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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!


The video game definition this week is a term that is applicable to many well-known MMO games: Instance

Instances are a separate part of a multiplayer game for a player or small party. It is meant to create a private/small group experience. Instances often include quests or storylines, although the most common are dungeon instances. These are done with a small party (3-5 players) or a raid (as many as 40 players or more).

Thousands of instances can be ongoing simultaneously within a game, but they are unique to the party. Lord of the Rings Online instances, for example, have instances that become available at level 20, and these are primarily dungeons.

Examples of an instance is going to range widely depending on the content. Storyline progression can be instance related. Dungeon instances will likely pertain to the success or failure of the mission and the loot hoped for or received at the end. Instances are a separate part of a multiplayer game for a player or small party, and often include quests or storylines. Although the most common are dungeon instances. These are done with a small party (3-5 players) or a raid (as many as 40 players or more).

History

Term originated in World Of Warcraft, but other games not incorporate them as well. Initially the first instance of Instance combat in dungeons. It has evolved into multiple formats where you can repeat or have a single instance. In some games the first time you come to a certain encounter there is an instance which are meant to be experienced privately to convey the story.

Examples

  • World of Warcraft
  • Lord of the Rings Online

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!

The gaming definition this week is a series of terms that is applicable to video games: Raid

Pokémon Go

A Raid is a high-level challenge requiring cooperative play amongst several players, usually 10 or more. Often end-game content involves a combination of mechanics, puzzles, and/or a super boss or multiple bosses. Rewards for raids are typically higher than smaller instances such as dungeons. Some raids may also include PVP (player vs player) content.

Raids such as in Final Fantasy or World of Warcraft can be played with a premade group of players or a PUG (pick-up group). Each game has a method for group search.  Raids in MMORPG (many multiplayer online role-playing games) may require multiple tanks (character who draws the damage and can take the damage to protect other characters), healers and dps (damage dealers) in order to complete the challenge.

A quest line may be attached to raids as well, which may involve a specific action to be completed inside the raid not necessary to defeat the raid itself. World of Warcraft for example has an item drop when you defeat one of several bosses.

Examples of Games with Raids

  • World of Warcraft
  • Final Fantasy
  • Dungeons and Dragons Online (requiring 12 players)
  • Pokémon GO.

Raids are the pinnacle of cooperative play. They offer a high-level challenge that to be tackled by 10 or more players. They often include end-game content with a combination of mechanics, puzzles, and/or super bosses or multiple bosses. The rewards for completing a raid are typically higher than smaller instances such as dungeons, making them an attractive option for many players.

Let us know in the comments what your experience was like!


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Roller Coaster Challenge is a STEM single player game that is great for kids ages six and up. It includes cards with 40 challenge. This article will walk you through the process to complete a challenge. We received a request for clarification on how to play from a reader when we featured the the game in our article Games for Beginning Readers. Confessions time, I have terrible spatial relations, so I had the help of my son to complete the challenge below.

If you do not already have a copy, buy Roller Coaster Challenge on Amazon!

Step 1: Select A Challenge Card.

There are four difficulty levels Easy, Medium, Hard, Very Hard. The cards are all numbered, and each card is slightly more challenging as the numbers increase. Each card has the starting locations of some of the pieces, and the other pieces that are needed to complete the challenge are at the bottom of the card.

Pieces needed for Card 10

Step 2: Place the Starting Pieces Per the Card

Use the icons on the card to set up the initial board. Some of the icon can be confusing at first. As you get more familiar with the pieces it become faster to pull and set up the beginning pieces.

Step 3: Complete the Challenge Using the Remaining Pieces

Using the pieces listed at the bottom of the card complete the roller coaster so the ball can go from the top to the bottom. This can take much trial and error. If you really get stuck the answer is on the back of the card.

Step 4: Test Your Roller Coaster!

See if your coaster makes it to the bottom!

Final Thoughts

Now that you know how to complete one challenge, you can go thought the deck to more and more challenging setups. These steps are also applicable to other games by Thinkfun. There are an array of challenges and themes in Gravity Maze, Laser Maze, and Circuit Maze.


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

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many well-known games: Dungeon

Quest Kids has you flip cards to reveal the spaces in the dungeon

A Dungeon is a set location compromising of combat and/or puzzle elements, often with higher rewards or loot than normal gameplay. Dungeons can be a spot for characters to repeatedly have monsters spawn (enter the game), so they can gain XP (Experience Points), or it can be a single continuous narrative and combat experience. Often combat and narrative escalate in complexity and difficulty as you progress through. In some cases they culminate with a boss fight.

Dungeon Academy create the
dungeons with dice

Dungeons can be found across many types of games from card games, board games, table top role play games, LARPs, and video games of all types. Dungeons are also a common part of most MMORPG (many multiplayer online role-playing games). In Minecraft Dungeons they take the dungeon crawler gameplay and adds a boxy twist with their graphics style.

In board and card games there are many formats a dungeon can take. Often you are revealing sections of the Dungeon as you progress. There you may find loot, a monster or loot after encountering the monster.

Dungeons have been a staple in games for years, and with good reason. They offer an immersive experience that often follows a consistent format.

Examples of Board Games/Table top Role Play

  • Munchkin
  • Dungeon Drop
  • Dungeon Academy
  • Dungeons and Dragons
  • Quest Kids

Examples of Video Games

  • Minecraft Dungeon
  • World Of Warcraft
  • Diablo
  • Terraria
  • Legend of Zelda

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

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to a type of card game mechanic:

Trick Taking

The Trick Taking mechanic is one that many people have been exposed to through traditional games such Hearts or Bridge. Our family loves the card game Set Back, which was my first exposure to this mechanic. It is now found in many more games and that list is ever growing.

Trick Taking games play in “Tricks“, which are the rounds of play. While there may be variations game to game, typically, each Trick ends when all players play the final cards in their hand. Players then determine The winner of the Trick (round). In many Trick Taking games, the player to start a trick (round) also sets the suit or defined type of card needed to be played in order to win that trick. The type of card that leads is what sets the winning card type for that trick. To win the trick, the player who placed the highest value in the defined perimeters of the game that led (started the trick) wins that trick (round). However there is also a Trump, which is the card or suit which will automatically win the trick if played.

The other main rule in Trick Taking is that players must play a card of the same type/suit as the card that led the round if you can even if it is to your detriment, with the exception of Trump cards/suits.

Examples of Trick Taking Games:

  • The Crew
  • Fox in the Forest
  • Indulgence
  • Marshmallow Test

Examples of Trick Taking Games using a Standard Deck of Cards

  • Bridge
  • Hearts
  • Set Back

That’s all for this week. Be sure to check back next week for another definition. In the meantime, I want to hear from you! What is your favorite trick-taking game? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to share this post with your friends.

You can also look at our other board game definitions from previous weeks here!

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

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Lords of the land are always looking to expand the land in their domain. In Kingdomino you are trying to expand the land you hold, but must choose to land carefully as your neighboring Lords are trying to do the same.

Buy Kingdomino on Amazon

Game Overview

Kingdomino
  • Publisher: Blue Orange Games
  • Ages:8+
  • 2-4 Players
  • Playtime: 15 minutes
  • Game Mechanic: Tile Laying

Game Components

  • 4 starting tiles
  • 4 castles (3D)
  • 48 dominos (a number on one side and land on the other side)
  • 8 wooden kings (4 colors)

Gameplay

Set Up

Each round dominos player lay out, three in a 3 player game and four in a 2 or 4 player game, and placed face down with just their number showing and ordered in ascending order. Next, players flip them to show the land. The meeples are shuffled in a players hand and randomly pulled for the first turn order. Player choose in the order their meeple appears their tile for the first round. Once all players select their tile for the round, player place another row a tiles following the same guidelines. The meeple on the tile closest to the box places their land first and selects their next tile for the next round.

On their turn a player completes two steps. First they place their tile according to connection rules (explained below). Then move their meeple to the next row of tiles to make their selection for the next round. There are 12 rounds in a 3 or 4 player game and 6 rounds in a two player (since players take two turns per round)

Connection Rules

  • Players must build a 5×5 grid, and each domino is considered two squares.
  • The domino may connect to their starting tile (which is consisted a “wild ” and any landscape can connect) or another domino that has one or both landscapes matching. These can connect horizontally or vertically.
  • If a domino can not be placed to either the starting tile or a tile with one landscape matching it is discarded and cannot score points.

Scoring

The areas of the same type of land only score if there is a crown (or crowns) on one or more of the tiles. To calculate the score players take the number of land tiles of that type and multiplying my the number of crowns in the same land area. The player with the highest score wins.

Family Game Assessment and Final Thoughts

Kingdomino is a award winning game for a reason, simply it is an amazing game. It won the 2017 Spiel des Jahres (Game of the year) among an impressive list of nominations and awards across multiple countries. This is a game that is easy to learn and hard to master. The rules are simple and easy to teach a child or novice in just one turn.

While Kingdomino lists the target age of players as 8 and up, there is no reading involved in gameplay. We found that it scales down to about age 6, especially if the child have experience playing a range of games. The 15 minute play time helps for younger children too.

This is also a versatile game to travel with. The tiles are nice and heavy making it a good game to take to a picnic or camping. The box is on the smaller size, and while not pocket or purse size, it is easy to pack for a trip or game day. The short play time and simple rules also help to make this game is a great addition to any game collection.

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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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to board games:

Meeple

Meeple refers to tokens used to represent people, animals, or creatures in board games. Most commonly they are wooden, and the typical shape is like a person. However, they are also found in a huge range of animals or other shapes as well as a range of materials.

The Meeple has become a ubiquitous symbol of board games. Gamers can find many items to decorate their game spaces with Meeple art or objects. Meeples come in a huge range of games and serve a range of purposes within games. Some examples of their application in games can include: marking the players location on the board, as a score tracker, to mark and effect on the board, or claiming a tile.

Wooden Meeples from Fire in the Library

History

The word Meeple come from the blending of “my people” in reference to the game Carcassonne. The term Meeple emerged in 2000, and credited to Alison Hansel for creating the word. In 2015 Meeple was added to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Dragoon Meeples
Metal Dragon Meeples from Dragoon

A Few Examples of Meeples in Games:

  • Fire in the Library: “typical” meeples
  • Dragoon: Metal or plastic dragons
  • Carcassonne: Where it all began
  • King Domino
  • Fire Tower: Rising Flames Fire Hawks (Featured in cover photo above)

So there you have it! Our guide to meeples. Whether you’re a seasoned gamer or just starting out, we hope this article has helped introduce you to the wonderful world of meeples and shown you how much fun they can add to your gameplay experience. Sound off in the comments and let us know your thoughts on our favorite gaming token! Do you prefer wooden ones, like most gamers? Or do you like something a little more flashy and eye-catching? We want to hear from you!

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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!

The EFG Essentials

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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you find confusing and we will try to include them in future editions!


NPCs

The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to many well-known games: LARP

LARP is an acronym for Live Action Role-Playing. It Incorporates physical action, improv, cosplay, and roleplay into a single event. Players inhabit a fantasy world at a set location in real-time, and can be based in a wide variety of genres.

LARPing involves social interaction with players and NPCs (non-playing characters). LARP events will require specific costumes and props to further the set environment. More experienced players will likely be better outfitted for LARPing events having collected gear over a longer period of time. New players can purchase supplies at various stores and online sites. LARP organizations such as Alliance have forums to guide new players. Preparation: character creation, backstory, props, costuming, etc. assist players with fuller immersion into the event.

A PC attacking an NPC

References can be similar to tabletop role-playing questions, general gameplay, character class and race choices. Parents may need to assist with forum surfing, costuming. As with sports or a new instrument, it is advisable to invest minimally at first to ensure your player is interested enough for larger financial investments.

LARP Found in Shows and Movies

There have been TV shows and Movies, not all that are family friendly, that have depicted LARPs. Our experience is that some aspects that are portrayed are quite accurate and some are not, as one would expect in a fictional story.

Examples

  • Supernatural
  • Hawkeye
  • Role Models

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

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Playing games can evoke strong emotions in players of all ages. Sportsmanship can be challenging for some children as they are learning to play games, as well as learn to manage their emotions. Parents do not despair if your child struggles when they lose a game. Learning good sportsmanship is a critical life skill and board games can help support this development.

One common challenge for many kids is that they are highly competitive. This competitiveness plays out in a few behaviors or challenges when playing games (whether they are video games, board games, sports, or games in Gym class or on the playground). The main challenge is that they “need” to win, and some children struggle when they do not win.

With a few strategies and some planning, you can support your child’s development of good sportsmanship.

Teaching the Expected Behavior and Strategies

It is not intuitive for children to know how to cope with strong emotions and they benefit from learning strategies and social expectations. There are a few ways to support their development of these skills and strategies.

  • First and most importantly the adults and other kids playing need to consistently model being a gracious winner or loser. This is key, because kids often imitate what they see.
  • Share your thoughts and emotions regardless of whether you win or loose. By sharing your feelings of disappointment when you loose and at the same time being calm and a good sport.
  • Plan beforehand what to say to the winner or to fellow players if you win. Kids need to have a script to follow at least to start. By knowing what to say, they can have an appropriately response ready without escalating the situation.
  • Strategize coping with strong emotions. Kids have strong emotions, as do adult, but many kids do not know how to cope with their strong emotions. You want to try and begin with situations which will minimize creating strong emotions and the increasing the potential for more emotions. Before sitting down to play a game, reminders of belly breathing strategies as well as appropriate behaviors when upset (such as hitting a pillow).
  • Plan what to do and say and practice by roleplaying.

Be Selective with the Games

Choosing games thoughtfully and with your child in mind can really help to build success and support their development of sportsmanship. The time a game plays and the game mechanics (how the game is played) can drastically impact the way it is received by the child.

Cooperative Games

To eliminate some of the competition cooperative games are a great option. The players work together to win against the board. A great example of this is the game Hoot Owl Hoot. In this game players are trying to get all the Owls back to the nest before the sun rises. Everyone works together to meet this goal, and if they don’t succeed they just don’t succeed. Since everyone works together there is not the same “sting” of loosing.

Short Game Play

If you want to incorporate competitive games, try to find short games that can be replayed quickly. By having a short time investment, they can be played multiple times. So if the child does not win, they can immediately try again. The short games also have less emotional investment due to less time investment.

Time and Patience

New skills take time to acquire and habits can take four times as long to extinguish. It will take many repetitions and many sessions of practice to internalize the new skills and strategies when playing games. Being competitive can be a great asset, kids just need to learn social expectations and how to self regulate.

Suggested Games for Preschoolers

  • Hoot Owl Hoot (cooperative)
  • My First Castle Panic (cooperative)
  • Bandits Memory Mix Up (short game play)
  • Hiss (short game play)

Suggested games for age 5 to 7

  • Zombie Kidz (cooperative)
  • Too Many Monkeys (short game play)
  • Cauldron Quest (cooperative)
  • Dragomino (short game play)
  • Happy Salmon (short and silly game play)

Suggested games for 8 and up

  • Forbidden Island (cooperative)
  • Blockness (short game play)
  • Pandemic (cooperative)
  • Last Defense (cooperative)

For Older Kids

  • Chonky Donkey (Short and Silly for ages 12+)

Final Thoughts

So, the next time you see your child visibly upset from a game, know that it’s all part of the process. Congratulations! Your child is learning how to manage difficult emotions and develop important life skills. Board games can help support this growth – and luckily for us parents, they provide tons of opportunities for teachable moments.


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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Every week the EFG staff will be defining a gaming term that is either confusing or ill-defined. Please leave a comment with any terms you are confused by and we will try to include them in future editions!


The gaming definition this week is a term that is applicable to video games:

Battle Pass


A Battle Pass is a collection of rewards and cosmetics that slowly becomes available through play over a set period of time. These collections are often available either through real-life or in-game currencies and are often paired with rewards that are free for all players. 

Battle Passes reward players who consistently play throughout the month, with rewards that renew on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. Battle Passes are often priced so that they can be purchased using real or in-game currency.

Fortnite Battle Pass

The Battle Pass’s name originated in Fortnite, but most major free-to-play multiplayer games have integrated some variation of a Battle Pass into their play and reward offerings.



Examples:

  • MTG Arena Season Pass
  • Fortnite Battle Pass

So, what do you think? Are Battle Passes a good way to keep players engaged and coming back for more? Or are they just another ploy by developers to get more of our hard-earned cash? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to check out our other blog posts for more great content like this.

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

You can also look at our other video game definitions from previous weeks here!

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!

The EFG Essentials

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