I was asked for kids games recommendations for a four year old. I have played quite a few, mostly two player, games with my daughter, who is now 6 and a half. Most of the these are fine for the very youngest kids, especially if you adapt the rules:
* Viva Topo! – Clever little race game. Not as good as I thought it would be. Probably better with more.
* Snail’s Pace Race – Totally non-confrontational and very simple, which is very important for their first multiplayer games.
* Schildkrötenrennen – Good, Knizia racing game. You have to keep secret which is your racing tortoise, which is a struggle for very young kids.
* Rüsselbande – Alex Randolph. I prefer Schildkrötenrennen.
* Piratissimo – Nice components, but this race game takes too long and has almost zero skill. Nevertheless my kids often ask for it.
* Monkey Madness – Works for the youngest kids. Small and simple. Highly recommended.
* The Kids of Carcassonne – Quite good, but you might as well buy regular Carcassonne and play simplified rules.
* The Kids of Catan – Beautiful components and simple enough for the youngest kids, but large and pricey.
* Happy Families – My kids love playing with me and my wife. The oldest designs are usually famous for a reason.
* Gulo Gulo – Not quite as good as it’s rated. The core dexterity game is great, but the game surrounding it isn’t so good.
* Giro Galoppo – A great first racing game.
* Flinke Flitzer – Fine for the youngest kids.
* Enuk – Inelegant game design. Not recommended.
* Elefun – Lovely dexterity game. Excellent, but you’ll lose all the floating shapes.
* Click Clack – Excellent for very young children. Beautiful components. Vast, poorly made box. My kids love it – even though I’ve had enough.
* Chateau Roquefort – Another inelegant design. Probably better with more than two.
* Chicken Cha Cha Cha – Excellent memory game. I played this with a few friends and they want to buy it for the kids in their lives.
* Capt’n John – Not much of a game.
* Buckaroo – Old favourite. More of a toy.
* Barnyard Critters – Stressful speed game. My daughter suggests this, but she nearly blows her top when she’s playing.
* Au Backe! – OK memory game, with lovely art, but a bit clumsy. Chicken Cha Cha Cha is better.
* Let’s Catch the Lion! – Lovely introduction to Shogi/Chess. My girl likes it, but it’s a challenge.
* Loopin Louie – Excellent dexterity game, but we lost all the plastic coins within a month.
* “Piccobello”:http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/24656/piccobello – Lovely little game for the youngest children. Highly recommended.
* “Wooly Bully”:http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3243/wooly-bully – Played this a couple of days ago with my daughter. Not bad but better with four.
* “Villa Paletti”:http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2596/villa-paletti – My kids enjoyed this very much. Jenga but more interesting.
My daughter Hellie will be five in August, so she can now handle games for six year olds without too much prompting. “Chris”:http://twitter.com/ctd gave me a valuable rule of thumb for kids games, in that the age on the box is for when kids can play the game together _without adults_.
This is 6+ on the box, but Hellie struggled. It is an elaborately produced big-box game themed around teams of mice competing to find cheese in a castle using four action points per turn. The castle has sliding floors and pit traps to make it interesting, but strangely no cats. Hellie will find it easy in about six months and it will be a lot of fun sliding each others mice and the cheese away from each other. Unfortunately the box is big and it is expensive, but you get what you pay for.
Horse racing along a short course with obstacles using a dice deck – six cards numbered from 1-6. Hellie got the hang of it and it is good for her counting.
“Sac Noir”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/1231/bausack (Bausack)
We played the simplest variant, Tower of Babel, where you collaborate on a tower. The person who knocks it over takes a bean and the first person to five beans loses. This was the major hit out of our recent games. Hellie got very excited about balancing towers. This will get a lot of play. I have the Sac Noir version, which is hard to get hold of. Looking at the pictures on the Geek, I might as well have got the cheaper white Bausack version.
“Highly Suspect”:http://www.boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/5694/hochst-verdachtig (Höchst Verdächtig)
I read about this unpronounceable game years ago in “Bruno Faidutti’s review”:http://www.faidutti.com/index.php?Module=ludotheque&id=110 and finally picked it up at the Essen flea market. Hellie enjoyed this, but it was tough for her to see how the tilting board would move the little men. I am not sure how much longer the rocking cardboard base will survive, but I am very happy I have it as it is a very original game. This deserves a reprint – although you can find copies on “German eBay”:http://spielzeug.shop.ebay.de/i.html?_nkw=%22H%F6chst+verd%E4chtig%22&_sacat=220&_odkw=%22H%F6chst+verd%E4chtig%22.
At the beginning of the year, a friend put in a bulk games order. In the interests of speed, I had to order games in advance, not knowing if they were in stock. In the past I had been completely unsuccessful in getting childrens games and this time I was determined to get some, so I ordered way too many, only expecting to buy a few. _Naturally_, almost all the children’s games were in stock, so I had a £266 games order.
Comments below on the games I have played:
* Twilight Struggle: Deluxe – I have waited years to buy this and now I can’t find an opponent.
* Chicago Express – Excellent stuff. Keen to play again.
* Chicago Express: Narrow Gauge & Erie Railroad Company
* Money – See “my previous post”:http://cheyne.net/blog/2010/04/galactic-emperor/.
* By Golly! – Nice memory card game with chicken poo. My four year old girl (Hellie) likes it.
* Chicken Cha Cha Cha – Memory race game. The better you memorise the cards, the faster your chicken moves. Can go into stalemate, the box is too big and it’s expensive, but the components are cute.
* Circus Flohcati
* Gloria Pictoria – I thought this was a game for very young children, but it’s for 8+. I didn’t realise it is a remake of Get the Goods, an excellent game, so I’m not upset.
* Pickomino – See “my previous post”:http://cheyne.net/blog/2010/04/liberte/.
* Enuk the Eskimo – For 5 years and over, but this worked for Hellie. Lovely components and they get to learn about the food chain – even if it is yet another memory game.
* Click Clack – This is very popular with both Oscar and Helena. The components are lovely, but the box is massive and opens accidentally too easily. It is almost totally luck based, but the magnetic food stash discovery is irresistible.
* Barnyard Critters – Hellie likes this pattern recognition card game very much, although the speed aspect gets her a bit too overexcited before bed.
* Chateau Roquefort
* Giro Galoppo
It will be a while until we need to buy a new children’s game.