Friday, August 2, 2013

Friday Rucht Hour: Bearing the Torch - Catacombs

So, I've got a three post segment here where I'm going to talk about getting kids into wargaming.

First of all, I want to say for the record that I knew my kids would be into wargames. I just didn't know when it would happen. How did I know? Well, every so often, dad goes off and plays games with the guys. When I do this, the kids are simply not invited. "Can I come dad?" "Not yet son...maybe when you're older."

This gave all of my wargaming an immediate mystique. In my circle of friends, it is viewed by my two sons as one of the gateways into manhood. And what little boy is not attracted to that?

Also...I play games that have really, really cool toys. In my games, giant robots fight. Undead hordes swarm against knights with electrical swords. The few times I've played something historical, I'm sitting there in front of tanks and troops - things that have immediate appeal to young boys. Plus, it helps that they are all hand-painted and look nice.

The first thing I started them off with was Catacombs. I've posted about Catacombs before. It's a great dungeon-crawling board game that relies on dexterity. Players take on different roles like the Barbarian, Thief, Wizard, or Thief. Their character is represented by a wooden pog. Players move or attack with their character by flicking their pog into the opposing monster pogs. Most monsters are killed by a single hit, but some monsters are tougher. When you hit tougher monsters, you flip that pog over to represent it being damaged. Mik has a more complete review and discussion, here.

So, as you can see, mechanics of the game make it extremely easy for kids to pick up. Hit a monster, and you kill it. Or, maybe you flip it over. That's it. No numbers to read. Nothing to add. Player characters do have multiple wounds, but these are easily kept track of on large cards with helpful markers.

Most characters have only one special ability, meaning there is very little to memorize or think about. What gives these abilities depth is that activating them is usually a expendable resource. The strategy comes in when to to use or not use a special ability.

My kids loved, loved, loved this game. They liked the excitement of seeing what was in the next room, the thrill of collecting money for vanquishing foes, and buying magical items.

Here's how much they loved the game. When they finished off the dragon at the end, they wanted to keep going. "Dad, what's next?" "Um, there is no next. That's the end of the game." "No! What is the next room?" "There is no next room, guys..."

In the end, I had to make it up. I told them a great story about defeating the dragon and let them buy more magical items. It was hilarious. And by the way? We had some friends come in from out of town. Their little girl played with us and had the same reaction. "No! This can't be the end. What's next?"

All right, that's all for now. Next time, I'll talk about their first proper wargame - Crossbows and Catapults

No comments:

Post a Comment