Onitama: An Elegant Exploration of Strategy

Onitama

Board games can be intense. One of the most hotly anticipated games of this year comes in a huge box with hundreds of pieces. Poring over rulebooks has become as much a part of the fun as playing the game for so many players. Layers upon layers are used to create incredibly complex and rich gameplay experiences that can last for hours on end.

Into this fray steps Onitama, an abstract perfect information game from Arcane Wonders. » Read more

69 – The Family Gamers Podcast – Top Video Game Gifts for 2017 – with Stephen Duetzmann

Top 10 Video Game Gifts for 2017

Welcome Stephen Duetzmann from Engaged Family Gaming this week! Since EFG has already released their holiday gift guide, we decided that Stephen would be an excellent resource for our listeners. We present our top ten(ish) video game purchases for your family this holiday season.

What We’ve Been Playing

Stephen has been really enjoying Tail Feathers with his older son (11 years old). It’s their favorite move-minis-around game. We should get back to Mice & Mystics soon.

We all loved Boston FIG, and re-visit a few of the games we first mentioned on our post-BFIG episode. King of the Hat reminds Andrew a little bit of a game called Gang Beasts (another over-the-top brawler game, but not as appropriate for kids).

Anitra has been playing more BOO, a great game for $5. See our review.

Stephen asks about Dairyman, which we really enjoyed (and reviewed).

Speaking of fighting games, our kids have not yet tried Street Fighter on our SNES Classic, but they love Super Punch Out. Stephen gives some excellent advice on how to introduce Street Fighter (or similar fighting games) to children or anyone who hasn’t played them. Start with move, jump, and ONLY ONE attack button that you all agree on (ie. “heavy kick”). This will teach strategy and positioning, and gives opportunities to learn fighting skill without having to grasp the special moves (ie. fireball).

Andrew’s first try on the SNES Classic was Starfox. Anitra’s was Mario Kart.

Bob Ross Art of Chill – it’s a game that is “mechanically neutral, and therefore relies on its theme”.

Top Ten Video Game Gifts

Toys-to-life: most of them are well-designed for kids, and the older styles are aggressively marked down, making them an excellent deal – as long as you don’t need the online features. Our favorite is Disney Infinity; Stephen’s is Skylanders (Superchargers version). We’re not a huge fan of LEGO Dimensions; it’s much more expensive even though it has been discontinued.

LOVERS in a Dangerous Spacetime: an excellent co-operative game, and no one player is dragging the other(s) along. Note: LOVERS is an acronym, and the spaceship is powered by the “ardor reactor” and the power of love. The actual characters are cute bunnies/frogs/etc. ($15)

SNES Classic (mentioned above). An excellent value for the money, and it will introduce your children to video game history. Nearly all of the games included were groundbreaking when they were first introduced and have stood the test of time – true classics. ($80)

Nintendo Switch: it’s an excellent time to buy it. Between Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Super Mario Odyssey, this is an excellent buy for your kids. A home console that is also a handheld seems too good to be true, but it really does work and is sturdier than it looks. ($300 + games)

Note: if you have Amazon Prime, you get 20% off pre-ordered video games. What a deal!

Mario Kart 8 Deluxe: among other things, it has accessibility controls that actually make it possible for a 2 or 3 year old to really play! This may be added to the Smith family Christmas list, even though we already have Mario Kart 8 for the WiiU. Especially since with the Switch, you and your kids can play it anywhere. ($60)

Splatoon 2: A great way to introduce a third-person shooter to your kids, without any of the PvP violence usually associated with shooters. And it will help your kids develop the skills they will want when they grow up and want to play Call of Duty. ($60)

Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle: A turn-based strategy game. Not a great introduction, but great for moms & dads who grew up playing Final Fantasy Tactics, XCom, or other heavy strategy games. It’s a challenging game, but also inviting. Not for everyone, but perfect if you enjoy strategy games and would like to be able to play in front of and with your children. ($60)

Rocket League: if your kids want to play something that looks more grown-up. Adults and older kids can hone skills; young kids can have fun driving up the wall and bouncing the ball around. ($20-60 depending on platform)

Compromise games:

If your kids are getting old enough that they really want to play Call of Duty, Gears of War, and other M-rated shooting games, you could compromise with one of these T-rated games instead.

Star Wars Battlefront 2: You are a clone trooper or rebel trooper. The dead just give off sparks. This version introduces a single player story mode, but the first version ($20) is also good. TURN OFF VOICE CHAT in multiplayer. ($60)

Overwatch: cartoony, but some blood. Avengers-style heroes battling. Another T-rated shooter. TURN OFF VOICE CHAT. ($40)

Horizon Zero Dawn: story-driven. This would be the compromise versus Assassin’s Creed Origins. There are some bloody parts and some language, (rated T for a reason) but the rest is killing robot dinosaurs. ($50)

More game suggestions:

Minecraft: The only reason why we haven’t gotten Minecraft for our kids is because it’s so hard to stop once you start, and we limit our kids’ screen time. Educational, creative… if you haven’t heard of Minecraft, we’re not sure what else to say. ($20-30)

Cuphead: It’s basically an old-school cartoon made consumable in the form of boss battles. Tamer than some Bugs Bunny cartoons, surprisingly! It’s really hard, but simple to learn. Failure is built-in but obvious; if your kids can handle a game with a lot of failure, it could be a great option. Rated E10+ (mild language, fantasy violence) Also note that it is a Microsoft title, therefore exclusive to Xbox ONE and PC. ($20)

 

We hope you enjoyed the show and it gave you some ideas for your holiday shopping! Whether you liked the show or not, we would love your feedback. Leave us a comment on the show notes, on iTunes, or your podcast catcher of choice.

Find more from Stephen Duetzmann at engagedfamilygaming.com and Engage! A Family Gaming Podcast. Interact with the EFG community at engagedfamilygaming.com/community

Until next week, play games with your kids!

Super Hack Override – Proxy Swap Your Way to Supreme Victory!

Super Hack Override Logo

“There’s a war out there, old friend. A world war. And it’s not about who’s got the most bullets. It’s about who controls the information. What we see and hear, how we work, what we think… it’s all about the information!” – Sneakers, 1992

For some of us, it’s quotes like these that are about as close to hacking as we’ll ever get. Maybe we’re not that into computers, or maybe we don’t have the drive to dig deep into the source code that runs the digital parts of our lives.

But for some people coding day-in and day-out is a living. Breaking down firewalls, slipping through sockets, and running clandestine scripts get their fingers tapping and their pulses racing.

» Read more

Bärenpark: A Koala-ity Family Experience

Barenpark

It’s time to bear down and start building! This week we take a look at one of the hottest games to come out of Origin this year, the tile-laying game Bärenpark from Lookout Spiele and Mayfair. We’ll tell you whether it’s a universally koality* experience, or if we think it’s a bit more polar-izing.

» Read more

Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail

Don your deerstalker hat and grab your magnifying glass! This week IDW Games brings us Purrrlock Holmes: Furriarty’s Trail, an adorable take on deduction and cooperative gameplay that puts you in the role of a new inspector at Scotland Pound. Is the stalking of our felonious feline worth the trouble? Should you take the time to track these criminal critters? Let’s take a look!

 

» Read more

CAMP: The Family Pastime

CAMP Box

We went camping this past weekend, and what better way to celebrate camping than to play camping themed board games? This week we take a look at CAMP: The Game that Grows With You, the Dr. Toy award winning game from Education Outdoors. CAMP has a lot of features that are really appealing, but do they come together to make a compelling experience, or does the mix of mechanics create a natural disaster? Let’s take a look and find out.

» Read more

PAX Unplugged is Going to be Huge!

PAX Unpulgged 2017, Philly PA

You will not believe who is going to be at PAX Unplugged this year. If you haven’t heard of PAX Unplugged, it’s the inaugural PAX convention focused solely on our favorite hobby – tabletop gaming!  We’ve lamented the shrinking analog section of PAX East over the last few years, and now we see why it’s been happening! PAX Unplugged will feature some of the best board game publishers in the world. In fact, check out the incredible list below. I know! I’m exhausted just looking at it!

We’re not on the list because we’re not exhibitors, but we’ll be there! This is going to be such a blast!
» Read more

What’s Up and Strawberry Ninja – Short and Sweet!

What's Up and Strawberry Ninja

This week, we take a look at a pair of short, simple games from Strawberry Studio, What’s Up and Strawberry Ninja. Strawberry Studio’s mission is to “enrich the world of gaming with a line of smart, fun and easy to play microgames for families and friends”. Do they succeed with these two titles? Let’s dive in and find out.

 

» Read more

Outfoxed! – Cooperative Logic for the Littles in your Life

Outfoxed!

The clue-scouring gumshoe has always been a role masked in mystery and intrigue. Hardly a role for kids usually, mysterious detective tales filled with riddles and enigmas are designed to confound even the brightest observer. Enter Outfoxed, a lighthearted cooperative whodunit game from GameWright aimed squarely at a younger generation. Somebody stole Mrs Plumpert’s pot pie and it’s up to the team of young detectives to find out who it was before they get away! Is Outfoxed outstanding, or is it insipid? Let’s find out.

» Read more

Ark & Noah – A Game Drenched in Biblical Themes

Ark & Noah Board

Crashing lightning, booming thunder, and thousands upon thousands of gallons of water pour from the sky. The drumming of torrential downpour on the roof of the Ark is calming in its regularity, as the unending rows of matched pair animals bray and paw nervously. There is a loud creaking as the rising water level begins to lift the massive boat off its perch, a dry dock in the middle of the desert. You’re in Noah’s Ark. But how did you get here? Are you Shem, Ham, Japheth, or are you the patriarchal head, Noah himself?

» Read more

Fight for Olympus: An Epic Battle!

Fight for Olympus Cover

Unbelievable tales of legend filled with debauchery, treachery, and heroism make the stories of the Greek gods fascinating to anyone who enjoys a good adventure. From the snakes of Medusa to the rippling muscles of Hercules, to the near invincibility of Achilles, every hero and villain captures our imagination with their epic tales of adventure, victory, and heartbreak.

With virtually countless characters to draw from, it’s a small wonder we don’t see more games in this setting. Fight for Olympus, released last year by MayFair Games and Lookout Games, puts the Greek roster to good use. One of the gods has died and you are fighting to ascend Mount Olympus and assume their recently vacated post. But will Fight for Olympus yield a mountaintop experience?

» Read more

Wise Alec: Family Trivia Game

Wise Alec

In 1982, a few newspaper editors came together to eventually create a game that became a household phenomenon. Using a non-linear board that facilitated stumping friends with trivia questions across various disciplines, Trivial Pursuit became firmly entrenched in the cultural zeitgeist of the United States. But for Gen-Xers and Millennials, it existed as a game with impossibly difficult questions and nebulous goals. What was the point of the game? Although the game mechanics were approachable and understandable for all ages, the needed knowledge made Trivial Pursuit difficult to play for all but the most knowledgeable adults.

Griddly Games seized on this mechanic with the release of their family trivia game, Wise Alec. With a similarly styled board and a wealth of trivia questions to bear, does Wise Alec capture the charm that created a household name? Let’s look and see. » Read more

PAX East 2017 – Jammed Up Studios

Jammed Up Studios Logo

We met up with Adric Polkinghorne of Jammed Up Studios who was showing off their soon-to-be-released game Think of the Children! – a cooperative parenting simulator. Think of the Children is a hilarious, and perhaps a little too-close-to-home look at the zany life of parenting multiple children. Check it out!

 

PAX East 2017 – Gamewright

We caught up with Nora Meiners of Gamewright Games at PAX East 2017 and talked about some of their big games at the show.

Sushi Go Party
Dragonwood (Check out our review too!)
Imagine
Forbidden Island
Forbidden Desert
Bring Your Own Book

Check it out!

 

 

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