Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Bedtime Battles: Part One

My daughter (age 4 and 1/2) and I play with minis and dice quite frequently. We usually play "Star Wars" or "Super Heroes" which means hauling out the appropriate minis (about 10 per player), lining them up in teams, and moving them one at a time to "challenge" each other.

Sometimes we use terrain (Little People furniture, Imaginext or Star Wars spacecraft, etc.) but a lot of the time it's just figures. 

Essentially, we just roll off with d20s and the highest number wins--meaning the winner gets to put the opposing foe in "jail" (behind their figures). 

How to play...but also be a good player

This--I've learned--is an ideal way to teach a few basic concepts. Nearly as important as counting and learning numbers is the idea that some numbers are "higher" or "lower" than others. Last summer she was only just beginning to understand sums and how there are more or fewer amounts of objects. But the idea that more = higher took a little while longer to sink in.

Another important concept is the idea of fair play. From the very beginning of our gaming escapades, I told her that she will lose more games than she wins. While that might not be statistically true, I think it's important not to expect to win. And it's likewise essential that every game can be good--even if you don't win--because you still get to have fun!

I worked hard not to fudge dice rolls for her or let her off easy so she understood what that meant (and believe me, it wasn't easy! I want her to win!). It's more than just playing nice. To me, playing to have fun means you have respect for the other player(s) and respect for yourself enough not to take losing personally. 

I grew up with kids who would scream and cry--even as old as 13--if they felt like they were losing a game or being treated unfairly.

Plus, I want to play games too, and the sooner she gets this concept, the sooner we can get on with just having fun together! 

Anyway, we now have a solid track record of shaking after every finished skirmish, just like it were a Little League T-ball tourney: "Good game!"

Ready to use d20s!

She's grasped numbers up through 20 faster than I thought, so a few months ago we switched from using d12 for everything to d20. That's a pretty big step! It means we have a lot more latitude when it comes to probability and we can finally start building on some of those early sessions. 

We'll still play "story mode" without dice. And we'll do the opposite and ditch the plot and just have gladiatorial roll-offs. But tonight we worked on running through a simple scenario as it would be presented in a miniatures wargame or RPG that uses minis. 

It wasn't our first attempt at this, using maps, minis, and dice to get from point A to point B. But it's been, by FAR, our most successful. 

It's heartening to see her come around on some concepts and finally "get it" not just because she understands, but more for the fact that she WANTS to play the more challenging game. 

A mission-driven play session was a little daunting to her before. She'd say she was bored or didn't like it. But now, she's definitely pushing to stay up past her bedtime in order to get more game time in. 

As it turns out, Dad is a bit of pushover if you ask to play more Star Wars!

I kept this one light, but I'm working on a second post to cover the game we played using some simple, impromptu rules.

UPDATERead Part Two for play report of tonight's game and the rules we used.

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