I saw a group of four or five 8-year-olds playing with Pokémon cards recently. The kid who owned them poured a bag of a hundred or so onto the table and they picked six cards each. The kids took it in turns playing cards onto the table (regardless of the evolutionary stage of the card) and then attacking other player’s cards (completely ignoring the mana costs for doing so).
Obviously they had a vague idea how the game was played, but were making up most of it
I let them get on with it.
At one point somebody had played a poison Pokémon, maybe a Nidoran? We’ll assume it was this exact card:
The kid played the card and attacked with it.
What should have happened: Assuming the card had sufficient energy cards attached (a poison and one other energy card of any type), it would have done 20 damage (before applying weaknesses and resistances). Additionally there would be a 50% chance the target would be poisoned, meaning it would take an extra 10 damage each turn until it feints.
‘I attack that one with my sting, it does 20 so its dead’
‘Nooo that’s not how it works, because he is poisoned it means every time he is attacked he takes an extra 20’
No flipping coins, no initial 20 damage, no weaknesses and resistances.
Was it balanced? No
Were they having fun? Yep
I also saw a group of six-year-olds the other day playing with multilink cubes
They scattered the cubes out across the surface as unconnected singles. They then each chose a cube and began hoovering around the table, and whenever they connected to other cubes they added them on.
At one point one kid accidentally knocked the front of their snake into another kids and then had to dismantle it into its constituent pieces and start over.
So they were playing slither.io. But they could choose how quick or slow to move their snakes with only “hey, that’s too fast” as a mediation tool.
Was it balanced? No.
Were they having fun? Yep
Playground Among Us
I would’ve thought that a social deduction game with randomly assigned traitors would be about as immune to adaptation for the playground as any game could be but boy oh boy, was I wrong.
It was a group of ten-year-olds this time.
Yes, your assumption is correct, I work in education.
On the playground they gathered and closed their eyes. One person secretly chose a couple of others to be the imposters.
Then they all went around doing ‘jobs’ on the ‘ship’ until someone ‘died’.
But it was a playground without pipes and tunnels and vents, where they should’ve all been able to see each other and keep track of who might be the imposter.
As canny as ten-year-olds can be, they can also be oblivious.
Inevitably one of three things happened
- The imposters were found out after the first two murders
- The imposters positioned themselves near a group and fake-shanked them all before they could call a meeting
- Some non-imposters got bored, decided that they had been imposters all along, then piled in on option 2.
It was the least successful of these games. Its rules made the least sense and were adhered to the least.
And yet they keep on playing it.
Is it balanced? Dream on.
Are they having fun? Yes
Here’s a reward for reading the above ramble
Glog spell: Misremember
Duration: [dice] hours
The person will misremember a rule, law, instruction or regulation from within a body of rules, laws, instructions or regulations. You can add, revoke or rewrite up to [sum] sentences.