Thursday, 28 November 2013

Top Twelve Games - As Chosen By a 5 Year Old (part 1)

It's getting towards the end of the year, a time for reflection, for looking at what we've done over the past year, and what we want out of the new year. 

But rather than that boring stuff, it seemed like a much better idea to have a look at our game collection and see how Benji ranks them. Plus I've just listened to Tom Vasel's rant about games with children, so it seemed like a great opportunity to create a list of my own. In total I gave him 22 games to chose from, and this is how he rated them. Bear this in mind when you ask "why isn't Game X on the list, it's awesome!"

Cue the Eric Summerer voice -over!

Number 12 - Dungeons & Dragons: The Legend of Drizzt (honourable mention)
This box is huge!

Why 12 games? Simply because Benji insisted on having this (and the next game) on his list, but didn't want to remove anything else!
It wasn't a surprise that this game is in Benji's list - I've been wanting to sell it for ages, but he won't let me. We don't play this very often - partly because it takes quite a while to play, partly because my wife will not play it, and partly because it requires quite a lot of space to play, and the floor is now out of bounds due to a one year old in the house!
This is one of three games in the D&D Adventure Game series; Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon being the other two. All three of the games are mainly co-operative adventures, with random dungeons created by drawing tiles from a stack as you explore.
Each time you explore a new monster is revealed, and if you don't explore an event is triggered (which are usually punishing).
Combat uses a simple roll of a D20, trying to hit a target number.
Personally I think the game is too long for what it is, but Benji likes it enough for it to (almost) make his top 10 list!

Number 11 - Takenoko (honourable mention 2)
Cuteness! And a good game too
Ahh Takenoko, possibly the cutest game ever to have been made. How can you take one look at that cute panda and resist wanting to play? Seriously this game just looks amazing on the tabletop - from the cute panda, to the hard working gardener, and the way that stacks of bamboo grow as you play and add a real tactile element, makes this a feast for the eyes. You can keep your '3D HD' television, this is the real thing.
Thankfully this is not just style over substance. There's an enchanting game here, full of decision points that are simple to explain, and easy for children to get to grips with. It's no surprise that Benji insisted on including this game.

Number 10 - Forbidden Island
Can you get the treasure before the island sinks?

This is another game that looks visually appealing on the tabletop, and it's components are durable enough to survive small hands - with the exception of the cards which could be ruined easily. It's also really inexpensive to buy and comes in a relatively small tin, so it doesn't take up a lot of shelf space.
This is another co-operative game (you'll spot a theme here), and there's always something to keep the children engaged. I'm a little surprised this didn't come higher up the list, it would probably make my top 3.

Number 9 - Dungeon Roll

Dungeon Roll is a new game for our collection, which is possibly why it features this high - I think Benji is definitely a card-carrying member of the Cult of the New!
Like Forbidden Island, Dungeon Roll is a very inexpensive purchase, and this takes up even less space on the shelf. Game play is essentially a press your luck dice game, but with quite a few decisions to be made during the game. It can play up to 4 people, but honestly this is a game that is best as a 2 player game, or even a solo game. Great components, great presentation, and a fun little game.

Number 8 - Augustus
Don't judge a game by it's boring cover

When I first saw a video of Augustus (or Rise of Augustus as it's called in the US), I was under-whelmed. It didn't seem all that interesting or exciting.
Well, I'm happy to admit that i was wrong - this is a phenomenal family game, playable by very young children. It also plays up to 5 players, and there's no real advantage for adults.
You see, Augustus is basically a version of Bingo - no, don't stop reading!
It's a game that takes the Bingo mechanic, but makes it fun. Unlike Bingo, this is a game where there are decisions to be made every turn. It has simultaneous game play, so there's never a chance for children to disengage and get bored. It plays in around 20 - 30 minutes, which is perfect for a family setting. Definitely a great choice for this list, and a game I would recommend to any family.

and finally.....Number 7 - Mice & Mystics

Mice and Mystics is the 3rd co-operative game of this half of the list, and is one of my favourite games to play. It would probably be a little higher on the list if we played it more - and if I could get Hayley to play it.
It has a long play time, but it's actually quite easy to have "save points", where you can note down progress and return to the game at a later date.
Of all the games listed, this is the adventure game that captures the imagination the most, and really draws you into the story. In fact I've used the story book included in the game as a bedtime story before.
Very highly recommended.

So - there we have it, the first half of the top 12 is done - and what a nice mix of games.
3 Co-operative games
3 Fantasy games
1 game set in Japan
1 game set in ancient Rome

What will make the top 6 games? Let's see your predictions below, and come back in a few days when the rest of the list is up.

Until then, Happy Gaming!


  1. Great selection!

    I'll have a guess.... I predict that the top 6 include:

    7 Wonders (I've read your earlier work!)
    King of Tokyo
    Ticket to Ride
    Castle Panic
    Survive: Escape from Atlantis
    Sleeping Queens

    By the way, I completely concur on your comments on games 7 to 10. They mirror my experience very closely. I think the point about no downtime in Augustus is especially noteworthy.

    (I do have, but we haven't yet played, 11 and 12.)

    I'm going to have to do this with my two boys!

    PS Disappointed to hear that the D&D Adventure games isn't a hit. I was intending to bring it out now that we have "completed" M&M. But maybe it will work better for us - after all, we don't agree everything eg Castle Panic / FlashPoint.

    1. Indeed - give it a go, especially if you have it already. Also remember that Benji loves it, it's me that doesn't :-)

      And you've got 3 right out of 6 - not bad going :-)