Sunday 29 April 2018

Project 32: Board games

This week's project was board games, an opportunity to explore the history and variety of board games that have existed.

We started the week by watching a few videos on the history of board games:

Most of the week, however, was spent playing games! It's amazing to find how many board games you accumulate over the years, and also how long some of the bigger games can take. We played twenty different games over the week, and there are still dozens in the house we didn't get around to!

The board games we played can be broadly categorised into five groups: traditional abstract games, strategic games, roll-and-move games, word games, and family novelty games.

Traditional Abstract Games

  • Draughts: Capture all of your opponent's pieces.
  • Chess: Check-mate your opponent's king. 
  • Nine Men's Morris: Reduce your opponent down to 2 counters by making mills. 

Modern Strategic Games

  • Risk: Get rid of your opponent's pieces and conquer the world. 
  • Picture Tri-Ominoes: Be the first to get all of your tiles down. 
  • Ticket to Ride - First journey: Be the first to complete 6 routes. 
  • The London Board Game: Visit 6 destinations on the London Underground. 
  • Junior Scotland Yard: If you're the criminal you have to escape from the police 9 times; if you're the police you have to capture the criminal 3 times. 

Roll-and-Move Games

  • Bookchase: Collect 6 coloured books and return to the start. 
  • Payday: Get to the end with the most money. 
  • Despicable Me Monopoly: Bankrupt your opponent. 

Word Games

  • Junior Scrabble: Get the red dots by completing the most words. 
  • Upwords: Score as high as possible from making words. 

Novelty Family Game

  • Downfall: Get all your pieces to the bottom first. 
  • Guess Who: Be the first to guess who your opponent is. 
  • Hungry Hungry Hippos: Eat the most marbles. 
  • Connect 4 Flip: Get 4 counters in a row.
  • Stay Alive: Get all your opponent's marbles down the holes.
  • Pop-up Pirate: Put your swords in a barrel and not have the pirate pop up. 
  • Splatter Face: Not have cream splattered in your face. 

The Best: Risk

Despite a single game lasting 2.5 hrs, Solomon declared this to be his favourite game of the week. In fact, he requested that we allow more time next time we play so that we can have two games. Unsurprisingly, as Solomon is only 5 and Risk is for ages 10 and above, we played this as a team.

The Worst: Splatter Face

Splatter Face was the only game of the week that was actually disliked. It was bought by his grandmother as a present, and after sitting at the back of the cupboard for a couple of months it seemed the ideal opportunity to bring it out. Solomon, however, is far too sensible and refused to play it, leaving it to me and his 3 year old sister for the first (and last) game. I'm not too sure what she expected, but she quickly lost the first game and screamed the house down as the whipped cream was splattered into her face. This, in turn, set the 2 year old screaming, and the game was quickly relegated to the charity shop. 

Why this game (and variations) is so popular is a total mystery. 

Special Mention: Nine Men's Morris

Nine Men's Morris was the surprise find of the week. A traditional 3-in-a-row game that has been around thousands of years, it's simple enough to be played anywhere but complex enough to be interesting beyond the noughts-and-cross (tic-tac-toe). We have plans to make our own cloth board to keep at the bottom of the bag when we're out and about. 

Solomon's Ranking

We got Solomon to order the games from best to worst - although beyond the best couple and the worst one, there's probably not much in it. For example, Ticket to Ride - First Journey was only ranked 10th, despite being Solomon's favourite game 3 months ago (this is probably mostly due to a combination of familiarity and his preference for the full version - which if we'd played he says would have been ranked 3rd).

  1. Risk
  2. Bookchase
  3. Downfall
  4. Payday
  5. Guess Who
  6. Draughts (Checkers)
  7. Junior Scrabble
  8. Hungry Hungry Hippos
  9. Picture Tri-Ominoes
  10. Ticket to Ride - First Journey
  11. Connect 4 Flip
  12. Chess
  13. Stay Alive
  14. Pop-Up Pirate
  15. Upwords
  16. Despicable Me Monopoly
  17. Nine Men's Morris
  18. The London Board Game
  19. Junior Scotland Yard
  20. Splatter Face
Undoubtedly it's a list that will see a lot of movement over the years as the novelty of some games wears off, and he learns to appreciate the subtlety of others. If he still prefers Hungry Hungry Hippos over Chess in 10 years then I think we can conclude home education has been a total failure!

Next week's project: Ancient Greece.

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