Sunday, November 15, 2015

X-Wing - Adapting for a 5 year old

Since picking up the Force Awakens Core Set for X-Wing last Sunday, Penny has asked to play the "Star Wars game with ships"' almost every day this week.  Sadly I could not oblige every day because of work but we did play a few more games.

Having a second ship certainly helped even things out since we weren't playing with Actions or pilot skills.  The game at this level was basically just ships moving and shooting at each other so a lot of our games came down to who could point their ship at the enemy and roll better.  With only 1 ship, Penny had quite a disadvantage despite the added shielding, but with 2 ships she was able to hold her own much better.

My TIE Fighters chasing down a Z-95. Penny's X-Wing coming in fast to help the Z-95.
Earlier today we went back to Game Quest and added a bit to each of our respective forces (pay day!).  Penny wanted the YT-2400 but she didn't have enough money for it.  She was going to settle for just the HWK-290 and another Z-95 but I mentioned to her that we could look through our old video games and trade in any games that we didn't play anymore to see if we could get the extra money to get the freighter.  She was quite happy I suggested it and we ended up getting a fair amount for the games we traded in.
HWK-290 and YT-2400
After pooling all of our money together, we got enough to get the YT-2400 and a HWK-290 for her, and Slave I and a TIE Bomber for me.  I had a hard time deciding between Slave I or the Imperial Aces expansion (both the same price at Game Quest) but finally decided on Slave I as it was the only one they had and I needed a big ship too.
TIE Bomber and Slave I

Anyways, what I really wanted to write about was how to modify the game a little (and it really is just a little) so that someone as young as 5 years old can play.

The basic rules presented in the Learn to Play scenario are actually perfect with the minor exception of ignoring stress tokens.  At 5 years old, a child will have plenty of things to keep track of on the ship card without having to worry about red moves adding stress, then needing green moves to remove stress.  Knowing and referencing the pilot skill, attack dice, defense dice, hull points and shield value is about as much as a typical 5 year old can handle when playing a game.  Even the simple act of counting damage cards and referencing the hull value to see if the ship blows up is quite a feat for kids that age.

There are a few things that are easy for them though.  Fire arcs are easy enough for a 5 year old to understand.  Just need to tell them the ship needs to point at the enemy to shoot.  Obstacles are also quite fun and easy to add in as a lot of 5 year old's understand that if you hit something you might get hurt.  Penny lost one of our games because her X-Wing crashed into an asteroid while trying to perform a loop to get a clear shot at my last TIE.

The biggest thing a young child might need help with is how to use the maneuver dial properly.  By that I mean the actual physical act of rotating the dial and planning ahead a bit.  Surprisingly a lot of 5 year old's lack the fine motor skill necessary to do this so they will require some (or a lot depending) of assistance.  Not to mention they have to think about the moves their ships will make by using the maneuver dial which could be difficult depending on how much spatial awareness the child has developed by that age (i.e. how much LEGO or other block toy did they play with up to this point?).  Some of the more complicated maneuvers like the Tallon roll might also require explanation so that the kid is aware the maneuver exists and when to use it.  I often suggested to Penny when a Tallon roll would be useful as she just hasn't quite gotten the grasp of how that particular maneuver works yet.  Along this same line, it is sometimes helpful to remind them that all of the ships move (well in our case all of our ships move, none of them have a 0 move maneuver) and what may seem like a good idea now might not be once all the ships move.  There have been one or two times I showed Penny a better move which she did not realize because she forgot that my ships move too.

Depending on how much patience the 5 year old has, adding in advanced rules may or may not work.  I purposely left them out of our games because I didn't want to overwhelm Penny with too many things.  She is learning so much at school, violin lessons, skating lessons and at home that adding in additional rules to a game might be too much.  Admittedly that isn't going to stop me from trying if the moment is right.

For example our game today had a moment where Penny's YT-2400 was going to get blown up (had 1 hull point left) and she ended up rolling a pair of eyes on her dodge against my two explosions.  She followed this roll with an excited/devastated "Oh no!  My ship is going to explode!".  At that moment I asked her if her pilot card had an eye on it to which she replied yes.  Here was a good moment to introduce the concept of focus.

Since she hadn't done any actions in the round (let alone the game) I told her she could turn all her eyes on the dice into dodges if her ship had an eye on the card.  She was quite happy flipping those eyes to dodges to allow her YT-2400 to keep flying.  After that, she kept reminding me she could turn her eyes to dodges for the rest of the game and even said her X-Wing could do the same because it had an eye on it.  Shortly after that I mentioned she could use the eye to turn eyes into explosions on an attack as well.  When she tried to change both an attack and a defense in the same turn I told her she couldn't do the dodge modification if she did the attack modification (and vice versa).  She seemed to understand and used her focus to dodge my attacks and hit my ships depending on the situation.  In case anyone was wondering, yes I did use my own focus as well during the game after I mentioned the rule to her (but not before).  We didn't use the focus tokens but next game we will so that she knows how the exact rule works (I'll probably remind her so she doesn't forget)

I always intended to introduce my daughter to wargaming via Warhammer but sadly this will never happen (for context about why I will never do this see here).  So instead I will do it via X-Wing as the game is way more affordable (only needing 2+ ships to play, but inevitably everyone will get a lot more), Penny loves the universe (especially with all the Episode 7 hype) and the rules are so simple and easy to understand she can play without getting bogged down in the rules.  Now I just need to get the wife interested (she already said we need to add the Millenium Falcon to our collection) and maybe get some Scum & Villainy ships so we can have everyone in the family playing!

No comments:

Post a Comment