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Tips for Playing Dungeons and Dragons with Kids!

A lot of gamer parents ask us about how to get started with playing tabletop RPGs with their kids. In fact, we’ve given (and heard) so much advice that we thought we would just put it all down on a page and publish it here on EFG!

This list isn’t the be all and end all for playing RPGs with your children, but this is going to be a great place to start. Take a look below, and make sure to let us know in the comments if we missed anything.

Note: Most of the text here will refer to Dungeons and Dragons, but the majority of these tips will be applicable to any tabletop RPG out there.

Start with a Kid-focused RPG

Lots of gamers have dreamed of playing Dungeons and Dragons and other tabletop RPGs with their kids for years. It stands to reason that some of those gamers would design their own games to help fill in that void. Darcy Zalewski from the Stay at Home Gamers suggested playing some of those games first!

Some examples include:

Hero Kids

No Thank You, Evil by Monte Cook Games

The Tales of Equestria Tabletop RPG

Establish The Ground Rules

Lots of tabletop RPGs are full of rules, charts, and tables to search through to help understand how to play the game. But, those aren’t as important as the general rules for playing at your table.

You will likely have your own rules, but some suggestions are below:

  1. Respect is key. Make sure to respect your fellow players and the DM.
  2. Be courteous.
  3. Don’t draw in, or rip up game books that are loaned to you. Treat them like your own toys.
  4. No cussing or inappropriate jokes.
  5. If everyone isn’t having fun, then no one is!

Focus on Shared Storytelling

A lot of folks assume that the story comes from the DM, but that’s actually untrue. At the end of the day tabletop RPGs like Dungeons and Dragons are collaborative storytelling games. This means that everyone is working together to make an interesting story. I think it is important make sure kids understand that.

The story isn’t just happening TO them. It is happening AROUND them. Let them describe their actions whenever possible. Encourage them to talk about how their character does the things they are doing. That adds layers to the experience for everybody!

Let Them Drive (Unless They Aren’t)

It is important to let the kids drive the bus. They might take wrong turns, get hyper-focused on something weird, or kick your sandbox over in any number of cruel, unusual, and exciting ways. Let them do it. As long as they are engaged and enjoying the experience you have won!

With that said, Dungeons and Dragons depends on the players to direct the action. The stories expect the players to move forward, find clues, and discover the solutions. Kids (and even inexperienced players) can have trouble with that. Which means their indecisions can stagnate the experience for everyone. You, as the DM, are the only person who can fix that.

There are lots of great Dungeons and Dragons Products out there, and lots of them have previews online. Make sure to check out what they can add to your campaign!

Keep It Short!

Adults that play Dungeons and Dragons can play for hours without real breaks. We often brag about marathon gaming sessions. That isn’t going to be possible with younger kids. They just don’t have the attention span to focus on these games for long periods of time.

Instead, make sure to plan for your gaming sessions to be more compact and to take more breaks. You won’t make as much “progress” through stories (especially if you are using adventure modules), but they will be more engaged in the experience.

If You’re Going to Go Big – Bring a Co-GM

Rob Kalajian of A Pawn’s Perspective regularly runs a game for ten kids. (WHOA!) He loves it, but he has found that it would be impossible without the help of his wife who co-DMs with him. This lets him focus on the story and the creatures while his wife helps make sure the kids are ready to take their turns. It minimizes downtime and ensures that kids get more direct attention from a GM.

Have (Quiet) Fidget Toys!

Kids will often have a VERY difficult time sitting still for a long time without fidgeting. Dice are terrible fidget toys because they are loud, and they can get lost easily. (Nothing is more distracting than a handful of kids rolling dice and dropping them on the ground.)

Make sure you have a small collection of quiet fidget toys on hand to give them something to fuss with. Some great suggestions are fidget spinners (that you can probably get for super cheap since the fad is over) and Play-Doh.

Simplify The Game!

Dungeons and Dragons is pretty complicated. You can take steps to simplify it though. Some examples of things you can do are:

  • Only give them the dice they need. A player will very likely only needs 2-3 different dice in Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition (the most recent one).
  • Create a cheat sheet to go along with their character sheet that explains in simple terms what they should do when the
You don’t need to invent your own adventures either! There are plenty of pre-made adventures available!

Don’t Make Them Manage Their Stuff

Kids are notorious for losing things or failing to take care of them correctly. And, nothing can set a game back like a player having to find a new mini or to craft a new character sheet. The best way to solve that problem according to John Christopher over at Wooden Shoe Games is to collect their character sheets at the end of the session. That keeps organization nice and simple.

You could even store all of those character sheets in a binder with some sheet protectors. They’ll be virtually indestructible.

Make Sure the Villain Is AWESOME!

Treavor Bettis and Allie Deutschmann from the Difficulty Class Podcast both emphatically told me that villains for kids need to be cool. They don’t necessarily need to be interesting and nuanced like villains for adult players though. They can, and should, be completely over the top!

What do you all think? What tips do you have for playing tabletop RPGs with kids? Let us know in the comments!

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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Kickstarter Preview – Empty Space

Empty Space is a set collection card game about exploring the vastness of space and, ultimately, landing a rocket on an exoplanet.

It is currently live on Kickstarter. The campaign is asking for less than $2,000 US. That is a very modest goal, and one that they should meet. This is a very cool game.

Empty Space doesn’t have a board. Instead, you deal out an array of cards from the deck in whatever shape you want. It is best to start with a 4 x 6 grid with 4 exoplanet cards on one side, but you (or your kids!) can get wild with it and create all kinds of cool shapes.

On their turn, each player has a choice to either research or explore.

  • Researching consists of drawing cards from a deck blindly or choosing from a pair of revealed cards (similarly to Ticket to Ride).
  • Exploring consists of attempting to move your probe or rocket onto and across the various cards that on the array you created at the beginning of the game.

You’re trying to do a number of things by choosing between those steps and you need to balance them carefully.

  • All of the cards in the array start face down, with the exception of a few that are chosen at the beginning of the game. Players discard non-matched pairs of cards to peek at the cards or flip them over.
  • Building a probe for exploration and a rocket to eventually fly to the exoplanet you discovered requires discarding sets of four matching colored cards.
  • You can “shape the universe” and block your opponent or help yourself by discarding three matched cards. This is, in my opinion, one of the hardest decisions you’ll make as a player. You really have to be careful messing with your opponents because it can bit you in the end by making your own path more complicated.

Our whole family enjoyed Empty Space for different reasons. My oldest enjoyed the map variety and has suggested a whole bunch of differently shaped arrays. My youngest likes the ease of exploration (and messing with her brothers by putting black holes in their path). I just like a simple game that all of us can play together without any real difficulty.

Our friends at the Stay at Home Gamersgot their hands on Empty Space as well! I was able to watch their family of four play the game on a live stream. Their experience confirmed my thoughts. Their kids loved the experience and were chattering the whole time.

I love how easy it is to modify the difficulty of Empty Space. We can make it a little easier when playing with the kids and increase the difficulty when playing with only adults.

Darcy – Stay at Home Gamers

I agree with Darcy on this one. One of Empty Space’s strengths is that is plays well among different age groups. Younger kids can play it together and enjoy it without much intervention from parents or older siblings. Families with mixed skill levels can enjoy it as well.

The campaign will be live on Kickstarter for a little while longer and is definitely worth a look. Head on over!

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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Kickstarter Preview – Dungeon Drop

I’m known as one of the family gaming guys. So, naturally, I’m sent and shown a lot of games that purport to be family friendly and accessible to younger gamers.

A lot of the games we see attempt to take complex game types like dungeon crawlers, RPGs, dexterity games, etc and eschew some of the mechanics or components to simplify the experience. This approach works wonders because most kids love to play games and just need a few obstacles cleared out of their way in order to really enjoy themselves.

The Game!

Dungeon Drop achieves this simplicity in an elegant and clever way: it skips the entire concept of a game board.Look. I know what you’re saying. How, exactly, do they do that?

Honestly, the answer is so simple you are going to be embarrassed that you didn’t think of it on your own. (I know I am!) – They skip the board part entirely.

This is an animated gif illustrating the rules of the game.
This is literally the entire game.

The titular “Dungeon” in Dungeon Drop is created by dropping an assortment of colored cubes onto the play surface. Each colored cube represents a different object ranging from grey pillars (which help form the rooms) to orange keys, and green Boblins. (No. I didn’t spell that wrong.)

On their turn, each player sprinkles a few more cubes into the playing field to mix the dungeon up a bit, uses a player power based on their race or class, and “loots a room” by choosing three grey pillars in the play area and collecting all of the cubes inside the triangle that creates.

This simple gameplay loop can be taught in a few minutes and gameplay is fast. My first demo with a member of the Phase Shift Games staff took place between ordering our sandwiches at a restaurant and those sandwiches arriving. Experienced players will cruise through a game in ten minutes.

Don’t let that simplicity concern you though. The race/class combinations are enough to add variety to a game with a fixed board. The fact that the “board” changes every game based on how the cubes bounce is a bonus!

The Downside

Dungeon Drop was a fun game to play, but there is one unavoidable pitfall that you encounter when playing it with kids. Building the dungeon required dropping a bunch of tiny pieces onto the playing surface. One miscalculation when a younger player does the initial drop can lead to a HUGE dungeon, a big mess (as cubes go flying everywhere), and a challenging play experience without a yardstick.

The rules give you guidance on how to avoid it, but the risk is there regardless. I highly recommend that families add the additional house rule that oldest player at the table do the initial drop. (Trust me.)

The Bottom Line

Dungeon Drop’s asking price on Kickstarter is $16 (with a $22 deluxe edition). That’s a very good price when you take into account the amount of game in this tiny package. It’s definitely worth a look.

FCC Disclosure: A prototype copy of Dungeon Drop was provided for the purposes of this review.

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Kickstarter of the Week: Big Easy Busking
https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/weirdgiraffegames/big-easy-busking-0?ref=discovery&term=big%20easy%20busking

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

Big Easy Busking is an area control game for 1-5 players that plays in about 45 minutes for ages 8+

What is the elevator pitch? 

Big Easy Busking is an area control game for 1-5 players about being the best street musician in New Orleans. The game is played over three days, where players choose which locations to play their set of songs. It takes time to play a song, so players decide on their next turn whether they’re going to use all of their energy at the location or to only use some of it to save the rest for later songs. If a player matches the mood of the people with the song that they’re playing, they can get bonus tips!

Escalating Rounds: The game starts with three locations players can play at, but by the final round, there’s five locations so players have to choose where to play wisely! Engaging Gameplay: Players determine how much energy to allocate to each location after seeing how other players play, so players pay attention to what happens between their turns. Thematic Actions: Songs require differing amounts of energy from musicians and players are rewarded greatly for playing the songs that the crowd wants to hear.

When is your Kickstarter running until?

June 6th.

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

It is live on Kickstarter! Click here to check it out!

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

World’s Fair 1893

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

I’m the publisher, but I signed this game because it’s a really unique take on area control. In the game, you start playing your song at a crowd of your choice, but song playing takes time. So you don’t make a decision on how much energy you’re putting into the song until your next turn. This means that you have an idea of what your opponents are doing, but there’s always someone that surprises you. This makes the game so entertaining and replayable.

What was your design process like? 

I designed the solo portion of the game. My process for this always starts with trying to figure out the player interaction in the game and the different player types. Once I get an idea of the player types in the game, I try to create a different Robot that represents each player type.

I try to make the solo mode really easy to play, but still surprising. So I made the songs that Robot plays a deck of all the other player cards in the game. This created a lot of variety and it wouldn’t be known what the Robot would do, even though the Robot’s actions are easy to make happen. I then play the game over and over, to get the different difficulties right. Then I make sure that each Robot is different enough, easy to follow. Players can master each robot if you play enough and try enough different strategies.

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

Big Easy Busking is a truly unique and player friendly experience. With the wide player count and quick and intuitive gameplay, it should be a great fit for most families. Adding in the unique theme, friendly take on area control, and large amount of player interaction, it gets everyone engaged in what is happening, but not in the negative or attacking way, like a lot of games that have player interaction. 

How long has this game been in development?

Around 3 years.

What obstacles did you encounter making this game? 

I think the biggest obstacle I encountered while making this game was trying to find an artist. I really wanted to find an artist from New Orleans and I asked around and did a lot of searching, and ended up finding an artist living in New Orleans that I really liked! She agreed to do the artwork, but then had some sickness in the family that came up and wasn’t able to work on the project. I finally found an artist that I liked. Unfortunately, it was after months of searching and required going outside the New Orleans region. The final artwork seems to be really representative of the area, though, which I’m very happy about.

What did your first prototype look like? 

Cardstock and numbers! I tend to print out my prototypes, as my hand writing is terrible and even I can’t read it sometimes.

Why did you get into making games? 

I first got into games as a creative outlet, but I was hooked once I made my first prototype and saw how much fun the people that played the game had. I love being able to be part of the reason that people have more fun and I like to think I’m improving people’s lives this way.

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

Follow Weird Giraffe Games on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and Board Game Geek or visit our website

We also have a Facebook Group called the Weird Giraffe Games Insiders where you can learn all the new things about Weird Giraffe Games, participate in contests, and earn prizes! 

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EFG Podcast: Board Game Grab Bag!

This week Stephen and Amanda come together to chat about all sorts of board games!

Magic: the Gathering War of the Spark

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition – Curse of Strahd

Vast: The Crystal Caverns

Beyond Nexus

This podcast was produced in partnership with SuperParent.com!


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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EFG Podcast: Star Wars X-Wing 2.0

This week Stephen and Amanda are join by Mike Futter to chat about the 2.0 version of Star Wars X-Wing!

This podcast was produced in partnership with SuperParent.com!

Check out these awesome X-Wing Guides on SuperParent!

Star Wars X-Wing (Second Edition): A SuperParent TableTop Guide Part 1

Star Wars X-Wing (Second Edition): A SuperParent TableTop Guide Part 2

Star Wars X-Wing (Second Edition): A SuperParent TableTop Guide Part 3 

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

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Kickstarter of the Week: Crumbs

I got a first look at Crumbs at the Boston Festival of Independent Games where it won Best In Show. There was always a crowd at the table to play and near the end of the day I was able to squeeze in and see it. It was worth the wait to see this cute park themed game. Crumbs is live on Kickstarter and will run until April 21st. Check out the Kickstarter here.

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

Crumbs is an area control/take-that game that takes 30-60 minutes to play. It is recommended for ages 10 and up.

What is the elevator pitch?

Those looking to crush their friends in a winner-takes-all battle for superiority and control will be delighted to find themselves duking it out in a fresh new setting: your ordinary city park. Players take on the role of either the ducks, pigeons, squirrels, or chipmunks. Each group of animals provides its own special abilities while players scuffle over the spaces in the park. Players try to gain the best position before the big crumb drop in which 20 crumbs are dropped onto the board, spreading out at random and turning the tides of power for better, or for worse.

When is your Kickstarter going live?

Tuesday March 26th

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

Complete! Of course, there’s the never ending stream of minor tweaks here and there when striving for perfection. But the game is in a really great place and is ready for production.

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

I want to say Crumbs is one-of-a-kind (and I truly believe it is!)

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

Well one day my friend was just like “I like pigeons. I want to make a game about pigeons.” You see, pigeons are a truly underrated animal, they’re always getting the short end of the stick. Everyone is always dismissing them as dirty sky-rats, which may have some truth to it (perhaps rats are a bit underrated as well, ey?). Well we came up with a basic concept for how the game would work, and Crumbs quickly became all about delivering a ferocious battling game in the cute unassuming guise of everyday park animals. The juxtaposition has really spoken to a lot of people.

What was your design process like?

It started with a simple concept: city park, paved paths separating the territories, crumbs dropping onto the board and animals fighting over the territories to get them. That was it! It just took a lot of trial and error and a lot of iterations and rule changes to get the game juuuuust right.

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

It’s FUN. You can set it up quickly, play in under an hour, and have blast demolishing your friends and family as a cute little chipmunk.

How long has this game been in development?

About 3 whole years!

What obstacles did you encounter making this game?

So many. In game design, every time you change one little thing, the effect ripples through every aspect of it.

What did your first prototype look like?

It looked like the game Dominant Species because most of the pieces (including the box!) were from Dominant Species (fitting name, huh?). We utilized it’s wooden pieces and little wooden cubes, and drew our map directly onto the inside of the game cover with pencil. Back then there was no plastic fence pieces to keep the crumbs inside the game board, rather, we had the game board sitting inside of the bottom lid of a game box. It was so hard to see inside though! One 3D printer and many iterations later and I had a prototype as near to the real thing as could be!

Why did you get into making games?

I love playing games. What better way to spend my time than creating something I love! I want to make a variety of games that appeal to everyone. Ideas are constantly flowing and being bounced around for new and exciting projects.

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

To follow the progression of the game you can sign up for their email list at /https://www.tidbitgames.com/

Tidbit Games website: https://www.tidbitgames.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tidbitgamesllc/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tidbit.games/


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Engage! A Family Gaming Podcast:  Small Board Games to Fit in Small Places

This week Stephen and Linda talk about great board games that come in small packages… for some reason… in case you wanted to put a board game somewhere small. 

For some reason. 

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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gamewright logo

Our first stop at Toy Fair was to the Gamewright booth. We got to see a bunch of games that have just released or will be out later in 2019. One thing Gamewright is doing this year is taking two of their popular games and created new games with different gameplay elements.

Sushi Roll

For any fans of Sushi Go, Gamewright has re-imagined it into a brand new game Sushi Roll! In Sushi Roll each player rolls a set of dice and chooses which to add to their plate. The remaining sushi pass to the next player on a conveyor belt. Then each player rolls their new dice before choosing which to add to their plate. The player board lists the point values for each kind of sushi. The game includes scoring tokens as well, so players who enjoy Sushi Go, have the option to use them there as well. Sushi Roll releases later in 2019.

Rat-a-Tat Roll

Rat-a-Tat Roll is the second popular game to be re-imagined. The same aesthetic and core game element remains the same, but there is a big change, namely the board and rolling dice. The original Rat-a-Tat Cat is strictly a card game. In contrast the new Rat-a-Tat Roll game included as board that players move around, and try and gather cards with the lowest score. Rat-a-Tat Roll releases later in 2019.

This Game Goes to Eleven

Gamewright has taken this simple counting game for two to five players, which given it a light heavy metal theme. This Game Goes to Eleven is a Target Exclusive, and is for players ages eight and up. Players discard cards in their hand and add the numbers as they go. If the pile of cards is exactly eleven after you play your card, you give the whole pile to another player. On your turn, if your card bring the total over eleven you get the pile too. The player with the least cards at the end wins. This
Game Goes to Eleven is available now.

Bloom

Roll and write games a very popular right now, and Bloom is a great one in that genre. In Bloom you are trying to gather flowers of the same color and quantity as on your sheet. On your turn you roll the dice and choose which color and number best matches the flowers in your garden. To end the game, a player must have three colors of flowers where they circled all the flowers of those colors, or completed four garden beds. Bloom releases later in 2019.

Whozit?

Whozit? is a cooperative party game where there is a clue giver and the other players are trying to select a person or character from a pool of six. Players give clues by placing statements on a continuum from “definitely” to “definitely not”. Each correct answer moves a pawn along a small board, and players can see how well they have done at the end of the five rounds of the game. Whozits? releases later in 2019.

Port-A-Party

Everyone needs a silly party game in their collection, and Port-A-Party fits that bill. Players add or take away different attribute cards. The attributes are sorted by color and players try and name a person who meets all the criteria of the description, all while being timed. Port-A-Party releases later in 2019.

Punto

Tiny and in a portable tin Punto is a great game to take on the go. Players are trying to build a consecutive row in any direction of six of their color cards. Players may not build beyond a six by six grid, and can place their card on top of another players if they have a higher valued card. Punto will be released later in 2019.

Guju Guju

If you are looking for a silly game to play with young children check out Guju Guju. Fruit cards are placed face up in the center, and each player has a hand of additional fruit cards. Players do not know what is in their hands. Before flipping a card players must guess the fruit, if they are right a fruit frenzy occurs where they try and place as many fruits cards down as possible on the banans before all the bananas are covered.
Guju Guju is available now.

Quixx Deluxe

Quixx Deluxe takes this favorite roll and write and super sized it. There are now dry erase boards to mark your score instead of the typical consumable pad. The original game only plays up to five players, and Quixx Deluxe can support up to eight. An additional way to play is included in this edition, which is available now.

Twin It!

Speed is the name of the game. Twin It! has players quickly flipping cards trying to make matches. Keep a close eye out, there are 119 different patterns and some are very similar. The game also has three modes of play: cooperative, cooperative, or team. Twin It! is available now.

Dragon Realms

Gamewright is putting out Dragon Realm, which is the next chapter in the world of Dragonwood. Minimal details are available about the game. We know the name and there was a box for the game, but no specifics about gameplay or components. Gamewright is anticipating a launch of the game at Gencon in August.

Keep your eyes on EngagedFamilyGaming.com for more updates and reviews!

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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Episode 166: More New York Toy Fair News!

This week Stephen, Amanda, and Linda talk about New York Toy Fair 2019!

They talked about Amanda’s impressions of the show, Talisman: Kingdom Hearts, Hasbro, and all sorts of news from the show!

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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