other kids Yog’s age at the party. The first party of the season was weekend of Thanksgiving. The other children had arrived at the gathering before us and were anxiously waiting our arrival. When we got there they greeted our entire family and then they disappeared with Yog. The only time we heard from any of them was when food or drink was desired. So my husband and I got to play two different games at the same time. Not that I dislike playing games with my husband, obviously, but we do have some differences in taste at times. Parties are where I get to scratch my itch for the lighter, party style games he hates and he finds the one or two other people to play the really complicated games I won’t touch.

As always we brought along some of Yog’s games in hopes that having other people her age to play with would encourage her to do so. Unfortunately she isn’t as excited about Ice Cool as she was when we first got it. We love playing it, but once we told her she had to play it as a game and not just as another toy house, she lost interest. I think the first time she played because it was unique and new. The second time was because we had let her practice free form with the penguin after the first game and she figured if she played the game she could “free play” afterwards. Which we did allow and would continue to allow. With a skill based game you need to practice to get good at it, however if you don’t ever follow the rules, it’s never a game. The third time we offered to play with her she said she would flick the penguin around, but not play the game. So I told her we weren’t going to play at all and to pick another activity. Lucky for me the other children that were at our holiday party love Ice Cool. It’s so much fun to watch their excitement over successfully getting their penguin to land where they planned. They did so well I taught them how to make the penguins jump walls when we were done playing.

This year for Christmas we didn’t buy Yog a game. Technically. Ok, we bought us a game and her a play set. Playmobil makes an awesome hockey rink toy that’s a playable game! I still haven’t read the rules or played it yet, but we plan to. At least my husband and I plan to. Yog plans on “playing hockey” on her own terms. Which is what we anticipated happening and therefore are fine with happening. We got her the rink, which came with two goalies and two players, a Referee and Linesman set that came with a Stanley Cup, and a ZAMBONI! Because ZAMBONI! That came with another figure, because we don’t have Google self-driving Zamboni machines yet. She loves playing hockey and I look forward to beating my husband on the ice.

playmobil-hockey
Playing hockey

Christmas wound up being a later night than originally planned. We started by playing Resistance, during which my husband learned where I inherited my devious streak as my mom completely fooled him into believing she was innocent. Unfortunately that same devious streak kept him from being able to tell if my sister or I were the other traitor…allowing my sister’s traitor husband to escape! This was followed up with my husband and family played Black Orchestra. I didn’t play as they had reached the maximum number of players. I figure that we own the game, I’ll have plenty of opportunities to play. Besides, I hadn’t had a chance to watch A Christmas Story yet and tradition is tradition. Luckily we had packed clothes and pajamas. So at the appointed time Yog was off to bed and we spent the night.

New Year’s Eve was similar to the Thanksgiving party in success. The big difference was that Yog had a little more time alone. We figured that would mean going back to tag team game play, but Yog had other plans. She found ways to entertain herself, sometimes telling me to “Go play a game”. She’s always been really good at self-entertaining (I’m never sure if this is because she’s an only child and had to learn this skill or it’s just part of who she is. Most likely it’s a bit of both.) As always I invited her to play with me, rolling dice or playing cards, but she turned me down. She’s still “not the kind of kid who plays games.”

New Years Day was traditional. For us. Pork pie, Mummers and Arkham Horror. At least Yog enjoyed the pork pie. She has lost interest in even helping to set up Arkham Horror, which is a shame because I got my husband some organizational tools that made the game take up a bit less space. She didn’t even watch the Mummers! If it’s not animated it’s not worth watching apparently. Instead there was a school-house and toy cars to use for story-telling. Just wait until I tell her she was a role player as a child! Mwa-ha-ha-ha!

Ok.

I know.

All children a role players.

Just let me pretend that she’s a little bit of a gamer, all right?

Did you get any new games for the kids this holiday season? Share your favorite discoveries in the comments.

Until next time – Happy Gaming!

Play with Me – Ice Cool

Welcome to Cthulhumom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a child in a gaming family.

We recently had one of our rare family trips to the game store. They’re rare because our “local” game store isn’t very local – it’s about a 45 minute drive from home. As a result my husband will often go by himself. He goes more often because while I love playing games, he loves reading about and buying them. So he researches and purchases, I play. It works for us. Anyway, we found ourselves in town as a family and took advantage of that to visit the store. As always, Yog was plied with the promise of a new die if she behaved well. This led to her contemplatively wandering the store, picking up boxes and deciding whether or not the game in hand was “good enough for Daddy”. Occasionally she would point to a box and say “We have that!”, which was fun.

Of course we couldn’t leave the store with just Yog’s bribery die. After a lot of consideration we decided to make a purchase that we hoped would work for the entire family, not just me and my husband. That purchase was an adorable game called Ice Cool.

And, yes, Yog earned her die. She chose a purple D8 this time around. Now if only we could convince her of the need for a dice bag so I don’t step on this one. Hmmmm…dice – the “Legos” of a gaming family!

In Ice Cool you are playing penguins trying to sneak extra fish before lunch time. Each player has a different colored penguin with a “weeblesque” bottom. The game is played in several rounds with each player taking a turn being the “Hall Monitor/Catcher” and the others being the “Runners”. The goal is to get your penguin through the three doorways on the board to collect fish cards before the Hall Monitor catches you by bumping your penguin with hers. Players use their fingers to flick the penguins causing them to slide around the board. You can even make them jump the walls on the three dimensional board. Oh yeah, the “board” is actually several boxes that you arrange together using provided clips. Don’t worry about storage, they stack inside each other and the game takes up as much space as an average sized game. Yog can assemble the board herself as there are colored dots to help you match the doors.

The fish hunt begins!
This was shortly after we started playing for the first time.

The box says this game is good for ages 6+ and the Boardgame Geek community agrees with that assessment. I however think that this game is great for any kid once they get over the “stick everything in my mouth” phase. Sure younger kids are probably going to struggle more with the manual dexterity, but that will grow with time and this is a fun way to practice fine motor skills. My suggestion is to not allow wall jumping until your little one can consistently get the penguin to slide. We (my husband and I and well, so far all of our friends we’ve introduced the game to) are still trying to master making the penguin curve the way we want it to. I, however, am quite skilled at jumping walls. Sometimes I’ll even show off and jump multiple walls. And sometimes I’ll show off and retrieve my penguin from the floor outside of the box. That is all to say that yes, a younger child will struggle more, but you can choose how aggressive to chase each other down until your little one gets the hang of moving the penguin.

This game has been a real hit, despite the fact that it is a competitive game. Yog doesn’t seem to mind if she has the lowest score, she enjoys the game just for the sake of playing. Though I will say she wants to be the chaser all the time. I think the biggest reason she loves this game is because it is active. Once play starts the chairs get pushed aside (or moved into a better spot to help Yog reach the board) and everyone is on their feet. What I love about this is that it’s not a huge game. Most games I have seen that involve moving around need more space than I have available. I know there are a few games out there that are mobile and don’t take up a lot of space, but they’re not that common.

Another plus – even when the Hall Monitor catches you, you’re not out. The caught player continues to play and could even be the first player to go through the three doors. The round ends when either the Hall Monitor has caught all the other penguins or one of the Runners has gotten through all three doors.

Scoring is randomized. Having the most number of cards doesn’t guarantee the highest score. When you pass through a door you collect a random scoring card with a value of 1, 2, or 3. To even things out, if you reveal that you have two “ones” in your hand you can take a second turn. I wonder if making the scoring a little more random takes some of the pressure of getting a high score off of Yog, making it more palatable. Then again, she really doesn’t seem to care what her score was, even though she will count it up herself.

This has become the new “go-to” game if we know there will be children at a gathering. The only downside is that it can only take four players. So far that hasn’t been an issue for us, but I could see there being a line of waiting players.

I guess you could call this my first game review as this “Play With Me” didn’t involve modifying a game. This is a great family game right out of the box, or in this case, in the box!

Check it out here, give it a try and share your thoughts.

Until next time, Happy Gaming!