Tag Archives: Event

Board Games for Kids’ events, 11-18 years old

What’s this all about?

Playing Cosmic Encounter at the 2014 Game Camp. Still a massive hit.

I’ve been running game camps for kids for a little under a decade now, and a big portion of what success I’ve had with them is due to adding board games to a mostly miniatures-based program. Board games, especially designer board games (or Family Board Games, or Hobby Board games, take your pick..) fill up the gaps in a program where I’m setting up some big miniatures game and need to keep kids occupied for an hour or more on one side of the room.

I’m going to start recording the board games we use at Camp to keep kids engaged and having fun, and the reasons why I choose them.  I envision this piece to be an ongoing narrative that I update on a semi-regular (quarterly) basis.  There’s just too many to try to create an all encompassing list; once I’ve compiled a few, I’ll move this up to a page tab.

Let’s get started with my FALL of 2014 Recommendations if you are looking to find games that will play well with a group of kids from about 11 to 18 years in age, with a few hours to kill here and there.  I’ll try to do another one in January 2015.


It’s no small secret that Cosmic Encounter is my favorite board game of all time.   I’ve mentioned it a few times here and there.   What was a surprise was just how readily younger kids take to this game.  There’s something about the Nomic quality of the changing Alien powers, the component mix from FFG, and the generally silly atmosphere.  I would recommend the FFG version over all others, for the artwork alone, but also the range of choices that add to the customization.  I think CE’s easy to perceive goal, plus ever-changing nature, makes it far more accessible to younger children than I gave it credit for before.



Get Bit was a charming little surprise I discovered through Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop web show.  It’s a simple positional race game not unlike GMT’s earlier Formula Motor Racing (which is another great candidate for a kid’s camp, but I’d play it with Matchbox cards).    Players put their cute plastic robots in a line in the water, followed by a shark with a taste for robots.   Single number cards (from a finite hand of cards) are played that move the robots around in order.   The last robot in line gets “chomped” and loses a limb.  When he loses all limbs, he’s out.  It’s no suprise WHY kids like this– it’s all about cartoon violence, of course, but there’s also some great decision making and strategy implied in the card play.  Immensely popular.


Tsuro is another one of those great discoveries that came into my radar through the Tabletop show.  I knew it existed, and I knew that it had been out since 2006, but I had never played it.  I already had Metro by Queen Games, which reminds me of it quite a bit.  Essentially this is a path-finding puzzle style game where the players try to keep their dragons on the maze-like path built by placing tiles.   It’s simple and easy to pick up, and very visual.  The theme is a little more exciting than Metro (which is about streetcars), so I would recommend Tsuro over Metro.



It’s a little too easy to call  The Resistance “a Werewolf/Mafia variant” but people often do.   Certain elements are very similar to Werewolf, to be sure– such as the day/night turn and turn-based mechanics. However, the addition of the cards and the “going on a mission” theme really gives this humble little game a great framework that (I think) forces the players into using deductive logic much more than Werewolf ever will.  Werewolf games can devolve into silliness rather quickly– which is why I don’t recommend them that highly for younger kids, they might take accusations too seriously and have their feelings hurt.   The Resistance takes a similar riff and adds the cards and mission element on top of it, which tends to distance the younger players from the J’accuse! flavor of Werewolf.  Notes to adults: don’t even attempt to run this if you don’t have at least six committed players, and do NOT take the sixth spot yourself.  You’ll need to be in charge for the first game, anyway.

CODE 777

Code 777 is a modern reworking of Mastermind (in some respects).  It is a good design for 2-5 players, and I suspect 4 is optimal.  Each player has a Scrabble style rack with three tiles on it– tiles are a certain color and number, or have a certain symbol behind them.  The players have a grasp of certain facts– there are only so many of this tile, or so many of that tile, or so many blue tiles, etc. etc.  Cards are played with questions on them that help the players deduce their own sequences.  That’s right, their own– the tiles face outward; so the other players know only what every player except themselves are displaying.  The players can glean a lot of knowledge to make deductions with from what they see in every tile rack except their own.  Code 777 is a much older design (from 1985 at least, and maybe older) but has recently been reprinted by Stronghold Games.  This is a great game for problem solving and deductive logic; it never fails to keep kids engaged.



Room 25 is a great maze style game where the maze starts built and flipped over and gradually is revealed by the player’s tokens exploring the map through trial and (often) deadly error;  the players assume a set series of roles (six, maximum) which are quite colorful but functionally identical (sadly; I think this could be improved upon in an expansion).  The game can be played cooperatively (boo!) or semi-treacherously (yay!) where some of the players have hidden traitor roles.  The theme of the game is very similar to a series of Canadian Horror/SF films called Cube/Hypercube etc.   Players have a limited series of actions, two per turn, which either affect their own player token or the token of whomever is on the current tile with them.  Room 25’s goofy imagery and characters, the changeable map, added to a soupçon of treachery makes this game a perennial favorite with younger teenagers.



Roll through the Ages is the game that got me started on the notion of adding board games to the miniature-heavy events I was running for camp.  For some reason, over the years, I have  had my share of children who suffer from Asperger syndrome and even high functioning Austism.  These are special cases– they want to be engaged but they sometimes can’t engage at the same level as other children.  Sometimes they quickly grow bored of the main activity.  I was in such a bind several years ago and on a whim, I pulled a copy of Roll Through The Ages, which I had bought that week on an enthusiastic recommendation from Tom Vasel.  RTTA is a great game– you are really playing yourself more than an opponent, so there isn’t a lot of social interaction to stress a kid out, and lots of challenges and decisions to make as you try to score high by rolling for civilization advantages and building great works.  It’s an elegant little dice game with great chunky components.  Anyway, to get back to my story, I had an Asperegers’ kid.  He was bored and being disruptive.  I handed him Roll Through The Ages and explained very quickly how to play it.  It took him all of 5 minutes to figure it out (all of my kids are smart!).  He was entranced.  He played RTTA non-stop, for the rest of the week.  I had half a pad of score pads after he was done.  I didn’t care, he was happy as a clam and said it was his best camp that Summer.  Go figure!  It was the success of this desperate experiment in board gaming (totally unplanned, I just happened to have it with me that day) that led me to include board games as a regular part of the curriculum.


This is a catchall for games that are all somewhat thematically similar, play fast and easy, and feature a series of specialized, thematic highly colorful dice that interact with each other in a specific way.

The granddaddy is Zombie Dice, where the players are playing the roles of the Zombies in a Zombie movie, looking for brains; there is also a very similar game where the players are playing the role of the Aliens in a UFO invasion called Martian dice.   You can play a Ninja on a special mission in Ninja Dice, Re-theme Zombie Dice with Hunting Dinosaurs and you have Dino Hunt Dice, and finally play a game of re-themed Put and Take with Cthulhu Dice.   The mechanics differ from game to game, but they all are rich in theme, very colorful, very simple and resolve and play very quickly.  This kind of game handles 3-4 kids comfortably.  The up side is they are all very affordable and you can probably buy all of them if you have a large crowd of kids.  Maybe even throw a dice game tournament, who knows?


I could go on and on with this post but I think I’m going to limit these to about 8-10 at a time so I don’t feel rushed.  The games in this posting have all been played at kid’s camps and although some games have failed to garner support, these have all done pretty well since I started.  I hope you find these suggestions useful


NOVAG Spring Game Day, 01 June 2013

NOVAG will host is Spring Game Day on Saturday 1 June 2013 at the Knights of Columbus Hall on the campus of St Leo’s Catholic Church. The church is at 3700 Old Lee Highway in Fairfax. The hall is at the back of the campus by the baseball fields. Doors will open at 11:30 a.m. for GMs to set up games. Gaming will start at 1:00 pm. We have the hall unit 6:00 pm. Admission is $3 per adult and children free. All the money raised by the admission fees will be donated to the Knights of Columbus.

Flea Market. A Flea Market will be held from 1:00-2:00 pm. Sellers need only pay the $3 admission fee.

Internet Donation. Being organized on line now, NOVAG has only one expense. Our web site is hosted by Peregrine Computer Consulting Corporation for free. However we do receive a yearly bill for $17 for our name registration. Currently the treasury has enough to pay next year’s fees. So we will have a donation basket to help defray the registration fee. When we host Game Days at libraries etc we are prohibited from charging admission. So this is an opportunity for the club to replenish its coffers.

The Primary Events List follows:

Primary Events List

Title: Lutterburg
GM: Tim Tilson
Period: Seven Years War
Rules: Black Powder
Scale: 25mm
Length: 3 hours
Players: 5

Description: 10 October 1758 1500 hours. Early in Ocotber, the Comte de Soubise was reinforced by Chevert and St. James and promptly advanced. Facing him was LTG Oberg with only 17 Allied battalions to oppose the 78 French/Saxon battalions. Consequently, he retreated northwest across the Fulda river through Lutterburg, with a goal of crossing the Werra river. However the French were on his heels. Ober’s only crossing was at Munden. Fearing he would be caught by the French en marche, he stopped at the heights of Lutterburg and deployed his army. His right flank rested on the Fulda with his left on a hill known as the Klein Stuafenberg. Soubise followed him and planned to use his superior numbers to outflank the Allied army and push it onto the Fulda or force it to surrender.

Title: The Struggle for Omaruru (German South-West Africa 1904)
GM: Roy Jones
Period: Colonial
Rules: The Sword and the Flame (modified)
Scale: 25mm

Description: The Hereros hold the German garrison town of Omaruru;the Kaiser wants it back! But Herero riflemen are defending in depth from stone field works and strong points, with their usual courage and skill. A tough job awaits Haupmtann Frank’s elite 2nd Feldkompagnie. From the scenario book The Herero War. More at http://www.hererowars. com

Title: Second Battle of Heligoland, Novebner 18, 1917
GM: Bill Cira
Period: WWI
Rules: Fleet Action Imminent
Scale: 1/3000
Length: 4 hours
Players: 8

Description: The Royal Navy has learned of a German Navy plan to conduct a mine sweeping opersation west of Heligoland in the North Sea. The Germans want to ensure safe passage of their U-Boats while the British plan to spoil the plan. A strong force of RN light cruisers and battle cruisers have scattered the German mineswepers and are in hot pursuit of a squadron of German light cruisers. But there could be an unpleasant surprise for them at the end of the ride. Rules taught and beginners welcome.

Title: The Battle of Denmark Strait.
GM: Walt O’Hara
Rules: Victory at Sea
Scale: 1:600
Length: 3 hours
Players: 4

Description: In May of 1941, the Bismarck and the escorting Prinz Eugen finally broke out into the Atlantic and were free to begin their commerce raiding cruise. Just two ships of the Royal Navy stood in their way, the HMS Hood and HMS Prince of Wales. The resulting battle proved to be disastrous for the Royal Navy and lead to one of the greatest confrontations at sea during WW2. Perhaps it could have gone differently, who knows? The RN players will have the Hood and Prince of Wales, the Germans the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen.

OPTIONAL (Depends on remaining time)

Title: The Battle of the River Platte
GM: Walt O’Hara
Rules: Victory at Sea
Scale: 1:600
Length: 3 hours
Players: 4

Description: The first major naval engagement of WW2, the Admiral Graf Spee had been successfully raising merchant ships in the South Atlantic, but the Royal Navy’s Sought American Division was closing in. On December 13th, 1939, three British Cruisers engaged the German pocket battleship. On paper, they were outgunned. Historically, the German captain balked due to his certainty that there was another RN squadron nearby (there wasn’t)- – so he cut and run to a neutral harbor where he ended up scuttling his ship. This scenario allows the half-completed historical battle to be played out. In a stand up fight the British player will be at a gunnery and armor disadvantage, but will have the advantage of attacking from different directions.

Title: Police Action
GM: Dwin Craig
Rules: Fireball Forward!!
Scale: 15mm
Length: 3 hours
Players: 4

Description: 22 August 1941, 0500hrs The SS Police Division was located several kilometers south and southwest of Luga. SS Brigadefuehrer Muelverstedt advanced up to Luga and assaulted several bunkers and ran into problems. The Soviets had to literally be shot outof their bunkers and defensive positions.

Title: Mannecourt Hill
GM: Roxanne Patton
Rules: Battlefront WWII
Scale: 20mm
Length: 3 hours
Players: 4

Description: 20 September 1944. Turning back from the advance to the north, Col. Abrams leads a reinforced task force on a sweep east to the town of Ley to clear the village of German armor. C/37th on Abram’s left crests Mannecourt Hill into a deadly German fusillade.

Title: The Scouring of the Westfold
GM: Lance O’Donnell
Period: Fantasy
Rules: War of the Ring
Scale: 25mm
Length: 4 hours
Players: 4

Description: A dark cloud has fallen over Rohan, Saruman has betrayed the White Council and seeks the One Ring for himself. He has allied Isengard with Barad-Dur as the two towers unite. First Rohan must be destroyed. Saruman has unleashed the forces of Isengard to wreck havoc upon the Westfold. With King Theoden under Saruman’ s spell, his nephew Eomer has gathered loyal riders to try and stop Saruman’ s vanguard. This game uses Games Workshop’ s Lord of the Rings: War of the RIng mass battle system. The forces of evil are a mix of Uruk-hai and Warg Riders and the forces of good are Rohan Oathsworn Militia and Riders of Rohan. Rules will be taught, not recommended for children under 14.

Title: Mini Mech: City Under Siege!
GM: Sean Conlon
Period: Future
Rules: Mini Mech
Scale: 6mm
Length: 2 hours
Players: up to 6 (possibly 8)
Description: A fun, streamlined set of rules for combat between companies of tiny mechs and combat walkers, in an urban environment.