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THE DAD GAME

The Dad Game: Eurogames are costlier – but designed for ‘replayability’

Saturday, December 21, 2013 - 12:12 pm

Game parts. Luxurious game parts. Linen-finish cards, extra thick boards, and wooden playing pieces. That's what we talked about last time.

And this week, we're going to talk about why you care (because you do).

There's no denying that Eurogames cost more than mass-market American games. With that being said, though, there's also no denying the old saying that you get what you pay for.

During the holidays, stores often sell classic American games for less than $15, but family-friendly Eurogames start in the low-$30 range and go up to $80 or more.

But will those inexpensive American games ever get played? And after they're played once, will anyone play them again?

Eurogames, on the other hand, are designed to keep you coming back for more plays. In game design parlance, that's called “replayability.”

With a Eurogame, you're paying for the experience of the game and the memories you'll create while you play it. Because if you chose your game well, you'll play it over and over for many years to come.

All of those replays make Euro-style board games quite the bargain for your entertainment dollars. (And that's not counting the whole “making family memories while playing” thing, which is worth its weight in gold right there.)

Where to start

The three Euro-style games below come with a couple of assumptions. First, I assume that the children in your family are at least 8 years old or older.

Although you can play a couple of these games with children who are under 8, you usually need to do that as a parent/child team rather than letting the child play on his or her own.

(There are a lot of great Eurogames for families with kids in the 4-7 age bracket, but we'll look at those in a future column.)

Aquarius from Looney Labs plays like a funky version of dominoes, using regular size playing cards as the pieces. Gameplay focuses on matching a card in your hand to one or more other cards already played on the table, but there are plenty of twists.

Because most of the game is visual and players only need basic reading skills to deal with the other cards, Aquarius makes a good game to play with younger kids.

Incan Gold from Gryphon Games casts players as brave explorers, delving into the mysterious and sometimes frightening depths of an ancient temple. The goal? Find the most treasure possible and take it back to your tent.

This game requires no reading and only a little bit of strategy. It's great for playing with kids because the artwork on the cards is all family-friendly. Even the bad guys are relatively good-natured.

Incan Gold is built around the idea of pushing your luck, so kids often do better than adults. And when things go wrong, as they invariably will, cries of “I almost made it!” and “You SO should've stopped!” will echo around the room, making memories for days and weeks to come.

Finally, there's Set from Set Enterprises. It's more of a thinking and puzzle activity than a true game, but it still ranks as one of our family's favorite things to do. The fact that the game won more than 30 “game of the year” awards over the years shows that a lot of families out there have the same opinion.

Set is entirely visual, so no reading is required. You can also adjust how challenging the game is by using either part of the deck or the whole deck.

All three of these games play in less than half an hour and engage the whole family.

And engaging your family together is, after all, the goal.

Fort Wayne resident John Kaufeld is a best-selling author, speaker and dad. He enjoys playing games with his family and letting others know about them. You can email him at john@johnkaufeld.com