Games We Love – August 2018

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Hey folks! I haven’t posted much recently. The last few months have been a wild ride as a family of 5. (Maybe some day the whole family can get together for some 5-player games! A gamer dad can dream, can’t he?) Fortunately, despite being busy with our newborn, I’ve been able to have some fun with the older kids this summer. Here are the games we love for the summer of 2018!

Games My 2yo Loves

CHUGGA CHOO!

We are not getting into “real” games yet, but we are setting the stage.

As I touched on in my last edition of Games We Love, my son is getting to the age where he’s interested in having some structured play time in the evening before bed. It’s a positive reinforcement for good behavior (which doesn’t always happen). And, while we are not getting into “real” games yet, we are setting the stage. Chugga Choo! (from Peaceable Kingdom – a Mindware brand) is a fun puzzle where up to 4 parents and/or children can piece together their own train, then fill them with various whimsical cargo (in the form of illustrated white wooden tiles). It’s very cute, and can facilitate learning shapes, words and counting. My only gripe is that, while the pieces are high-quality, they fit together a little too tight and it can be difficult to put trains together on carpet. (But, rarely is doing puzzles on carpet a good idea.) Like Where’s Bear? from a recent post of mine, Chugga Choo! is more of an activity or toy than an actual game. But, I have no qualms with that, and my son loves it!

games we love
I like to have robots and cupcakes on my train. (Photo from mindware.com)

Games My 4yo Loves

DINO DUDE RANCH

Dino Dude Ranch caught me by surprise a bit. At first, I wasn’t crazy about the art, and I thought it was the type of game my kids would love while I would simply tolerate it. But alas, I backed it on Kickstarter because I like the creator and I have a soft spot for dinosaurs. Little did I know I would enjoy it as much as my daughter! She loves the baby dinos, I love feeding eggs to the oviraptor; To each their own.

At its heart, Dino Dude Ranch (2-5 players) has you rolling dice for food resources, then using those resources to attract dinos from the communal “hunting grounds” and onto your personal ranch. There are some interesting decisions to be made, but a lot of luck as well; Most importantly for families, the barrier to entry is very low. Once the kids get comfortable, the optional “hired hands” cards bump up the complexity a notch.

If DDR interests you, I strongly recommend the expansion too. While, in general, I am in favor of expansions for my favorite games, I don’t often refer to them as “must-have.” The Hatchlings expansion for Dino Dude Ranch is one of those rare “must-have” expansions. The eggs and the dino baby/parent dynamic are essential to my family’s enjoyment of the game. (BGG link)

games we love
What else would you raise on a ranch? (Photo by Heath Washburn – DadKingdom.com)

CENTURY: GOLEM EDITION

This one is a bit of stretch in terms of difficulty – not a game intended for children by any means – but my daughter cannot get enough Century: Golem Edition! Even better, my “gamer” friends enjoy it as a fast-paced “filler” game. While the primary edition of Century is titled “Spice Road,” I consider the Golem Edition to have a superior theme, better artwork and better components. Initially intended to be a one-off special release, it has become so popular that Plan B (the publisher) has had no choice but to sell it with broader distribution.

The mechanics are simple. Start with a few gems, and do your best to acquire conversion cards, acquire more gems, and convert the gems you have into better gems. Then, appease the golems with a specific combination of gems that they desire. A wonderful gateway game that plays up to 5 (perfect for when my sons grow up)! I highly recommend it. (BGG link)

games we love
Golems want nothing but gems, a well-known fact. (Photo by Heath Washburn – DadKingdom.com)


Games Dad Loves

Okay, enough about the kids. From time to time, after a long day and after the kids are tucked into bed, dad likes to play heavier fare. Periodically I play with some buddies and coworkers, or sometimes I take advantage of games that include solo rules (mom isn’t a huge fan of games, but the kids and I are working on her).

HIVE POCKET

games we love
Bugs in a bag. (Photo by zombiegod – boardgamegeek.com)

Hive is a satisfying chess-like abstract game for 2 players. But, unlike chess, Hive is fast, portable and thinky. It’s like a knife fight in a phone booth. I can routinely play 3 games during a single 1-hour lunch break.

Players start with one of their pieces touching an opponents piece. No gradual approach or build up, just instant conflict. Then the hive grows as bugs are added to it and the hive transforms organically as bugs move around. The goal is to surround the opponent’s queen bee. But, players must never break the monolithic arrangement of pieces. Compared to the original, Hive Pocket has slightly smaller – but still pleasingly tactile – pieces, a wonderful travel bag, and a couple bugs that were previously relegated to mini-expansions. (BGG link)

7 WONDERS

I owe 7 Wonders a lot of credit for getting me interested in boardgaming as a hobby, and a lot of the blame for the money I’ve spent buying board games over the years. Yet, despite its relative age in modern boardgaming – 2010 [gasp] – I’m still delighted to play it each time the opportunity arises. The play time is quick for any number of players, the decision space is not overwhelming (you only interact with your adjacent neighbors) and there’s no downtime (you’re always either drafting or activating cards).

Also, I really enjoy the Cities expansion. I wouldn’t place it in “must-have” territory, but it introduces some fun wrinkles to the mechanics without altering the nature of the game. With or without expansions, 7 Wonders is an evergreen game in my collection. (BGG link)

So, there you have it. A brief glimpse into the games we love and the ones which have been getting the most plays recently. If you liked reading Games We Love, share it, comment below and all that good stuff. Happy gaming!

Dad Kingdom was not paid for this article. However, free promotional product was received for some but not all the mentioned game titles. Dad Kingdom earns revenue through AdSense advertising and also receives a small commission percentage from purchases made through Amazon links. For details, read About Dad Kingdom.

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