Raising The Next Generation of Gamers

Richard Dracass | April 3, 2018

Raising Them Right 

Last week, we explored some games that you could play around the kitchen table with your family. Games that worked with for lots of different age groups, and a few different levels of complexity. This week, we’re going to talk specifically about kids and what games we can play to raise the next generation of tabletop geeks!


We play a lot of games at home. Most of those games are played with three players now that my daughter, Max, is old enough to read and comprehend on her own. We tend to lean towards things that play in less than an hour so that if she loses interest or gets frustrated, we can quickly move on.


Box art for Wordsy from Formal Ferret Games

Her most asked for game this year is Wordsy designed by Gil Hova of Formal Ferret Games. Wordsy is an exciting word-building game that uses letters on cards to determine which letters are worth how many points. Then each player tries to come up with a word using as many letters available as they can. You’re more than welcome to use other letters, but you’ll only score points for the letters you use. After any player has completed writing down their word, they turn over a sand timer for the other players. Players who are faster than other players will get bonus points OR players who score higher than the fastest player will score bonus points.


We love playing this game with our eight year old. She’s eager to learn new words, and this gives her an outlet to learn and be creative while having fun playing games. The first time we played, our scores were much higher than hers, and we thought it would deflate her enthusiasm. Instead, she took the papers and grabbed her dictionary!



Box art for Cosmic Encounter from Fantasy Flight Games

Another game that she asks for quite a bit is Cosmic Encounter, originally designed by Richard Garfield. We have the third edition, published by Fantasy Flight Games. Cosmic Encounter is a straightforward game about galactic conquest! Each player starts with 20 ships on five of their own planets, and the goal of the game is get control of five other planets using your ships. The game dictates which player you attack on your turn – and the choices you get to make are pretty simple. Which of that player’s planets you want to attack, how many ships, and which card you want to play. The cards can range from Attack cards with numbers from 0 to 40, or Negotiate cards.


The best part of Cosmic Encounter, though, is that a lot of the game is table talk and deal making. Max has learned not to trust me when I ask, “Do you want to negotiate?” because she knows I’m going to put down an Attack card instead! The other thing that Cosmic Encounter gives us is basic math. It only uses addition, but it’s not just looking at two numbers – some of the addition can get quite complicated when using multiple cards or inviting allies to put their ships in.


Box Art for Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle from USAoploy

If those sound too advanced, you can take a look at Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle that was published by USAopoly. This simple deckbuilding game walks up to 4 players through all 7 books of the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. The first game introduces the basic concepts of deck building and the different Locations and Villains that you’ll play against. Each game is contained in a box that introduces new cards and new mechanics making the game a bit more complicated each time – which is a wonderful way to introduce children into the game.

We played this at 3 players through all 7 games and had a blast! The component quality is above average, and puts you in charge of a different Hero like Harry, Hermione, or Neville! Each book can also be replayed if you feel like separating out the cards, though we replay it now just as Book 7 so we don’t have to reorganize the box each time. There is also an expansion that we haven’t played yet that contains 4 new boxes.


There are plenty of games out there that can be fun with kids. Games will teach you things in the most unusual places, and that’s one of the things we love about them in our house. Are you playing games with your kids? Let us know what games you like to play at home that helps you raise the next geek generation!


—William Sobel