New to Your Kids January 2012 - the best games you've played for the first time with children (and why)
Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
Duns
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A new year and thus new opportunities for new games!

Looking back over the last month, which is the best game you've newly introduced to your kid(s), and why? Please pick an entry even if it's the same as someone else's because it's more fun that way.

It would probably be helpful if you say what ages the children you played with are, and how much they enjoyed it as well as how much you enjoyed it.

Please, add you own entries - one per child might make sense if they are of different ages and abilities. And if you play with kids that aren't yours - nieces, nephews or friends' kids, include those!

Just like the idea of this series of monthly lists, I've also nicked the idea of an announcement thread from Grimwold (Thanks Andy!). If you'd like to be alerted to the existence of the new list when it appears, subscribe to this subscription thread..

Want to tell the world about the best new game you played last month? Check out Grimwold's best of January list here!

And next month's list is now here: New to Your Kids February 2012 - the best games you've played for the first time with children (and why you think so))
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1. Board Game: It Happens.. [Average Rating:6.29 Overall Rank:2274]
Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
Duns
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This cute little dice rolling gaming has been a hit with all three children, ages 6, 10 and 12. It's straightforward enough, but not totally obvious, and all the games have been close and thus quite exciting.

They've also had fun spotting all the different characters that appear on the boards - I think the favourite is the Spiderman anteater!
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2. Board Game: Kahuna [Average Rating:6.67 Overall Rank:743]
Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
Duns
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I brought this out to play with my oldest son (12). He got the rules fairly easily, but struggled more with the strategy. At the end he was slightly ambivalent about it (he doesn't like losing!) but the next day he was discussing it quite enthusiastically with my wife and indeed played against her (and won). So I think he probably did enjoy the first game.
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3. Board Game: Balloon Cup [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:662]
Eddy Richards
Scotland
Allanton
Duns
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Matthew, aged 10, generally seems to like semi-abstract games, so I thought he might like to try this. I warned him before we started that he wasn't likely to win as it was his first time and I'd played it loads. Needless to say, he absolutely stomped all over me! blushI'd like to suggest that it was just luck, but.....

I found a copy of the The Lord of the Rings: Strategy Battle Game in a charity shop and he has really enjoyed this. We haven't actually played a proper game, but he has used them for his own version innumerable times, and has even started painting the figures, as well as spending hours making army lists. He did try and play a game with his younger sister, I don't think they got all the rules right but at least they weren't arguing about them!
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4. Board Game: Forbidden Island [Average Rating:6.91 Overall Rank:408]
J Boomhower
United States
Fairfield
VT
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Got this at a going out of business sale in town. First real Co-op for my older kids (10,9,7). The youngest got bored but the rest of of loved it (especially my 9 year old daughter). I know it says 10 and up on it but it's pretty straight forward and goes a long way to teaching them to think ahead, plan and work together. Excellent addition to the collection... Next Up: Flash Point
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5. Board Game: Fast Flowing Forest Fellers [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:1283]
B Mendez
United States
Eau Claire
Michigan
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Not in January, but we tried this with my son in December. I found it cheap on ebay for like $12 so bought it as an alternative to Snow Tails. He loved it! And the finish was very close for all of us. Great fun racing game!
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6. Board Game: King of Tokyo [Average Rating:7.41 Overall Rank:120]
Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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The kids (aged 4 and 6) were introduced to a lot of new games over the Christmas period, but two stood out as being much more popular than the others. King of Tokyo was a new acquisition on the 29th December, and the very first time we got it out we had the kids on our laps wanting to "help" - rolling our dice for us, etc. We got out the dice tower to make it easier for them to roll the dice, and they loved it. Three or four games later, and I suggested they played themselves, as they'd learnt the idea from helping us. There have been tears a couple of times when their monster dies and they get eliminated, especially the time my son was just about to win on his next turn, but overall this has been a huge hit with both of them - and as my daughter isn't interested in playing many games, that's quite impressive! (It's been a huge hit with our adult friends too!).
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7. Board Game: Heroica: Fortaan [Average Rating:6.02 Overall Rank:3277] [Average Rating:6.02 Unranked]
Sharon Khan
United Kingdom
Shefford
Bedfordshire
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This was the second new game that has been a huge hit with my 4 year old son - Heroica: Fortaan. The kids had shown interest in the game from adverts on the TV, as well as being interested when they see me play dungeon crawlers, and totally obsessed with Lego, so I asked my sister to buy it for my son for Christmas, when she asked for Christmas present ideas. She was a little worried about the cost, but said she'd rather buy something he'd really like and pay a bit more, and it has definitely been popular! One play just after Christmas with my sister and father, and lots of plays in January! And of course, all the fun of making it up originally! Unfortunately I don't like it much myself, so quite often I duck out and let my husband play it with him, or other adult friends, as it's more of a novelty for them! Something about moving through a maze and rolling dice to kill monsters just really appeals to a 4 year old boy, apparently! HeroQuest next we hope - we've tried it once a few days ago, but it's too early to tell if he's hooked yet!
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8. Board Game: Agricola [Average Rating:8.12 Overall Rank:6]
Gastel Etswane
Canada
Peterborough
Ontario
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I played this for the first time last night with my 7-year old daughter. I helped her just a bit at the start and I managed the harvests, so she definately wasn't trying to maximize her score. She even told me she didn't want to keep score, just build fences and grow crops. She loved having a baby and building her house.

It helped that I have made FIMO tokens for most of the resources (even the major improvements have their own tokens), and she wanted to have the little piggies running around her farm.

FUN ELEMENTS: She understood the idea of an action. She progressed with only a bit of guidance from me. She likes Little House on the Prarie and this was the framework for her imagination (it was Ma and Pa Ingalls doing the work).

NEGATIVE ELEMENTS: Not a competitive game (which is fine for me now, but how will I feel a year from now?) Got silly sometimes when trying to decide - but she's 7, so what was I to expect.

SUMMARY: Lots of fun, very minor negative elements. Something to play again in the future, and then play again, then again, then again.
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9. Board Game: Click Clack Lumberjack [Average Rating:6.59 Overall Rank:1100]
Gerald Gan
Philippines
Quezon City
NCR
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Played this with my eldest daughter (almost five years old) the other day, and we both had a blast. She also enjoyed playing it with her Mom and her Aunt Phoebe.

For a quick review, check out what I wrote here.
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10. Board Game: Winner's Circle [Average Rating:6.94 Overall Rank:510]
bob weaver
Estonia
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I begrudgingly add this item. I have always felt the Knizia conspiracy that there are paid minions doing his bidding on this site.

But the fact is I bought this game for the family as it was 40% off at my local shop and I had recently read a list of the top 10 horse racing games. This was #3.

Played it with the family and it was enjoyable. I would probably rate it a high 6. Well my two kids (6 and 9) and my wife really enjoyed it. The next day they were asking to play (this was a first as I usually have to coax people into playing.

So for a family game this is pretty good.
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11. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.87 Overall Rank:19]
Ender Wiggins
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Easily the favourite new game for our kids was 7 Wonders. The scalability from 3-7 was a real plus, meaning that we could play regardless of the number of kids who wanted to join in. It was asked for frequently after the kids learned it in early January, and everyone from age 7 and up just loved it.



My boys (age 11 & 15) have absolutely loved learning and playing Risk Legacy over the last month. A couple of their friends joined us to make a group of 5 players, and we played over a dozen games together with this group. Watching the game rules and components evolve was a thrilling and unforgettable experience that created lasting memories for everyone, and the boys begged to get this to the table every day.



Vlaada's wacky game Galaxy Trucker also proved to be a big hit with my boys in the last few weeks. The space theme, building mechanic, and the sense of boyhood adventure all combined to make it a real winner for them. For more of my thoughts, see my review.



The younger kids (age 7 & 9) really enjoyed learning and playing the brand new edition of Bazaar in January. It's a Sid Sackson classic with an abstract/puzzle feel, and the rules are very accessible, making it easy to learn. Even though it offers a very pleasant challenge for adults (my wife loved it), I was surprised how much the children enjoyed this too. For more of my thoughts, see my review.



We've been exploring the new cooperative game, Flash Point: Fire Rescue, for the last couple of months, so I'd still consider it new for us. The exciting theme really captured the attention of children, and it wasn't too hard to bring this to the table. Really suits a range of ages from age 8 through teen, as well as adults. For more of my thoughts, see my review.
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12. Board Game: Eruption [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:2434]
Sandra Sherwood
United States
Colorado Springs
CO
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Along with King of Tokyo above, we broke this one out. My 9-year-old son really enjoyed this, especially the ability to mess with his older brothers.

Pirate's Cove

An oldie, but one that has proved popular a couple of times. We originally got this when my older boys were 12 and 14 and they really enjoyed it, especially my 12-year old. It has since spent a couple years on the shelf as other, newer games took over, but we brought it out again to play with our youngest boy and everyone enjoyed it all over again.
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13. Board Game: Nessie Hunt [Average Rating:5.52 Overall Rank:8888]
"You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him fill the balloons."
United States
Kansas City
Missouri
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Been busy job-hunting and helping my 10-year-old finish the qualifications for his Arrow of Light badge in Webelos, so this was the only new game in January.

I ordered it straight from the designer (Tony Harmsworth) in Glasgow, and he was kind enough to autograph the box lid to our whole family. He also sent an e-mail that said it was easier to learn the game if we just started right in playing, and didn't try to understand the mechanics beforehand. This turned out to be great advice.

The game was nip-and-tuck down to the end, but my 12-year-old daughter won in the end, after we realized that my son was supposed to have lost a turn, which would have given him the win. We have a couple of questions about quirks in play, and I'll need to query Tony about them.

There are lots of fiddly bits, so it behooves players to make sure they are securely stored between plays.

We had fun, learned a lot about the research that's going on in the lochs in Scotland, and about Nessie-hunting in general.
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14. Board Game: Tiki Topple [Average Rating:6.41 Overall Rank:1583]
Chris Talmadge
United States
Clinton
CT
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It seems that kids love the "chaos element" in games. This has the right amount for me - some chaos, but not too much. Plus the Tiki, Tiki chanting is fun.
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15. Board Game: Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles [Average Rating:4.56 Unranked]
Gerald Gan
Philippines
Quezon City
NCR
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Another game me and my daughter have been enjoying a lot lately. If you wanna know more about the game, you can check out my brief review here.
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16. Board Game: PitchCar [Average Rating:7.23 Overall Rank:253]
Gudjon Torfi Sigurdsson
Iceland
Isafjordur
Isafjardarbaer
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I played this in January when I met up with my family for a gaming weekend. Some of the kids hadn't played PitchCar before, and needless to say, they all enjoyed it quite much! I need to find a permanent place where I can have this playable all the time...
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17. Board Game: KaijuD¡ce! [Average Rating:6.83 Unranked]
Digger Cook
United States
Topeka
Kansas
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Printed this out and played it with my sons, 10 and 2 (almost 3.) They both enjoyed it quite a bit.
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18. Board Game: Hoot Owl Hoot! [Average Rating:6.71 Overall Rank:5019]
Zack Stackurski
United States
Mankato
Minnesota
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I love almost all games, play Boardgames with my wife, have three kids, generally enjoy cats and understand and like those bumper stickers with the little fishies sprouting legs.
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My oldest daughter will turn just about anything into a cooperative experience... so picking up an actual kids co-op was a no brainer. The rules to this one are candyland simple... pick a color then pick one of the owls that everyone shares to move to that color on the path. If it is already covered by an owl hoot and move your owl to the next instance of that color. Keep going until all the owls are in their nest or the sun rises (from drawing too many sun cards).

My daughter just loves "helping the owls and making them hoot." I actually enjoy the game too. With adults or older kids this would be too simple, but if I play my best and anticipate her sometimes non-optimal moves (like *always* moving to purple if she has the chance...) we can do well. Hoot Owl is a pleasant gaming experience for me in addition to spending quality time with Hazel.

I can't recommend this game enough as an excellent alternative to Candyland and I think it belongs on the list of great games for little gamers right alongside Go Away Monster and the best Haba games.
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19. Board Game: Risk [Average Rating:5.59 Overall Rank:9748]
Marcel Sagel
Netherlands
Groningen
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Yeah, I know... I'm a bit late to the party.
Anyway, my oldest son had heard about Risk somewhere and expressed an interest to play. I gave in... and of course both he and his younger brother were very enthusiastic about the game. Even though I try to teach them that dice are bad... angry they won't believe it yet. (Well, admittedly, my current favourite game King of Tokyo uses dice too.)
Other new-to-the-kids games this month: Res Publica and Union Pacific (the latter with a bit of help from us parents). Maybe a bit too dry for boys aged 6 and 8, so I can understand they were most enthusiastic about Risk.
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