Little Gamers: 3 Board Games to Play with Kids

So as it is approaching my sister’s birthday, I found myself thinking about what should I write for the occasion. My sister is getting older now, even though for me she will always be little – even though now she can pick me up and beat the crap out of me if she wanted to…So, not so little then. Then I thought to myself, before she became an angsty teen – and before I moved to the UK – we used to play lots of board games together, cause she still thought back then that me and my parents were cool and was not ashamed of spending sometime with us. Sadly for her, she is a very sore loser, and had a tendency ever since she was tiny to get really annoyed if she didn’t win. However, there is a few that I remember she was very keen to play always; and I thought to myself, I haven’t really chatted about some cool board and card games to play with lil ones. So here we go.

Pickomino: now, this game for us is actually called Piko Piko, because for some bizarre reason, in Spain the German name of the board games just stick around. Piko Piko is a great game for everyone to be honest: we have played it in our big gaming sessions with my and my parents friends and it’s just fun. But it is even better to know that you can also play it with kids. I think the game recommends the children to be 8+ to play, but my sister played a bit earlier than that (with some assistance). The mechanic is very simple: you have some domino like pieces with numbers and drawings of worms on them. Depending on the amount of worms, the higher the scoring value, whilst the actual numeric value of the card is just what you require to roll to obtain it. You roll the dice and you can only keep those of a matching value (whichever you fancy), and then you keep on rolling until you run out of dice, you are bust, or you are happy that the amount you have rolled is sufficient for you to grab one of the tiles. It is, in essence, a very basic gambling, risk-taking game. All you really need to keep track of is what are you rolling and what number you are trying to obtain, the rest is just the availability of the pieces. At the end of the game, whoever has accumulated the highest number of worms, wins. Simple. And it plays to a substantial amount: 2-7 players.

Cuckoo Zoo: or Cocotaki (again, the German name…). Once again this is a very easy-going game. It is a bit like UNO. You have a deck of cards with animals and colours and you must play to suit the colour or animal, BUT unlike in UNO you MUST make the sound of said animal card, otherwise you mess up and take cards. The only time when you don’t make animal noises is with the red cards, unless you are playing a red cockerel in which case you very happily go and say “Cocotaki!”. And when you run out of cards; you win. Dead easy. Now for kids this is fun, cause how often do they get to see adults and others make funny noises such as “mmooo”, “oink oink” and the likes? The suggested age for the kids is 5+, which to many sounds outrageous, but it really isn’t, seriously. My sister was rocking it around that age – like I said, it isn’t complicated at all. And the amount of players that can join in is very generous: up to 10. So, children’s’ party? Birthday? You are essentially sorted.

The Dwarf King: (El Rey de los Enanos or Le Roi des Nains for those of you who don’t have the English version). This is something that you could technically play with a normal deck of cards: but this has Dwarves, Goblins and Knights, which is considerably more fun! So, you have cards and these little slabs. The slabs determine the special bonuses of the round. The cards are numbered as in your average poker set, as well as some special cards that have interesting abilities. You play 7 rounds, new slab on each round, and a special card. Then you play your hand in tricks, where the highest card wins the trick. When you all run out of cards, you count and tally your points and repeat for the next round. At the end of the 7 rounds, whoever has more points wins. The mechanics here a bit a more difficult perhaps, and the box does say this is for 10+ children. However, I guess it depends on the case. I was playing ordinary card games with a normal deck with my great grandparents at the age of 8, so just judge whether the kids would be able to follow the process. It is a bit more restrictive in terms of number of players, however: you need a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 5.

In any case those three should be plenty to get you started and get the little ones hooked up on the magic of board games 😉

Hopefully they won’t get a salty as my lil monkey :p ( I love her, honest!).

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My Top 5 WWII Games

We may be seeing a bit of a comeback in WW2 videogames soon, what with the new Call of Duty going back to its roots, perhaps influenced by Battlefield’s decision to aim in a similar direction with their WW1 setting. So if you fancy trying out some of the best WW2 games that are currently available, then allow me to share with you my favourites!

1. Red Orchestra 2: Heroes of Stalingrad

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Now with these lists I generally don’t intend to rank the games in any particular order, and the same goes here, with the little exception of this game. Red Orchestra 2 is perhaps my favourite WW2 game and First Person Shooter of all time. Despite being released in 2011 and reasonably old now, it still holds up. The gameplay has such a good mix between realism and enjoyability. The graphical and sound design are brilliant, with some of the best modeled weapons, and best weapon sounds I’ve ever seen. Even the voice acting is top notch, with the team you’re playing as speaking accented English that somehow doesn’t sound cheesy, and the enemies speaking either Russian or German. The combination of the fast yet thoughtful and deadly gameplay, the necessity of team cohesion from squad to commander level, and realism where it counts is a brilliant combination.  Continue reading “My Top 5 WWII Games”

Gandalf is Actually a Dwarf

I come here today to spread some of my utter nerdiness and knowledge acquired through my fun but painful PhD. Part of my research of course involves looking into Tolkien and his effect in medievalism; the vast majority of the time from the perspective of the Vikings. And as Alex has gone all high brow lately with his etymology, I decided; “hell, isn’t that what I do anyway?!”.

So, you probably would be thinking: “what is she going on about? How can Gandalf be a Dwarf?!”. Well, I mean he isn’t exactly a dwarf, but then, the terminology is confusing. As you may know, Tolkien took a lot of inspiration from Norse mythology whilst creating Middle-earth…In fact, the very name Middle-earth is what Midgard means in English: the land in the middle which isn’t Asgard, Nilfheim, or any of the others. Norse cosmology includes nine realms, and Midgard is just where the humans live. It gets its name from the fact that it is somewhere in the middle of Yggdrasil – The tree of life. Okay, so that was some easy trivia which you probably knew already. Same if I ask you the name of the dwarves from the Hobbit right? Okay let’s see if this list rings a bell: Continue reading “Gandalf is Actually a Dwarf”

4 Tiny RPGs Good for a One-shot

There are a lot of RPGs out there that contain a lot of words and rules and stuff.  I know that a good system of rules and setting info can really structure a game and give you something to sink your teeth into, but it can sometimes be freeing to get rid of everything but the bare essentials; the DM, the players, and the premise. This is especially true when you just want a quick game at short notice, or a one shot.

Because this games don’t have a lot of structure to work around and build on, they could potentially be a bit difficult for an inexperienced DM to run, especially if they aren’t fairly confident with their improvisation skills. However, with the right DM I think these games can show off the silly fun that can be had with an RPG in a far more easy to digest way for newer players. Rather than giving someone the impression that RPGs are all about numbers, loot, and killing things, these games show off the side of RPGs that are about teamwork, inventive problem solving, and just having fun by telling stories with friends!  Continue reading “4 Tiny RPGs Good for a One-shot”

To Bard or Not to Bard? 121 Guide on How to be The Cool Kid with thyne Lute

This is something that bothers me endlessly, and lately there has been a few conversations or situations where the topic has come up and I’ve really decided to put my foot down for once and for all. It is no surprise in the geek circles I move, bards always get all the crap thrown down their way – ALL the memes in the internet are about bards did or didn’t. Bards are useless characters. Bards can’t fight. They can’t think either, cause you know, apparently the only stat they know how to use is something charisma related and sometimes not even that. Bards are no good in social situations, they certainly are not made for politics, or war…God damn it, so What Are Bards Good For?! :0

Well, guess what?! The true answer is EverythingIF you know how to use them.

It all comes down with how people play games, and how many, many people choose to play bards cause they think it would be cool and adventurous…or that is what they tell their mates. In reality these people ain’t got a clue and would just try to see if they can get away with the rock star behaviour, cause that seems like a legit enough connection to reality. This is the way everyone’s idea of a bard in an RPG looks a bit like Assurancetourix (which for some bizarre reason in the UK is called Cacofonix?! missing the joke btw, cause in French the name sounds like assurance tout risque o assurance tous risques – an all risk cover on your insurance policy…But hey…).

Admit it: you are the kind of horrible human being that just laughed and thought of a friend because of the many, many times something like that has happened in-game. Well let me tell you, if that how you think this works, you don’t know how to rock n roll – which for sure means you immediately do not qualify for the job!

Continue reading “To Bard or Not to Bard? 121 Guide on How to be The Cool Kid with thyne Lute”

How to make your own Pokémon game!

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Right off the bat, this was a tutorial I wish existed back when I was eight. Or eighteen. I’m almost twenty-eight and I’m still pretty hype to see it. Today we’re going to plough through how to make your own Pokémon title in the most convenient way possible!

Some of the gamer-savvy folk out there might remember a lot of hype last year surrounding a fan-game called Pokémon Uranium said to contain all new monsters, regions and storylines. People got pretty pumped for its eventual release after NINE years in development! And once it hit the web it took less than an week for Nintendo to send the Mushroom Kingdom’s legal department to shut it down. Of course, once it’s on the internet, it’s always on the internet…

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So what exactly was Uranium if it wasn’t an official Nintendo release? Continue reading “How to make your own Pokémon game!”