Kids and gaming in practice

June 26, 2013

A few weeks ago, my son and I joined TMP’r 45thdiv/Matthew and his son for an afternoon of gaming.  As this was my son’s first wargame ever, this was going to be an interesting experiment.  The game was quite simple.  The Normans (played by the Dad’s) held a keep with a handful of men.  As well, a second contingent guarded the bridge.  The kids were the Vikings.  They had to cross the bridge, storm the keep and rescue the Queen and the prince from the tower.

The rules were quite simple.  You could move up to 3 men per player to any location within reason.  In this case, the boys had to move and fight across the bridge.  As men were defeated, it was decided that the victor could advance to contact with the next combatant freely.  Fighting was simple.  Each player rolled a die (12 sided).  the higher roll won the fight and killed the opponent.  Archery worked the same way but with no danger to the shooter.  Walls allowed the defender to roll an extra die taking the best die of the bunch rolled.   A leader could roll 2 dice and take the highest die.  If a leader died, he was sent to the beginning and one dead enemy figure was returned to play.  The door to the castle had to be chopped down with axemen.  There were a limited quantity of these.  They need to “beat” the door 6 times.  The enemies (the dad’s) got to drop rocks on the axemen.   This worked like missile fire.

The Vikings ran headlong up the bridge and into the waiting Normans.  Casualties fell on both sides and one Viking leader (who was leading the charge) was also killed.  After a few turns, the Vikings had cleared the bridge of the defenders.  They then brought up archers.  The Vikings were deadly with their bows.  They inflicted heavy casualties on the well protected Norman archers and cleared most of the tower of its missile combat ability even before the first axemen reached the door.  Ah the luck of the youth!  After a few successful dropped rocks, the Viking axemen splintered the door.  it was all a matter of time before they cleared the tower of the defenders and saved the queen and prince.

The boys had a great time.  Though they took casualties, neither were put out by this and were good sports.  Matthew’s son was 6 while mine was 5 and a half.   My son wanted to play the same kind of game with his toy soldiers when we got home that evening.  This time they were pirates.  The games were a little haphazard.  He got a little mad at me because I wanted to enforce the rules we played by before.  That was mostly because he was pretty tired.  We’ve played a couple of games since.  All pretty fun outings.

Some lessons learned.

  1. Don’t try to do too much with your young gamer.  Some rules may seem dead simple to you but will not be for the young gamer.  Keep the mechanics to a minimum.  Really, it should be a matter of how to move and how to fight.
  2. Don’t expect too much (or any!) reality.  If it is a a bloody and short game, so be it.  They have a maximum attention span of about 1 hour.  I said Maximum!
  3. If the little gamer wants to do something, work it into the game.  Just roll with it.  It’s all about them and their enjoyment.

Some interesting observations about my son and game design

  1. He started with all the basic rules.  He wanted to roll a 12 sided die but did recognize that two 6 sided dice equal the same thing (roughly).  Luckily, the bad guys had to roll the d12 which has an average number of 6.5.  The good guys rolled 2D6 which has an average number of 7.  So the good guys have an advantage.
  2. He did take to the idea of friction and limited the moves to two moves.  A figure could move twice or move once and attack or you could move two figures.
  3. He likes variable movement.  Roll a D6 die and that is how far the figure can move.  We count off imaginary spaces which are about 1-3″ in size.
  4. I cut a 6″ dowel for movement.  The concept is the same as Song of Blades and Heroes (Ganesha Games) but only one movement size.  We used it in one game but my son forgot about it.  I don’t think he disliked it.  I think he just liked random movement more.

I am going to mock up a castle attack and use some of my 1/72 scale LotR figures.  (see LotR in 20mm from previous posts)  I figure 12 men, 2 elves and two heroes against two Orc contingents (16 men each) with an Orc leader.  The heroes are Gimli and Legolas visiting a Gondorian outpost.

The rules.

  1. Combat works with opposed die rolls.  Leaders roll 2 dice and take the best.  Gimli rolls 3 dice and takes the best.  Leglas rolls 3 dice and takes the best in missile combat and 2 dice when in hand to hand combat.  Elves roll 2 dice and take the best for missile combat.
  2. Missile range is 2 sticks (12″)
  3. Movement rate is 1 stick (6″)
  4. Two men can climb onto a ladder.  It takes a full move to climb up a ladder.  So one man will be all the way up while the second man will be half way up.  A third man can steady the ladder.
  5. Ladders can be pushed over on an opposed roll.  If two men are on the ladder, the defending roll is 2 dice and take the best.  The ladder with men is heavy.  If the ladder is toppled, the man on the top portion is killed on a 4-6.  Otherwise he lands on his feet and is OK.
  6. The object of the Orcs is to capture the castle.  The object of the defenders is to defeat the attackers.

There may be too much chrome in my rules for this fight but it will be an interesting test.  My son is pretty good at picking up strategy quickly.  He has done it in several other board games we play.