Leveling Up: Moving on to more Advanced Family Board Games

In the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:11, it states that “when I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways.” This could easily be adopted to represent the transition between “childish” games and “adult” games, where the level of objectives and strategy go from simple to overly complex. While we are not yet at Star Wars: Armada, Twilight Imperium, or War of the Ring levels of gaming, if we keep this up, I bet we get there a little sooner than your average family.

The girls are now into games that take an hour to set up… I am so proud.

Every family starts out with some basic games for their children, with Hi Ho! Cherry-O, Candy Land, and Chutes and Ladders being some of the typical ones. Luckily, because their Dad is quite the (board) gamer, the girls have been playing Haba games for most of their lives.

Their very first Haba game, The Little Orchard

These are a little more complex than the aforementioned games, but are still tailored towards children. Our favorites are Unicorn Glitterluck (Gabriella), Rabbit Rally (Elaina), and Tiny Park (me).

Tigey is down right now, two games to one.

But eventually, every child moves on from the beginner games to something a little more difficult. We started out with Guess Who? and Trouble, but even those were a little too simple for what we were trying to accomplish. Plus, the girls were getting pretty mad at each other during Trouble when one would knock the other’s piece back to the beginning.

B4… did I get a hit?

Elaina let me know that she had been playing chess at school, so we immediately went to the store to buy her a travel chess set. We have been playing a lot since then, using a handicap system so that I do not just go easy on her. She has been playing a lot with Gabby lately, but the latter is still trying to work out how every piece can move.

Just like my iPhone, they probably understand this better than I do

When we were at the Tyson Wells Game Store in Quartzite (one of my favorite AZ game stores), Elaina found a game called Magic Market. While it looked a little complex for the girls, I purchased it in the hopes they would grow into it. Not only did the girls understand it right away, strategy and luck of the dice both come into play, so there is no foregone conclusion that I am going to win.

Elaina “Buying Low and Selling High.”

They picked it up so fast that they quickly (and correctly) taught their friends to play it. Now it is their go-to game when they have people over.

My family playing board games while my students take the GRE… just does not seem fair.

About a year ago, we spotted a game called New York Zoo, but given that it seemed pretty advanced for the girls, I held off on purchasing it. Similar to Tiny Park, the game involves collecting Tetris-like tiles and placing them on your game board. You also collect animals to populate your zoo (such as flamingos, penguins, and kangaroos) and breed them in order to get smaller tiles (which you need). The winner is the first to fill their zoo completely with tiles. The girls absolutely love it because there are several different strategies you can use to develop your zoo. While I won the first game, Elaina went all-in on breeding animals the second game and beat us pretty handily.

How on earth does she keep beating me at these games?

Grandma bought them a game called State the Picture which involves getting the other players to guess the state based on your drawing or clues (ex. if the state is Texas, you could draw a cowboy hat or the Alamo).

This was “Washington.” Makes sense to someone, I guess.

While we are able to play it, it is pretty difficult for both of us. Elaina does not know what makes each state unique or their specific landmarks / attractions and I find it pretty difficult to get her to guess states like Iowa, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. But after ten minutes, I got her to successfully guess Rhode Island, so win! It will get easier for both of us in a few years, so hope is not lost.

One of the best-looking games ever.

Truth be told, I bought Fireball Island: The Curse of Vul-Kar, not for the girls, but because I wanted it. I received the original game for Christmas sometimes in the 80’s and was ecstatic that it got an update. While we have never played the game according to the rules, the girls love setting it up and rolling fireballs at the characters. The rules are significantly more complex than the original, so we will definitely play it for real once the girls get a little older. Now I just need Torpedo Run, Crossfire, and This Game is Bonkers to be updated so I can run out and buy them too.

Almost ready for the real thing

We also purchased Catan Junior, as it is more complex than most of the proceeding games and certainly a gateway to adult games. Being perfectly honest and a little ashamed, I have never played Settlers of Catan (yes, well aware it is a major gap in my gaming knowledge). After reading the rules, we played a game, with Elaina coming up with the win after I took my foot of the gas for a few turns. The game is pirate-themed, with ships and forts as the miniatures, so it was fun to look at while we were playing. It was also not as complex as I assumed, as it was really just rolling dice, choosing cards, trading supplies, and building ships or forts. Highly recommend it if you trying to get your kids into more advanced games.

Wait… what just happened?

After playing Monopoly Junior and Monopoly Deal, Elaina and I decided to try the real thing. Even though it was the “tutorial,” Elaina just destroyed me. She not only purchased one of every property group (and got a monopoly with the utilities), but I seemed to just keep landing on her properties, Go to Jail, or Free Parking (with no money attached to it). Well, at least she learned how properties are mortgaged via me going bankrupt. Next time the financial gloves are off though, so hopefully I can get my dignity back.

Yes, we know you beat Dad at Monopoly. No need to put it in gif form.

While we are not quite ready to play Star Wars: Rebellion, the girls are slowly on the path to adult games. As you can tell from this blog, it has been amazing watching the girls grow through the years, especially when they begin to take an interest in my hobbies. Their continued interest in board and card gaming definitely makes me happy, even if the games are a little simpler right now. But in five to ten years, after we complete our first game of Axis & Allies: Global 1940, it will all be worth it.

I should probably start reading the rulebook for their bedtime stories

Thanks for checking in on us.


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