242 – Room to Grow: Deduction Games – The Family Gamers Podcast

Episode 242

Room to Grow: Deduction Games

We are really happy to be back after a week off. This week, we’ll be talking about deduction games and how to introduce them to your children.

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242 Fact! 242 is the area code for The Bahamas.

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What We’ve Been Playing

5 Minute Mystery (Wiggles 3D) – a fast moving, timed cooperative game. Even more challenging than 5 Minute Dungeon.

Unmatched: Little Red & Beowulf (Restoration Games) – Little Red is really fun and has a lot going on.

Carcasonne: The Castle – a 2-player-only version. Walls form permanent boundaries, and the scoring track gives bonuses that can shake things up.

Fruit Passion (Eagle Gryphon Games) – gave Andrew performance anxiety. This is a memory game unlike any other we have played. Make columns of fruit; get one of each number to score well, but if you duplicate any numbers in a set, you’ll get zero. “I enjoy? playing it, I think?”

Quatorze (Eagle Gryphon Games) – set based, themed around sevens. Every suit has seven named things in it! Every suit has a special power that effects other cards. Jockey back and forth for position as you play cards out to a central tableau.

Hedgehog Haberdash (HABA) – with an actual preschooler! Super cute and highly recommended. Did I mention cute?

Metro X (Gamewright) – our review.

Merchants of Magick (Rock Manor Games) – we are really enjoying this, but it won’t be out until the fall.

The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land (HABA) – Check out our review.

Mountains (HABA) – It remains a regularly requested game for our youngest. It feels “grown up” but is very approachable for younger kids. (Our review)

Backgammon – Anitra had not played it in a decade or more, but finding a vintage set has encouraged the kids to learn.

Rivers, Roads, and Rails (Ravensburger) – lay cards to continue the path(s). Whoever can play all their cards first, wins. Not a lot of strategy, but pretty good for younger kids.

King of 12 - fuzzy with die in foreground

SNAP Review – King of 12

A game of dice and cards that’s mostly played in your head. Social deduction with something concrete to focus on (die values). Match cards, or die values, or points, to cancel out completely…

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Room to Grow: Deduction

Our goal with Room to Grow is to help you bring your kids through a series of games that grow in complexity.

Sometimes you want to help your kids grow into the games that you really want to play.

This time, all three games we are including are kid- or family-weight games, but we think they still provide a good framework to gradually learn more skills and play with more complexity.

What is deduction? The dictionary says it is “Deriving a conclusion through reasoning from available facts.” But it’s also about removing options to get to an answer.

For Beginners: Outfoxed!

Outfoxed

You are chickens trying to find exactly which fox stole a pie. You’ll need to eliminate options, based on the facts you uncover, to figure out the identity of the thief. There are other options that work for young kids, but this is our favorite. Why?

First, kids don’t have to figure out “good” questions. Unlike Guess Who? or Dinosaur Tea Party, this game will direct the players exactly into a specific set of information to start eliminating possibilities.

Second, there is a tactile element to the game. Moving the fox down the path and slotting clue cards into the special reader will help anchor the experience, especially for kids. Having something to touch and manipulate is better to maintain attention than simply speaking out loud (ie. “do you have this?” “no”). You can set things up and have a grand reveal – building that anticipation is fun!

Third, Outfoxed! is cooperative. Since you’re all working together to solve the problem, no one feels left out. Nobody has to feel like they’re failing, or “bad at” deduction, because everyone can help each other. Deduction is definitely a skill that has to be taught, and cooperative games make that teaching easier.

We reviewed Outfoxed! from Gamewright and highly recommend this as a starting point for deduction games, especially with pre-reading kids.

Up a Level: The Grimm Masquerade

Grimm Masquerade

This is another good game for kids and anyone who isn’t a deduction expert, while being a bit more challenging.

Let’s start with the theme: you’re at a masked ball full of fairy tale characters, and you’re trying to figure out who everyone is.

The Grimm Masquerade gives you more agency in your choices (keep a card or give it away, choose to accuse other players or not), while keeping most data out in front of you.

You have the power in your hand to force someone to admit whether they are or aren’t a certain character.

There’s a lot of room for growth within the game itself. Start simple with just deduction, using only Artifact cards and “pointing the finger”. As your family grows into the game, you can teach more skills, adding the wagers and special abilities.

The Grimm Masquerade is a logical deduction game, but you can treat it like a social deduction game if you want to. Kids can throw out wild accusations, and it will only hurt a little bit. They won’t end the game by making a bad guess, and it can still be part of the learning experience.

Although this is not a collaborative game, most of the data is out on the board for everyone to see. So it’s still possible for adults or experienced players to give tips, walking kids through the steps of what they know and what they don’t know.

We reviewed The Grimm Masquerade from Skybound Games and recommend it for families to play together.

Grown Up Deduction: The Key series

The Key deduction games from HABA

This series of games from HABA uses a grid format, much like logic matrix puzzles. Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land is the easiest and most kid-friendly in the series.

Importantly, not everyone is using the same clues, even though everyone is looking for the same solution.

This is not a game where you can help your kids, unless you play in teams. (We really enjoyed playing in teams with our kids!)

One of the things that’s great about these games is that they are neither turn-bound nor time-bound (not really). You’re much better off taking your time and working through the clues methodically.

Since everyone is trying to solve the same puzzle, you don’t even have to compete! Points are nice, but you can drop the points entirely and give high-fives for everyone who got the right answer.

The grid/matrix style of logic puzzle makes this very challenging, so we would recommend it after mastering simpler games.

We reviewed The Key: Sabotage at Lucky Llama Land from HABA and recommend it if you want a layered deduction challenge.

More Deduction Games!

It wouldn’t be The Family Gamers without honorable mentions. If these specific games don’t feel like they’re quite the right fit for your family, we have some more suggestions!

For pure deduction with begrudging cooperation, we really like Concluzio.

Hanabi is completely cooperative, but also requires some sequencing.

Purrrlock Holmes is a mostly-cooperative game that’s a bit more complex than Outfoxed! with a lovely noir theme that’s still completely kid-appropriate.

5 Minute Mystery (as mentioned in the first half of this episode) is very challenging since it’s so strongly time-bound. But it plays in under 10 minutes, so it’s great to pull out when you only have a short time.

SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?

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