Tabletop Games for My Nine Year Old

DocHarleyDocHarley Member
edited January 2014 in Geek & Sundry Discussion
My daughter and I play a ton of games, both digital and analog, and are looking to further fill the shelf in the closet with a bunch of tabletop games. To that end, I'm looking to you, oh G&S community, to give me some much-needed help.

We've been having a lot of fun playing Forbidden Island and Catan: Junior--and will be adding Settlers of Catan to our shelf very, very soon--but she's definitely ready for some more advanced games. I've already got her playing D&D 3.5 in a solo campaign I'm running for her, and she's picked up the rules faster than I did.

Of course, back when I started playing I had to deal with THAC0 but whatever. (Mumbles something about kids getting off his lawn.)

Anyway, right now I'm looking at the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and either the MageKnight Board Game or Descent as our next two purchases. Any thoughts on these?

Or any other suggestions for two-player games which would be suitable for a frighteningly-intelligent, nine-year-old girl?
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  • TriencoTrienco Member, Moderator
    The Pathfinder card game is definitely worth a look, especially if you're looking for something to stick with and (very) slowly advance your deck and character. The only complaint might be that the game can be a bit same-y, because even with different locations and their special rules, you are doing pretty much the same every time (though I'm still hoping this will change with upcoming adventure decks).

    MageKnight is a real heavy weight. As far as I remember, even Rahdo (who does tons of boardgame run-through videos on YT) felt that in terms of rules and complexity it's just too much. There's also the issue with the artifact cards. Unless this is finally fixed in the current editions, all these cards have a black separator bar printed on the back (meaning you either sleeve the cards or you always know in advance when one of them is on top of the deck).

    Descent I only played once. I remember a very solid "typical" dungeon crawl board game (lacking comparison, based on reviews and ratings it's probably even really good).
  • I've played a number of different games with 9/10 year olds who've enjoyed them all immensely: Carcassonne, 7 Wonders (although it's a little complex), Forbidden Island, Forbidden Desert, Munchkin, Fluxx, Timeline, Zombie Dice, Magic The Gathering, Castle Panic, Dominion, King of Tokyo, Gloom.

    The only thing some younger kids struggle with is understanding some of the longer and more complicated words on cards, but expanding their vocabulary can be good to do regardless :D Sounds like your daughter has got reasonably advanced reading comprehension so she shouldn't have too much trouble with any of the above.

    For two-player games, perhaps Carcassonne, Forbidden Desert, Timeline, MTG, Castle Panic and Dominion would work best. The other games do better with more players.
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  • I forgot to mention Talisman in the list of games we're considering. I have vague memories of playing that game with a friend of mine and having a lot of fun, though I can't remember many specifics. How does that game match up with the others?


    The complexity of MageKnight does worry me a bit. I've watched a few YouTube videos of it and I get lost very quickly. That said, what worries me more is that I hear tell it's light on the cooperation and heavy on the competition. I don't think that's a bad thing, but right now my daughter and I are looking for co-op games.

    Of course, Descent's not a co-op game either--since one player needs to be the "Overlord"--but honestly that thing had me at the dungeon crawling.
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  • @Molokov: I was thinking about MTG--which I played waaaay back when it first came out--but I've got no idea what to buy first at this point to get started. Do you still have to buy two or three starter decks and a few boosters to have any hope of putting together two playable decks, or is there some kind of basic "kit" now?
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  • I don't play MTG myself, but my girlfriend says she enjoys using the Event decks (120 cards, I think) which come pre-constructed. Look for the 2014 Theros sets (based on Greek Mythology) and grab two event decks, one for each of you to play with.

    Also check out @Zuffy's thread for MTG Beginners here:
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  • I wonder if there's a good way to simplify Unspeakable Words? I love playing word games with kids that I babysit, and since that one tends to be easier (short words, crazy words, fun cthulu pieces) we always have a great time! My usual is a five year old girl, and she is megaboss at it. 
  • A friend of mine says his kids love Galaxy Trucker. I think I'm going to pick up a copy after talking to him about it. 
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  • TriencoTrienco Member, Moderator
    @DocHarley MageKnight has a ton of scenarios. Granted, most of them are competitive, but at least two are purely co-op and a few are rated as "slightly competitve". It does seem like a game that's worth getting into, but after my epic failure with the solo scenario it feels a lot like the first time you play Pandemic. You have no idea how you're ever supposed to win this. Except Pandemic is short enough that you don't mind to just try again... and again.

    In the vein of Descent, Mice and Mystics is getting a lot of praise. Never played it though.

    A less chaotic (ie. no time limited realtime ship construction) game similar to Galaxy Trucker (and by pretty much the same guys) is Goblins Inc. However, it seems to work best with four and is missing many aspects with only two (especially the back-stabbing while still working together).

    "Experience games", at least I'll call it that when a game is mostly playing you rather than the other way around that might feel similar to Talisman could be games like Eldritch Horror (a very simplified and faster Arkham Horror) or Fortune and Glory (with is very similar but with more of an Indiana Jones vibe instead of Lovecraft). Bonus: Fortune and Glory should be on TableTop very soon.
  • Welp, my daughter decided on Pandemic after we watching it on Tabletop. She picked up on its similarity to Forbidden Island right away and dubbed it an "advanced" version of that game--"With the zombie outbreak instead of flooding."

    So right now it looks like our next two purchases will be the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game and Pandemic.

    @Molokov: Thanks for that link! The getting back into it FAQ there told me exactly what I needed. My daughter doesn't sound particularly enthused, but I kind of miss playing it myself. Hmmm... :)

    @ohcatrina: Adding Unspeakable Words to The List.

    @Craig: Wow, that game looks twisted. lol

    @Trienco: Yeah, I think we'll hold off on MageKnight and maybe pick it up in the summer when we can comfortably spend several days figuring it out. Mice and Mystics looked interesting to me, but my daughter was all "Mice? Seriously?" And Eldritch/Arkham Horror look amazing! I'm a huge Lovecraft fan and one of those games might be a great way to get her into the mythos.
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  • Elder Sign is a really good, less exhaustive variant of Arkham Horror. I haven't played it with my two boys yet (age 9 & 11) but that's mostly because they enjoy killing each other more than cooperating. The are very fond of Munchkin, which lets them bargain, back-stab, plot and scheme to their hearts content. I may try out Shadows Over Camelot with them soon, which I just got for the holidays this winter. I'm not sure that one works too well with three players, and it definitely isn't meant for two, but if you and your daughter play with other friends and family, that might be a good one to try.
  • @DocHarley You'll love Pandemic. It's harder to beat than Forbidden Island and I must have played at least 20 games of it over the last year (and that's not nearly as many as @angelblue, my partner). It's about a 1:1 win loss ratio. In fact, we're only *now* at the point where we're adding in a 5th Epidemic card to make the game harder because we've pretty much got the strategy down for 4 cards.
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  • @Farlander: We saw Elder Sign on TableTop and while it does look interesting, it also looks like it's heavy on the dice rolling and light on the strategy. Kind of like Yahtzee with mythos monsters. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, but neither of us were really excited about it.

    @Zuffy: Qwirkle looks like a lot of fun. Not something you lose yourself in for an afternoon, but a good game to play as a "warm up" for a marathon. :)

    @Molokov: I really like the adjustable difficulties of games like Forbidden Island and Pandemic. And the "intensifying" mechanics. And, well, pretty much everything about these games seems perfect to me.
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  • I would say Munchkin for sure.  Small World...

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