Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Daddy-Daughter Tuesdays (La Isla)

This particular Daddy-Daughter Tuesday turned into a Daddy-Daughter Thursday due to things going on this week. Now that it's summer, we're starting to see a bit more game play from the whole family. We're getting going.

The game they played was La Isla and it's one my daughter really loves playing. Here's their take on it.

La Isla (2014)


Stefan Feld is known for his "point salad" euro games of medium to heavy complexity.  La Isla, however, is a perfect game for a mid-level child gamer.  They have fun collecting these cute animal tokens. The four phases of each turn are pretty easy to grasp and the method of claiming the tokens is fairly simple visually as well (you just have to surround a token with your people).  The only tough part for a kid Isabelle's age is the heavy iconography-- particularly for the "A Phase" special abilities, but even I need the reference card for those sometimes.  It's really a light, wonderful game that has a lot going on but doesn't overwhelm-- and the design is remarkably clever and interesting.  I honestly was surprised how quickly she took to the game-- to the point where she can teach it herself.  Last night's game was also the first time she ever beat me (by 2 points!) and, even though I still give her some strategic advice from time to time, she definitely is improving as she plays. 


What did you like about the game?
I like that is has cool different animals and you get to collect them. My favorite animal was the Fassa (the cat), because it's a kitty and I like kitties, but I also like the Dodo, because they're really silly in my Dinosaur Sim game and make (insert noises).

Is it hard or easy to play?
La Isla is hard (we used the term difficult when talking), because it's hard to know where to put all your people. The easy things are the animal collection.

Do you need help from daddy to play the game?
I think I could teach it, I just might need a little daddy help. I needed, kinda medium, help, kinda didn't when we first learned it. Daddy read the directions to me and I could do a couple things without help, like placing some people to catch animals.

Is there anything about the game that you don't like?
I don't like that I only have certain choices for animals to raise and blocks and powers and that daddy keeps stealing my spots and animals.

Do you think other kids would like the game? Why?
Yes, because I taught two other kids how to play it already. So maybe they would like it? I don't know, because they left to go play on the bouncy house. The animals are cute and the little people are neat, so I think kids would like them.

If someone asked you if they should buy this game what would you say? Why?
I'd say "yeah!" 'Cause (the adults) can put the board together, um, and the animals are cute (giggles).  

Will you play it again?
I will play it again, because I like animals. I've played this game, I think, like, 3 times, maybe 4.

(Sorry... husband forgot to take a picture with her. We're trying to correct this problem slowly but surely.)

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Junior Gamers Club (Trailblazers Day 1)

What is Junior Gamers Club?

The Junior Gamers Club Trailblazers are the older kids who come in to play. Unlike the younger kids who I consider exploring the hobby of tabletop gaming, whether they're avid players at home or not, I felt the older kids were really blazing the trail as gamers. That's why I chose this particular title, especially keeping with the Adventure theme that matches so well with the summer.

We started out with 5 kids. Then dropped down to 4. 4 of the 5 were students of mine. There was only one kid I didn't know. So... I guess... 5 is a good start? We did think we were going to have some kids from the Boys & Girls Club come out, but we're not sure what happened there. But there's still 5 more sessions!

I felt bad that the number was so low, because the shop actually opened up an hour before it normally does just for us! Ah well.

Overall, though, the gaming went really well. Our shop gal was even surprised at how "quiet" the kids were, because the games they played were so "intense." Adorable.

All the kids signed up for the club part in order to get lanyards and earn achievement pins, so all that money went into my club jar. I told the couple parents I talked to about how it's just covering the cost of everything and any extra goes towards our game club.

Our first day was full of interesting games and, like you might expect, were a bit more intense. My daughter started out the day with us, because I take her to a summer activity in the middle of our club. I based the club times around this, because we don't live in the area and it gives us something great to do.

Here is our list of games for Day 1 of the Trailblazers:

Forbidden Desert

Forbidden Island is one of the favored games whenever I share it with young people, whether in my Literacy class or in our game club. Forbidden Desert is just as popular with those who have already played Forbidden Desert. Sadly, I don't think they made it. I'm super excited for Forbidden Sky, and, honestly, so are my club kids.


My daughter wanted to teach me this and while I went through the rules, I knew she was missing some information. Sadly, it didn't go well towards the end when she realized I had totally blocked her carnivores from attacking and they weren't going to make it. She was overly tired, which was sad, because I was really enjoying the game.

Once we were done, the older kids took a stab at it and seemed to enjoy it.

Incan Gold

Another favorite whenever we bring it to club or kid events. Our copy is looking pretty shabby though. We definitely need a new one.

HEXplore It

 I've written about this one before and is the new addiction of my older kids. Created by my co-workers husband, they donated a free copy to our club, which literally made me cry. The kids are loving it.

Red 7

A simple game that I'm hoping to see hit the table more in club.

Dead Man's Draw

I think this one is going to be a club favorite next year. None of them wanted to take it out of the vault to really learn it and appreciate it. Took us two seconds to get them excited about it and they played it, like, twice! A great way to end the day.

All the kids earned a four game achievement pin and are on their way to their sixth. I love their gaming enthusiasm and that's what makes this all really worth it.

Next week, some of the kids have requested the following games (we have a binder of games to help induce induce interest for the kids).

The Joy of Gaming - Ray's Rate a Shelf #18

At the beginning of this year, my husband started a Twitter feed, posting a different part of our game shelves and rating the games that are on them. I was so impressed by this activity, I thought it would be great to share it on my blog.

Click the Tweet to see the rankings and the games.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Junior Gamers Club (Explorers Day 1)

Today was the first day that we ran the summer club. Mondays are for the 5-9 age range. I always tell people, it's not like we're checking IDs or anything. So if you're 10 and you come to the 5-9, I don't care. Or if you're 4 and you sneak in, because you're parents feel you're gamer ready, I'm seriously not going to bat an eyelash. I just want to expose young people to the gaming habit.

I'll just save you the stress of wondering how it went and tell you only two kids showed up. I thought for sure there'd at least be 3 or 4. I also understand that some people might be busy this week or have things going on. I am reserving judgement until at least the end of June. Suffice to say, I was slightly disappointed, but it's my first time doing this. What in the world did I expect? For people to be banging down the door?

The two kids we had though seemed to have fun. My daughter had to leave at 12:15, though, to go to acting, so then the brother and sister were left to each other. When I arrived back, my husband was playing with the 5yo sister and the mom was playing chess with the 9yo brother.

The mom bought the punch card and achievement pin track, so that was really exciting! The daughter played 5 games! She earned her first achievement pin. Sadly, the brother was upset that he did not get to 4 games to earn his first pin, but that's alright. Sometimes it takes time to earn the achievement pins. And to be fair, he played chess. That takes a while.

Despite to disappointing turnout, we did get in some pretty neat games. Here is Day 1's roundup.


We weren't sure how to start things, so my daughter brought over a game she feels confident teaching and shared it with the kids.

Monopoly, Jr.

Brought by the brother and sister and they played this next.

Dragon Slayer

I recommended this while I was dropping off my daughter at acting. Who doesn't like rolling dice and it is a pretty simple game to understand. Much loved by many young people I share it with.

Farm Fun

I arrived back to see my husband playing this with the 5yo girl and she was having a ball.

Star Wars Chess

When I arrived back, I saw the mom playing with her 9yo son.

My First Stone Age

The 5yo girl REALLY wanted to play this and I was pretty familiar with it from my club and our time at Khaos Kon, so we broke it out. She played fine, but we could tell she was flagging.


I challenged my husband while we were waiting for the kids to finish. It was right up to the last tile and my husband won by one tile. Grrr.

Sidenote: I have my gamer rules set and I'll post them on Wednesday when I do my write-up. We already know that Wednesday is looking more promising, because the majority of the contact I've had with parents have been asking about the older kids game day. Excitement is on the horizon!

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: The Junior Gamers Club

At some point I lost my mind and became very motivated to start a summer gamers group based on age to try to help expose more children to tabletop gaming.

I love working with our local game shop. I always hear about the kids I know going up for Pokemon or Magic, but so many don't go up to play games. Sometimes, too, I wonder how many young people are engaging in more "adult" games than maybe something they might really enjoy. While not a bad thing, sometimes I think it can make the hobby feel a little frustrating.

The other piece I wanted to work on, which I fully promote in my Middle School Tabletop Game club is kids teaching kids. I wanted to provide the opportunity for kids to share games they like with each other while also being exposed to the variety of game available to them. Instead of an adult hovering and running the game, I want the kids to have the opportunity to take charge of their own learning and sharing.

I broke the group into two age ranges. 5-9 and 10-14. I didn't want to get too much into high school, because I wanted to focus on the younger ages. My husband and I are going to be present to help the kids work through the games and, in some instances, help teach or guide them through the initial game while they work together to problem solve what they struggle with. It feels like an experiment, but I am glad to try it.

To add an extra incentive, I've created a stamp card for the participants. As they play, they earn achievement pins for games played: 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 20. (See a trend?)

I also made game master badges with lanyards for the achievements. The sadness, though, is that it costs $5 to be able to participate in that part of the program. Playing is completely free, but joining the Explorers (5-9) or Trailblazers (10-14) for achievements is $5. It doesn't even cover the full cost of paper, ink, lanyards, and pins, but it helps a little bit.

The Junior Gamers Club starts on Monday and I'm so nervous. My husband keeps reminding me it's just playing games with kids, but you know how parents can get. Then there's attendance. I'm so nervous. I also need to make a list of rules for behaviors and I dropped the ball on that one to have it ready for our first Explorers meeting. I'll definitely have it done by Wednesday.

I thought it would be a great summer addition to really help promote gaming beyond just some of the basics we already keep in our homes. I'm going to be posting updates throughout the summer address what seems to be working and what isn't.

Here we go!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Joy of Gaming - Ray's Rate a Shelf #17

At the beginning of this year, my husband started a Twitter feed, posting a different part of our game shelves and rating the games that are on them. I was so impressed by this activity, I thought it would be great to share it on my blog.

Click the Tweet to see the rankings and the games.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Daddy-Daughter Tuesdays (Kingdomino)

My daughter bought this game for my husband for his birthday so that they could play together. At least, that's the story I'm sticking with. It had nothing to do with me getting it for myself. Either way, they finally got a chance to play together.... without me...



Kingdomino is a very fast, simple game. It's not incredibly deep, but it's certainly enough to keep kids engaged and works nicely for families. It offers up simple choices but still allows for some measure of strategy. Isabelle understood the premise and the scoring easily enough, though the 5x5 spatial element was tricky for her. She would exceed her 5 square limit multiple times because even though one row was only 4 squares, the one above it would extend out another two squares. That confused her.  Other than that, a very good option for that age range.


What did you like about the game?
I like that we get to build a kingdom and I get to choose green and build a forest kingdom.

The art had some weird stuff in the pictures. Like a crazy thing walking in giant-sized boots. CRAAAAAZZZZZEEEEEEEY!

Is it hard or easy to play?
It was easy to play, 'cause really all you do is put pieces together. And placing people down on the rectangles and that's the tile we put down in our kingdom and there's only six in a row for tiles and you count every single square. 

Do you need help from daddy to play the game?

The first time we played, because I put more than six tiles, but you're not supposed to move tiles, but he let me move the tiles, because I mixed them up. I don't think I'd need help to play the game again.

Is there anything about the game that you don't like?

I don't like that I lost both times. There weren't many crowns and it's really hard to get six squares (not sure what she was getting at). The crowns are your points and I just wasn't getting enough crowns. They're random and we place our meeples on them. You hope you can place for the crown. 

Do you think other kids would like the game? Why?

Yes, because it's fun to build a kingdom. The meeples are fun to play with. The strategy is building which people like. 

If someone asked you if they should buy this game what would you say? Why?

Yes, because the meeples are cool and you can put the meeples in the palace and it's building and people like building.  

Will you play it again?

I would like to play this game again. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

The Joy of Gaming - Ray's Rate a Shelf #16

At the beginning of this year, my husband started a Twitter feed, posting a different part of our game shelves and rating the games that are on them. I was so impressed by this activity, I thought it would be great to share it on my blog.

Click the Tweet to see the rankings and the games.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Joy of Gaming: Daddy-Daughter Tuesdays (Mice and Mystics)

If you're a frequent reader of my blog, you've probably heard me talk about Mice & Mystics and how we're playing it with our daughter. Well, this week it wasn't just a daddy-daughter game... it was a mommy-daddy-daughter game. I'm always excited to be a part of things when I can be. With summer vacation quickly approaching, I'm hoping to be able to be party of these games.

Mice and Mystics (2012)


Mice & Mystics is a wonderful dungeon crawl adventure. It features a comparatively light ruleset compared to other games of that sort and that combined with the amazing theme and adorable story makes it a great family game.  On the other hand, it requires much more patience and ability to focus than the average 7 year old has and we tend to need to redirect our daughter to settle down and pay attention during the course of a game. Her excitement is palpable, but it can also hamper a game session.  The game can also be frustrating due to the random nature of some of its elements.  Sometimes an adventure just won't go your way at all.

Still, I've played solo through the entire base game campaign and the Heart of Glorm expansion and I enjoyed it very much, but it wasn't until I started playing it with the family that I felt it really shined.


What do you like about the game?
I like that I get to be Collin and Lily and we all get to work together. I like how it tells a story. I make Lily make cheesecakes, because Lily gets alot of cake. It could be cheese pizza and then if you keep getting cheese, you can stack them and make it bigger and bigger and blahbluhblah. 

I like Lily, because she's the Archer and I like Collin because he's a close fighter and he's a prince. I like Collin with First Aid and Lily with aimed and power shot. 

Is it hard or easy to play?
Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard. When we work together, it's easier to fight guys, but when we're outnumbered it's harder and when we split up it's hard, too. 

Do you need help from daddy to play the game?

I might still need a little help, but I'm really into it. When I'm playing Collin and Lilly, it's like when I roll for Collin, I'm rolling for Lilly and when I'm rolling for Lily, I'm rolling for Collin. So yeah. Well, and the dice are a problem I have, um, cause I'm rolling the wrong people. I needed more help when I started playing, but not so much now, but if I'm playing with other kids there are things I'd probably forget.

I needed help rolling, one time, because I was just dropping the dice instead of rolling them. I sometimes need help choosing my skills and having them explained to me. Like, this'll be good and that'll be good. 

Is there anything about the game that you don't like?

Sometimes it takes us a really long time and sometimes we get outnumbered, which I get angry about. I don't like being outnumbered. 

Do you think other kids would like the game? Why?

Of course, cause teamwork is always good and its nice to spend time with others in games. There's little figures and we get our own little characters and on the cards it tells their stories. Mommy gives us cheese when we play it. (I don't think I'll be giving all kids cheese when they play it.)

If someone asked you if they should buy this game what would you say? Why?

Of course, again, cause it's suuuuppppeeer fuuuuun. (Gives me a duh look!) The same reasons for everything I already said!

Will you play it again?

YES! And that's cool... you're keyboard glows. I like your keyboard, it can glow.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Happy Geek Pride Day 2018

I love celebrating Geek Pride Day and since things are really looking up for me, I was able to find joy in this celebration.

For my Geek Pride Day today, I posted this picture on my SmartBoard:

I made sure I wore my new TeePublic Tabletop shirt!

I brought my Avengers Towel (double getting all in one) I took my obligatory selfie (see towel in the background).

I wrote an e-mail to my coworkers about Geek Pride Day (and included Wil Wheaton's video). It was only responded to by the hardcore geeks.

Then, of course, I had to talk about the towel to my kids. Goodness knows I needed it today. We don't have AC at our school and being in the 100-year-old part of the school, on the third floor, and the unblocked windows of the rising sun, will make you sweat so bad.

I, of course, did all my geeky little things that I would normally do and I ended my evening with a Geek Pride meal of a Bob's Burger's recipe for "One Horse Open Slaw Burger." We couldn't do the bun, though, because of our whole Keto thing. But boy was it yummy.

We wanted to do so many more geeky things, but the heat from being up at school really did me in. But I did get to do something geeky with my Literacy classes. Our tabletop game unit in Literacy has wrapped up, so we decided to geek it up with playing some games. We book the Maker's Space (which has AC) and shared in everyone's games! While not perfect, we were still able to have fun.

If you're like to know more about these games, please check out my students' BoardGameGeek list and give them some thumbs up and/or feedback!

No games at home, though, due to severe exhaustion from the day.  Nevertheless.... Happy Geek Pride Day!!!