132 – American History – The Family Gamers Podcast

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Gaming with American History in Mind

This episode is sponsored by Breaking Games, whose new game Order of Invention got us thinking about American history!

What We’ve Been Playing

We’ve been playing a lot, and looking forward to playing even more games on our no-children vacation!

  • Tokyo Jutaku – build within the borders specified by your card. Use exactly the number of wooden pieces specified to achieve the number of floors specified.
    The wooden pieces are oddly shaped and don’t fit together nicely, making for a very challenging game. Good for a group, not great for kids because frustration seems to be a major element to the game.
  • Some favorite children’s games:
    • Silly Street (our review)
    • Gnomes at Night (our review)
    • Chicken Cha Cha Cha
    • Tiny Ninjas (review coming soon)
  • Planetoid (a prototype from Portal Dragon) – planetoid exploration. Drill into the surface to gain resources; but drilling reveals resources around the drill site. Advanced mode gives extra goals and upgrades for the drilling skills. We can’t wait to play this one more!
  • Scarabya (our review) – our favorite part is the simultaneous play.
  • Dice Throne (from Roxley Games) – feels a bit like Magic: The Gathering with less up-front investment. Each character has some unique player powers. Most actions are based around achieving a specific dice roll. We do like the balance offered by enforcing a “stack limit” on the special powers.
  • Moveable Type (trying the solo mode) – neat word-building game themed with a famous authors.
  • Drop It – because we love it. (our review)
  • Fluff from Bananagrams – It’s just a really nice implementation of Liar’s Dice or “Bluff”.
  • The Grimm Forest – by request of the 4-year-old. One of the best “toy” games we have, so it’s no surprise he wants to play with it.
  • Most Wanted from North Star Games – It was a really good time with 7 players! Gain notoriety by committing a robbery, but other players can join in. The player with the best hand (pair, 2 pair, 3 of a kind, etc.) wins the robbery, but any others have to pay bail. You can also “duel” to take down a higher player or do “honest labor” to gain money to be able to pay bail later.
  • Magic Maze – also fun with 7 players. Silently chaotic.
  • Get the MacGuffin – a short game from Looney Labs. The more we play it the more we like it. “Feels like Fluxx” but guaranteed to be 10 minutes or less. (review coming soon)

Gaming with American History in Mind

“Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it.” Games are one of the best ways to get facts to stick. We appreciate both games that teach history, and games with a historical setting or theme that will get you and your kids talking. A few games from our personal collection that we recommend:

Colt Express (or Boomtown Bandits). These aren’t going to teach you about history, but are a great way to get your kids interested in WHY this setting exists. Why were trains so important in the 1800s? Why did it make sense to rob them?

Worlds Fair 1893 – this one is chock full of facts. You don’t need the facts to play the game, but there’s so much data there you’re bound to remember some of it.

Tesla vs. Edison – all about the war of currents! Both the setting and the gameplay will encourage learning about this important period in history.

Ticket to Ride (especially the original, 1910 expansion, and Pennsylvania map) – Speaking of the transcontinental railroad! This classic won’t teach how the railroads were built (or why) but creates a great starting point for discussion.

Discoveries – the Journals of Lewis and Clark. A great setting, putting flesh on a topic our children will certainly learn in school. Even the iconography ties into the history. Why is the activate action a script A? Because the team had to record where they went and what they found. Google Maps didn’t exist!

Andrew tells us about his “birthday game” to gain perspective on historical events. For example, which is closer to the day of his birth? World War II or the current day? The answer is WWII, by about a year.

Puerto Rico – although somewhat problematic due to use of slaves in the game, we’d still recommend it. Why not use it with teenagers to start talking about why slavery existed and was profitable?

Trivia Games that were recommended to us:

Timeline series – put events in order!

Professor Noggin’s History of the United States (trivia with various difficulty levels)

If you have a theme in games you’d like us to cover on the podcast, tell us!

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This episode is sponsored by Breaking Games. Check out their new game, Order of Invention, coming soon to a store near you.

Breaking Games: Order of Invention


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