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"Swordplay AAR - Teaching my daughter to wargame" Topic


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876 hits since 31 Dec 2012
©1994-2014 Bill Armintrout
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WargamingAddict Supporting Member of TMP31 Dec 2012 12:19 p.m. PST

Hi everyone,

I recently sat down to teach my 5 year-old to wargame and picked Swordplay to do it.

And so our heroes of light fought against the undead in an attempt to protect the fabled treasure of the princess.

And much fun was had by all.

You can check out how it went here: link

What do you think about kids and wargaming?

Personal logo Striker Supporting Member of TMP31 Dec 2012 1:29 p.m. PST

I agree with your observations. I played a similar game with my daughter using the free download rules "Guts". She picked it up quick and we made up some stats & rules on the fly.

WargamingAddict Supporting Member of TMP31 Dec 2012 1:45 p.m. PST

Yeah – we're normally amazed how kids pick up computer related stuff. Truth is, they pick up anything fun quickly.

Shark Six Three Zero Inactive Member31 Dec 2012 1:50 p.m. PST

Good job, Princess Sonja rocks! Good job Dad!

blacksmith Supporting Member of TMP31 Dec 2012 2:48 p.m. PST

I think it's a great experience. Look here :) link

WargamingAddict Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2013 3:56 a.m. PST

Great blog post (and great blog) Blacksmith – loved reading it!

Tgunner01 Jan 2013 9:42 a.m. PST

Five is a bit young to me to actually *play*. But they enjoy moving the models and rolling the dice!

The truth is, wargaming offers a valuable skill set to kids. It teaches them decision making, helps with their mental arithmetic and gives them a first hand appreciation of history. It also sharpens up their competitive skills and they get to have some fun while doing it.

Very true. To me though it's really a matter of maturity and what you mean by playing the game. Younger kids don't necessarily have the attention span to play a 2-3 hour game. A short 15-45 minute game is doable though and that's what I did with my boys when they were very young.

IMO 8-10 is about the best starting point. At that age they have the maturity to pay attention to the rules and to play by them. They also won't always break into tears when they lose a game too. They will also have the mental abilities to learn the rules and will want to paint their own figures to a reasonable standard. But it depends on the kid! They are all different with their own skill sets and challenges.

My two boys are now at about the age where they can seriously play. My youngest is especially keen and he's 9. My older boy, 11, has never had the bug but he'll play every once in a while to "humor" daddy.

So the total length of rules was about 10 pages to learn. Amberlee (my daughter) had the basics of combat down by the time we finished the scenario (which took about 30 minutes to play). Again, get too complex on the kids and it gets boring. so I acted as a filter for the rules, telling her what she needed to know and doing the calculations in my head.

That's true for kids of most ages. Tossing them the book and telling them to "read this" is a guarantee that they'll have no interest in the game at all. Start simple, explain things simply, and focus on the fun parts: moving cool figures and tossing dice to "kill" things. Stick with that and you'll hook 'em. Then as they learn the basic rules you can start tossing in more and more rules because they will start to want more and more themselves! Don't be too surprised if they want to move faster into the rules than you do! Stay being the filter for the rules and you'll keep them.

And if you have a boy like mine who's in the 5th grade but reads on grade level for high-school then you can let him/her start reading the rules for themselves… but be aware of the rules lawyer!!! Kids focus on rules very quickly and they WILL call you on them!!!!! 8D

Princess Sonja (OK, I had her down as a knight but Amberlee wanted to play a princess. She was going to wargame, so I wasn't going to argue) has finally deciphered an ancient map that led to her father's hidden treasure. Arriving there, she is attacked by evil skeletons who want to steal it for themselves.

Yes, I know it's hardly Hollywood quality, but Amberlee wanted the bad guys clearly defined. What skeletons want with treasure I don't know. I was kind of afraid to ask to be honest.

Excellent job there! Let the child define the scenario if you can. Teachers call that "buy in" and it gives them ownership, and thus interest, in the game. Heck, if you're curious why don't you ask Amberlee why the skeles want the treasure. You could be very shocked that she has a perfectly reasonable answer why and that could lead to the next game. It will also keep her hooked because you're helping her to create her very own story. Kids love that and it's an awesome tool for teaching reading and a life long interest in reading.

Keep it simple. Don't stop to look up the rules. If you can't remember something, just wing it. No one is going to arrest you for forgetting a dice roll or a table. Make it fun, not an accurate simulation.

Excellent point. KISS is best with kids. But be prepared, when they start to read the rules themselves, for the "You did that part wrong dad, here's what you're suppose to do!".

Also taking pictures isn't a bad thing. Just have your camera warm-up and ready to go. Snap a quick shot and get back to the game. It's not that bad unless you're trying to be perfect.

Spend time with your kids and share hobbies. Does Amberlee really love wargaming? I doubt it, but she does love spending time with her dad and that's what being a parent is all about.

And that's the key. If you get their interest and show them it's something fun to do with daddy then you'll hook them and they will play with you. Later down the line who knows?

Thorfin1101 Jan 2013 10:03 a.m. PST

Great fun, I really enjoyed your write up and your "What I learnt about gaming with kids" should be written in stone for all Dads that want to game with their kids.

Too often, I catch myself breaking one of these rules in the interests of "correctness" but you are so right that fun and flow trump everything else.

I am adopting your guidelines as my New Year Gaming resolutions so thanks for that!

WargamingAddict Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2013 12:38 p.m. PST

TGunner – first of all – thanks so much for taking the time to offer such a detailed reply. It is really appreciated.

I do agree with you that 5 is a bit young. My little 'un is a Lord of the Rings fanatic and a bit ahead of her years in many ways – so I thought I'd run with it. It really does depend on the kid.

I love the point about "buy in". The story is a major part of the experience. And next time I'll definitely ask some questions to see what answers I get :)

Thanks again for your insight and input – and have a great 2013.

WargamingAddict Supporting Member of TMP01 Jan 2013 12:45 p.m. PST

Thorfin11 – absolutely! As a wargamer I kept finding myself say "but that's not how it is in the rules".

It took a while, but I silenced that annoying voice and got on with the serious business of having fun :)

Mako11 In the TMP Dawghouse01 Jan 2013 4:29 p.m. PST

Sounds like fun.

Thanks for sharing your report.

No doubt, with a nice win under her belt, she'll be bugging you to run more games soon……

saltflats192901 Jan 2013 8:39 p.m. PST

Next time Barbie vs. Zombies. Do they make a chainsaw in 1/6?

WargamingAddict Supporting Member of TMP02 Jan 2013 12:52 a.m. PST

Hmmm… She does own some Barbie figures… Maybe a hostage rescue in barbie's dreamhouse? :)

emckinney03 Jan 2013 12:11 a.m. PST

Truly great tales of playing AD&D 4e with a 7-year old: link

Keep reading down the page because there are more parts. They end up playing in a fascinating semi-cooperative mode where they're both building parts of the story (can't keep a good imagination down!).

WargamingAddict Supporting Member of TMP03 Jan 2013 11:06 a.m. PST

Wow that is awesome emckinney. Love the way you built the world together and gave your son free reign for his imagination. Definitely a great experience. Well done you!

trailape Supporting Member of TMP12 Jan 2013 3:28 a.m. PST

My middle child, (14yr old daughter) loves wargames.
We've played Warhammer Fantasy, DBA, C7C Napoleonics and Space Hulk.
Recently we played a game of Saga and she beat me.
Wargames are simply a type of game. I've no issue with my kids playing.

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