Wednesday, March 16, 2016

February 2016 Games of the Week

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.

The Histocrats support the idea of incorporating board-games into your personal life as well as in the classroom.  As such, we support and participate in a local board-gaming group.  Any and all board-game enthusiasts are welcome to join the Game Nights that are held every first and third Friday night of the month.  As part of our gaming group initiative, we also recommend history centric games that are fun to play each week to all of our followers.  The selected games receive our “Game of the Week” distinction.  Recommended games are a mix of cooperative, card games, as well Euro style games.

1960: The Making of the President, Z-Man Games
In 1960: the Making of the President, you take on the role of Kennedy or Nixon in vying to lead America through an era of turbulent change. The candidates must contend with all the great issues of the day, from the cold war to civil rights to voters' pocket books. This is an election that will turn on positioning and momentum. The contest is fought on an electoral map of the United States as it stood in 1960. As with a real election campaign, the challenge is to adapt your game plan as the ground shifts out from under you. There are never enough resources or time to do everything, but you need to make the tough calls to propel yourself into the White House.

Kill Shakespeare, IDW Games
Protect the realm from King Richard, Lady Macbeth and their dark army! Based on the acclaimed comic book from IDW Publishing, this co-op adventure brings the greatest characters of Shakespearean literature to life in a shared universe rife with peril. Players will go on quests assigned by the bard himself in an attempt to prove themselves worthy of taking over the title of Scribe of the Land.

Pandemic: The Cure, Z-Man Games
Pandemic: The Cure, a dice-based version of the popular Pandemic board game. As in the board game, four diseases threaten the world and it's up to your team to save humanity. You and your team must keep the world's hotspots in check before they break out of control, while researching cures to the four plagues.  Players roll dice each turn to determine the actions available to them. Each player takes on a different role that has its own unique set of dice and abilities - and players must take advantage of their specializations if they are to have any hope of winning the game. If the players can discover the cures to the four diseases, they all win and humanity is saved!

Snow Tails Game, Renegade Game Studios
Snow Tails is set in the snowy world of the Arctic Circle, where brave sledders compete in a test of skill and endurance. Action is fast and furious and not all sleds may make it to the finish. Huskies only have one setting and that is full speed! Hang on to your furs, the reins, your sled and anything else you can get hold of. The game contains modular track pieces which can be fitted together to form different courses. Players have their own Dog Decks which they draw from and play on to their sled mat. Movement is rarely in a straight line as the sled may drift left or right. Losing control or speeding into a corner results in Dent cards being acquired which will limit a player's hand size.

*All product descriptions are from the manufacturer

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Learning with Games of the Week: Archaeology, and Guillotine

By Nina Kendall

Want to help your students or children connect better to the world around them? Trying to engage in conversations about culture, politics or economics with youth? Games are a great place to start. When learning new things we try to make on of three types of connections: text-to-text, text-to-self, or text-to-world. Like books and movies, games can serve as a text. Let’s look at how two games will help you relate your experience with games to concepts. 

Archaeology: The Card Game
Archaeology is card game based on set collecting.  Each player has the goal of collect as many sets of artifacts as possible. The more complete sets the greater the number of points earned.  There are a number of approaches to help students connect with this game. 

After playing the game, students could use the set created as the basis for a story or brainstorming. How do the cards in the game become the framework of a narrative?

This game could be used as an introduction to a unit about Ancient History.  As you study an Ancient Culture, challenge students to think about what artifacts reveal.  What story do they tell? What other artifacts would be needed to better understand the culture being studied?

You could also use the artifacts to develop the concept of a cultural landscape. This concept could be explored and expanded via the attributes of the game artifacts. Students can then create examples of cultural landscapes using the categories in the game and share with each other.  If students were assigned cultures that have inhabited the same location you can also begin the conversation about sequent occupance with students.
Guillotine is Napoleonic themed game based on hand management. The cards have values that reflect the social class of the figure on each card. Guards are worth the fewest points. Royalty and Church leaders have the greatest card value and powers. Each player has the goal of successfully managing their hand to climb the social ladder and win the game by impacting the hands of other players. Each player has to make choices to navigate shift set of cards and values assigned to each class.  
This is a great way to help students begin to relate to the concept of social class and class structure. The role social class plays in history and modern society is hard for students to relate to and analyze. The cards and the related powers offer opportunities to explore this concept and the attributes of social influence, resource access, and group dynamics in a more concrete. Students can manipulate the cards to build the social ladder and use this model to relate to models of social class and power in other periods and cultures.