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!

Constant Change

Welcome to Cthulhu Mom Games – a blog about my experiences raising a gamer child.

They often say that the only thing constant is change. And that is never more true than with a child. It’s true with just about everything they do, including their gaming habits. So I suppose we shouldn’t have been shocked when one Saturday out of the blue, Yog asked my husband to play a game with her.

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Yog and Daddy playing Feed The Kitty

She chose Feed the Kitty. The game went well, meaning she stayed focused on the game the entire time, however my husband won. So we braced ourselves for the usual denial – “I won, Daddy lost, ha, ha” followed by the game being put away and her finding any other activity to do alone. Since (as already stated) children are always changing we probably shouldn’t have almost passed out when instead of bragging she reached out her hand, shook his and said “Good game, Daddy”.

Sudden, violent change being the course of the evening should have set us up for what was to come next, but we’re not always as smart as we want to be. Nor do we learn as quickly as we should at times. She asked to play again.

She lost again, but again showed her good gamer side and shook hands.

And just to make sure that she was keeping us on our toes, she followed this up by requesting to play Guess Who. Twice. In a row. She won both times, but she didn’t gloat.

At this point I was pretty sure that our child had been kidnapped by a pod person.

My husband asked if she wanted to play another game and she said “Sure” and out came Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons. Jokingly my husband said “She’ll be asking to play Arkham Horror next”. Four year olds don’t get most adult humor and she said “Yeah, I want to play that”.  I wanted to play Arkham Horror (the only time I’ll say no to that game is when time is an issue) and figured she could roll the dice for me. So while they played Pete the Cat Groovy Buttons I went to the game closet and retrieved the box with the base Arkham Horror game.

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Yog setting up Arkham Horror

When they finished their game and cleaned up I produced the box to a curious four year old and a skeptical thirty something. It was pretty easy to find ways to involve Yog in the set up. She choose investigators for each of us (only two as we knew she wouldn’t be staying for the whole game – bed time was creeping up at this point) and then choose the Great Old One. She chose Yig. Because he was cute. So hooded snake things with legs are cute to my kid. I suppose we shouldn’t be totally shocked. We do call her Yog and she sleeps with no less than three Cthulhu plushies. We then handed her the bag of clue tokens and had her put one on each spot with a red diamond. She counted out hearts and brains for each of our characters and placed them on our player cards. While she took care of these tasks my husband and I set up and shuffled the many other decks and pieces we needed.

Once we started playing I was in charge of the game play and Yog was in charge of rolling the dice. From my lap. So I made choices and my husband handled the cards and moving the pieces. This went well until bedtime got too close. Then the dice really began to fly. When we were in danger of having to dig dice out of our walls we paused the game and got her into bed.

The two of us finished the game together and eventually defeated Yig. You’re welcome. One less Great Old One attacking the world. That night. However, we still paid. We had chosen to set the game up on the floor so that Yog could reach the board easier. After she went to bed we didn’t move the board because there are so many pieces.

We learned three lessons from this experience. The first was that you can never anticipate the whims of a four year old. Yes, we should know this, but when it comes to playing games we figured we knew the answer already. Lesson number two – we’re not as young as we used to be. Playing a board game on the floor for two hours left us very stiff. There was much groaning followed by much stretching. Next time we play at a table!

The most important lesson I learned was to really open my eyes for ways to involve Yog in our games. Most of the games we play have a fair amount of set up, but there are probably more parts that she could help in accomplishing than I realized. And while she may not understand the strategy I’m sure there are many games in our collection that she could play with guidance. Now that I realized how closed my eyes were I can open them up.

What gaming surprises has your little gamer given you? What surprises have you given yourself? Share your experiences in the comments and let’s learn from each other. I look forward to sharing our experiences playing more advanced games with our little one.

Happy gaming!