As a kid I loved games. I enjoyed playing card games with my mum and my great grandmother for HOURS. We would play blackjack for matchsticks after school; on holiday we played a lot of happy families, gin rummy and Rummikub. I enjoyed those games immensely, and I spent many an hour with loved ones playing. Looking back though, I simply cannot help wishing that some of the “modern” games I know now were also a part of that! So I posed the question to my merry band of bloggers; which game do you wish you had a child?
In our house, we have a cupboard full of board games, among these, my favourites were probably Cluedo and Mancala. Later on, we were introduced to Rummikub which was amazing fun and really played into my puzzling set collecting mind.
There are a few games that I would absolutely have loved as a kid. When I was younger, Klask and Rhino Hero would have been huge hits, I think. I decided to focus on what I would have liked to play as a teenager. I really enjoy puzzle books, and I did back then too. For me the game that sits head and shoulders above the rest is Sagrada. I am a sucker for pretty games that feel nice in hand and those beautiful translucent dice really do that!
In Sagrada, you are drafting dice to try and fill your window. However, you must obey the no two colours or two numbers the same can be orthogonally adjacent to one another. Sounds easy enough. But of course the dice you pull from the bag and the numbers you roll are down to lady luck. A well known fickle beast. Any gaps in your window will cost you a point at the end.
Additionally, you will score points based on three public objectives and one private objective. The way you fill your window needs to be smart. Now suddenly it sounds impossible. There are tool cards in play too. Three per game that will also help you to move dice, or re-roll dice. These are likely to be a little godsend once or twice in a game when you realise you made a boo-boo ten minutes ago.
Sagrada is a relatively straightforward concept and has huge replayability. The base game plays up to 4 players and has a great solo mode. There are also a few small box expansions available; Passion, Life, and the 5-6 player expansion. Of these, I think my favourite is the 5-6 expansion as it adds personal dice pools that really speed up the game at those higher player counts. It also adds yellow and orange as player colours, and I love playing yellow, so that was excellent in my opinion.
As an only child of parents with other interests, I didn’t get to play many board games. Monopoly at a neighbour’s house, or Trivial Pursuit at Christmas perhaps. Not the best introduction to our amazingly diverse and engaging hobby. And probably why I didn’t fall headfirst down the tabletop rabbit hole until last year!
On this basis, I could easily say that, as a kid, I wish I had played all the games I have experienced in the past 12 months. Whether there was anyone else around the table or not. But I would be a big fat cheaty-pants if I did that (and Hannah would be the first to call me out!). So, I’m sticking by the rules and choosing just one.
And so, despite such a mean restriction, my pick for a game I wish I had as a child has to be Planet. Tactile, engaging, and educational, this game would have blown my mind as a kid. Being able to hold a 3D globe in my hands, not to mention the fun of using magnetic tiles, would have been a winner. Add in the goal of ensuring cool animals enjoyed comfortable habitats in a competitive but fun way, and Planet would have been out on my table every day.
I know this because I love it now. And, truth be told, I haven’t grown up much over the past 30 years. I love puzzles, I love education, I love fun, and I love games. And Planet gives me the chance to experience these things with my own Mini-meeple. Sometimes he just wants to make his globe look pretty. Other times, he works very hard to make sure those pandas get the leafy home they seek. Either way, I get to play a 3D tile-laying, territory building, spatial puzzle, and the little kid in me couldn’t be more excited!
I cannot begin to tell you how much I would have enjoyed Martin Wallace's Wildlands as a kid, especially with the Ancients expansion. I was a total D&D geek and I picked up the Basic Set before any of my friends were really interested, or really rocked for the idea of a tabletop RPG. As an only kid, there were no elder or younger siblings to enlist either. So the idea of a quick and accessible fantasy skirmish board game with the possibility of solo would have been such a hit.
And then Warhammer became a thing, but games took so long and the rules were so convoluted. So, again a 45 minute to 1-hour intense PvP game with a slick card-driven action system would have got a huge amount of table time.
Wildlands’ great miniatures would have all been lovingly painted when I was a kid, in exactly the way they aren’t now as a dad of 3 smallish children. Expansions with new maps and minis would have been the stuff of birthday and Christmas presents and each would have been exhaustively explored. Played and played again until every permutation had been wrung out through gleeful experimentation.
And I have every hope that as my small folk get bigger then this will get more and more table time at home. I think it is an underrated gem and that Wallace has married a really slick design with some smashing design and production. He has created something accessible but lean and mean, thinky but full of punch and pace. It doesn’t get a fraction of the table time that it would have had when I was young, but it's a keeper and one I can see bringing a lot of glee in the not too distant future.
I wasn’t a social kid. Big shock, I’m sure, but I kept to myself mostly, or to the core group of friends I had at the time. It’s probably telling to say that whilst many of my peers were playing sports, I spent time training to be a rugby referee. Around 14, I started to find my voice and an interest in taking to the stage. Some would say this points to a desire to be the centre of attention, to confine the world with rules but with creativity and a desire to act. The gamers among you might even say this sounds like a game master or Dungeon Master.
I discovered Dungeons and Dragons in the fifth edition, around 2015. It was something which was in the zeitgeist, loitering about but never coming forward until some dice were placed in front of me. My first character was a simple elven wizard with a pseudodragon familiar (Kerin Phoenixbane and Spyro, if you were wondering) and he lasted a couple of sessions before that group disintegrated (the players, not the characters). Shortly afterwards, I got interested in running the game from the other side of the screen and so I put a notice in the local board game shop Facebook page, seeing who wanted to play. And as a result, five years later, I have a group of lifelong friends, including my flatmate and my partner, who meet twice a week to roll some dice and explore the world we’ve built together.
Had I picked up D&D in my formative years, it may have been in a lesser edition (I don’t know, I’ve never played 4 th edition, but I’ve heard it was tricky to say the least,) BUT I would have developed a lot of skills I now use in adult life – negotiation within rules, diplomacy, communication, people management, resource management, creative thinking and empathy. If you haven’t, I really recommend picking up some dice and a character sheet and just giving it a go. #playdnd
As a child, I was most certainly a Disney kid. Honestly, I still am... And though The Aristocats was the VHS that I wore out (yes...we’re talking that long ago), Toy Story is absolutely my favourite Disney franchise.
When I discovered Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures I was thrilled to embark upon the adventures of my favourite animated toys and defeat villains like Sid and Stinky Pete once and for all!
A retheme of the popular Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle, Obstacles and Adventures is a 2-5 player deckbuilding cooperative in which you get to play as one of the five hero toys, Woody, Buzz, Rex, Jessie and Bo Peep. The game loosely focuses on the stories of the films in 6 action-packed Adventures in which you’ll need to overcome Hazards and Dangers for a toy triumph.
Where Obstacles and Adventures differs from Hogwarts Battle is; instead of all of the adventures ramping up in difficulty (this is true of Adventures 1, 2, 3 and 6), Adventures 4 and 5 explore stories outside of the main movies and have different hazards to overcome that are unique to those stories. It makes for an interesting shift in technique and was a welcome addition after playing the first 3 Adventures.
What I love about Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures, and what I really wish I got to experience as a child, is the cooperative gameplay. As a child, I developed a fierce competitive streak which I carried into adulthood, not only with others but also myself. Now I love nothing more than strategizing as a group, planning, discussing and (hopefully) enjoying our shared victory.
I’d 100% recommend Toy Story: Obstacles and Adventures for kids and grown-ups alike. Though on the lighter end of the spectrum the game certainly offers interesting choices and requires careful planning and strategy to succeed, particularly in later rounds...so grab some friends and start your adventures! To infinity and beyond!
And there you have it, five games we wished we had discovered earlier, what would your pick be?