Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving Eclectic Game Time! Panzerblitz! 40k! The Allowance Game!

With a four-day Thanksgiving holiday, I got to spend some time gaming with my three kids.  Here's our highlight reel:

We started off with a few rounds of the old Citadel Combat Cards - Space Marine edition.  Basically, it's Top Trumps but with some sweet old school miniatures as pictures.  Nice way to kill some time with all the kids without using much brain power.  I may pick up some other variants off eBay, the pictures alone are worth it.
Next up, Panzerblitz!  This was my first wargame back in the early '80s.  And, like all first loves, it remains the measuring stick for everything that came after.
So simple, a nine year old can play it!  With some help from Dad, of course.  We played Situation #3, which entails a rag-tag group of Russians trying to hold the line against the very mobile German Panzer III's and halftracks.  
My youngest played the Germans.  He quickly picked up on the fact that combining forces is the way to go (and it helped with his math - addition and fractions).  For most of the game, the Germans used the combined might of the five Panzer tanks together.  He wiped out a bunch of my counters, especially 'cause I made the rookie error of leaving too many infantry vulnerable in their horse and cart.  
Only problem was, by the last turn, he hadn't been able to take out enough of my SMG and Rifle groups in the East to prevent me linking my long-range artillery to hold the line.  The frustration of Panzerblitz is that it's very hard to kill a unit, a "Disperse" result is far more likely.  Admittedly, this led to my kid getting quite upset at one point.
In a last ditch effort to clear some hexes, the Panzers wisely (if belatedly) left behind the heavy fighting in the East, and sought out the long-range artillery unit that was key to the Russian defense line.  However, in the final attack of the game, the Germans rolled a six.  For those who don't play Panzerblitz, a six is not good.  The Russians win and force the Germans to help wash dishes!  Ah, history does repeat itself.
Next up, my 12 year old set the basement table up for some 40k siege action.  He did the set-up on his own, to surprise me, and craftily used our 2'x2' Helms Deep castle as the focal point (and then he reminded me I need to finish those LOTR minis).  
He wanted to play the Orks, which was a first!
The Termies guarding the gate made for a juicy target for the Ork's Deffguns.  After the last few 40k games being all space marine affairs, it was fun to play a game that involved removing minis from the table instead of all armor-saves all the time.
The Orks don't realize it yet, but a ten-man jump team is about to rain hell on their thick skulls!

Vets, a Librarian and the usual smurf suspects are defending a shrine to the Original Beakie!
Two squads of three Killa Kans in close combat are looking like a very tough match for these two dreadnoughts.   Gameplay will resume after a short rain delay. 
Then, in retribution for making her play Combat Cards, my little lady challenged me to a round of the Allowance Game.  I did not hold back, ringing up $20 bucks (thanks to landing on the Birthday space twice!) against her measly $5.  That will teach her to be late on returning a library book!
In a rematch, she challenged me to three rounds of Mancala.  2-1 Dad!!.  I was on fire!
To close out the holiday weekend, my oldest and I thew together a zombie role playing game.  My son was very inspired by the upcoming Fantasy Flight RPG about various end-of-the-world scenarios, but he couldn't wait for the game to be released.  So he suggested we make up our own. Basically, you play as yourself and all attributes are on a percentile basis (which is, at least in theory, where you'd fall in the general population).  To pass a test, you just need to roll under the number.  The two boys and I only played an hour or so, in beta mode (searching our town for Mom and Sis), so time will tell if it develops into anything.  However, it was great to see the kids enjoying the same game design that I enjoyed so much as a young lad.
In conclusion, here's a few observations about gaming with kids based on my experience the past few days:

  • Combat Cards, like Top Trumps, is fun for the kids.  I'm thinking about how to incorporate card-play into miniature wargaming for kids.
  • Panzerblitz is a great way to do some stealth math practice.  However, there aren't enough combat resolutions ending in a kill, too may "disperse" results frustrate young players.
  • The Allowance Game is a great way to teach kids how to count money.  And, that's about it.
  • Mancala is boring.  Too abstract for me.  The kids seem to like it, though.  
  • Zombies are still cool for 12 year olds.  Rules light storytelling games seem to work well for younger players.  Game mechanics should be easy to grasp, with clear win/loss results.  More to follow!
[EDIT].  I also got a few hours of iPad time playing Warhammer Quest, which I quite enjoyed.  It helped me scratch a growing "Old World" itch without having to paint any minis.  I need to get my Mordheim board finished right quick!

Also, on small business Saturday, my oldest and I went to our local comic/game store and he begged me into picking up the Fantasy Flight Star Wars RPG "Edge of the Empire" starter set.  He said he thought all my RPGs were "old" and he wanted to start a collection of "new games".  I'm saving it for him to open on Christmas, but I'm looking forward to playing a more modern take on RPG's - complete with weird dice that look as unfamiliar to me as a d20 must have looked to my Dad back in the day!