Thoughts From The Gameroom

The ramblings of a Euro-gamer from South Dakota

Posts Tagged ‘Can’t Stop’

Food For Thought: Gaming With A 10-year-old Non-gamer

Posted by sodaklady on November 21, 2013

My daughter is dating a man with a 10-year-old son whose gaming experience, aside from video games, consists of Sequence. At least he has experience using his mind, and is learning gaming etiquette such as cheating is not allowed and how to be a graceful winner and loser.

Last weekend they were all to come over for the day but his dad unexpectedly had to work for a few hours so Cori brought Kaidan over and we showed him some games. I gazed with glazed eyes at all my gamer games, searching for some good choices for a youngster with no experience with such things. I finally grabbed Blokus Trigon and Tsuro, easy to teach, easy to understand.

Image by ealdrich


Image by merc007



These both turned out to be a good match and were played twice each.

The concept of Blokus tiles being placed only at points of the triangles caused no trouble once he saw it in action. We encouraged him to use his most “obnoxious” pieces (Cori’s term) early, and helped with finding spots towards the end.

Tsuro worried me at first since you’re given 3 tiles to choose from and I was afraid it would slow him down unbearably, but it didn’t. But I don’t think he was thinking ahead as we gamers are wont to do and that’s fine for a beginner. I chose to force him off the board earlier than I needed to, testing an important gaming skill–losing gracefully. He didn’t seem to mind and stayed engaged while Cori and I finished the game. He wanted to try again and this time, he and Cori tied, both facing the empty space once all the tiles were laid. Well done!

He wanted to see what else I had so back to the game shelf to find something else appropriate. Oh, yes, dice have not been rolled! I brought out Can’t Stop and Hey, That’s My Fish!  Can’t Stop is a game we’ve had since my kids were little so it was nice to see another generation pushing their luck. This game was also a hit and played twice, then again when his dad showed up. It is also the game that made me stop and realize the difference between a 10-year-old gamer and a 10-year-old non-gamer.

Image by Kirk Bauer

  It took Kaidan quite a while each time he rolled the dice to combine the four dice into two sets of two and come up with what numbers he could use that turn. At first I thought he just needed to work on his math skills but then it hit me: the pips are unfamiliar to a non-gamer. Whereas we look at the arrangement of little dots and immediately see “5”, he had to take the time to count them. How strange! You’d think they’d teach pips in school, wouldn’t you? 🙂


Hey, That’s My Fish! is a great family game, combining a spacial element with a simple movement system, and adding cute little penguins as well. Now if it would just set itself up!! It’s a simple game with enough depth to be a family game and a gamer’s filler game. No dice, no tricky corners to deal with, and no early elimination. We played twice and the second game was close.

Image by spearjr.

I hope he had a good enough time with these four games to be willing to play some more. This leads to me look at my game collection in a new light and since he isn’t experienced with these concepts, I can’t depend on the age suggestions on the boxes. Let me show you what I mean.

I chose two games from my collection, which seem like good candidates at first glance: Yspahan (ages 8+), and Aquaretto (a family friendly game) BTW, I don’t own Zooloretto which is why it isn’t up for consideration.

Yspahan sent up danger flags just from looking at the back of the box. Look at all the boards, each with choices to make and rules to remember.

There’s the main player board with special rules on where you can place your pieces. The Caravan track where you can score points, or give points to an opponent, so you have to balance the good with the bad. Under that is the main board used to decide which actions you will take. Lastly is the player’s personal board with buildings you can build for points and special abilities. Oh, and let’s not forget the cards you can acquire which also give you special abilities when used. This is just way too much for most 8-year-olds and even a lot for non-gaming adults. Heck, sometimes it makes MY head swim.

This is definitely out–not even on the list for the future.

Image by Gary James

Then there is Aquaretto, part of the Zooloretto family of family-friendly games but recommended for 10+ rather than the 8+ that Zooloretto states on the box.

On closer look at the rules, it seems like a game we could build up to, especially if we start with the parent card game, Coloretto, to acquire the skill to assess the loads on the trucks.

There are fewer areas to make choices in compared to Yspahan, but still plenty to keep track of for a new gamer, like managing your depot and watching other players’ zoos and depots. The hardest part, I think, would be seeing the best way to use your coins and where to place your workers. Thinking ahead to end-game scoring seems like something you acquire with experience so some of the workers won’t even make sense until he sees how they affect things a couple of times. I think 10+ is a fair recommendation provided the 10-year-old has had experience with such games.

For now, I hope the four games we’ve already played will see more play in the future. And I want to try Coloretto, Forbidden Island and Ticket To Ride as they seem the most likely next steps.


Posted in board games, Game Night, Game-related Thoughts | Tagged: , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Game Day: Aug. 14th, 2011

Posted by sodaklady on August 15, 2011

Mike and Dave showed up about 11:00, Mike with an armload of games and Dave with his left hand bandaged up and two fingers splinted. Seems he had a little disagreement with a power tool at work and just barely won.

Being one of the Sundays that Richard has off work, he joined us for a day full of games starting with Ra. We’ve been using Ra: The Dice Game as a closing game since it’s so quick and fun; we all really like it but I figured it was time to teach Dave how to play the father game. It wasn’t too hard to teach with the dice game as a reference and Dave did very well, coming in second to Richard.

Half way through the game Richard had to take a break for a trip into town to feed our daughter’s cat while she’s on vacation. During this forced intermission, I taught Dave and Mike Can’t Stop, a quick push-your-luck dice game that we’ve had since the kids were little–twenty years? I am the poster-child for push-your-luck, in this game particularly. I rarely get a marker on the board the first round and this time was no different. Dave stuck to the most popular numbers he could and conquered the first column (8). Mike was half way up several of the middle columns and I wasn’t too far behind when I decided to take 12 as one of my numbers, then stop. On Mike’s next turn, he also took a 12, followed immediately with rolling four 6s! There went my 12 column. A couple of turns later, with Dave within reach of winning, Mike had to make a serious push to steal a column from him. He rolled 7s until he took the column but he also managed to shove his way into my 2 column and take that as well! Fantastic win for Mike, impressed looks all around.

Can't Stop

This is the version of Can't Stop that I have. Image by BGG Admin

Richard still wasn’t back so Mike showed us the game he got for his kids: Carcassonne Kids. It’s a neat little game to get kids playing with you and teach them the basics of good sportsmanship, and it has wonderful artwork. It took us about 5 minutes to play by which time Richard had returned.

After Ra, I brought out an oldie but goodie: Carolus Magnus. This is an excellent game for two or three but I’ve never had the chance to play it with four in partnership. I partnered with Dave across from me, the only novice in the game, and we got our clocks cleaned quite nicely in almost no time at all. We decided to blame the dice rolls!   We talked our worthy opponents into a second game since the first one was over almost before it had begun. The second one lasted a little longer, was a bit more of a competition and we won, so it was a lot better the second time. *wink*

Carolus Magnus

Carolus Magnus in play. Image by Scott Alden

We next turned to a new game of Mike’s, Puzzle Strike. This is a deck-building game using poker-style chips instead of cards. I admit that I have trouble totally grasping these types of games on the first play mainly due to learning iconography and all the various powers available; it is a lot to internalize immediately, at least for me. And the whole “crash”ing and “trash”ing thing didn’t click for me right away so I struggled with what to do and which way to jump. I glanced at Richard and he probably had the same glazed look that I was wearing. Dave had played before with Mike so he was comfortable with it. In the end, I managed to win seemingly by default. I attacked Richard, the only choice of attack is to your left, who died and sent his extra pieces towards Dave who also died, sending his left over pieces to Mike to also died. I win as the “last man standing”. But somehow it didn’t feel very well earned.

Puzzle Strike

Image of Puzzle Strike from Sirlin Games website.

Looking at the pile of games that Mike had brought, Space Alert, Battlestar Galactica, Wealth of Nations and Stronghold, Dave spoke up with a request for Power Grid. I would never say no to Power Grid! I may say, “Mary, what the hell were you thinking starting right next to Mike to block him off?” but I would never say “no”.

See, here’s the thing: Mike is ‘the one’ in the group. You know, the one who always gets it faster, understands it better, thinks it through quicker, and conceives plans more easily. Thus, he gets picked on…a lot. THAT was the plan. Make life difficult for Mike. Unfortunately, it backfired when Dave proceeded to cut my avenues of escape down to one and it became too expensive to expand. I struggled through the whole game at the back of the pack but was finally gaining ground by the end of the game. I learned a lesson and still had a good time. In fact, my little bit of insanity was the cause of much laughter and hilarity so a good time was had by all. Richard and Dave tied for most cities powered but Dave took the trophy by having more money left.

While Richard went to feed the cat his supper, Mike, Dave and I had some excellent sausage-sweet potato stew from the crock pot and discussed life (you live, you die, and in between you try to find something you love), the universe (42, of course) and everything (we all agreed we hate Elise on Hell’s Kitchen).

By the time Richard came back, Dave’s hand was starting to hurt so we decided on just one more quick game, one that Dave was curious about, Ticket to Ride. I haven’t played  TtR much but when I do, I usually get stomped. I’m not sure why, maybe I try too hard not to fail a ticket, maybe I’m not brave enough to take more tickets, maybe it’s timing. Still, I’ve liked it well enough to get the 1910 expansion so we shuffled them all up and set out the two Bonus cards for longest track and most tickets completed. All three of my opponents started out on the east coast and left the west all to me; how nice! Unfortunately, I couldn’t get the blue cards I needed so kinda wandered around but did manage to finish the two tickets I had in the area plus one more I picked up and a couple of 6-track connections. Dave finished up in the east and joined me out west while Richard and Mike each took 3 more tickets and continued expanding their rails. In the end, those extra tickets were their downfall, both taking substantial penalties. Richard got the most tickets completed bonus, Dave connected his east and west routes to win the longest track, but I managed the win by 2 points with my 3 medium length routes and several longer sections. That’s my problem, I’ve never played in the west before! Those longer connections are a pain to get the cards for, but the points really add up.

What a great game day, I wouldn’t change a thing. Well, maybe I could have done without the hail in the afternoon, but luckily it was just small stuff and the garden didn’t suffer.

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