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Playing Elder Sign With My 5 Year Old

March 4, 2018

Elder Sign is one of my favorite games to play. Not only do I like it because it is oozing with Lovecraftian goodness, but also because I can play it by myself.

It is a game that is part luck (dice) and part strategy and it is marketed toward people aged 14+.

Before very recently I would have never considered playing it with a young child. It is not an easy game to win, The subject matter and artwork can be a bit scary and the gameplay requires fairly focused attention as there is a constant fluctuation of variables to keep track of. There is also a lot of reading which is above my daughter’s head at the moment, though it won’t be long before she’s able to read the cards on her own.

HOWEVER, I could not face another round of Candy Land … I just couldn’t. Don’t get me wrong, Candy Land is a great game for kids, and it is actually a lot better since they introduced the spinner in lieu of the cards (which basically predetermined the entire game, blarg)… but yeah… too much Candy Land isn’t good for anyone.

So with her little sister sound asleep I saw an opportunity, and knowing full well that I would probably regret it, I asked my eager 5 year old if she would like to play “Mommy’s special monster game.”

She was so excited… and I thought that since it is a collaborative game, where you and your team play against the game rather than against one another it would be a very different experience for her.

Before I took the contents out of the box for the first time I told her that she was going to have to use her imagination, and I explained the premise of the game to her. Then I showed her how to set up the play area, allowed her to choose our players and explained the turn structure to her, which is actually a lot to take in on your first time before playing through the game as an adult, never mind as a little girl, however she demonstrated straight away that she understood far more than I would have guessed.

Honestly it blew my mind how she took to the game and how without any prompting, she could strategize her next move extremely well. The longer we played, the more I realized how good this game can be for some children.

Elder Sign certainly isn’t for everyone, but I’ve made a short list of some of the positive aspects it covers and encourages for a small child with a big imagination.

  1. Practice taking turns
  2. Experience working as a team
  3. Learning strategy
  4. Understanding and keeping track of the numerous variables on the ever changing game “board”
  5. Practicing simple addition and subtraction with the dice and working out how much we are winning or losing by at regular points in the game
  6. Recognizing and understanding roman numerals (clock)
  7. Experience taking penalties and dealing with disappointment
  8. Calculating risks
  9. Dealing with consequences of risky decisions that don’t work out
  10. promotes reading
  11. Builds confidence

Each game can take a good 45+ minutes to complete which is a very long time for someone with a general attention span of roughly 10 minutes, however we have played it through about six times now and her focus remains fairy constant throughout.

Even though I do fudge over some of the more complicated variables (like terror effects and midnight effects) we don’t always win, and I think that’s really important.

She hates it when we don’t win, and sometimes there are tears if she even thinks that we are losing as she gets pretty involved in the story… but we talk about it. And not winning all the time is part of life. I’d rather she understands that now than having it smack her in the face when she’s older.

Anyway, I just thought I’d write about this unexpected parenting outcome as it’s worked out really well for us as it gives me a break from annoying, sugar coated kiddie games, which is just super. :D






From → Mommy-ness

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