2013 Holiday Gift Guide—Kids Games!

Whether you have kids of your own, know someone with kids, or were a kid once yourself, it can be hard to find just the right game for the tiny little snot factories in your life. So as we continue our gift guides, we're going to give you some of our favorite new and old games you can pick up for the kiddos—all of which are in print. And on a few of them we've linked to our review of the game, so you can investigate yourself if it's a game you'd be interested in. We'll give you the MSRP, and age/audience as it's appropriate. So without further ado, here's the list!

cheeky monkeyCheeky Monkey—This is a cute little press-your-luck set-collection game involving exotic animals. It even comes in an adorable (albeit legless) stuffed monkey. Our youngest kids really love this game.

Cost: $29.99 (Find it online)

Ages: 5 and up

Review: http://wp.me/p2hTk7-vM


candle questCandle Quest—We haven’t forgotten our Jewish readers! (Okay, we don’t know if we have any of them, but still…) This auction game has you trying to be the first to complete your menorah. It’s a retheme (actually, the original theme) of the game It’s Alive.

Cost: $21.99 (Find it online)

Ages: 5 and up

Review: Coming Soon!      

pigPick-a-Pig/Pick-a-Dog—In this game you’re trying to quickly spot the differences in the portraits of dogs (or pigs). It’s cheap, and fast. If you grab a copy of both (pig and dog) versions you can combine them for even more animal selecting enjoyment!

Cost: $10 (Find it online)

Ages: 7 and up

Review: http://wp.me/p2hTk7-Fu


mayfair_catan-junior-rightCatan: Junior—This game is designed to teach kids the basics of Settlers Of Catan, and it does so marvelously. It plays quickly, and there are decisions to be made—but they’re manageable. The colorful and chunky components only add to the appeal.

Cost: $30 (Find it online)

Ages: 5 and up

Review: http://wp.me/p2hTk7-qC


The classic code-cracking game is back in a 25th Anniversary DelCrazy Creatures Dr. Gloom—This cute little card game has you adding creatures from your hand to Dr. Gloom’s machines. It helps kids with their counting, and learning about higher and lower numbers.

Cost: $15 (Find it online)

Ages: 5 and up

Review: http://wp.me/p2hTk7-A1


louieLooping Louie—This is a holdover from last year's list, but it's just so stinking good it deserves to be on every list. This is a kids game, but I can tell you that I've played just as many games with adults as I have with kids. It's a super-fun game where Louie whirls around on a pivot, trying to knock out your chicken tokens. You're trying to keep him away from your chickens and send him at your opponents' chickens. Sounds crazy. Is crazy. Is also crazy fun.

Cost: $30 (Find it online)

Ages: My 5-year-old plays it, but he's probably too young by just a bit. Six or 7 and up, I'd say.


LabyrinthThe Magic Labyrinth—This clever little game lets you build a different hidden labyrinth under the board every game, and then you're trying to be the first to make it to tokens without running into one of the hidden barriers. There's a big memory aspect to this, and some luck. But best of all, there's no David Bowie in super-tight tights. *shudder*

Cost: $30 (Find it online)

Ages: 5 and up

There it is, our highly recommended list of kids games for this 2013 Christmas season! Stay tuned as we unveil more of our 2013 Christmas Holiday Gift Guide this week!


Do You Let Your Kids Win Games?

mojo the helper monkeyby Firestone This weekend Son The Elder and I were Home Alone. My wife and Son The Younger were in Arizona for the weekend, so we did Guy Stuff: ate at Smashburger, watched Star Wars Episode II (his idea—he hadn't seen it yet), worked in the garage... It's amazing how quickly the house starts to look junky without my wife's vital influence on keeping the slow tide of chaos at bay. I kept imagining that episode of The Simpsons where Homer gets Mojo the helper monkey, and Marge walks in to find Mojo's been changed into a lazy, diaper-wearing sluggard. But I digress...

So we also broke out the DC Comics Deck-Building Game—[sarcasm]what a terrific name![/sarcasm] Despite the awful name, it's really lots of fun—expect a Double-Take Review shortly! It was his first deck-builder, so I was explaining the overarching idea behind those, and helping him by playing the hand open every turn and talking through things. Then on my turn I found myself making a few suboptimal moves—not all the time, but some of the time. If I knew he really wanted to get one of the cards in the display, for instance, I wouldn't buy it. Or I might forgo buying an extra, low-VP card if I had the chance. I was telling myself I was trying to make a better deck, but I think I was also trying to "short myself" a couple of VPs, hoping it would make the difference in him beating me.

Well, combine my play with him getting cards that allowed him to destroy some of the crappy starting cards, and he whooped me—well beyond the "padding" I'd given him. I was fine with that, because he's at an age where losing a game adversely affects his opinion of it. Will I play that way every time? No. But I wanted him to have fun, and winning helps him have fun.

So was I wrong to do that? I know there are people who are MERCILESS when they play their kids. I just kind of ramp up to the MERCILESS...

What about you? Crush them? Let them win? Somewhere in between? Chime in!