For the Love of Strategy Games

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I blame my Grandpa Ayers for my love of strategy games. How he taught my siblings and I how to move Chess pieces around the board. Which then translated to late night Chess matches while on camping trips with him. There is something nostalgic about playing Chess while eating prunes, graham crackers, and M&M’s. It is no wonder my stomach was usually so upset on those trips into the mountains.

Note: I’m the kid in the far back with the mop hair.

I have tried to share my love of strategy games with my son Wyatt. Teaching him how to move the knight, the rook, and the bishop in Chess. Also sharing with him the other game my Grandpa loved, Stratego. All the while branching out into Hall family favorites Carcassonne and Catan Jr. (I’ll note here: Never play Catan Jr. with Wyatt. He will win. Kid quickly figured out how to game the game.)

This past December, I decided to go deeper into the strategy game depths. Having read reviews, I intentionally asked for My Little Scythe for Christmas.

My Little Scythe

My Little Scythe has been perfect at teaching us how to see the bigger game picture amidst all the smaller moving pieces. I love it.

Wyatt recently came home from a homeschool park day with a deck of Magic: The Gathering (MTG) cards. He said that the other homeschool kids had been playing and had taught him how to play. Now I know that MTG can be an expensive hobby, due to having to buy new cards blindly in order to build powerful decks. I wanted to push past the expense AND further our strategy horizons, so I picked up a box of Dice Throne: Season 2 – Gunslinger v. Samurai.

Dice Throne: Season 2

My wife, Tabitha, is amazing at analyzing instructions and then teaching them to a group. (I think this has something to do with her teaching third grade for eight years. 🙂 ) But after looking over the Dice Throne instructions, she proclaimed, “This is a rule book, not an instruction book that describes how to play the game.”

A few hours of mowing the backyard later…

We decided to consult Watch It Played with Rodney Smith:

Which we found more helpful than the official Dice Throne video. But we still wanted to see the game played out. So we watched a bit of a Game the Game episode:

That was all on Sunday. Due to how crazy our week has been, we have yet to play ourselves. But I wanted to ask you…

Have you ever bought a game and thought, this is overwhelming!

Tell me about it in the comments below.

INVERSUS

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wavesplinter4/5 – INVERSUS is a smart shooter that challenges your brain through unique movement and solid gameplay mechanics. A great game to play with your kids and to pull out when friends and family come over.

Wave SplinterTitle: INVERSUS
Developer: Hypersect
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
Reviews on: PlayStation 4
MSRP: $14.99

*INVERSUS was reviewed using a code provided by Evolve PR.

Get Up And Play With Your Kids

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The Gospel Coalition’s Trevin Wax wrote “4 Principles for Parenting in a World of Video Games“. His article contained some practical advice but featured a tone laced in fear. Zachery Oliver, over at Theology Gaming, wrote a rebuttal titled “Kids and Video Games“. My wife, Tabitha Hall, wrote the following as a response to both articles:

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Model good media behavior in front of your kids.

If you restrict your child’s screen time, then make sure you model that while they are up. Meaning, don’t sit on your recliner and watch sports or play a video game by yourself all day. Turn off the TV. Get up and play with them.

If the rule at your house is no phones at the table, turn your phone on silent and put it away. Want your kids to love to read? Then let them see you reading a book and discuss the book with them. Pick a book to read aloud together with your kids.

Something I believe both Mr. Wax and Mr. Oliver have to remember is that every family’s technology engagement will look different, and no one needs to be judged on their own personal plan. Rather, as I believe Mr. Wax was trying to point out, there needs to be a plan for technology in the home. Not a rigid plan with no flexibility for the child, but a fluid plan that can change with the ebb and flow of the family.

Our family decided to keep technology out of the bedroom. We have a limit on how much screen time our son can consume at one sitting. Twenty minutes is our norm before we encourage that he do something else. Technology is not going to go away, it will just get more influential as time progresses on.

As a parent, you help your child solve a problem by brainstorming solutions. You help them practice their catching, bike riding, or even their shoe-tying skills. In the same way, my husband and I are trying to model good technology behaviors to our son.

The Herald Cometh – Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball

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In the depths of Bowser’s Castle, no doubt a plan unfolded most dire.

We must strike back at this free-to-play horde, but how, the Nintendo suits inquired.

We will wrap real money purchases in story, with solid mechanics and feel to boot. We will then rake in all the money, and dance upon our loot.

A dog recruited, yes, he will be their undoing.

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We will tell a tale of hardship and tears, of a marriage gone awry. Of puppies in need, mini-games will provide their feed, players can haggle till the pups howl high.

Rusty’s Real Deal Baseball, simple yes, but that is what we will call it.

A herald of games to come, the players will never see it coming.

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Note: Nintendo Badge Arcade invaded my 3DS last week. A riff on the popular Japanese crane game genre, Nintendo Badge Arcade features:

  • Solid controls/gameplay mechanics.
  • Daily Nintendo news and trivia.
  • Real money transactions. A dollar for five crane drops/plays.
  • Five free practice plays, on the practice machine, per day.
  • Nostalgia. Lots of nostalgia.
  • A rabbit that is as evil as Tom Nook.

The game boils down to using a crane to grab digital badges to decorate your 3DS menu screen. The badges do nothing else. Nothing. But the badges do look cool.

Nintendo has created a unique formula for the free-to-play market. I shudder though to think of what real money transactions will take place in their upcoming Pokémon GO. Gotta catch them all, right?