Stephen Chen
Canada
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Hi BGG Community,

I have accidentally started introducing modern board games to my nephew (10 yrs old) and niece (8 yrs old), and have been enjoying the process of picking games for them even more than playing games myself!

It started with them joining in my wife and I for a game of Love Letter. I then bought Sushi Go! for them. They recently saw me playing Schotten Totten and became very interested in it too. All three games were hits for them.

I am thinking of introducing them to some "junior" versions of classic modern board games such as Catan Junior, Forbidden Island, My First Carcassonne, etc.

But I am uncertain about how these experiences will shape their impressions of the "standard" versions if and when they do play those in the future. Will exposures to junior versions help them appreciate and love standard versions even more? Will they think less of the standard versions because they don't like the junior version? Will they think the standard versions are "essentially" the same games as the junior versions, and just write them off without digging deeper into the games and associated expansions?

Have you played both the junior version and the standard version of a game with kids? What are your experiences? Please kindly share them if you could. Thank you!
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Y P
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Just to give you a frame of reference for my thoughts, I think Catan Junior is incredibly boring and not even a great game for kids let alone for adults to suffer through. I say that because it's my only experience with a junior version of an existing game, so it could be clouding my judgment.

I'd say don't bother with junior versions. There are so many great games out there that kids 8-10 years old can play that are also fun for adults to play with them, and that won't get replaced one day by the "full" version, so I don't see the point. The 3 games you mentioned as being hits for them are examples of exactly that. Personally I'd rather get them games like Karuba, Carcassonne (yes, the full one is totally appropriate for that age group), Splendor, etc.

I don't consider Forbidden Island a junior version really. Yes it's simpler than the other Forbidden titles, but it stands on its own merits. Plus it was published before the others, so it can't be a simplified version of them Definitely a good one to introduce co-op gaming to them.
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Olaf Slomp
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I am all for lettings kids play kids games, but at ages 8 or 9+ the junior games are getting too simplistic for them.
Especially if you have already found they like games like Schotten Totten and Love Letter, I would not try junior games on them.
Something like Ticket to Ride should not be a problem for them, while TtR junior (My first journey) will feel very simplistic (most likely for both you and them).
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Nathanael Robinson
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I don't have any experience with the "junio" editions, but I will say that by 3rd grade, kids are not only accelerating in their intellectual development, they often actively try to distinguish themselves from younger kids. At age 8, if they are already familiar with gaming, I would look to the lighter Euros and the type of "family" games that win the SdJ. In cases where the kid is motivated (perhaps by theme), they can go more complex.
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Tara H
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Mom of 3 here- two of them are 8 and 9. I also say skip the junior versions. Mostly because they tend to make the adults want to stab their eyeballs out. And I think they will outgrown them pretty quickly too. There are a lot of great games that would be appropriate for that age group. My kids current favorites are Dragonwood and Potion Explosion. We also play a lot of Forbidden Island.
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A Balley
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+1 for skipping junior versions. It doesn't make sense to purchase something that will almost immediately become obsolete. Junior versions might make some sense only if you have access to borrowing them for short term introductions with little or no financial investment.

That said, I think I would rather play Catan Junior with my kids than Catan. It is shorter, the robber is softened by not including stealing from another player, and it skips the AP inducing setup where starting locations are selected.
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Nathanael Robinson
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Wouldn't Stone Age be a better way to get a Catan-light experience that is age appropriate than Catan Junior?
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Anitra Smith
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With 8 and 10 year olds, junior versions won't do much good. They're generally intended for kids ages 4-6.

Just stick with lighter games that don't require a ton of reading. Carcassonne would be great - just don't add in a bunch of expansions right away. Forbidden Island is also great (and it's not a "junior" version at all!)

I can also recommend Kingdomino.
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Cassandra Thompson
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My kids saw me playing (in their words) "Adult My Little Scythe" the other day, which I thought was a pretty cool name.

I have not played it with them, but I have to say that, as a beginner gamer, My Little Scythe was a great intro to the game. As I worked through the Scythe tutorial it made so much more sense due to the junior game.
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Brian Davis
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You're already reading this from everyone else, but I'd also recommend just skipping the pared down kid versions.

Here's an anecdotal example: My two girls love games (6 and 8). For Christmas, we got them Ticket To Ride: My First Journey. They loved it. It basically is just TTR, just with a more bright/friendly-looking board, less cities to simplify things, and small tweaks to card draw. They played it, it was fine, all was well.

A few days later, my 6 year old had asked about the adult version of TTR. Busted it out, explained the differences, and we were off to the races. Now, she insists on playing the adult version of TTR.

My first Journey didn't even last 3 weeks before they had moved on

Kids are smart, and will catch on quick, especially if they are motivated (which it seems like yours are)

Have fun!
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Dan Renwick
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Choosing games for kids is fun. I wouldn’t recommend any kids versions for an eight year old, but I spent a long time thinking about what Carcassonne I should buy to play with my 8 year old niece, and I’m happy with my choice of Carcassonne: South Seas. Filling trading ships full of goods is more tangible and less abstract for kids than victory points.

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baboon baboonov
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Junior versions at that age are inappropriate; just play lighter games with them.
Some children have no problem playing "heavy" euros (Terra Mystica, Splotter games etc.) - you are quite discrediting their intelligence and swiftness of mind.
 
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Robert Doolan
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We have also avoided the children's versions. My 8 and 10 year old love Azul, Potion Explosion and King of Tokyo as fun games that work both for kids and friends. The kids have no problem playing these with their friends also.
 
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Jeffrey Allers
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I don't play "junior" versions, however...

I once found Barbarossa Junior in a flea market, and I actually like it better (with adults!) than regular Barbarossa.

It's a great party game, ahead of it's time and possibly the first game to include the "don't make your clue too obvious or too vague" mechanic. But it had a lot of extra elements that made the game more clunky, more difficult for casual gamers, and longer. The Junior version removes all of that in a clever way, and I've played it more with adults than children!

The game is hard to find--I actually added it to the BGG database. But I also added the English rules and a PnP board, so all you need is some modeling clay in different colors to play it!
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Arvid
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In some cases (TTR Jr version for example), it would probably make more sense to play the regular edition and just house rule if necessary.
 
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Angela Lammers
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Like the others, I'd skip most of the junior versions. However, Target has some simplified versions of games that are meant for 8+ and\or casual gamers. The biggest difference is probably the length of the game. My 9-year-old likes Ticket to Ride: New York and Evolution: The Beginning. She could definitely play the full version of Ticket to Ride, but my 5-year-old gets very impatient waiting for us to be done so that We can play something with her. 😄
 
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Matt D
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I'm gonna tack on with my experiences here. I have a seven year old (turning eight in a month) who has been playing "grown up" games she was four. (I created a geeklist to keep track of her progress).

The first one was Carcassonne, and all that I did was eliminate farmers. We did everything else exactly the way the rules specify.

She's progressed through to King of Tokyo shortly thereafter, but the big sort of "step up" was Takenoko when she was five and a half. Again, I made small alterations - we eliminated the concept of irrigation and the special tile restrictions. Which was fine until she noticed that one of the tiles was a "no panda eating" tile and pointed at the icon and said, "Does this mean that the panda can't eat there?" And I said, "yes, but when we play by 'family rules' we skip some of the rules." She said "I don't want to play by family rules. I want to play by real rules."

At about six and a half we tried Stone Age. I'd picked up "My First Stone Age" specifically to introduce her to it a while earlier, but after reading the rules I felt it wasn't a big enough jump so I just went with the regular version. No house rules. She got bored after about five turns, but she "got it".

A week later, I introduced her to Dominion. She beat my wife and I in the second game she played.

The only thing that hasn't really landed yet are worker placement games - she doesn't have the attention span to listen to that many details. I tried Lords of Waterdeep, and yesterday at her request we were trying Seasons but it had too many rules. So instead we did Oregon, and she beat me.

I saw all this to say that if there is INTEREST on the part of the child, just go for the real thing. If you have to eliminate a particularly pesky rule, that can be helpful, and then it'll be fairly easy to reintroduce later on.

I feel like the "My First..." games are almost more designed as gateway games for the families/adults. If I'm playing Ticket to Ride, my daughter can figure out how to play it. But if I don't know games and I want my daughter to learn a game, that might be an easier route.

Admittedly, my daughter has been labeled "gifted" by her school so she may not be an exact benchmark, but I'd think any reasonably agile young mind can pick up a lot of this stuff. Who knows, maybe playing Carcassonne at four is a cause more than an effect.
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Hastings
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Can I second what Matt has said, I also agree that we prefer the adult versions over junior. It has also been said a few times but if you know the game then House rule it to make it easier. My wife is not into overly complex games e.g. We also house rule Carcassonne and remove the farmers.I

Our only exception is monopoly junior as I think monopoly is just atrocious as a game but junior actually ends.
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Richard Dowdy
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The sweet spot for these kinds of games is 4-6. My son is 7 and my daughter 3, so kid versions are good for playing as a family. The 7 year old would do just fine playing real Carcassonne/Ticket to Ride/Stone Age, but at 3, my daughter is still working on the basics. She is able to mostly understand the rules and gameplay concepts, but has no sense of stategizing or optimal play yet (even in the kid versions). She'd be just as happy playing something like Cootie. Kid games provide a nice common ground where everyone can have fun.

Even at this stage, she has fun with a simplified version of Tsuro. No hand, just draw one tile and play it, trying not to fall off the board. :)
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Mila V
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My 6yr old and I dislike Catan Jr, Ticket to Ride Jr and Monopoly Jr. I'd say skip those. We both love Splendor, Sleeping Queens, Latice and Blokus for example. There are so many great games out there.
 
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Peter Noble
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I have a different perspective. I rent games to school (in New Zealand) also have most of the junior versions as well as the full games.

My children enjoy both the full and junior versions of the games (catan and TTR). My first Carcassonne is too simple. The reason why I would get the junior versions is that they are generally shorter. So I can play Junior TTR in 15 mins, where as the full games is more like 45 mins to 1 hour. Yes it is simpler but quicker.

On the Junior catan side - the game is quite similar to the full version, different map and randomness. The key benefit here is that it can be played 2 player straight from the box and in 30 mins - easy setup and take down.

That's said position explosion is a hit and at the ages you are talking about often they can play the full versions no problem.

For that age group I a school setting the junior versions often work well due to time constraints where teachers want a 30 minutes experience.

Peter
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Adrian Harper
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One of the big + for TTR first journey is that you can play with kids that can not yet read - each city on the map and tickets are represented by a unique picture. This has been a real bonus for our family where we want to bring our youngest kid into a game with the rest of the family where she can play alone and not in a pair with an adult.
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Cassandra Thompson
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zenistar wrote:
One of the big + for TTR first journey is that you can play with kids that can not yet read - each city on the map and tickets are represented by a unique picture. This has been a real bonus for our family where we want to bring our youngest kid into a game with the rest of the family where she can play alone and not in a pair with an adult.


For us too, and adding to what Peter said above, it is also a much faster game. I actually prefer it to the adult edition for newer players.

Kids attention span is shorter, and I personally find playing two short games (repeated) works better than one longer game. It spreads out the win/losses too which is good as losing too much is hard work for immature players.
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Age 8 is actually already an age where you can introduce "grown up" games. Catan Junior is for ages 6+, for example. If they played Sushi Go and Love Lettet and enjoyed that, they are well above that (Sushi go is ages 8+ and Love Letter even says 10+). They are short games, but actually need some strategic thinking. You can try to play normal Catan, and carcassonne would be no Problem. The Question is more if they are in for a game of this length.

An in between step to Catan that is better than Catan Junior would be Machi Koro or any of its competitors (Valeria or Space Base).

But consider the mechanisms behind Love Letter, Sushi Go and Schotten Totten. You might even try 7 Wonders: It's officially for ages 10+, but Sushi Go has the same Core Mechanism and you know they enjoyed it.
 
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