Boardgames & tabletop games



Figured I should reply here rather than in the goals thread about gaming in the classroom.

As for presenting at GenCon, it’s ultimately an excuse to get in for free and playtest some games and MAYBE get a little bit of RPing in for personal pleasure (I was bummed not to get into much 2 years ago when we attended for professional development - GenCon is not what it was in the 90s when I first was going). Our presentation will mainly be sharing our experiences and how we approach assessments.

My nerd buddy teaches earth science and has been starting the year teaching the scientific method with an assortment of games the kids can choose from and then closing the year with Power Grid. I teach US history and have integrated Catan Histories: Settlers of America (which I hope to replace since it is way too loose) and also 1775: Rebellion. I have been bringing other games in for extra credit and I let them learn the game, find a time for me to watch them play, then I interview them briefly. I’m thinking it’ll be a way of seeing what other games might work IN class. Ultimately, the games are light on content in the sense that they may not learn the details of the Battle of Trenton, or the Homestead Act or whatever, but thematically they’re great and more importantly the kids buy in and have a great time. Further, they learn all kinds of skills incidentally that they don’t realize through gaming. So I’m a big fan of bringing into the classroom. Plus, it’s a great break in the routine (which I value) that I establish of more traditional classwork - read, take notes, take a quiz, let’s talk about it. Repeat. So every now and again, the games really mix things up in a nice way.

If you teach history though and game, I’d love to hear what you play. I now have about 10 games in my classroom of American history content. I’m trying to persuade our 9th grade world history teacher to bring some in, because many are grumbling about not getting to game, though honestly, they’re never going to be happy no matter what probably ha.


Just to butt in a bit, if you’re ever interested in spitballing ideas to get kids designing games based on history I’m all for a discussion. I taught a handful of cub scouts about game design, which they enjoyed and my son went through a couple week game design afterschool program. It sounds like you’ve got a pretty great program already, but maybe designing a game would be something a handful of them would enjoy? There’s also a bit of a subgenre of text-adventure games that are about recreating history with Inform.


I recommend 1960: The Making of the President over Twilight Struggle, though they are essentially the same game. 1960 just builds on the idea of TS, and I find the theme more appealing myself. I believe it was also republished recently, so it should be available again. It’s a stellar 2-player game!


Did work on kids designing games about sustainability a few years ago, but it was senior high school and first year university level. Though it shouldn’t really matter. In the board game part of the project (which was brainstorming only) coding skills are obviously not an issue…

I can lay out the methodology if you are interested. It was easy and worked well and the engagement was immediate.


Awesome! I teach music, so history is part of what I teach but not the focus. The techniques I have used have been much closer to tabletop RPG’s.

The first was a lesson plan I got from educational materials for Ken Burns “Jazz” documentary (though tragically I can’t find it online anymore).
Basically, the students:

  1. Worked in groups of 3-5 to make up characters, each character was a performer in an integrated jazz combo (so one student wold make up a character for the drummer, one student’s character would be the pianist)
  2. They had to say where they were from and how they knew each other and what their hopes and dreams were
  3. They had to plan a tour for their band from northern cities to southern cities, using road maps but not using interstate highways (because they didn’t exist yet!)
  4. The students rolled three times on a table of bad things that happened during their tour and then had to journal about each experience. The bad things were like: you get to the gig but the club owner won’t host an integrated jazz band; you get a flat tire; you want to get a bite to eat after the gig but all the restaurants are segregated

It was great - I taught in an urban high school with some students that could be described as “challenging,” but the classroom hummed during this activity (the “challenging” students loved it too…I think some “challenging” kids just have learning styles, like intra/interpersonal, that are ignored by usual classroom assignments…) I always got excellent results.

The other one that I’ve seen done but haven’t tried is a thing called “Tapestry”…an outside consultant showed it to us, but it wasn’t dissimilar to the Smithsonian lesson plan. Students made up characters in a group, the teacher acted as an “Oracle” who asked them about the characters’ hopes and dreams. Then the Oracle said certain events happened, and the students wrote it about. Some mundane, some of historical significance (Trail of Tears, etc.) I’m not sure if the students ever acted in-character with each other…they might have?

I never did the Tapestry, but it always seemed to be memorable for the students.

And last but not least in this lengthy response, I co-taught a class on Math and the Music Business, and my mathy teaching partner came up with a record label game where students signed, developed, and dropped artists. Because fame is fickle, it was a dice game. The kids liked it, but it went a little fast and I’m not sure they really grasped the concepts. Still, it was good for a beta version of a game.

(hm, do we need an Educators thread?)


We prob should have a teacher’s thread. I’m another one.

I teach science in a primary school (3-11 yrs old). Have made games of “top trumps” with the kids during a dinosaur topic. Also used rpgs in after school clubs. Used Panzer Blitz successfully, nice to discuss ww2. Also got in touch with someone about trialling a kids level mech combat Rpg. Sadly I didn’t follow it up, but sounded great.


Ooo, the music industry game sounds intriguing. Any details? I’d love to play that with the kids.

Educators and Teachers thread

My game club has been a great addition to the school. There aren’t as many activities after school for non-athletes and fine arts people, so I just wanted a club for people to hang out and have fun. It’s also been a great place for misfits with social skill issues to work on that. It’s awesome. I think every school should have a pressure-free ‘let’s hang out and have fun’ game club. :slight_smile:


Ooo, the music industry game sounds intriguing.

Yeah, but no one ever wins.


I’m not a teacher - but I do teach (teams of developers and product managers how to do stuff). Last year I got to travel around a bit to help a company make the move towards a new way of developing software. I made up a game to simulate a software team, complete with randomness. I wish I had thought to add in “event” cards similar to the jazz game above, that would have been great! Here are the (totally top secret) rules, if you ever uh…want to simulate an agile team?

The takeaway from that experience? If you travel (especially internationally, especially through Heathrow) with a dozen packs of playing cards smooshed together and a bag full of around 40 six sided die in your carry on bag, security will absolutely pull you aside and hand search your bag because the cards look like explosives and the dice look like things that become shrapnel when the explosives do their thing.


You all should totally start a teacher thread, seems like there’s enough mass here to justify it.

Also would love to hear / see more game designs folks have tried…for teaching or not. Or would love to hear more composition games…they’re peppered all over the forum, they’re my favorite kind of post.


I’m up for asynchronous Twilight Struggle. Was a long time ago I played it now thou.


There’s an Android app of Twilight Struggle. I’m going to install it and try playing with my coworker/friend. I’ll let you all know if it’s worth it. I’m not inclined to pay for apps, but this is too tempting to resist.


After seeing Carcassonne mentoined on here I have ordered “My first Carcasonne” to play with my 4 year old! Will report back :slight_smile:

Aside from the usual plastic heavy kids stuff, can anyone recommend some board games for younger kids that could lead on to deeper stategy as they get older?


Not a board game, but Sushi-Go is a great game. My game club kids love it and I think there’s a nice level of complexity while still being easy to pick up. Catan is a good starter that ages well too.


I like Sequence – a good mixture of luck and strategy.


Rhino Hero! Maybe not the deepest game, but it’s a great one for kids. It’s basically a more fun and organized way of building a house of cards.


That was one I was looking at as well. Nice to hear that it’s good with wee ones.


Sleeping Queens, Granny Apples and Landlock (maybe landlocked?) were big hits with my little one. Flux is still one of my favorites.

My nephews like SpotIt.

Not sure how these lend themselves to strategy…but they are pretty engaging and thought-provoking.


My first Carcassonne has went down a storm with my 4 yr old tonight (although she insists on calling it “Carpatron”). Simple yet really engaging, and I enjoyed the puzzle/strategy side myself.


Started playing this with the kids when they were little, and last game was a few years ago when they were 20 and 22. Probably 100 games over those years. Every game took more time than the previous. Got to the point where you could go for coffee before a turn happened. Had to institute a timing chant… awesome game!