I play table top with my wife and have three young boys (at the moment of writing this.) As they get older they have shown interest in joining our games. If you know what it’s like trying to explain to your 4 year old why he can’t play Vampire the Masquerade or some other adult table top then perhaps this game has caught your eye as well.
Me, my wife, my 8 year old, and my 4 year old have given this game a spin and I have made some interesting discoveries.
- This game does a great job connecting to younger children in a fun way. My boys love Coin World and its locations. They love the theme. And they LOVE the simplicity of the game mechanics.
- This game has helped me understand what my children want form a role play game. My 4 year old was like a fish to water when his character’s teacher asked him to demonstrate potion making by making his favorite potion. My 4 year old loved the attention, went right to work with his toys pretending to make a potion, and loved picking the effect and hearing the description of what happened. He was all smiles when everyone in the room started clapping. I thought to myself, I don’t think this is the first time he has pretended to create a potion, and here he is doing it in front of his family and we are interested and giving him our attention. Connecting to a four year old at that level is not always easy.
- Because of the game’s simplicity my 8 year old came alive with interest to run a game. He is not intimidated by the mechanics, he gets it, and he wants to explore his creativity as a story maker. He has wanted to run D&D games before but he could never quite pull it off. This game has posed no obstacles for him. He has arrived at his creative outlet.
- The game’s mood encourages relaxed-just-go-with-it style playing and that really works for my children. If they want Legs, Minecraft monsters, and Link from Zelda to be a part of this world … then done! Link is riding through a Lego forest on an Ender Dragon, and the players go NUTS! And the mood and setting is crafted in a way to where that sort of thing is not disruptive in the slightest. Again, the kinds go freaking NUTS!
The rules are very light. This is almost barely a game and more of a setting. Characters have 3 attributes (body, heart, and mind) and then a couple vague wizard powers that do whatever the player says they do (such as “spellcasting”). And that’s really it. Player says “I wanna do blah”. The story teller says “OK, the difficulty for that will be EASY” (or whatever he thinks.) The player rolls 2d6 and gets the target number or does not. Pass or fail. Modifiers from attributes or powers will only be a 0, +1, or +2. That’s all there is to it. There is a simple experience system that makes sense and works well.
One thing that took me off guard was the way powers are done. There are two classes. They both have the power “Spellcasting”. Most of the powers are vague like that. What does it do? The player just makes up a spell on the spot and the story teller decides if Spellcasting can do that or not and how hard it will be to do. That’s it. Those are the “mechanics.” At first I was kinda put off by it but it turns out this is exactly the reason my 4 year old can play this game. If the “mechanics” were any different he would not be as capable of playing as he is. I wish readers could see how excited he gets. He just starts yelling “I shoot a fireball out of my wand, that chases the bad guy down the hall, and when it hits him it sets his pants on fire, and he runs away really fast, and then slips on water, and there are rubber ducks everywhere!!!!” Then I go, “uhhhh, OK, roll your dice and get an 8 or higher.” It works just like that and I’m learning that it has to when you are 4 years old.
You don’t want this game if you are looking for a game “system”. It’s not that. But whatever it is, it’s a hit with my kids. I would be lying if I did not tell you that I find this game to be the most uninteresting and uninspiring table top game I play but of the games I play with my children it’s not bad. Seeing them have fun diffidently makes it worth it.
One criticism I do have is that this game is not quite as unisex as I would have it. The borders of the pages are purple and there are absolutely no rules for violence of any kind. Evidently you don’t “fight” anything in this game. Uhhh … little boys do not play games void of hitting things. So I had to come up with a system. My system is that everything has three hearts like in a Zelda game that represent life and players can describe attacks that do one heart of damage. A couple of tweaks like that though and the game is little boy approved. I’m sure the authors would scoff at me. They make it pretty clear in the rules that this game has no “losers” or “losing”. rolling eyes That silliness is my only real criticism and I’ll balance that criticism by saying that the 3 nonviolent quests included in the book really did help me to balance our games away from hack and slash and into something that I think is more appropriate for young children. But I’m telling you, when the 4 year old wants to smack something, you better give him some freaking dice to roll!
[4 of 5 Stars!]