The Games Journal | A Magazine About Boardgames

Letters - December, 2004

David Stewart: Still laughing at Matthew Baldwin's article New Father Gaming.

I can completely relate to his problem, but don't worry Matthew the kids very quickly get old enough to play slightly more exciting games.

I have a 6 year old daughter and a 4 year old son and have them both hooked on Carcassonne. Am I being too harsh when I play completely seriously (minus the farmer rules for simplicity)? They do beat me occasionally so I need all my concentration. I'll have to stop pointing out good moves to my son, he's getting too good at it.

Unfortunately they still want to play Hungry Hippos, Operation, Snakes and Ladders, Escape from Atlantis and other popular Milton Bradley games, the sooner they can read and cope with money matters the better. I've often thought about enhancing the above games with more complex rules and less luck factors, but hopefully they'll grow out of these soon.

How long must I wait before Puerto Rico, Tigris, Tikal, can come out? Roll on, can't wait for the days when they join our Tuesday Games Night and they beat me us all. They are already much better at memory games than we are.

Still other games we play are: Galloping Pigs, Mamma Mia, Baffled, Message to the Czar, Einfach Genial and Settlers (only brought this out once, and my daughter complained that I didn't explain the rules clearly enough, as she didn't realise how important it was to place her houses at the beginning. I was just trying to keep it simple).

I'm just so disappointed that schools can't see the benefits that such games give kids. Counting, thinking, memory, pattern recognition; all important for kids enhancement. My daughter brought Carcassonne to school, but the teachers didn't seem interested, they just seem to think games are things kids should get on with by themselves, rather than actively taking part in them themselves. And strangely enough, it was only the boys that were interested in playing, the girls turned their noses up.

Our kids would definitely rather play a game together than sit and watch TV. I think for the majority of non-gaming parents the thought of reading rules puts them right off, it's a shame.

I wonder if when they grow up my wife will start playing "grown up" board games with us as well?

One can only hope.

Jim Schneider: Thank you very much for the article in the November issue titled New Father Gaming. It had me laughing, and brought back some very good memories. I haven't been a new father for a long time (my two sons are 25 and 20) but I do remember what an exhausting and exhilarating time it was. Be patient with the new kid; they do grow up. One word of advice from an old dad whose sons are both gamers: don't push too hard. Start him off easily; Candy Land will be much more fun than you remember. These classic kids games have two other advantages: you can usually get them for peanuts at garage sales, or non-gamer grandparents or aunts/uncles can find them at Wal-Mart or such places. They do keep asking "what does he want for Christmas/birthday?" God bless you, pal, parenting can be a grand adventure.

Matt Lanagan: I think Matthew Baldwin may need the expansion pack for his Games to Play with Children. The main problem with this expansion pack is that it is available as a single or double (or extra bonus) pack but you do not know which you will receive until the pack is in-transit. However the addition of the expansion pack can make significant changes to game play for several of the games.

Roll Over, Baby

This game becomes significantly more competitive with the expansion where a player rolled one way can be rolled back again on a subsequent turn. Thus winning becomes a matter of timing to be on your back at the end of your turn.


The addition of the expansion adds significantly to the chaos in this game. This may result in players semi-permanently wearing the game components. If you did not like the chaos in the base game then the expansion is not recommended.

Mirror, Mirror

The combination of the mirrored game components and multiple players increases the complexity but does not lessen the feel of multiplayer solitaire.


The addition of an expansion adds a definite edge to this game where the memory component takes on a greater role. If you received the double or bonus expansion pack then a component problem may become apparent where some pieces are very difficult to tell apart.

This Little Piggy

The expansion does not really add anything to this game as the components required are all available in the base game.

Crawling Fun

The expansion adds some strategy once the players develop as it is no longer a simple chase the leader game and the challenges of avoiding multiple opponents become apparent. This may be a case where it is best to "let you and him fight".

Overall the expansion comes highly recommended.

Anthony Kam: I have not read the Monks series [See The Monks of St. Titus] but I have read another series written by Victor Mollo that is very similar and also excellent. Fun caricature characters (in this case mostly animals), weird hands, weirder bids and plays, and absolutely brilliant analysis—except the hands are usually so weird the lessons would be rarely applicable on a real bridge table. Moreover, Mollo is a great writer—and I don't mean just a great Bridge writer. He's witty and observant and has a great command of English and a particular British flair.

If Joe is a collector of Bridge books he probably knows this other series already but just in case not, here are the two books I've read and enjoyed very much:

  • Victor Mollo's Bridge Club: How to Turn Masterful Plays into Monstrous Points
  • Bridge in the Fourth Dimension

These are books I re-read every 2-3 years, even though I've stopped playing Bridge for much longer.

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