In a world where board games have become more complex, wide-ranging, time consuming and certainly big business as a socially driven pass time for adults, we often overlook the fact that there was a time when games were just for kids. They are an integral part of education, they develop co-operation and team work, mental and sometimes physical skills, promote problem solving and logical thought. So instead of focussing on the more complex end of the board-games arc, here are seven of the best games for your pre-teen gamers.
Knowledge is often best absorbed when the learner in question doesn’t realise that they are actually learning and that is the great thing about Robot Turtles. Every player or Turtle Master, takes a turtle and a matching deck of cards which are stacked face up in piles. A maze built out of walls and containing a jewel provides the play area. The players take it in turns to draw a card and move their piece accordingly or better still have their parent move. As they move they build a series of instructions, or a program, on the table.
What the kids are actually learning about is programming. They are the programmers, giving commands and driving the turtle, the parents are the computers executing the commands for them. They may not realise that they are learning the fundamentals of programming, but they will enjoy bossing their parents around, just as real world programmers boss computers around.
This may be a bit obvious but its a classic for a reason and Monopoly has come a long way in recent years. The original game is based around real estate, the chance to play the property tycoon, invest in houses and hotels and pitch your wits and luck against not only other players but the random events of life.
Where Monopoly earns its place in the more serious gaming world is when it started morphing and mutating into new versions. There have always been versions specific to the country it is being sold in, but recent years has seen the choice of game theme sky rocket. The basic game play from one to another remains the same but you can play in worlds depicting everything from Star Wars to Angry Birds, dinosaurs to Elvis or any one of 1140 other options!
The art of any good game is to combine rules which are quick to learn, is to implement yet allow for strategic depth. It is why classic games such as Chess, Checkers and Go are so popular and you can add Elementos to that list.
The game world contains three elements Fire, Water and Tree. The world is balanced in the same way that the game Rock, Paper, Scissors is (or Rock, paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock for those fans of The Big Bang Theory! Fire takes tree, tree takes water, and water takes fire; everything is in harmony. The strategic element comes in with the fact that the tokens depicting these are two sided and can be flipped during game play. Also the tokens have the ability to carry the wand and the first person to battle his way through his opponent and get the wand to the other side of the board is the winner. Simple, engaging and concise.
Sagrada is a game best described as stunning. The concept is fairly simple and reveals around placing dice onto a grid to replicate the design and building of a stained glass window. Following a series of public and secret objectives, the players place randomly rolled dice, matching or avoiding number and colour combinations as the game dictates to score the most points. It is a game based about mathematic thinking and logic but what is really captivating about the game is just how visually gorgeous the whole playing experience is. Dim the lights and backlight the playing area and you have a truly captivating game.
Splendour sees the players take on the role of renaissance merchants and is based around buy gem mines, developing means of transportation, opening shops and trading. More free-form than a standard board game the game play revolves around collecting gems and buying cards as they build their way towards wealth and prestige.
The game takes a fairly strategic and abstract route and like many games of this sort requires the player to use their imaginations to bring the role playing element to the table.
The ancient world comprises of 7 great cities and the players must guide one of them through three ages developing it commercially, socially and militarily. The game is essentially card collecting and trading game but expanded into fairly intricate game play. As the game plays out it will simulate the rise and possible fall of each cities fortunes, will pit neighbouring cities against each other and will replicate all the historical twists and turns of ancient civilisations.
If you are a fan of on-line empire building games then & Wonders takes the essence of such and turns them into a simpler and more social version of the same.
Catan, formerly known as Settlers of Catan, sets its players on the island of the same name and a map generated randomly to reveal various resources available. The players must then try to become the dominant force on the island by collecting these resources, building roads and settlements, raising armies, trading with other players or interacting with the outside world via ports.Not only do you pay against each other, you play against randomly generated game obstacles such as robbers and hopefully moving ever forward to meet the victory conditions of the game. Catan has come to be regarded as a classic amongst fans of builder games and rightly so. An elegant blend of simplicity and strategy means that is a go to game for all serious gaming groups.