Tabletop Games in a Digital World

I came across this article from a few years ago this week, which provides a good introduction to some of the benefits of tabletop games in the family context. As well as the benefits of gaming, you’re getting some time for positive family interactions, storytelling, and giving everyone a bit of time in the spotlight.

A few boardgames I’ve really enjoyed over the past few years (yes, I play a lot more than just D&D!), are worth a bit of attention, so I’ll try to give a bit of perspective on ones that work particularly well with interesting kids. We’ve just signed up as a reseller of books and games, so if you are after something, drop me a line and we can sort you out, but we won’t be selling to the general public, just getting in things by request.

Pandemic – this game has really entered the mainstream over lockdown, and there are very few people who haven’t heard of it yet, or even played. If you’re one of them, give it a go! There is the standard first edition, various expansions and themed versions, as well as a quick version (great for those with a shorter attention span!). Pandemic is a cooperative game, where every player had different abilities, and the challenge is for teams to work together, using their special skills, to save the world from multiple pandemics.

There is also a version you can play on your iPad! This is brilliant for learning the game, as it only permits allowed moves, and does all the card shuffling and setup for you. We connect the iPad to the Apple Tv, so that the active player takes control of the iPad and passes it to the next player, and the others can see the board on the big screen. This is a great opportunity to model (and encourage) respectful discussion and collaboration – no one voice should dominate!

If you’ve played and enjoyed Pandemic, and are up for a bit of a challenge you can sink your teeth into, there are also three “legacy” games. The legacy game is a concept it took me a little while to wrap my brains around, but basically you play the game of the course of a year (in game time – in real time, each “month” is an hour or two of play time). Decisions that the team makes in January influence events for the rest of the game, and as the elements interplay, things get more and more complex, and thrilling!

Legacy games seem at first glance to be an expensive hobby, since you can only play through them once, but if you enjoy the game, the cost averaged over 4 players, and many hours of gameplay is pretty reasonable.

For younger kiddos who aren’t quite ready for the complexity of Pandemic, an excellent introduction to cooperative games is Forbidden Island, and the rest of the “Forbidden” series of games, which get more complex as the series evolves.

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