Family Pastimes Games -- According to the Experts
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Recently, we've discovered that our young children (3.5 and 5) enjoy cooperative games more than competitive ones. I like that, too. It allows them to work together and the younger can drift off into a little make believe world where the animals or whatnot are talking and playing, since they're not "just his pieces." We're all trying to protect them or move them or help them in some way.

The big hit right now is Family Pastimes Max and, to a lesser extent, The Secret Door. We have also used games from their Cooperative Games Manual at birthday parties and outings ("Sardines" or reverse hide-n-seek is a big hit).

So, last night, we looked into purchasing a lot of these games from www.fairplaygames.com and had a devil of a time figuring out which were quality games, simply because of the biases against "kid" games here on BGG. After all, if a person plays only one of these in addition to Settlers, Chinatown, and Age of Empires, they probably won't give it a very good rating.

So, today I sat down and extracted every vote for games made by Jim Deacove (owner and designer of Family Pastimes) and threw out those with fewer than 2 votes. Then, I weighted all ratings based on how "knowledgable" the voters were.

For instance, if jadzia_dax has rated a Family Pastimes game, odds are you can trust that rating (because she has rated more than a dozen of them). If I (having rated only 3) say something, you may wonder. If someone who has voted for only one speaks, well maybe that should be taken with a grain of salt.

So, the salt was strewn all over the table and relative averages were calculated to see what might well be the List of Best Family Pastime Games. The star ratings are the ratings weighted towards those who rate a lot of Family Pastime games.

This is purely selfish list so that I will have a reference when it's time to order more games for the kids.

Here goes:
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26. Board Game: Harvest Time [Average Rating:4.60 Overall Rank:10464]
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Harvest Time (1980)
Ages 3 and up
30 minutes

BGG: 4.75
:st
Ratings: 19
Avg Voter FP ratings: 2.84

You plant a garden and then roll dice to harvest before winter comes. I wonder how different this is from Orchard, except that this costs a ton less. This is on the lowest end of age for any boardgame.
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27. Board Game: Oasis [Average Rating:5.24 Unranked]
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Oasis (1999)
Ages 9 and up
30 minutes

BGG: 4.78

Ratings: 6
Avg Voter FP ratings: 3.83

Not the Moon/Weissblum game. Camels, sandstorms, thieves, goods carried across the desert via caravan and sold when you arrive. Timbuktu? Probably not, since it's cooperative and for 9 year olds.
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28. Board Game: Space Future [Average Rating:6.33 Unranked]
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Space Future (1979)
Ages 10 and up
30 minutes

BGG: 4.87

Ratings: 2
Avg Voter FP ratings: 8.50

Strategy game where you have a particular team role in a space mission. Working together of course, but it seems that there may be specialties (like Pandemic?). For the older crowd in Family Pastime terms.
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29. Board Game: S.O.S. [Average Rating:4.50 Unranked]
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S.O.S. (2000)
Ages 10 and up
30 minutes

BGG: 4.35

Ratings: 2
Avg Voter FP ratings: 6.50

Titanic story. Cruise liner sinks. Save the passengers. Has an option where everyone will survive and make it to an island.

We're into the realm of games not well received by those in the know, in case you haven't noticed yet.
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30. Board Game: Sky Travelers [Average Rating:5.21 Unranked]
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Sky Travelers (1989)
Ages 8 and up
30 minutes

BGG: 3.96

Ratings: 3
Avg Voter FP ratings: 5.33

You are space aliens who crashed on Earth and must repair your ship and contact the mother ship before it passes by. Teamwork! And avoiding obstacles.
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31. Board Game: Somewhere in China [Average Rating:5.84 Unranked]
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Somewhere in China (2004)
Ages 12 and up
unknown time

BGG: 3.64

Ratings: 4
Avg Voter FP ratings: 3.75

Individual fishermen in China try to cooperatively supply the market through congested fishing channels. This is one of the more recent Family Pastime games, which seem to have been going strong for something like 30 years now.
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32. Board Game: A Beautiful Place [Average Rating:3.83 Unranked]
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Beautiful Place, A (2001)
Ages 5 and up
30 minutes

BGG: 3.29

Ratings: 4
Avg Voter FP ratings: 3.75

Environmental game where the time limit is encroaching pollution. The name can't be helping the sales of this game. It might have worked in 1977, and may again in 2010, but in 2001 when this came out, I don't think it worked.
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33. Board Game: Mountaineering [Average Rating:4.45 Overall Rank:10173]
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Mountaineering (1973)
Ages 7 and up
45 minutes

BGG: 3.17

Ratings: 10
Avg Voter FP ratings: 4.20

I stand corrected from my previous entry. They've been doing this for 35 years. Supposedly good for the 7-12 year old crowd. It's a game where you all work together to get the one token to the top of the mountain, just like in real mountain climbing.

Interesting note: Family Pastimes also sells a packet of paper games with four different game pads inside. One of them is a paper version of this game, I believe. That game has not been rated on BGG (like many Family Pastime games) by more than 1 person, so it's not on this list. But we have ordered it so expect to see a rating sometime in the next decade.
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34. Board Game: The Christmas Game [Average Rating:4.22 Unranked]
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Christmas Game, The (1983)
Ages 5 and up
45 minutes

BGG: 3.13

Ratings: 5
Avg Voter FP ratings: 5.40

No real info here except for some user comments that point in the direction of puzzles. Not well received.
 
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35. Board Game: Bambino Dino [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
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Bambino Dino (2001)
Ages 4 and up
30 minutes

BGG: 2.73

Ratings: 2
Avg Voter FP ratings: 6.00

No information. Is it about a baby dinosaur?

Update: www.familypastimes.com does have information not shown here on BGG. It is about saving a baby dinosaur caught in a flash flood. That site says it's for ages 4-6 and is an introduction to cooperative play, so I'm guessing this is for the very youngest gamers in the crowd.
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36. Board Game: Community [Average Rating:4.29 Unranked]
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Game of Community, The (1972)
Ages 9 and up
no time information

BGG: 2.50

Ratings: 2
Avg Voter FP ratings: 5.00

Wow, this is even older than Mountaineering. Jim has been at it quite awhile, hasn't he? Looks to be something from the deep past that may not even be available anymore? One user comment mentions that hippies rule the roost.
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37. Board Game: The Good Ship Freedom [Average Rating:4.00 Unranked]
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Good Ship Freedom, The (1994)
Ages 12 and up
30 minutes

BGG: 3.02

Ratings: 2
Avg Voter FP ratings: 9.50

This is deep. "Kafkaesque." "Seekers." "Escape political, economic, religious entrapment." "Freedom of mind and spitit." Maybe a bit heavy for most cooperative kiddies, I'm thinking. Jadzia_dax even calls it one of the weaker offerings from the company and rates it a 2.
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38. Board Game: Let's Go Sailing [Average Rating:3.50 Unranked]
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Let's Go Sailing (1998)
Ages 8 and up
20 minutes

BGG: 2.76

Ratings: 4
Avg Voter FP ratings: 6.75

Not looking good when four people can only give it a 2.76 RAW rating on BGG. That's like Candyland levels, isn't it? Sail. Eat cookies. Sail home. That seems to be the order of things. Lisa (Jadzia_dax) brings this one down with her amazing knowledge of Family Pastimes games. I'd say rightly so from the sound of it.
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39. Board Game: Home Builders [Average Rating:3.80 Unranked]
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Home Builders (1997)
Ages 5 and up
30 minutes

BGG: 1.00

Ratings: 2
Avg Voter FP ratings: 3.50

Habitat for Humanity like game. Build homes for people and fight nature to get them erected properly. Could this be the worst game (with ratings) from Family Pastimes?
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40. Board Game: The Circus Comes to Town [Average Rating:2.67 Unranked]
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Circus Comes to Town, The (1998)
Ages 6 and up
20 minutes

BGG: 1.41

Ratings: 2
Avg Voter FP ratings: 8.00

While the last game mentioned has a lower raw score (as low as you can get with 1.0), this one has a lower rating when you include rater familiarity with Family Pastime Games. I don't know that it sounds as bad as some. It's a Cirque de Soleil themed game where you spin to see what action needs to be carried out next and you perform that action without succumbing to the appropriate pitfalls. But Jadzia says it is absolutely Family Pastimes worst and who can argue with her?
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41. Board Game Publisher: Family Pastimes
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There are plenty more games in this line, some with no ratings at all.

Here are the ones with only one rating, still weighted by the familiarity the rater has with other Family Pastime games. Given that there is only one rating, don't put too much stock into these ratings.

Yin Yang (1983) 9+ 20 min
Co-Op Parlor Games (1997) 30 min
Amazing Illusions (1991) 5+ 30 min
Ploughshares (1996) 9+ 30 min
New America (1980) 15+ 120 min
Power Blackout! (2004) 12+
Walk in the Woods (1999) 5+ 20 min
Earth Game (1979) 12+ 30 min
Break A Leg (2002) 12+ 30 min
Hotel Ritz (2002) 10+ 30 min
Somewhere in the Rockies (2005) 9+ 20 min
Diplomatic Mission (2002) 10+ 30 min
Alphabet Soup (1985) 6+ 20 min
Then There Were None... (2007)
Ogres & Elves (2005) 5+ 10 min
JSCH (2005) 12+ 20 min
Let's Go Hiking (2007) 8+
Peace In Our Time (2007) 12+ 30 min
Deep Sea Diver (1986) 7+ 30 min
Untrivia (1985) 12+ 30 min
Yard Sale (1986) 4+ 20 min
Starwords (1984) 10+ 30 min

Update: In checking out the www.familypastimes.com site, I see that there are about 30 other titles that have absolutely no votes here on BGG. Some look quite interesting to me, like DGA TV and Stop the Presses! and plenty of others.
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