Last week I was feeling the gaming urge rather strongly. Unfortunately all my regular gaming sessions had been cancelled, and even Mike turned my suggestions of an impromptu two-player game of something.
So in a fit of desperation shallowly disguised as parental involvement I asked my 8 year old son if he would like to invite some of his friends over for a games night.
I play a lot of board games with my children, particularly my son. However I’ve never really played with a larger group of kids before and so I was a little nervous about how well it would go down. A group of 8 year old boys aren’t the easiest of cats to herd, and my track record of tolerating other people’s children is patchy at best.
I needn’t have worried however as the night went very well indeed.
I think its success can be attributed to choosing a variety of short and engaging games. As much as we gamer types like to point to Mice and Mystics and Forbidden Island as being great kids games; the amount of concentration needed can sometimes be a little too much for the younger end of the age range; especially if they’re giddy about being with their friends.
All the games I brought to the table went down very well; but two in particular were standouts.
The first big hit was Rampage – a board game version of the classic arcade game from the 80s. In Rampage you are a monster who’s sole purpose in life is to smash things up, eat as much as you can, and try to knock your rivals on their arses. Which, when you think about it, is pretty much the life of an 8 year old boy too so its success with the lads shouldn’t have been a surprise.
However Rampage is an awful lot of fun, even for grown ups. It has a surprising amount of tactics to it considering it is a game where you are flicking wooden discs around and knocking over buildings by dropping model monsters on them.
There were very few tactics to be seen on this games night however, especially as I simplified the rules somewhat by taking the special powers cards out. The game quickly degenerated into a joyful free-for-all of wanton destruction with little to no regard for scoring points. Which to be fair is probably the way its best played.
The other big success of the night was Snake Oil, which is a party game I’ve reviewed here in the past. In Snake Oil one person takes the role of a customer, while the others try to sell them a fictional product made up from combining two words from cards in their hand.
Snake Oil is a firm favourite of both my son and my elder daughter, and so I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at how well it went down with the boys. At points they were literally crying with laughter at the products they were coming up with. And when one of them drew a card that said “Burp” I thought they were going to have an aneurysm.
Other games that we played were Tsuro, Dobble (or Spot It for the chronically non-British), and a nifty little German worm racing game called Da ist der Wurm drin. All of which were met with exuberance, enthusiasm and good sportsmanship.
There was no incidences of whining, and only one episode of crying (when I misjudged the mood and accused one of the boys of looking like a chimpanzee). When it was time to go home all three lads were disappointed it was over and all asked to do it again as soon as possible. Which is an idea that I’m pretty much in favour of myself.
What games would you play with a bunch of 8 year old boys?