Despite all evidence to the contrary, I generally try not to talk too much about "real life" non-wargaming stuff on this blog, or about other sorts of games. But today I'm going to make (yet another) exception.
This last Sunday I was invited to a belated Christmas dinner with my dear friends Rick & Ruth and their three boys. You may remember last year I visited them to help their eldest son get started figure painting and wargaming. (Sadly since that time he has "discovered girls" and lost interest in this and pretty much everything else, as boys his age tend to do.) Not only was it a full Xmas dinner, but they went all out with decorations and seasonal music. After the food we settled down for an afternoon of serious playing with the two youngest (the eldest slinking off to hang out with his mates) There may have been a little bit of Scalextric played, but I think that was more for the benefit of Rick and myself than the young 'uns (we wuz too poor to afford Scalextric when I were a lad.) and of course a selection of "early learning centre" type games suitable for the boys.
One of these games really stood out for me as being rather splendid fun, with a bit more potential for subtle play than a 3 and a 6 yr old could muster. "Tutan Loot 'em" is a pattern matching card game with an Egyptian theme. Each player gets a hidden hand of four cards, and four cards are placed face up in a pool in the centre. In their turn, a player has to try to match a card in their hand with one in the pool, both cards being placed face up in that player's treasure pile. Alternatively, if they can match the top card on another player's treasure pile, they can loot it, adding the whole pile to their own. If they can't do either of these things, they have to play a card from their hand into the pool.
This very simple game has a lot of potential for subtlety. If you have a pair in your hand, playing one of them into the pool lays a trap for the next player who matches it, since you can then loot their treasure. Keeping a key card as late in the game as possible means you can snatch the treasure and victory away from another player right at the end of the game. It's not Bridge, but it's a good fun filler game if you've got 10 mins to fill.
I was so impressed with the game than when I got home I ordered a copy for myself (£7.50 from Amazon.co.uk) and took it along to the Old Farts gaming night last night. After the main game was finished (Chaos on Chronos, more of which later) I tempted the Old Farts into giving Tutan Loot 'em a go, and after a couple of highly back-stabbing games of back-and-forth looting, it got the Seal of Approval. So there you go... a game made for 3-6 year old kids that entertained a table with an average age of about 48-50. (Mental age...? I cannot comment!)
The evening's main game, as I said, was a test run of Chaos on Chronos, a warband skirmish game nominally written for pulp sci-fi (though the scenario we played was more in the "use a bunch of random figures" genre). I'm not honestly a massive fan of this style of game, since they always seem to devolve into random slugfests, but the Chaos on Chronos rules, part of the Goalsystem series, worked well enough. The basic rules mechanic is: roll number of attack dice, count successes, roll number of defence dice, each success subtracts one successful attack, excess is applied as damage. Some special abilities or equipment allow players to reroll failed dice. Simple enough, with only the occasional buckets o' dice moment (I managed to pitch one massive attack with my leader hitting 12 dice with 2 rerolls, which was sadly bounced by some stupendously lucky defensive rolls). I think I still prefer Ganesha Games' "Song of..." series of rules for this sort of game, including "Flying Lead" for modern & SF skirmishes, but there's not much between the two systems overall.
Now, after putting the task off for far too long... to the Man Cave! (cue '60s Batman music)