Showing posts with label board games. Show all posts
Showing posts with label board games. Show all posts

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Boardgame update 2022

Each year I go through the successes in my boardgame collection with students at school.  This will support the majority of students in a high school and most classes that I have introduced them to.  If you were looking to set up a boardgame collection for a library or department, you wouldn't go far wrong.

None have a huge ruleset and can be self taught by most groups (other than the adult ones at the bottom).

Dexterity Games

* Rhino Hero
* Tumbling Dice
* Looping Louie

Puzzle Games

* Blockus
Turing Tumble


* Santorini
For Sale


* Anomia
Murder in Hong Kong
* Spot it / Dobble
** Crappy birthday
* Uno


* 5 Minute Marvel

Traditional Board/Card Games

Ticket to ride

Games most played with adults in 2022

Warhammer Killteam
Imperial Assault
Space Hulk

Staff often ask me how I hear about games and where I get them from.  Stand up and sit down on youtube is a great channel for board game information, as is the hottest list on  Student favourites are marked with a *. The favourite by far marked with **.

Most games can be bought locally in Perth from Tactics or Gamesworld at a premium.  Harder to find games can be found from in Melbourne, Amazon online or sometimes

Sunday, September 12, 2021

High School Board Games 2021 edition

 My most recent plastic box filled with boardgames in the high school classroom (in no order):

Anomia (party) - 4 players
For Sale (auction) - 6-8 players
Citadels (strategy) - 6 players
Hamsterrolle (dexterity) - 4 players
Five Minute Marvel (action) - 4 players
Dixit (party/deduction) - 6-8 players
Rhino Hero (dexterity) - 4 players
Turing Tumble (problem solving) - 1 player
Murder in Hong Kong (deduction) - 6 players
Santorini (strategy) - 4 players
SET (trick taking) - 6-8 players
Blockus (abstract) - 4 players

With the exception of Hamsterrolle (out of print) and Turing tumble (expensive), they are all usually readily available, most fairly cheaply.  I try and keep 6-8 games going concurrently thus it is important to have games of 6-8+ players for larger classes.

All can be taught or learned from the instructions, played and packed up in less than an hour.  I have a second box of different games I use for younger or less mature classes.

Previous success has been found with but have been replaced by the games above:

Ticket to Ride (trick taking)
Carcassonne (tiles)
Coup/Resistance/Avalon (strategy)
Spyfall (deduction)
Apples to Apples (party)
Kingdomino (tiles)
Splendor (strategy)
7 Wonders (strategy)
Love Letter (strategy)
Pitchcar (dexterity)
Lupus in Tabula/Werewolf (party)
Azul (tiles/strategy)
Dominion (deckbuilding)
Machi Koro (dice)

There are many games I enjoy more, but won't work within the hour constraint common in a school period.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Boardgames in high school

I ran a few games sessions this year that were all successful.  This is my current list for a class of 30 that I have run across high and low ability classes.

Blockus (2 to 4)
Kaleidescope (solo) - out of print
Turing Tumble (solo) - hard to find

Take that
King of Tokyo (4 to 6)
5 Minute Marvel (3 to 5)

Set taking
Spot it (2 to 6)
SET (3 to 8)

Hamsterolle (2 to 4) - out of print
Rhino Hero (2 to 4)
Klask (1 to 2)

Party Games
Crappy Birthday (4 to 8) - hard to find
Throw throw Burrito (4 to 6)

Machi Koro (2 to 4)
Santorini (2 to 4)

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Three Games - Machi Koro, My First Carcassonne and Arkham Horror 3rd Ed

Machi Koro (G Rated)

I played this with my 10 year old and her grandparents.  A simple card game where you build a city engine that is run by dice.  Easy to learn and quick to play although it does have a finite life as it does get samey after a few plays.  Don't let the name fool you, it's all in easy to read English. A four player game that could definitely work in the classroom as it should play under an hour.

A couple of take-that elements to teach resilience and gamesmanship, some text and literacy, some optimisation and a little strategy.

Recommended for early to late teens.

Found online, at stores like Gamesworld or your local friendly hobby store.

My First Carcassonne (G rated)

I'm playing this with my 7 year old.  It's a tile laying game with some counting, network laying, creation of closed networks and simple optimisation strategies.  5-10 minutes long.  She often wants to play 3-4 games.  No literacy skills required.  Nice big chunky meeple.

She can now beat me reliably using basic strategies and is ready to move to full Carcassonne.  It was a great way to get her to want to play games (the harder games turned her off playing).

Recommended for getting young children interested in play based learning.

Reasonably easily located online (try Milsims, gamesEmpire or eBay).

Arkham Horror 3rd edition (M15+ Rated)

I'm playing this with my wife.  The game drips with theme and lots of text.  Takes 1.5 - 2hrs to play which limits its use in school unless able to leave setup over multiple days in a safe location.  Lots of bits and takes ages to set up and take down.  Would need to know the game thoroughly and enjoy it to play with high school age students.

Although the occult theme is attractive to students, parents may not be happy with the theme.  Be best checking first.  It's not gruesome or sex filled, but has demons, spells and the like.  If you are familiar with HP Lovecraft, it's based in the C'thulu mythos.

The game is really good and quick to learn for all its complexity. The mechanics and bits everywhere look great on the table but do overwhelm the gameplay from time to time, but with familiarity, it will hopefully become less overwhelming- especially during the mythos phase.

I'm not sure if I prefer this edition or the 2nd edition but given the old edition is getting hard to find, I'd stick with the new edition as new expansions are likely. 

From a learning perspective, it has a high literacy component, potential for roleplay, lots of instructional text, an algorithmic approach to turns and optimisation in managing the various aspects of play to solve the mystery before becoming overwhelmed by the mythic creatures.  Online tutorials such as Beccy Scott can be a great way to learn the game.

Recommended to play with your own teenage kids or your partner.

Found online, at stores like Gamesworld or your local friendly hobby store.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

High School Boardgames

It's been a while since I have written on board games successful with high school students.  While I still have favourites in my repertoire, a few new ones are being used to good effect.

Recently we have been playing Warhammer 40 Killteam, a skirmish based war-game after school.  Kids can now play the majority of the rules during a game, takes about an hour and is a bit of fun.  Cost of entry is a big concern unless you have a Warhammer person on staff and use their stuff.  Playing, painting, assembling, learning rules is part of the fun.  Warhammer stores offer school based offers from time to time.

Deception, Murder in Hong Kong has become my go to Cluedo/Werewolf, type game over Spyrun.  It's simple, can be learned fast, is easy to get your hands on, and is less than an hour to play.

5 Minute Marvel/Dungeon is a quick game, runs to a timer and gets a bit of excitement in the room.  Students have to refine their strategy as the enemies get stronger.

Together with Blokus, Citadels, SET, Ticket to Ride Europe, Apples to Apples, Dixit, Carcassone, Claustrophobia, King of Tokyo/New York, Triazzle; games in a classroom can become a whole class or small group activity that develops a classroom and builds social skills.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Games in mathematics

Developing strategic thinking in students is an emerging issue.  Living in a world of instant gratification, the ability to think is less prevalent in classes today.  The need for general knowledge seemingly has passed and rote learning tasks have been removed from WA curriculum.  There is little need to compete as everyone has access to the same information, gathered by Google, edited by Wikipedia.

In comes boardgames.  To play a boardgame a player needs to learn the rules and then work within the rules to seek advantage over competing players.  There is no prize other than the pleasure of learning and succeeding.  To succeed players must learn to strategise.

More than a few think I'm a more than bit nutty about games.  What I have found is that to engage students requires a wide variety of games and getting them to the point where they can open a box, read the rules and immerse themselves in a game is equivalent to the difficulty of getting a student to enjoy reading.  Similar to reading, success is based upon finding a related context.  Simpler gateway games can lead students to a love of thinking, not just success and winning.

To aid this below is my list of games that have been used successfully:

Gateway games
Pitchcar (7 players, <30 mins) 
Citadels (7 players, <30 mins)
7 Wonders (7 players, <30 mins)
Claustrophobia (2 players, <1hr)

Say Anything (5 players, <1 hr)
Apples to Apples (8 players, <1 hr)
Nuclear War (4 players, <1 hr)
Dixit (5 players, <1hr)
Lupus in Tabula (10 players, <1hr)
Carcassonne (4 players, <1 hr)
Ticket to ride, Europe (5 players, 1 hr)
Illuminati (7 players, 1+ hours)
Munchkin (7 players, <1 hr) 

Strategy Games
Through the ages (5 players, 3 hours) 
Indonesia (5 players, 3 hours)
Battlelore (2 players, <1 hr)
Space Hulk (2 players, <1.5hr)

Games currently under evaluation
Troyes (5 players, <1 hr)

Many games have been evaluated in establishing this list.  There are game links on the right hand side to help find and investigate these games further.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Board games in high school

I am by no means an expert in this topic but I have been experimenting with it a few years. I've avoided traditional games in this list such as Chess, Connect 4, Chinese checkers, Draughts, Backgammon as these form the basis of school games clubs.

Here is my list of alternative games played successfully with students:

Simple Games:

Collossal Arena (~$35, 30 mins, six players) Students bet against gladiators. Students have to evaluate diminishing odds when placing bets and simultaneously use a variety of special abilities to eliminate rival gladiators.

For Sale (~$40, 10 mins, six players) A game where students purchase property at auction and then sell them to each other. Students need to evaluate what is left to be purchased and then try to estimate the best moment to put them on the market.

Set (~$25, 10 mins, six players) Students need to identify sets based on multiple criteria before other students find them. A simple game that uses many of the skills found in visual IQ tests.

Lupus in Tabula (~$20, 10 mins, up to 16 players) Students try and guess who the werewolf is. Students are accused and try and convince others that they are not the werewolf. A great way to introduce polls and tallies within the class.

Apples to Apples (~$50, 30 mins, up to 10 players) Hard to explain but fun if not taken seriously.

Ticket to Ride Europe (~$70, 1 hr, 5 players) Students build networks of track to connect destinations. Students that build the most effective networks win.

Citadels (~$35, 45 mins, 5 players) Students use roles to build their citadel whilst trying to stop their fellow students from doing the same.

Carcassonne (~$40, 30 mins, 3 players) Students accrue points by laying tiles and selecting optimal point scoring opportunities from multiple options.

Nuclear War (~$50, 30 mins, 5 players) What is better than blowing each other up? Blowing each other up with nuclear weapons.. Beware this game has the worst components ever, be prepared to laminate and find card sleeves.

BattleLine (~$30, 30 mins, 2 players) Two players use poker sets to try and win 5 hands. Special cards change the game in a variety of ways.

Dixit (~$40, 30 mins, 6 players) Players use their imagination to get students to guess which card is theirs.  A great investigation into grey areas as black and white answers do not get points.

Say Anything (~$40, 30 mins, 6 players) Similar to Apples to Apples but easier to understand by students.  Have to enforce a G rating on answers or the game gets out of control.

More complex games (require multiple sessions):

Space Hulk (~$200, >2 hrs, 2 players) I wouldn't suggest buying this for a class, but if you have a copy the students enjoy it. The miniatures take hours to paint but the end product is well worth it.

Claustrophobia (~$70, 1 hr, 2 players) The game to play when you can't play Space Hulk.

Battle Lore ($100, >2 hrs, 2 players) A skirmish game where students line up two forces and try and defeat each other. Students have to concentrate to get their forces into battle critical moments.

Smallworld (~70, 1 hr, 4 players) Students use a variety of races to control the largest area of a map.

Indonesia ($100, 2hrs+, 4 players) A game where students use stock techniques to manage shipping, mergers and acquisitions of wheat, rice, oil and spice companies.

These games can all be researched further on Boardgamegeek. Many can be purchased locally at Tactics in Perth, or online (cheaper but with shipping delays) at Milsims, from unhalfbricking, or from PinnacleGames.


(Updated 24/4/2011)

Friday, August 6, 2010

New fun games

Well, it's been a busy year and playing games has not been high on the agenda.. but for a change I thought I'd write about the couple of games that have been fun in the classroom and others that have been fun at home.

The three big success stories of this year have been Lupus in Tabula, For Sale and SET. All three are relatively inexpensive (<$40) and can be played with groups.

Lupus in Tabula is a game that can be played with a whole class, basically heads down thumbs up with Werewolves. Some students are the werewolves, others are the villages and we all have a bit of fun lynching the wrong people. I get to stand at the front of the class and describe in graphic detail how students are ripped apart in the night. From my top to bottom class, all have enjoyed the theme and it has allowed me to discuss problem solving strategies such as limiting choices and probability to resolving social issues such as how to play fairly and that being involved can be fun. It's probably the new favourite over Apples to Apples for a whole class.

The next one is For Sale, an auction game where students buy houses and then sell them, the person that sells their houses for the most money wins. We have great laughs about who will end up living in a cardboard box (one of the houses for sale) and who will end up in the space station. This one requires a little mental maths, ordering of integers, a little recall and a fair amount of fun.

SET was the big surprise. A bit of a brain burner, students have to pattern match cards to find groups of patterns. It plays a bit like an IQ test and after you get the hang of it, can drive you batty. It's interesting that the 'smartest' kids are not always the fastest, it's an occassion where 'visual learners' (how I hate that term) can show their mettle.

Honorable mentions should be given to Leaping Lemmings, Battle Line, Ticket to Ride - Europe and Cave Troll that had some table time, but weren't all that successful.

At home, the big winners are Campaign Manager 2008, Arkham Horror, Runewars, Space Hulk and Twilight Struggle. I'd still love to get Die Macher & Brittania to the table, but I'm not holding my breath until TEE exams are over. We still have to complete proofs and stats/probability, so I'll have to have a sit down and figure the rest of the course out.

Until next time...


Thursday, January 7, 2010

New Games in 2010

I've been playing a few new games this year that have been great fun.

Twilight Struggle is a great two player game that focuses on the events of the cold war. The US and the USSR fight for influence throughout the world in order to gain supremacy. Each game takes about two hours, so I'm not sure about implementation in the classroom, but we're addicted and have been playing for a couple of hours each night. Twilight Struggle is published every couple of years by GMT games and was about $60 pre-ordered over the web.

Three quick games that are great for the classroom are from Fantasy Flight games Silver Line series - Citadels, Condotierre and Colossal Arena. Citadels is a great game for up to 5 (after five it becomes a bit slow), easy to learn and has a great element of backstab and competition. Condotierre is a game about medieval/crusader Italy, where players fight for control of emerging city states. It has a really dinky board but has some real meat in the gameplay that is accessable to students. Colossal Arena is the surprise of the three as the betting mechanic and card flow develops as the game is played. All three of these games can be taught in minutes and promote consideration of strategy for future games. They have a real magnetic quality. Each can be picked up for under $40 online.

Anyone that has played 500 and #$%hole knows that trick and bluff based paired card games can be engaging, strategic and addictive. Tichu (supposedly played by 600 million chinese players every day) is no exception. It has a weird flow and is seemingly random until new strategies emerge the more it is played. I played it with 500 players that were very critical, but I would love to play this more with people that have a more open mind to exploring this game. A tichu deck can be created from a normal deck (and marking up four special cards mahjong, phoenix, dog and dragon). The rules can be found online.

I had a quick game of Sorry Sliders ($15 at Toys r Us) which is a great little dexterity game. Similar to the ending in ludo, players try to reach the end of their target and other players try to eliminate them. It's a great game for the end of a small class or for kids 7-12 on a rainy day.

I found a great new online store - A weird name but he does have a lot of unusual and hard to get games. Ordering was simple and delivery was fast. I was impressed.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Games Club at school

I've played many of my games at school with students and have been pleasantly surprised that they have been well looked after.

Last week I set up all the games and asked the principal to come see them in action. Since then a number of teachers have been coming to the room to see what all the fuss is about.

Our principal encouraged the creation of a games club next year and asked to put in a finance committee application.

Here are some of the games on my wishlist:

Gateway Games (used to develop rapport and get students thinking strategically):
Ticket to ride (2-5 players, $75): Easy to learn and currently played by kids unassisted
Citadels (2-9 players, $35): Easy to learn and currently played by kids unassisted
Apples to Apples ($55, 2-10 players): Easy to learn, fun to play and currently played by kids unassisted
Bohnanza ($27, 3-7 players): Just arrived. Highly regarded. Enjoyed by students although not played cutthroat.
Blue Moon ($35, 2 players): Just arrived. Quick to play. Quite fun!
Condotierre ($25, 2-6 players): Just arrived. Highly anticipated.
Portobello market ($70, 2-4 players): Mathy eurogame, some success with low literacy students
Colossal Arena ($30, 2-5 players): Just arrived. Quick to play. Betting and fantasy theme enjoyed by students
Formula D ($65, 2-10 players): On most wanted list. Highly regarded.
Zooloretto ($60, 2-5 players): Top of most wanted list. Highly regarded.
Carcassonne ($40, 2-5 players): Easy to learn, successful with low literacy students
Hive ($35, 2 players): Easy to learn, great for small competitions
Go ($39, 2 players): Easy to learn, impossible to master, great for small competitions
Pitch Car ($105, 2-8 players): Dexterity based game.

Total cost $696

Games to further develop interest in collaboration, cooperation and competition
Battlelore ($115, 2 players): Has a good hook to get students interest. Medium level of literacy required. Successful with capable mathematics students.
Battleline ($33, 2 players): On most wanted list. Highly regarded.
Cave Troll ($45, 2-4 players): Just arrived. Highly anticipated (meant to buy Bridge troll but it's turned out ok!).
Dominion ($60, 2-4 players): Limited success thus far, requires more work learning how to teach effectively. Medium level of literacy required.
Small World ($90, 2-5 players): Mixed success thus far, requires reasonable level of literacy and persistence not found in current students.
Race for the Galaxy ($55, 2 players): Success only with capable mathematics students.
Illuminati ($60, 2-6 players): Ultimate negative relationship game, requires some literacy skills.
Steam ($70, 2-6 players): Strategic progression of difficulty from Ticket to ride.

Total Cost: $528

Games requiring extended concentration (>2 hrs)
Die Macher ($70, 3-5 players)
Twilight Struggle ($60, 2 players)
Brittania($60, 2-4 players)
Runebound ($70, 1-6 players)

There are a number of good games missing from the list - Settlers of Catan, Tichu, Space Hulk, Chess, Uno, Connect Four, Draughts, Dork Tower, Warhammer (anything), Pandemic, Thurn and Taxis, Stronghold, Descent, Power Grid, Agricola, Puerto Rico, San Juan, Britannia, Dork Tower, Alhambra, Galaxy Truckers, Elfenland, Shadows over Camelot, Shogun, Risk, Scrabble, Bridge Troll, Sorry Sliders, Tumbling dice but the list could go on and on.

It would be up to the club itself to choose what games would be purchased (vetted by me) once the finance committee application is approved.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Games for educators website

Came across this link in my travels - a site about games for educators. Also has a regular podcast.

Though not specifically for educators, this one by Tom Vasel isn't too bad either.

Updated 18/10/09: Fixed link!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Space Hulk and my lack of assembling ability

One of the best things about getting older is that you can afford some of the things you really, really wanted as a kid. One thing that springs to mind is the out of print game Space Hulk by Games Workshop.

Well, maybe not afford, but perhaps "borrow" some money out of the housekeeping funds while the Mrs isn't watching..

Anyhoo.. picked it up yesterday when I stumbled on the 20th anniversary limited reprint (translated: expensive - but with extra cool bits!). So I sat down and assembled all the miniatures. I'm now missing bits of two fingers after a mishap with a stanley knife and know some interesting uses for a rabbit nailclipper.

Four of the figures are a little wonky and missing arms but nothing a bit of superglue can't fix once I unstick my remaining fingers.

Only problem now is that the lamb pie from the other night hasn't agreed with me and she who must be obeyed has declared that she won't come within 10 ft - which would make playing the game a little difficult. So I can't play! ..and she says I have to clean the red mess off the floor**

I just need to think of someone with no sense of smell that likes board games...

So here I sit with a Winnie the Pooh band aid and a sponge.


**from the accident with the Stanley knife.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


If you have a second to spare and want to play a great game, go grab a copy of Steam by Mayfair games for two, three - up to six players (more with an expansion or two). It's a bit thinky at first, has heaps of replayability and totally has me hooked at the moment.

Here's a great source of information about Steam.

Here's a list of other games I have purchased or would like to purchase.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Board game supplies

I've been a fan of local stores, but paying retail Gamesworld prices is just ridiculous. I've recently made four transactions with out of Sydney and been very happy.

Battlelore was $160 at Gamesworld and $115 at BestGames , and managed to get Runebound (Second Edition), Race for the Galaxy and Dominion for $213 (about $70 each).
Tactics (just off London Court in the city- a little hard to find if you don't know where to look) is cheaper than Gamesworld if you are looking for a physical store in Perth.

There was a problem with Race for the Galaxy, Bestgames tried to rectify it, notified me and offered to refund my money or to wait another week. It was one game of three, I'm happy to wait.

The web based orders from Bestgames were ~3 days delivery by courier. They even offered me a discount when I wrote a review for them on Battlelore. Shipping is free over $100. Nice people.
There are others; (offer to beat any price), (that has Battlelore at $99, free postage over $85 and also has physical stores) are two I have looked at but not ordered from.

I like the instant gratification of buying and playing games on the same day, but a 50% markup is just plain silly. Shame on you Gamesworld, because of you I'll wait my three days by mail order.

If you're thinking of playing some out of the ordinary board games, is a good place to start. Days of Wonder, Rio Grande, Fantasy Flight and Z Man all publish great games.

Now to wait and order Arkham Horror, Steam and Power Grid later in the year.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Alternatives to chess club

Chess club has always been a good way to get students (typically boys) to think ahead before making a decision or committing to a particular path of investigation. Unfortunately it is seen as the forefront of nerddom. With some students nerdiness is seen as a badge of pride, but students today are very socially conscious and if we seek to capture students with ability in lower years we need alternatives to foster this skill.

There are a range of alternate games, not as elegant as Chess, but have similar outcomes. The ones that I have been investigating are Caracasonne, Ticket to Ride, Portabello market, BattleLore and Small World.

The last two BattleLore by FFG and Small World by DoW seem to have the most promise as they are infinitely replayable (like Chess) but have a different level of appeal. The main issue I am having is that they require a permanent home as a game tends to take longer than 45 mins.

BattleLore is a fantasy war game that takes about 30 mins to learn and up to two hours to play. It runs through different missions and lends itself well to a leader board type scenario. The downside is that it is only played by two players at a time. This is the main factor I rejected it as a possibility for the entry point game.

Small World is different in that it has up to 5 players and takes between 40 minutes and 80 minutes to complete a game. Its humorous and requires thinking ahead and is quick to learn (less than 5 minutes)

We have created a web server and found six desktop machines. We aim to create a mathematics lab for key senior school topics. One of the kids is formatting the boxes. Maybe we could even use my personal cals for AOE or RON to increase a session size to 10-15 students!

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Board Games in Mathematics

One strategy for investigating decision making, statistics and probability is through games. Common examples are Scrabble tile frequencies, board distribution in Monopoly/Snakes & Ladders, card/dice probabilities, chess, chinese checkers, draughts, dominoes, Uno, Numero.

I have been experimenting (in the "play needs to be taught" theme) with a number of different board and card games with some success. My favourite six games used at end of term are as follows:

Ticket to ride (Europe): 1 hr duration, Networks, probability, mental computation, decision making.
Carcassone: 1 hr duration, Networks, probability, mental computation, decision making.
Dork Tower: 1 hr duration, Probability, decision making, estimation.
Portabello Market: 1 hr duration, mental computation, probability, decision making.
Munchkin: Decision making, reading, mental computation, probability.
Thurn & Taxis: Set construction, probability, decision making, mental computation.
Apples to Apples: Reading for understanding, proportion, decision making.

These sorts of games can be used to assess how able students can follow instructions, work with others, stay on task, cooperate, teach others, analyse probabilities and statistics from scenarios or how to create an instruction set.

Favourite other games from my childhood:
Battletech, BattleLore, Illuminati, Paranoia, Risk, Shogun, Talisman.

Updated here