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Guest Writer: Nicole Tanner

Lots of games are designed specifically to teach something. But often, you can find ways to teach with otherwise “un-educational” games. My daughter’s interest in Pokémon has provided us with an opportunity to teach math. The main Pokémon TCG is a great way to teach addition and subtraction, but we had to improvise a bit and the result ended up teaching multiplication.

Ana had been asking for Pokémon cards for a few months, so when Emerald City Comic Con rolled around my husband came home with a slew of cards, picked up willy-nilly from multiple booths. Not having played the game ourselves, we had no idea we had to have a “Trainer’s Kit” in order to play the game properly. Ana still wanted to play with her cards until we got one, so my husband designed a variation on “War.”

 

 

Here’s the basic idea. Each player has a deck of Pokémon – no Trainer Cards or Energy – just Pokémon. The number of cards in the deck doesn’t really matter as long as each player has the same amount. Evolutions and special powers don’t matter either. Taking turns, each player picks a Pokémon from their deck to play. The other player then selects a Pokémon from their own deck to do battle.  You have to figure out how many hits it would take for your Pokémon to beat the other one using the highest scoring attack on each card. The Pokémon that would use the least hits to knock out his opponent wins. Once the match is over, the winner gets both cards. You continue playing this way until the decks are empty. Then the player with the most cards at the end is the winner.

Ana picked up the gameplay rules after just a few play-throughs, and she was able to figure out the math with little help pretty quickly. We now have all the pieces to play the real thing, but the official card game is a bit too complicated for her to understand at this age. This game suits her skill level and doesn’t mean the hundreds of Pokémon cards have to go unused until she can understand the real thing.

Oh, and it’s helping her learn math.

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By: Samantha Oestreicher, guest writer

Editor’s note: Samantha is a college math teacher who also writes a blog entitled, “Social Mathematics.” She offered to share some of her expertise with us here at Engaged Family Gaming and we couldn’t pass it up! Read on for some excellent examples of board games that teach math concepts without being all “teachy” about it!

There is a lot of pressure from the media and from peers to believe that math is painful. Sometimes adults try to dress up mathematics to make it look like“a game”. As a gamer, I have been really disappointed in these dressed up math practice games because they miss the point of what a game really is. Instead, they are loosely veiled attempts to manipulate kids to use math in a “fun” way.

All is not lost though, great games do exist that use mathematical thinking and math skills. The following is a list of fun games that can inspire mathematical thinking. I have compiled a list of seven wonderful board games for gaming families which can be enjoyed by parent and child alike which also include mathematical thinking.

  1. Set 5+ (grouping/sorting)

Set is an amazing card game! This is a game that your 6-year-old will be better at than you are. I’m not kidding; kids totally rock this game. This is a matching game that can be played solo or with any sized group. The rules are relatively simple. The cards each have a certain number of shapes on them of a particular color and pattern. A set is three cards which all have the same type of an attribute or miss-match an attribute. Perhaps a set is three cards all have ovals with a striped pattern on them but each card has a different number of shapes (1, 2, and 3) and different colored (purple, green and red). Pro tip: Sometimes there isn’t a set available in the cards on the table. When I play set with undergraduate math majors I ask them to prove to me why there isn’t a set. Challenging older kids to explain why is excellent mathematical practice! This game fits in your purse or stroller and is perfect for a quick distraction and only requires a small table (or floor) of space.

  1. Rummikub 7+ (Numerals/grouping/relationships)

Rummikub is a 2-4 player classic game with lots of tiles to play with and sort. While Rummikub is also about color/number matching, it is more advanced than Set because you can re-organize the board. The matching rules are similar to Set, but now all the collections of tiles stay out on the table and you can steal from already created collections to make a new one. Worst comes to worst, the tiles are fun to play with and you can build things with them! This is a great game to play at home or at the end of the day on a vacation.

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  1. Connect 4 7+ (planning/pattern recognition/Loud pieces!)
Price: Check on Amazon

Every family needs a noisy, clattering, pieces-get-everywhere kind of a game. Connect 4 is a childhood classic that supports geometric thinking, planning and pattern recognition. It is a two player game and great for two children to play together. Basically, Connect 4 is an advanced version of tic-tac-toe. I do not recommend taking this game out of your home as you will surely lose pieces. This is a great game to entertain the kids while you are finishing dinner or something.

  1. 20 Express 8+ (consecutive numbering/planning)
Price: Check on Amazon

This game is great for parents to play with your kids! It’s a number game which focuses on consecutive ordering. The scoring may take parental involvement as it is a little weird at first sight. However, the cool part about this game is that everyone tries to organize the same numbers at the test cyp same time. So you, as a parent, can compare answers with the other players. “Oh, that was a good choice, I didn’t think to do it that way!” The only negative to 20 Express is that it obviously uses math and that may turn off some kids. This game is good for traveling as it doesn’t require a central table and any number of people can play at once. Each player just needs a pen and something to write on.

  1. Ticket To Ride 8+ (counting/planning)

This game is really fun! It is a time commitment (maybe an hour once everyone knows the rules) and requires a big table. There are lots of little train pieces that you get to place on the board when you build railroad tracks between cities on the map. I don’t recommend this game if you have a cat or child who likes to jump on the table and mess up the board.

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This 2-5 player game requires business optimization similar to operations research. There is no money, but you have to collect cards which include restrictions on where you are allowed to build. This game requires a longer attention, but is full of bright colors and will definitely be just as fun for the parents as the children!

  1. Rush Hour 8+

Rush Hour is one player, portable, colorful, and mentally wonderful. The board is small and packed with vehicles which have set directions that they can move. The goal is to move the vehicles in a particular order to get the little red car out of the traffic jam. A negative is that every piece is important. Don’t lose them! This game is great for waiting rooms or car trips as it comes with its own board and it small enough to hold in a child’s hand or lap.

  1. Sumoku 9+ (addition/multiplication)
Price: $10.19
Was: $15.99

Sumoku is a math-centric game for 1-8 players. Think of it as Scrabble/Bananagrams for numbers. You add to the existing tile layout based on a specific mathematical goal. For example, every row must add to a multiple of 3. This is a great game to support a young mathematical thinker because along with practicing basic computational skills, the player is also planning and matching. Unlike Bananagrams, there is no element of speed, so young players may take as long as necessary to check their math before they place their tiles. Like 20 Express, this game obviously uses mathematics. But, I believe Sumoku is interesting and dynamic enough to provide entertainment to the whole family. This game is easy to transport and requires a central table.

My recommendation is that, if you only buy one of these games, get Set. Then I would pick up Ticket to Ride. After that, your choices should depend on you and your children’s interests. And remember that your involvement always improves the quality of the game. Mathematical thinking requires self-reflection and the ability to collaborate. Challenge your kids to explain why they made a particular choice or ask them to help you with your move.

Happy Gaming!

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What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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By: Kelly Allard

Way back when I was young and sans kids, my friends and I would stay up until the wee hours of the night doing nothing but table-top gaming.  Dungeons & Dragons, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire the Masquerade… basically whatever we could get our hands on that went well with a 10-pack of tacos from Taco Bell and 64oz of Mountain Dew.

Now that we’re parents, our nigh-continuous gaming has mellowed to a semi-monthly laid-back game of Pathfinder that ends shortly after our children’s bed time.  Early on, we thought we could let the kids have a movie and we’d play while they were off relaxing in their own world.  We were quite mistaken!

While normally Simba’s harrowing tale of triumph in the face of danger would hold kids enthralled for its entire action-packed 90 minute run, it is apparently FAR less interesting than what the grown-ups are doing.  To save on frustration, we let our little ones join our table.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m excited for the day that my daughter gets the idea of playing a character in more than the “put on a costume and preface my name with princess” kind of way that pre-schoolers have.  However, we aren’t there yet.  We needed a way to make the game fun for her while letting us still play the game.

So, as any table-topping gamer parent knows, there are two incredibly interesting things about gaming for kids (and cats): dice and minis!  We would let her roll for us.  At first we’d call out the numbers, but as time went on, she’d tell US what she rolled.   It was a great way to help her recognize numbers to 20.  Also, as time went on, we could tell her which dice to roll instead of giving her a specific die.

Giving them their real names (in addition to what we call them) is helping her understanding and relation of 3 dimensional objects.  Having one person call it a tetrahedron, while someone else calls it a 4-sider helps her relate the shapes to their make-up.  You can also point out the shapes that make up the flat side, like the pentagons on a dodecahedron (d12).
Now, where things get dicey is modifiers.  My daughter LOVES to be right and isn’t really a fan of being corrected.
Here is an excerpt from a recent gaming session:
Her – “19!”
Me – “Ok, That’s a 24 for me!”

Her – “It’s a 19.”
Me – “Yes, that is a 19, but then I get to add this 5 to it, and it makes it 24.”
Her – “This ‘dice’ says 1 next to 9, that’s 19 not 24, mommy.”

To aid in her understanding of the additive nature of our rolls, we now have a small white board to write the result AND the modifier on.  So, 19 + 5 = 24, for this specific roll.  This gives her an opportunity to see how numbers operate together in simple addition.  Also, it gives her a familiarity with addition notation and an early recognition of symbols associated with it.
Another fun thing to let your little “knowledge sponge” do is count movement squares.  Explain that every square is 5 feet and tell them how many to go – as they count by 1s, you count by 5s.  This will start to give them a basis for “skip counting” and an early foundation for multiplication.  They can move the mini to the final destination but they have to count the path (save double diagonals for a different day, once they’ve got general movement down) and see if it takes more than the number the character CAN move to get to the end.
This teaches them varying quantities and allows them the ability to find their own ways to the answer.  Also, it teaches the basics of the concepts of more than (greater than) and less than.  If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you could even write their movement total on a white board, comparing the movement total to the character’s allowed movement (e.g. 20 < 30), laying the groundwork for eventually solidifying their understanding of the concept.

The thing to keep in mind is that whenever you add a child to your game, no matter the age, it is going to take longer.  The amount of time it takes to do something simple seems to be inversely proportional to their age (provided that they are over 6 months or so.)  Or to put it in simple terms: For n>0.5, t=1/n.  Just be patient with them, answer their questions and teach them what’s happening.  Table-top roleplaying games have some amazingly simple math and fantastic gaming concepts.

The math learning is great, but you will also be helping your child learn the skills of playing an open-ended game, with variable results. They will also become familiar with turn-based strategy, roleplaying and working as a team in a (mostly) cooperative environment.

 

Looking for more games and math? Check out more articles here!

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Everyone plays games for different reasons. These varied motivations help explain why people like different games and play them in different ways.

Mountains of research have been done regarding the different types of gamers. In fact, (friend of the site) Dr. Regina McMenomy has done some of that research. Wizards of the Coast, however, has gone so far as to take these so-called psycho-graphic profiles, given them names, and taken the time to explain them within the context of Magic: The Gathering.

We thought that we would take the time to highlight and explain those different profiles, because knowing why you and your children play the game is helpful for figuring out what cards to buy, what decks to build, and what kinds of formats you’ll want to play in.

Take a look at the list below ands then leave a comment telling us what kind of Magic: The Gathering Player you are!

Timmy/Tammy

Timmy/Tammy is the name of the gamer profile that is characterized by their love of big splashy effects and giant creatures. They are motivated by the thrill of playing these massive spells and seeing how they impact the board.

Timmy/Tammy can be competitive (who doesn’t like to win?), but the real fun comes from playing these really big spells.

Timmy wants to experience something. Timmy plays Magic because he enjoys the feeling he gets when he plays. What that feeling is will vary from Timmy to Timmy, but what all Timmies have in common is that they enjoy the visceral experience of playing.

Mark Rosewater

There is some variance within this profile, too! Everyone isn’t a carbon copy of one another. Below are some sub groups:

Power Gamers – They focus on big spells and big critters. Power = fun.

Social Gamers – They just want to play with others. They also know that sometimes playing decks around big effects will win just often enough for everyone to have a turn.

Adrenaline Junkies – They thrive on playing spells with unpredictable effects. Some cards in Magic use coin flips and adrenaline junkies love them!

Johnny/Jenny

Johnny/Jenny is the name of the gamer profile that is all about discovery! They love to find interesting interactions between cards and executing those combos within Magic. They love the thrill of “breaking cards” and making cool decks that do super interesting things (even if they lose more often than not).

Johnny is the creative gamer to whom Magic is a form of self-expression. Johnny likes to win, but he wants to win with style. It’s very important to Johnny that he win on his own terms. As such, it’s important to Johnny that he’s using his own deck. Playing Magic is an opportunity for Johnny to show off his creativity.

Mark Rosewater

Johnny’s and Jenny’s aren’t all the same either. Below are some sub groups:

Combo Players – They pore over spoiler lists looking for unique interactions and cool combos. It’s all about the thrill of the hunt.

Designers – Some people just want to build decks that work. They are driven by ideas and challenges

Artists – Deck building, for some people, is all about expressing themselves. Creating interesting themes in decks is an art form for them!

Challenge Seekers – Some people go out of their way to make bad cards into good ones. They accept challenges that are present in the design of a given set and push those limits!

Spike

Simply put: Spike wants to win. They aren’t concerned with making their own decks. Instead, they may comb the internet looking for decks that are successful in recent tournaments.


Spike is the competitive player. Spike plays to win. Spike enjoys winning. To accomplish this, Spike will play whatever the best deck is. Spike will copy decks off the Internet. Spike will borrow other players’ decks. To Spike, the thrill of Magic is the adrenaline rush of competition. Spike enjoys the stimulation of outplaying the opponent and the glory of victory.

Mark Rosewater

Innovators – Some players take pride in their ability to look at new cards (or cards they have discovered from the history of Magic) and evaluate them. Are they good? Can they be played in successful decks? These are the questions a Spike will ask themselves the first time they see any Magic card that they discover.

Analysts – Tournaments can have hundreds (if not thousands) of players. They all bring different decks and play styles. Some players love to find decks that will give them the best chance to compete in that environment.

Deck Tuners – Not everyone likes to build their decks from scratch. Tuners love to find popular decks made by other players and tweek them to be better.

Mental Athletes – Some players are less concerned with the deck they are playing and the cards they are using. They spend their efforts being the best player they can. It’s all about being able to do the math, and play each individual situation as best they can.

Melvin/Melanie

Mel is an interesting psychographic profile. These are players who are focused on appreciating the design of Magic. They examine cards as they are released and focus on the “why” in every part of the card. They may focus on why a card was in a given color, or why it has a certain creature type.

Vorthos

Vorthos is the name used for the psychographic profile of a player who is all about the story and “flavor” of the game. They appreciate cards that are designed with consistency from their name and color. This profile was coined by Matt Cavotta in his article “Snacktime with Vorthos.” It was further expanded on by Ant Tessitore when he divided Vorthos into five different categories based on how the game makes them feel

The Gamer appreciates top down resonance and in-game flavor.
The Artist appreciates all visual aspects of Magic.
The Writer appreciates all written copy for Magic.
The Oracle appreciates real world to fantasy world blending via things like cosplay.
The Dreamer appreciates anything contributing to the lore of Magic

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know what kind of Magic player you are?

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Finding games that are the right fit for children aged 5 to 7 can be challenging. As they move into school age they can begin handling more in games.  Young children who are just learning to read or are beginning readers are often not ready for games with lots of reading or complex turns.  Attention spans still tend to be short so game duration is a relevant factor.

Some game in this age range are part of a movement in the game industry to make simpler versions of their games.  Ticket to Ride, Catan, and Stone Age have tapped into this age by creating “my first” or “junior” versions of their games.

Gamewright 

Outfoxed!


Outfoxed! is a cooperative game deduction game for players ages 5 and up and for two to four players where the players are…chickens. Chickens chasing clues to catch a fox that has absconded with a prized pot pie.  What family can resist working together to solve such a heinous crime? The game includes a special evidence scanner to rule out the different fox suspects by showing if the thief is wearing a particular object. On each players turn they declare if they will Search for Clues or Reveal Suspects. They then have three chances to roll the dice to get all three dice icons to match their choice. If they success they complete the stated action, but if not the culprit moves closer to escaping with the pie.

Too Many Monkeys


Too Many Monkeys A Totally Bananas Card Game is a playful, lively game is designed to appeal to young gamers and parents alike. It is a fast paced, simple game for ages 6 and up and for two to six players that subtly reinforces math concepts such as number sequencing and probability while still allowing kids to be silly and have fun.

Too Many Monkeys is played in a series of rounds. Players are dealt out 6 cards face down. Players draw from the discard pile or the draw pile and swap it face up with a card in the position that matches the number on the card they drew. The winner of the first round gets dealt one less card at the start of the next round. All other players have the same number as the previous round. Play continues as above with players’ hands getting smaller each round. You continue in rounds until one player is down to just one card and draws the number 1 card (with Primo asleep). When that happens, Primo is back to sleep and the game is over!

Slamwich


Slamwich is a fast-paced, silly, and energetic card flipping game reminiscent of Slapjack, War, Uno, etc. The game is recommended for ages 6 and up for two to six players. Taking turns, each player takes the top card of their deck and flips it onto a center pile. If a set of criteria is met, players race to slap the pile. The combinations are easy to understand. A Double Decker-If the flipped card is identical to the card directly underneath. A Slamwich– If two identical cards have exactly one card in between them (like a sandwich). Special cards like a Thief or a Muncher add unique criteria and help to make winning more random. If a player runs out of cards, they are out of the game. Whoever collects all of the cards wins.

Super Tooth


Super Tooth is, at its core, a matching card game for ages 6 and up for two to four players. Players collect matched sets of plant eating dinosaurs. Each turn includes a “landscape” of three cards on the play area. First, the player resolve event cards, such as the egg that lets the player bring back a card that had previously been discarded. Next, they player feed or chase away meat eaters, and then ultimately choose one type of plant eater from the board.

Super Tooth relies a little on luck, but it is important for players to choose cards carefully to build matched sets and not just random cards. Players cash in matching sets of cards for tooth tokens, and the more matching cards the more tokens they earn.  The first player with 3 tokens in a three or four player game wins, and 5 tokens in a two player game wins.

Flashlights and Fireflies


Flashlights and Fireflies is a board game version of flashlight freeze tag for  two to five players. The game plays in three quick phases per round, and the game ends when one player reaches home.  The board includes three sections; the woods, the firefly field, and the path home. Flashlights and Fireflies plays in rounds, and each round include four phases: hide, catch, shine, and sneak.  Flashlights and Fireflies is a great game for the whole family.  The game moves quickly through each round and takes about 20 to 30 minutes to play.  The age recommended is 6 and up, but since there is no reading in the game it does scale down nicely to slightly younger players.

Education Outdoors

Toasted or Roasted


Toasted or Roasted has you building the campfire and trying to toast marshmallows without them becoming roasted. It is for two to four players and is recommended for ages 6 and up.There are several objectives to complete in Toasted Or Roasted.  First, each player needs light their campfire by playing a Fire Starter card.  Once you play a Fire Starter card you flip your Firewood Disk over to the campfire side.  Then, each player needs to try and toast 3 marshmallows to win.  

Toasted or Roasted is a great light family game.  The game has minimal reading so it can easily scale down to players even younger than the recommended 6 years old. Roasting a competitor’s marshmallows is a light “take that” element.  Young players need to be able to handle it if someone “spoils” their marshmallow.

Monkeybeak Games

Hoagie


Hoagie is a fast paced game for two to five players that is recommended for ages 5 and up.  Each player is trying to build the perfect sandwich without any part getting spoiled by three oogies (pictured on the spoiled food and special action cards). Hoagie’s gameplay is very easy and takes just minutes to learn.  Each player is dealt a hand if 6 cards to start the game.  On each players turn they play a card from their hand on their sandwich or an opponent’s. Several actions with the cards can occur, but only one can occur per turn. In order to win, a player must begin their turn with a perfect sandwich, which consists of bread, meat, cheese, lettuce, and bread.

Carma Games, LLC.

Tenzi


Tenzi is a super simple dice game for two to four players ages 7 and up that is very fast-paced. This is a great icebreaker, boredom buster, or introduction to kick off a bigger game night. The game is noisy, quick, and simple. The variations within the rules make it something that has a high replay value. It’s also nice the game does a tiny bit of teaching while still being fun. We found that it’s been playable by children as young as five while still being entertaining to adults.

Iello

Tales and Games


Iello games has produced a series of games based on classic children’s stories and fairy tales. The games look like beautiful hardbound storybooks with classically illustrated covers and spines. Each game takes about 20 minutes to play through and they all have different mechanics and designs. They and are designed to be played by players ages 7 and up.

We have included them here because they have sparked interest in the classic stories that they are based on in our household. The stories released so far are:

The Three Little Pigs

Baba Yaga

The Hare and the Tortoise

The Grasshopper and the Ant

Little Red Riding Hood

The Pied Piper

Aladdin and the Magic Lamp

Brain Games

Ice Cool


Ice Cool is a flicking game about penguins in a frozen high school. Players take turns flicking their penguin pawns through the halls. The goal is to get your pawn through open doorways to catch fish  and earn points. This is more complicated because each player takes a turn as the hall monitor who’s objective is to catch the other players. Ice Cool is more fun than I expected and the kids love it. The game board designed allows for some really interesting trick shots like flicking your penguin pawn so that you have a decent spin going and having it travel in an arc through multiple doors. You can even try to send your penguin OVER walls if you like.

Thinkfun

Rush-hour Junior


Rush-hour Junior is one player, portable, colorful, and mentally wonderful for ages 5 and up. The board is small and packed with vehicles which have set directions that they can move. The goal is to move the vehicles in a particular order to get the little red car out of the traffic jam. A negative is that every piece is important. Don’t lose them! This game is great for waiting rooms or car trips as it comes with its own board and it small enough to hold in a child’s hand or lap. The junior version has 40 challenges and 15 blocking pieces

Roller Coaster Challenge


Roller Coaster Challenge is a single player STEM game focusing on engineering for ages 6.  It come with 60 challenge card in a range of difficulty.  The player sets up the posts and required pieces on the challenge card.  They then need to design a roller coaster that travels to the bottom successfully using some of the additional posts, 39 tracks.  The roller coaster is successful if the roller coaster car makes it to the end.  This was a Toy of the Year Finalist in 2018.

Laser Maze Jr.


Laser Maze Jr. is a single player logic game designed for ages 6 and up by Thinkfun. This game challenges the player to set up tokens to match a challenge card. The player then adds mirrors to the board. The objective is to reflect a laser beam so it lights up the rocket (or rockets with more difficult cards) light up. The player selects a challenge card. There are four levels of play: easy, medium, hard, super hard. The 40 numbered cards get progressively harder as they move within each level of play.

The player selects a card and inserts it under the Game Grid.  The card shows the locations of the Rocket target and Space Rock Blockers. At the bottom of the card the additional pieces needed to complete the challenge are displayed. The player then manipulates the additional pieces around the Game Grid in order to reflect the laser. The challenge is successful once the Rocket Target is lit up by the laser beam.

Haba

Rhino Hero


Rhino Hero is a competitive  3-D stacking game for ages 5 and up and is for two to five players where players are building a tower of cards and moving Rhino Hero up the tower.  This dexterity game directs players were the wall cards need to go on each turn.  Players have wall and ceiling tiles.  On their turn, the player first builds the wall in the place indicated on the ceiling tile and then place their ceiling tile.  Actions indicated on some of the ceiling tiles and those benefit the player, such as skipping the next player.  The game ends when the tower fall, a player places their last roof card, or all the walls are built.  

Rhino Hero- Super Battle


Rhino Hero- Super Battle is the sequel to Rhino Hero.  The game is for ages 5 and up and plays two to four players. This game adds three more superheros:  Giraffe Boy, Big E. and Batguin.  The walls now come in two sizes; tall and short and there is a superhero medal.  Additionally there are spider monkeys which attack. 

The gameplay has additional steps they includes: 1. Build!, 2. Spider monkey attack (place a spider monkey hanging from the floor if there is a spider monkey symbol and see if it makes the tower fall), 3. Climb the skyscraper! by using a die to determine how many floors to climb, 4. Super battle if two superheros are on the same level, 5. Superhero medal goes to the players if their super hero is the furthest up at this phase in their turn, 6. Draw another floor card.  The game ends when all or part of the tower collapses or all the floors that are playable have been used.

Monza


Monza is a racing game for ages 5 and up and plays two to six players. Movement of your race car in this game is based on rolling six color dice.  Players must utilize strategic thinking to use the colors you roll to plan the path for your car. Players can only move to a forward space and may not enter a space with an obstacle.

This game is more thoughtful than a straight roll and move because you need to plan your path based on the colors you roll. With a luck roll and good planning a player can move six spaces. Any die that do not correspond to a color ahead of the player on the board are discarded for that turn. The first player to the finish line is the winner.

Brandon the Brave


Brandon the Brave is a tile placement game for ages 5 and up for one to four players, where you are a knave desiring to be a brave knight like “Brandon the Brave”. Knaves prove their intuition and skills by completing tasks.  To do this players place field tiles and are trying to match colored crosses.  These crosses represent a location of a completed task and the color needs to match one color of the task card. As players lay tiles a jousting arena may be build. The player who places the sixth tiles completing the arena gets to place a task card in the center.  The game ends once a player completes all their task cards or all the field tiles are placed.

May Day Games 

Coconuts


Coconuts is a dexterity game for ages 7 and up for two to four players where you are launching coconuts with your monkey and trying to land them into baskets in the center.  When you land a coconut in a basket you get to place the cup on your game board.  To win you need to collect 6 baskets and stack them into a pyramid on your board, but there are not enough baskets in the center for everyone to collect.  You need to try and steal from your opponent by landing a coconut in their basket. An added component is the basket are red and yellow.  Should you land in a red basket you get to take a additional shot.

Playroom Entertainment

The Magic Labyrinth


The Magic Labyrinth is a memory and grid movement game for ages 6 and up and plays two to four players. In this game you are playing apprentices that have lost various objects, which are now in the Magic Labyrinth.  The twist is there are invisible walls!  Players must move and remember where the wall are when they or a competitor hits a wall.  A series of wooden blocks in a grid under the gameboard create the walls.  The walls are movable so the maze can be different each time you play. The pawn is magnetic and a ball sticks to it. If you hit a wall the ball falls off an rolls to one of the trays on the side and you go back to the start corner.

At the beginning of the game players draw a few lost objects tokens and place them on their corresponding picture throughout the maze.   A players landing on the space with a token they get to keep it.  A new token is then drawn out of a bag and placed on the board.  The first player to collect five objects wins.

Drei Maiger Spiele 

Enchanted Tower


Enchanted Tower is a hidden information/deduction game for ages 5 and up and is for two to four players.  The princess is captive, locked away in a tower by the wizard.  The board sits inside the box with compartment so the metal key can be hidden under the board. There are token covering the compartments. Players are either playing the wizard or the prince and they are trying to get to the key first.  At the beginning of the game the wizard hides the key in one of the compartments. The players take turns rolling specialty dice which have a player color corresponding to the pawns and number of spaces to move for each color.

The wizard (blue) has to start on a lower track and has eight extra spaces to move than the prince (red).  This advantage evens the playing field since the wizard player knows the location. When a pawn lands on the space where the key is under, it clicks against the magnet at the bottom of the pawn. Once a player finds the key, they try it in one of the six keyholes of the tower.  If the princess pops out they win.  If not the wizard hides the key again and players start over.  First to free the princess wins.

Asmodee

Catan Junior


A popular game which has been simplified for younger gamers is Catan Junior.  This is a route building  resource management game for ages 6 and up and is for two to four players.  Like the original Settlers of Catan you are collecting resources based on the numbers that  come up with each roll. These resources used to build or get Coco the Parrot cards which provide resources or the ability to build at no cost. Instead of building settlements, cities, and roads in the full version you are building pirate ships and hideouts.  The first player to build seven pirate hideouts wins.

Days of Wonder

Ticket to Ride: First Journey


Ticket to Ride: First Journey takes the formula of its predecessor and strips out several of the more complex concepts in favor of a streamlined experience that can be played by kids who are even younger! We have always said that the Ticket to Ride series was accessible to savvy kids, but this new version is even better.The map is simplified also. The game board is large, and the various cities are larger and more defined.  Each of the cities includes a colorfully illustrated image associated with it. The winner is the first person to finish six routes. This game teaches players the general flow of a game of Ticket to Ride without the burden of some of the finer details of the senior game.

Z-Man Games

My First Stone Age


My First Stone Age is another popular game simplified for younger children ages 5 and up and players two to four players. Like the original game you gather resources to build huts, but the worker placement component is not included in this simpler game. The game has large chunky high quality pieces.

On each players turn they take a forest tile from the perimeter of the board. On each tile is a resource, an image of a die, or a dog.  If a player pull a resource they move to that resource space and take one of that resource.  A die image indicates the player may move that many spaces along the path.  A dog is a wild card and can represent any resources.  If there are not any more dog tokens in the resources pile players can steal a dog from another player.  Players have a field of three huts they are trying to collect the resources to buy.  When a player purchases one with their resources, they flip over a new hut revealing the cost of the next hut. The first player to build three huts wins.

Blue Orange Games

Doodle Quest


Doodle Quest is a drawing game for one to four players ages 6 and up. In this underwater themed game players choose one of the 18 quest cards.  Each card includes drawing instructions specific to the card.  Players then draw on blank transparent sheets with dry erase markers. Once complete, each transparent sheet is placed on the quest card and is scored based on how each players doodle aligns with the picture. The player with the most points after 6 challenges is the winner. Additionally, each quest card has a beginner and advanced challenge side.

Dr. Eureka


Dr. Eureka is a logic and dexterity game for ages 6 and up and is for two to four players.  It was originally published as an 8 and up game, but in later publications changed to a 6 and up game.  In this game you are taking molecules (balls) in a test tube and need to combine colors to correspond to a challenge card.  The dexterity challenge is you can not touch the balls and cannot drop them!  The round ends when one player has their molecules match the formula exactly, and they call out “Eureka”. That player gets the cards, but players do not reset their test tubes.  The players begin the next round with the configuration the ended the previous round.

This game is great for multiple ages and skills because you can scale the rules to add challenges for more advanced players, and eliminate rules as needed.  There are also several variants that add different challenges to the game.

Peaceable Kingdom

Cauldron Quest


Cauldron Quest is a cooperative game that will fit right at home in any house full of Harry Potter fans. It is for players 6 and up and plays two to four players. Players are working together in Cauldron Quest to brew a magic potion that their kingdom needs to break a magic spell cast by an evil wizard. They do this by trying to move special barrels of ingredients from the outside of the board into the cauldron in the center. This might SOUND easy, but the evil wizard is trying to stop them by putting magic barriers in the way. Players need to get the correct three ingredients to the center before the wizard blocks all six paths.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

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Naval warfare has never been so exciting.  In Clear the Decks! players are working together battling an enemy ship with their own navel ship and crew. Clear the Decks is designed by Christopher Pinyan of Crispy Games Co.

The Engaged Family Gaming team has had the pleasure to see Clear the Decks evolve over the past year.  Our first look at this game was at the 2017 Connecticut Festival of Independent GamesClear The Decks was again at the 2018 Connecticut Festival of Independent Games.

Can you give us a “Tale of the Tape” for your game? The title, genre, playtime, age ranges, etc. 

Clear the Decks! is a 1-4 player cooperative card game depicting ship to ship combat in the age of fighting sail. For ages 10 and up.

What is the elevator pitch? 

On the high seas, you have met your enemy. By yourself or with shipmates, you each have 3 gun crews using different ammunition, tactics, officers, and marines to attack the enemy ship’s guns, crew and structures. Can you smash enough leaks in the enemy ship before they have destroyed all of your cannons? It’s time to beat to quarters and Clear the Decks!

When is your Kickstarter going live?

The Kickstarter went live on July 17, 2018, and runs through August 16th.

Where are you in production/development? How close are you to complete? 

All the line art for the game is complete. We have a couple weeks’ worth of coloring still to do and will provide updates over the course of the campaign. Some of the stretch goal cards are already designed and just waiting for enough funding to include them in the game. We estimate that by end of August we will be ready to send to printer for production review.

Are there any other games that you think are comparable to your game? 

The closest I would consider is Castle Panic. It is also cooperative (though there still is a “winner”), there is the concept of impending danger and you have to come up with certain combinations of card and location in order to attack your target.

You’re a game designer. You could have made any game you wanted. Why did you make THIS game?

The movie Master and Commander was always a favorite. I got hooked on reading the book series, which then led to reading several non-fiction books on the US and British navies during the late 17 and early 1800’s. Reading through the sea battles, watching them in the Horatio Hornblower series on BBC made me of puzzle combinations – which cannon, which ammunition, which part of the ship, all the other issues to deal with during a battle and all of the different people on a ship – with different roles and how they all had to work together to be successful. That sounded like a great game to me. It had to be co-op and I didn’t want semi-co op where people are working together but ultimately still looking out for themselves to the possible detriment of the team. I love to see families sit down and work together, sometimes the parents coaching the kids, but plenty of times the kids getting excited and telling mom or dad what they should do. I loved the theme and it made designing now promoting the game fun. Sprinkling in a little history to maybe get people interested in reading up on the time period is a possible bonus.

What was your design process like? 

Reading and taking notes on gun sizes, the different ammunition types and what they were used for. Lots of notes on the different parts of a ship. Reading about the different other things – good and bad – that might randomly happen during a battle lead me to create Event and Fortune cards. Tricks of combat became player tactics cards and of course – all the different people became Crew cards. Then allowing myself some creative license to be less restrictive on what combinations would be allowed to attack certain cards. Some mathematics to determine a good ratio of certain cards in the game (Round shot vs Chain shot for example). Then on to gameplay – lots of testing and making sure the tension remains to the end and putting in some resource management requirements – saving the right cards for the right part of the game, but keeping the temptation there to get the unwary to use them at the wrong time and jeopardize a victory. Wanting the game available as a solitaire, and for younger and older families generated the concept of different sizes and difficulties of the ship – making lots of opportunities for interesting play among different age groups.

What is the number one reason why a family MUST purchase this game?

Work together for a change! Show how teamwork and giving can help everyone succeed together. Can’t we ALL be happy and have fun on family game night? If we do – then maybe getting people interested in another family game night is easier. This is a way to get kids interested in this topic.  It may put them down the path to developing their own reading habit. This was not the original goal of the whole game process, but if happens to be an unintended side effect – great.

How long has this game been in development? 

About 2 and a half years.  Around Feb 2015 when I started evolving the mechanics of an earlier game I was working on for 18 months previously into this one.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game? 

Number one is time! With a day job and two teenagers its tough to get even an hour of uninterrupted time to focus on something. On a personal level, getting outside the comfort zone.  First, to go out and show it to playtesters. Then take the feedback of something you worked so hard on – without taking offense. That is a real personal growth opportunity.

What did your first prototype look like? 

Blank cards I ordered online that I drew on with markers. On the back, I got a tall ship ink stamp from a scrapbooking friend and red and blue ink pads for the two card types.

Why did you get into making games? 

I grew up playing games – at home, at the park during the summer. I discovered local game conventions and once the indie game craze started – I thought I could do it.

What other information do you want us to know about you, your company, and/or your game?

Clear the Decks is driven by theme, and the theme is driven by my passion for it. I worked in a lot of little details that I love to share during demos. I hope people will discover on their own as the play the game. Inspiring people to search for a couple of my references, maybe more people become interested in an amazing period and some amazing people in history.
You can learn more about Clear the Decks! by checking out my website www.crispygamesco.com
or by following me on Instagram and Facebook at Crispygamesco.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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Finding engaging games to play with toddlers and preschoolers that are not excessively tedious for the adults can be a challenge.  Memory, Candy Land, and Chutes and Ladders are classics and likely in any collection with young kids.  I can vouch that they are in my kids’ collection too! There are many more games to choose from that are good for young players.  These games have are appealing, have cute themes, and you will enjoy playing with your preschooler.

Haba Games

My Very First Games Series

My Very First Games are for ages 2 and up. There are 17  games for sale on the Haba website in this set and some of the most recommended are First Orchard, Hanna Honeybee and Animal Upon Animal. Haba games are high quality and include wooden pieces.

First Orchard


First Orchard is a cooperative game where players are trying to collect all the fruit before the raven reaches the end of the path. The game has large brightly colored wooden fruit and a chunky wooden raven.  The path and orchard are easy to set up and reinforces sorting skills. This is a simplified version of Haba’s Orchard game.

Hanna Honeybee


Hanna Honeybee is a cooperative game were one to four players are rolling a chunky wooden die to find and collect flowers of that color.  Once collected it goes into the  beehive which flips the card so it comes out on the honey side.  A second way to play it to have the cards upside down and that adds a memory component to the game.

Animal Upon Animal


Animal Upon Animal has three ways of play.  There are two competitive variants and a cooperative variant. The animals are much larger than the classic game and they stack much more easily, so it accommodates the level of fine motor skills you find in younger players.

Standard Haba Games for Younger Players

Some of Haba’s games that are not only from the My First Game Series are also good for preschoolers.  Their pieces are slightly smaller and there are more rules to the game.

Animal Upon Animal


Animal Upon Animal has slightly smaller pieces than the First Game version. This game is for ages 4 and up. Players are asked to roll to determine how many animals they are stacking or they may be asked to add a piece to the base adjacent to the crocodile.

Unicorn Glitterluck


Unicorn Glitterluck is a roll and move game with some added components for ages 3 and up.  Players move their unicorns along the path and collect crystals.  If they land on a crystal image they have to roll a special die to find out how many crystals to take.  The player to reach the sun first ends the game and players count their crystals.  The player with the most crystals wins.  The back of the game board also has a counter track so players can lay out their crystals by the player and visually see who has the most.

Gamewright

Gamewright makes great family games! There is something for all ages and many of their games play well multi-age.  The themes are light-hearted and their games are easy to learn. For the youngest gamers, they also have developed a cardholder.  This is a great tool for little hands who struggle to hold a hand of cards.

Go Away Monster


Go Away Monster is a re-release of a game for the younger set with new art and prettier components. The main thrust of the game is that you have to fill up your card with different puzzle pieces to make up a child’s bedroom. You do that by reaching into a blind bag and feeling around for the piece that you need. The trick is that there are monsters in the bag. If you pick a monster out of the bag then you lose your turn.

Feed The Kitty


Feed The Kitty is a dice game where players roll the dice to see what they have to do with their mice.  At the beginning of the game, each player gets some wooden mice and some go in the Kitty’s bowl. The two custom dice have four other actions, and they complete both on their turn. Players may need to pass a mouse to the player on the left, or do nothing if there is a sleeping cat.  Rolling a bowl image indicates they have to put a mouse in the bowl, or a mouse image and they take a mouse out of the bowl. Players can not roll if they are out of mice, but they are not out of the game.  The game ends when only one player has a mouse (or mice).

 

Hiss


Hiss is a competitive game where players draw tiles and try and build the longest snakes.  Each snake has different colors and players need to match the colors for adjacent snake pieces.  To build a complete snake they need to have a head, at least one middle body segment, and a tail. This is a game that easily scales down to youngster players.

Educational Insights 

Educational Insights’ goal is to make games that are both fun  and educational.  They have infused an educational theme into each of their games, and also put a animal squeezer which develops fine motor skills and hand strength into a series of their games.

 

The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game


The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game is where you are collecting acorns to feed your hungry squirrel.  At the beginning of each turn you spin the spinner and that dictated the color acorn you can take or if another event occurs.  If a player lands on a storm cloud their acorns get blown back onto the tree. A sad squirrel means you lose a turn.  The thieving squirrel picture allows the player to steal one acorn from another player. The first person to fill their log with acorns wins.

Educational Insights have developed a line of games with a squeezer that also include: Hoppy Floppy Happy Hunt and Sophie’s Seashell Scramble.

Blue Orange Games

Blue Orange Games, the award-winning tabletop game publisher has a whole series of Spot it games in a range of theme.  Some other Spot it Games include: numbers and shapes, sports, Gone Camping, Frozen.

Spot it Jr.


Spot it Jr. is simple, inexpensive, and portable. Oh! And your Preschooler has a decent shot at beating you in it. This is a matching game with multiple variables of play.  There is one matching animal on every card so you are trying to be the first to find the matching animal.  This is great for even the youngest gamers and helps to develop their observational skills.

Blue Orange  preschool games released in 2018

Happy Bunny


“In this cooperative counting game, players work as a team to help the bunny pick the best carrots from the farmer’s garden. Each turn, one player picks a number of carrots from the garden and sorts them into two piles, one for the bunny and one for the farmer. At the end of the game, everyone helps line up the piles for comparison. If the bunny’s line is longer, the players win! The durable carrot pieces are firmly planted inside the box, so the self-contained game helps little hands develop fine motor skills.”

Where’s Mr. Wolf?


“A cooperative game where everyone pitches in on the farm! Players must work together as a team to help the farm animals get back to their barns before Mr. Wolf arrives. Every time a Mr. Wolf token is found, he creeps one space closer, and every time a farm animal token is found, players must remember which barn they belong to. The cute animal tokens, 3D barns, and shared goal help children work on memory and teamwork at the same time.”

Kitty Bitty


“Kitty Bitty is a remake of the beloved Blue Orange classic, Froggy Boogie. This adorable wooden game has little minds use memory and color recognition to help their kitten make it around the yarn balls and back to the basket. Each turn, players need to find the correct mommy cat and pick up one of her eyes; if it’s blank they can move on to the next yarn ball, but if there’s a kitten printed on the bottom they stay put and it’s the next players turn. The first kitten that makes it around all the yarn balls and back to the basket wins!”

Peaceable Kingdom

Snug as a Bug in a Rug


Snug as a Bug in a Rug is a cooperative game for player ages 3 and up.  The game is also designed with three levels of play to increase difficulty as players get older. The bugs in the game have multiple features.  They are different colors, have shapes, have different numbers of shapes, and have large or small eyes.

The basic gameplay has the players roll the specialized die to determine the attribute they are looking for in their bug and then spin the spinner to specify the attribute.  For example, if they roll the color attribute on the die, the spinner would tell them to find the blue bug.  Once they find a bug with that attribute it goes under the rug (the game board). If there are no bugs that match that feature a stink bug is placed on the rug.  The game ends when all the bugs are under the run, which means players win, or there are three stink bugs on the rug.

 

Count Your Chickens


Count Your Chickens is a cooperative game where you are trying to get all 40 chicks back to the coop before the hen reaches it.  On each turn, the player spins the spinner that has various pictures that correspond to picture on the path.  The player moves the mother hen to the next space with that picture and counts the number of spaces they travel.  The number of spaces is how many chicks they put in the coop. If the spinner lands on the fox one chick is taken out of the coop and put back in the farmyard.

Hoot Owl Hoot


Hoot Owl Hoot is a cooperative game to bring the owls back to the nest.  The goal is to get all the owls back before the sun comes up.  Each player has three cards dealt in front of them.  Players choose a color card to pla, and draws a card to refill at the end of their turn.  With a color car,d the player selects an owl and move it to the next corresponding space of that color. If a player has a sun card they must play it, and the sun moves one space on the tracker. The difficulty can be increased by adding more owls to put back in the nest.

Wonderforge

 

I Can Do That!



I Can Do That! is an active game that gets kids moving.  This takes some items from Dr. Seuss books and has made them into props to complete silly actions.  On each turn player pull one card from three different decks.  Deck number one is an action, deck number two is a prop, and deck number three is a direction to do with the prop.  There is also a Trick-a-ma-stick Foam Bar that players may need to go under or around.  There are Stop Card scattered in the three decks.  If a player draws one their turn is over.  On each card there are  stars.  Players keep the cards for all successfully completed actions, and the player with the most stars wins.

 

Thinkfun

Zingo


Zingo is a bingo game with a few twists by Thinkfun.  The game is for players ages four and up and can play two to six players, and game play is quick and a game take 15-20 minutes. Zingo is a great game to have for young players.  Thinkfun has also created  multiple versions of Zingo published by Thinkfun. They include: Zingo 1-2-3Zingo Sight Words, Zingo Time-Telling, and Zingo Word Builder.  These can be great ways to develop beginning reading and math skills, and for preschool and primary students the Zingo variations are a great fit.  The random nature of the game allow for play with the whole family.  

Proto Toys

Build or Boom


Build or BOOM is a block stacking dexterity game designed to be played by even the youngest member of your family. Your goal is to race your opponent to complete a tower out of uniquely shaped blocks and BOOM their tower to keep them from winning. This game is absolutely playable by everyone in the family. It is designed for kids 4 yrs old and over, but is still fun and playable by the more mature members of the family. The concepts are simple to understand and no reading is required. The plastic pieces are big enough for tiny hands to manipulate and the towers are challenging for all ages.

 


What do you think? Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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The Electronic Entertainment Expo is just around the corner and EFG is going to be there. The entire team has been hard at work preparing for a full week of INSANE coverage. We’re going to grab every little bit of family gaming news from that show floor and share it with the world!

Here is how it is all going to play out.

  1. The convention press conferences take place starting on Saturday and run until Tuesday morning. We’ll be publishing news updates for every family-friendly game announced during the conferences.
  2. The show takes place from June 12-14. We will have a team at the show taking pictures, video, recording audio, and posting their impressions of the games we are playing.
  3. Every morning From Monday through Friday you will be able to wake up to a Special edition of Engage! A Family Gaming Podcast with updates from the previous days show.
  4. We’ll be launching our YouTube channel this week as well so be sure to keep your eyes there for trailers, game impressions, and other cool videos from the show.

Let’s introduce the team, shall we?

The Away Team

EFG is going to have five people scouring the show floor to help find all of the great families games that E3 2017 has the offer.

Stephen Duetzmann – Editor in Chief

Stephen has been running Engaged Family Gaming for five years now and he is very excited to be leading the troops into the wilds of E3. He is a father of three (ages 12,9,5) and a lifelong gamer. He is ready to head to E3 for the second time and go bananas finding great games to tell you about!

Jesse Hennessey – Associate Editor

Jesse started his gaming career at the ripe old age of 8, with the Dungeons and Dragons red box set. Over thirty years and hundreds (thousands?) of table top, play-by-mail, console, live-action, computer, mobile and online games later his wife still tells him every day, ‘You know its 1am right?’.

With a love for RPG’s of all types he started participating in LARP’s in high school, and has owned and run one for over a decade. He started his family at a LARP in Y2K, when he ran down his future wife in the woods, and she killed him…with necromancy.

Jesse spends a large portion of his gaming time teaching his daughter to play games both old and new, table top, console, online and live-action. As a family they deal with the difficulty of overcoming both ADHD and ODD to make sure she learns to play fairly and safely in each unique gaming environment.

 

 

John Wrobel – Resident Project Manager

I believe that I am currently the prototypical representation of the casual gamer. I don’t have as much time as I would like play all the games that I want having two elementary schoolers, so being able to get the most value out of what I play is very important to me.  This applies to the video games we buy as a family as well as the multitude of board games that we have in the house.  I think that is what makes what is done here on this site so important to me.  Having a reliable resource to go to in order to make decisions around what we spend our time with is very important as it saves us a tremendous amount of time, money and headaches.

Getting the opportunity to cover E3 with our Editor in Chief was an opportunity that I could not pass up for three reasons.

  1. Someone has to be there to keep our Editor in Chief out of trouble

  2. We don’t have In-N-Out Burger in CT

  3. See #1. (Editor’s note: This is factually correct)

Drew Habersang – Associate Editor

Drew Habersang is a novelist and blogger from Manchester, Conn. He’s a lifelong gamer and unrepentant nerd with a nigh uncomfortable passion for all things “Destiny” (1v1 me bro!). He can best be described as a something very cool and manly with the soul of Mario and the heart of something even cooler like a dragon or whatever I dunno just make it sound awesome, Steve! Habersang has a BA in Political Science from UConn, and has been a guest lecturer at both UConn and the University of Hartford on narrative and storytelling an was a featured storyteller at The Mark Twain House. Drew enjoys console and table top gaming, discussing politics, and “Tea, Earl Grey, hot.”

James Pisano – Producer

At his day job, James Pisano is a partner and Creative Director at Blue Moon Studios, a commercial ad agency. Since James has been a passionate gamer his whole life, he jumped at the chance to become a contributing producer at Engaged Family Gaming. In 2017, James attended E3 for the first time with EFG, and saw the unfortunate lack of information tailored to parents trying to guide their children through the labyrinth of what is “new and cool” in games and geek culture, while making sure they aren’t being exposed to inappropriate content. This ignited James’ passion to bring informative and insightful information to EFG’s audience. Using video, research, and the written word, James is looking forward to helping families the world over come together over the games we all love, with an informed mindset. See you all at E3 2018 and beyond!!!

Home Base

The members of the home base team will be helping with logistical support, production assistance and all sorts of other jobs that we won’t think of until it is way too late.

Jonathan Tomlinson – The Man behind the Curtain

Jonathan started as an intern in high school at WPLR then went on to Connecticut school of Broadcasting. After his training he went on to WEBE108 and AM600WICC. After being replaced by his computer overlords he started his own podcast network and it’s selftitled flagship “Six Pack Nerds” and produces “Engage! : A Family Gaming Podcast” as The Man behind the curtain as well as other tasks. He owns all the systems and is a software hobbyist.

 

 

Linda Wrobel – Contributing Editor

Video games and gaming as a whole was not a large part of my childhood experience. I was given my first exposure to what some would consider traditional gaming in high school with an attempt playing D&D ( which overwhelmed me).  Little did I know that eight years later I would be bitten by the gaming bug by participating in a LARP campaign, which then led back to D&D with friends, and board games.  Now that I have two young boys, becoming more informed to what video and board games are age appropriate and worth our time has become more of a priority. Being an elementary school teacher shapes my perspective of games geared to children and families.  My interest has evolved into a drive to delve deeper into the family gaming world and share my experiences and thoughts with others.

 

Jenna Duetzmann – Contributing Editor

I am a 40-something year old Mom to three wonderful children ranging from ages 4 to 11. All 3 of my children love to play games- board games, video games, tabletop games, and card games! If it has rules and you can play it, they will gravitate towards it.

I grew up playing classic board games with my family and friends and enjoyed many an evening learning card games from my parents and their friends. Even though video games were reaching peak popularity when I was a child, my exposure was very limited. I got to play Frogger on a friend’s Atari and I watched my cousins play Zelda, Super Mario, and about a million different sports games on their various systems. I tried to play the games, but unfortunately I was terrible at them. Old school video games were hard!  And, since I didn’t have a system of my own to play on, I never got to practice. But, never fear, eventually my husband (our wonderful Editor in Chief) gave me my first video game system. It was a Nintendo 64. I played what was soon to become my favorite game EVER on that system- The Legend of Zelda Ocarina of Time. That purchase sparked my interest in so many more games!

My background is in the field of Education and we use my knowledge as a way to incorporate learning experiences in a fun way in every game we play. I love how every game has the potential to inspire learning. They can teach everything from literacy and math skills to teamwork, cooperation, sharing, hand eye coordination, social behavior, etc. The list of things our children can learn through games is endless, and it is my goal to use Engaged Family Gaming to share that learning potential with all of our readers, listeners, and viewers.

 

Michael Duetzmann – Contributing Editor, the Infinite Co-host

Mike has been Stephen’s player 2 as soon as he was old enough to pick up a controller. A stay at home dad, he has turned his interest in game design and writing towards researching family friendly games while still being a devoted father and husband. He is no stranger to the gaming table and has experience with tabletop games, collectible card game, and video games.

 

Sound off in the comments and cheer us on!

Make sure to keep your eyes on Engaged Family Gaming for all of the latest news and reviews you need to Get Your Family Game On!

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One of the largest and latest crazes for kids is STEM, which is the incorporation and integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (all high demand subjects).  STEM also furthers the develop of innovation, critical thinking, and problem solving. Nintendo appears to be dipping its toe into the STEM realm with their newly announced Nintendo Labo kits.  They have two kits available for pre-order right now; the Variety Kit which includes: fishing pole, toy house, motorbike handlebars, two RC cars, and a 13 key piano.  The second kit is the Robot Kit which allows you to build a backpack harness that controls a robot.  The variety of these kits allow for a diverse range of exploration, discovery, and connecting to technology.

Make Play Discover Verses STEM

The Labo kits announced from Nintendo are the latest foray into STEM with an intriguing technology component. These kits are not advertised as STEM on the Nintendo website, which is a wise move on their part.  These Labo kits are not STEM in the ideal educational model. They don’t meet the definition because they don’t provide an opportunity for the child to design and problem solve. Ideally in a STEM activity, materials are provided and the child has to determine how to build the item.  With that said, the Labo tagline is “ Make, Play, Discover.” This cuts right to the core intention of STEM. First, the kits allow the children to construct items which turn their joy-cons into “toy-cons”. Then they can learn about the engineering and technology involved.

Educational Assets

Nintendo Switch Labo Variety Kit

They may not be STEM kits in their purest form. But they have great potential. They let kids see how these cardboard objects are interacting with the different technological components in the Switch.  This is a great fit for children who enjoy building.  Labo provides kids with the opportunity to explore the mechanics of how each toy-con works.  Then using the software, they delve deeper into how each item utilizes the Switch technology. Nintendo states that there also is the ability to create beyond what is in the kit, and that creation is at the heart of STEM.

Durability

With the Nintendo Labo, building is a one shot experience.  Additionally, sharing among siblings may provide difficulty, especially for the robot.   I have reservations about the durability of the cardboard, however, being cardboard a resourceful parent to child potentially could remake the creation.

Conclusion

The  kits incorporate another level of play into the Switch that is far beyond solely interacting with the software.  We may be seeing the next stage of technology integrating into kits for children. There have been kits to build robots for years.  To incorporate the interactive technology that the Switch provides takes these STEM kits to a whole other level.  While the complexity of the software of the Switch is undenied, I wonder if this will be the beginning of more interactive DIY kits.  Ones that incorporate the technology we already own, such as our phones.

Overall, I am cautiously optimistic that Labo will be a great STEM experience for children to compete and enjoy with their families.  We will have to wait until April 20th when it launches and then can see for ourselves once it is in the hands of our kids.  

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Ixalan is a set of cards that was released on September 29, 2017  for Magic: The Gathering. Ixalan tells a story about the immediate aftermath of Hour of Devastation. The defeated planeswalker Jace Beleren finds himself marooned on a plane of existence that he cannot leave. It is a plane filled with adventure and mystery as four factions race to a mysterious golden city in the heart of a dangerous jungle. Ixalan features cards that represent the dangers of the jungle and the glory of exploration.

Why is it Awesome?

Pirates, Vampires, Merfolk, Dinosaurs, Treasure, Exploration: These things light up the imagination of gamers young and old. I have not seen a set of magic released with more appeal to younger gamers. To further reinforce the appeal to younger gamers, Ixalan features four separate creature-based strategies to build decks around. With cards of all power levels and rarities, there are a lot of strategies that can be played at any level of investment.

You can see the full visual spoiler here.

Dinosaurs are all the rage!

Drover of the Mighty

Sun Crowned Hunters

Kinjali’s Caller

Gishath, Sun’s Avatar

In this set, Dinosaurs are big scary creatures that come charging in early in the game thanks to their human allies. Dinosaurs span the red, white, and green colors of Magic as they represent three different ways to shake the ground and crush your opponent. Dinosaurs all share the enrage mechanic, which triggers whenever they take damage from a creature or a spell. Do not hurt them, you will only make them mad!

Vampires of a different color!

Queen’s Commission

Skymarch Bloodletter

Vona, Butcher of Magan

Vampires from a far away land sail to the island of Ixalan for honor and glory. White vampires make an addition along with their classic black brethren to the game of Magic, as the entire set focuses on creating lots of vampires, and gaining and draining life from their opponents. This excess of life then gets used to fuel powerful effects, where the only payment is blood.

Pirates be after the booty!

Pirate’s Prize

Deadeye Tormentor

Rigging Runner

Admiral Becket Brass

Pirates patrol the waters of Ixalan and are on the hunt for buried treasure. Pirates care about two things: attacking and finding treasure. Raid is an ability shared amongst the red, blue and black colors of Magic that gives additional value if you attacked this turn. Raid rewards players for casting their creatures and spells after combat, when their pirate crews have swung in for damage. Pirates also love treasure! Many spells and creatures create artifact tokens called Treasures that can be traded in for mana at a later time. It is uncommon for these colors to have access to mana creation, be sure to take advantage of it.

Merfolk weave growth and trickery!

Jade Guardian

Watertrap Weaver

Tishana, Voice of Thunder

Merfolk mix the colors of green and blue in Magic to create a theme of growth and trickery. The new addition of green merfolk place +1/+1 counters on other merfolk to make them permanently bigger, while blue merfolk continue to lock down your opponent’s creatures and fly or swim past those with a chance to block.

Should you buy this stuff?

If you are a family gamer who already plays Magic: The Gathering, heading to your local game store or internet card provider is a no-brainer. If you have been interested in coming into this game on the ground floor, there has never been a better time, as this set features four creature based deck building strategies. Combined with cards from the recent Ahmonket and Kaladesh expansion, you can take your deck to the kitchen table or local Friday Night Magic event near you.

Here are some great options for Ixalan products you can buy!

Planeswalker Decks: Jace, Ingenious Mind Mage & Huatli, Dinosaur Knight


The ease of accessibility for this set starts with the two ready to play constructed decks that Wizards of the Coast releases with every new set. This time around the deck features Jace with a force of blue and green merfolk and Huatli, a new planeswalker, who leads and empowers an army of red and white dinosaurs. These decks have always been very solid introductory products, and this recent addition does not stray from that standard.

The Ixalan Bundle Pack

Bundle packs are a great way to buy into a set of Magic: The Gathering cards. They include 10 packs of cards, a spin-down life counter, a pack of land cards, and a nice box to store your cards in.


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