Saturday, August 01, 2009

Kid Games 100: MIA Games (Just Not Up To Snuff)

There are a number of well-known/well-liked kid games that didn't find their way onto my Kid Games 100. Over a series of posts, I'll try to explain the logic of why I didn't include them - or, in some cases, actively excluded them. I used the top 100 games categorized on the Geek as the jumping off point for the third post in this series:

MIA Games: "Just Not Up To Snuff"

No need to divide these games up by category - ok, you convinced me: games that I dislike, games that are vastly overrated, & games I like but for some reason don't work well with their actual target audience. (There's a bonus category for "Games That Aren't Very Good But Have a Really Cool Mechanic That Kids Love.")

Games That I Dislike

  • Cap'tn Clever - Despite the name, it isn't clever. It's broken. And I'm not using the gamer word "broken" in the sense of "I don't like the game & therefore I'll call it a 'dirty word.'" I'm using it in the sense of "This game can lock up where no one wants to make a move & really only works if one or more of the players is an idiot or underage."
  • Ghost Chase - It's just a really "meh" kind of deduction game - yeah, it works, but I've never felt the need to play it again. Ever.
  • Nimbali - I've complained about this one before... this was my "just because Knizia designed it doesn't mean it's better than Candyland" discovery. BTW, this is the only Haba game I actively dislike - and, showing what great taste they have, it's OOP and the pieces are being used for other BETTER games.
  • Rat-A-Tat-Cat - I have Biberbande, which has cooler beaver-related art, but not any better game play.
  • Switch - Because nothing is more than playing a completely abstract game of stacking cards. Oh, yes, I know - we'll make it "better" by making it real-time. Blech.
Games That Are Overrated
  • A-Mazing Labyrinth - I'm fully aware that this was a SdJ nominee many moons ago. I know that it spawned a lot of follow-up games. But neither of those things mean that a really innovative game mechanic (the sliding tile pathways) makes up for a game that bogs down in analysis paralysis with adults & is random and irritating with children.
  • Geistertreppe - Again, cool bits (the ghost that magnetically picks up the pieces) don't make up for a simply average memory game that's very similar to Hexentanz but without the delightful chaos.
  • Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus - Reiner managed to sell this game twice: once in Europe as Feuerschlucker (the version I own without cute plastic animals) and once in America (with plastic animals). With or without, it's NOT a good game. It's luck of the draw dressed up in a pretty package... and the few moments of "I can count cards & figure out what's best" really don't counteract the vagaries of the draw pile. In fact, they just accentuate how little control you really have.
Games That Don't Work Well With Actual Live Kids
  • Big Top/Barnyard Critters - I first played this as "Solche Strolche" (which is the German name for Barnyard Critters)... and I loved it. It was a quick recognition game that I basically described as "Set for kids." (I stand by that description, btw.) But it's been a complete bust with almost every group I've played it with... which makes no sense to me. I like to think of it as my "kid gaming radar blindspot."
Games That Aren't Very Good But Have a Really Cool Mechanic That Kids Love
  • The Magnificent Race - One of my ongoing Don Quixote-ish quests is to "fix" this game - the marble spinner is a very cool component/mechanism set in the middle of a pretty mediocre game. (And the theme is great, too - it's just that the roll'n'move board game is yawn-worthy.)


Anonymous said...

Labyrinth over-rated? BGG: 6.3/10, you: 6/10. I've found it to be popular among 10+ yrs olds, but you're right that AP could develop into a problem if players let that behavior slide.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

I need to change my rating... thanks for pointing that out. It'll be a "4" based on 75% of the games I've played. (1 out of 4 is fun... but that's not a good enough "hit ratio" for me.)

wmshub said...

I think you underestimate Knizia's Flea Circus. For a 4 year old, it is perfect, because the "strategy" is something they can figure out - play the big cards, try to steal when you can, save up clowns to play in groups, etc. Yes, for anybody 6 or older it becomes all luck of the draw, but it's exciting to see my daughter figure out which card is best. And, she loves it to pieces; there was a 6 month stretch where she played it almost every day, and several times on many days.

Mark (aka pastor guy) said...

Wmshub: I'm glad you guys are having fun with it... but I think there are better games that do the same kind of thing without dragging on & on.