I haven't done a what-I've-been-playing post in a while, and, since I've been playing a lot of games with the kids, I thought I'd start there. We've mostly been playing older games from the stuffed-in-the-garage portion of my collection because I felt like the dusty old games needed a little love. Here's my take on what we've been playing.
This light card game designed by a young girl and her family has been one of my daughter's favorite games for years, and now my three-year-old son has glommed on to it. In the game, players use cards to "wake up" sleeping queens, each of which has a different point value and some different effects. The game has cute art and has players form a mathematical equation in order to discard cards. For example, a player could say, I'm discarding a four, a three, and a seven because four plus three equals seven, and draw three new cards into his or her hand. The object is to draw a king card in order to wake up a queen. Very cute stuff. I'd say that Sleeping Queens is about a must-have game for families with young kids. It is a great math learning tool, has a fun theme, and has enough take-that elements to work with the kids on not taking a game too seriously. It also has enough take-that elements to cause fights, so beware if you have extremely sensitive kids. If you want a friendlier game, the negative cards like dragons and sleeping potions (and their counters—knights and magic wands) can be taken out, leaving a math-heavy game that is still a good time.
I've got the original, larger version of this infamous action game from the 90's. In it players compete to protect their chickens from a mad crop-dusting pilot who is trying to knock them from their perch (do chicken's have perches?). It is really the only battery-powered kids game that I still like playing, and it even gets some table time on adult game nights. If you can pick up the original or the new, smaller version, I recommend doing so. The differently themed Bobbin' Bumblebees is also good, if not quite as responsive. For the record, I logged 20 games of this on my play count, but I've probably played more like 100 games this month. My little boy adores “woopin wooey.”
See Loopin' Louie in action in this tv commercial from 1993:
This kid's “racing” game could be on the “what German games could be converted for gambling?” that someone used to keep in the early days of BGG. In the game, players predict the order of finish of a group of six different-colored snails. Each player writes down which snail they think will come in first and which last. Players roll dice to determine which color snail moves forward until all have crossed the finish line. The players who picked the first place and/or the last place snails win. Since no player actually owns or controls a snail, the game, theoretically, won't cause your kids to break down in tears when their prediction is wrong. In my experience, however, predicting a snail to win is much like adopting it, and my youngest kid has gotten upset a few times when his snails didn't win. I have devised some rules to turn this into a grown-up gambling game, but I haven't had the chance to bring it to game night yet to see how it works.
I remember being disappointed with Lionheart as a game for adults when it was released. I bought it hoping for a medieval Battle Cry and got something much lighter. I would have tossed it, but decided to hold on to it for my kids to play. It's a good thing I did. My three-year-old really enjoys it, and I don't even have to simplify the rules. It is basically a move-forward-and-attack kind of game, with the opposing armies lined up on opposite sides of a grid. The combination of the archers' range and the infantry's slow movement make ranged combat completely broken, but my son and I play it unmodified, and I balance the game by taking all infantry and giving him archers. He enjoys always winning by darkening the sky with arrows, and I get to enjoy easing my son toward being my eventual Warhammer opponent.
How do I get these?
All of the games mentioned here can be purchased cheaply online. Some are out of print, but all are available on Ebay. Loopin' Louie goes for pretty random prices—up to 80 bucks—but hang around and you can get the classic edition or the smaller box edition for around 20. Lionheart is also out of print, but can be found for less than 10 dollars. Sleeping Queens and Snail's Pace Race are still in print and available from multiple retail outlets. Clicking the links in the three in-print titles will take you to Amazon where you can by the game and help support Nerdbloggers at the same time.