236 – Babies and Boardgames – The Family Gamers Podcast

boy holding large dice

When did you start playing games with your kids? And how do you get started if you haven’t played with them before – no matter what age they’re at?

Fact: We found 2 Lego sets that had 236 pieces. Both Star Wars: A New Hope Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder and the LEGO Friends 2020 Advent Calendar have 236 pieces!

(Think this fact was lame? Send us a better one for an upcoming show!)

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What We’ve Been Playing

My City (KOSMOS) – adding a legacy aspect to a simultaneous tile-laying game has helped move the game along and keep trying again and again.

Via Magica (Luma / Hurrican) – we reviewed this last week.

Jurassic Parts (25th Century Games) – splitting the play area and then divvying up the tiles feels unique, although it did remind us a little of Ursa Miner.

The Grizzled (CMON) – this cooperative game is a little weird at two players, but a great addition to our homeschooling.

Side note: Andrew recommends “Valiant Hearts: The Great War” as a video game that explores World War I.

ION: A Compound Building Game (Genius Games) added to the science portion of our homeschooling.

Deblockle (Project Genuis) – really digging this two player game, even though Claire always wins.

Cat Tower (Renegade Games) – more on this in the SNAP review.

The Manhattan Project (Asmodee) – worker placement game to harvest yellowcake, turn it into uranium and plutonium, and create atomic bombs. You can also bomb your rivals’ buildings

Magic: The Gathering – because our son always wants to play.

Timeline: Discoveries – We’re finding these really tough for upper elementary age range. Can’t recommend them for homeschooling unless you’re using them with middle or high schoolers.

Cat Tower game box

SNAP Review – Cat Tower

Super adorable, but how does this dexterity cat game stack up?

Read the transcript or watch the video on the SNAP review page.

Welcome to The Family Gamers Community!

We welcome new members to the Facebook group.

Start Playing Games at Any Age: Babies and Beyond

This started with a question on Facebook:

How did you start playing games with your kids? And how young were they?


Let’s start with talking about our own kids. When we started the podcast, our oldest was 6 years old. It was odd playing games with her because she learned to read and count at a very young age; so our struggle was finding games that accommodated a short attention span and kept rules simple.

We didn’t really give any of our kids the option to play games or not – we just did it. Games like Zombie Dice, Castle Panic, and Pyramix were already hits with our kids (then 6 & 3) when we started the podcast.

Zombie Dice was probably the first “big kid” game that we introduced to any of our kids, because it’s a very simple press your luck game.

First: Know your kids (abilities and interests).

We would have made different recommendations when our kids were very young, since we didn’t know what their abilities really were yet.

Second: Start simple. No winners necessary.

Roll dice, taking turns and comparing the numbers. This is enough of a game for most kids 4 and under!

Games like the Thinkfun Roll & Play cube or Silly Street are still about simple actions and taking turns, but not really about reaching a goal and declaring a winner.

Then you can start introducing games with more choices (Zombie Dice, Go Away Monster, Animal Upon Animal) that are still short and about enjoying the experience of the game. HABA and Peaceable Kingdom are both great for games that hone in on specific skillsets. (See our series with Chrissy Wissler on HABA games.)

Classic ames like Memory and Go Fish have an important place here.

Third: Take out complexity and add it back later.

We did this with Robot Turtles, but Sarah Parikh (in our community) describes doing this with My First Animal Upon Animal with a baby – she raced to see how much she could build before he’d knock it down.

Many “My First” or “My Very First” games do this for you, but you can do it yourself, too.

You can also make a few decisions for your kids to make a game flow a little more easily.

Fourth: Don’t make it a chore if they’re not interested.

This is important at any age, whether young or old. Don’t push too hard! We can expect them to participate, but we can’t force them to love something just because we love it.

But what about older kids, teenagers, or adults?

You don’t need a “simple game” but it should be simple for them to understand. Theme will help you a lot here.

Examples: MegaLand will make a lot of sense to a videogamer. For someone who enjoys fantasy baseball, Baseball Highlights 2045 captures a lot of that (trading, stats, etc.)

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