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!