Carlos from Texas writes…
Greetings fellow geeks and dads,
Loved your review of Space Hulk. So glad to see that the game is playable with kids! I love miniatures (Warhammer, mostly) and want to play with my son, age 5. I don’t want him to play with the Warhammer, however, because I don’t think he’ll treat them with the proper respect that they deserve. After spending hours painting the miniatures, you understand my hesitation to put them in the sticky hands of a 5 year old.
But I want to play miniature games with him! Do you have any other game suggestions that would be fun to play with kids around my son’s age that use miniatures? Space Hulk is very expensive and very hard to find. I need alternatives!
Carlos, thanks for the complement and your question. It is great to see that there are other parents looking to the tabletop gaming hobby to maintain a good relationship with their kids and teaching them some valuable life lessons!
I get the idea from your post that you are looking for a confrontational (battle) game that can be scaled down to your son’s level, gives a good tactile feel, has great aesthetic looks, and flat out fun and engaging. I understand your dilemma, as five-years old is an odd age when it comes to playing miniature games.
When my son was five, I could trust him to not put the dice in his mouth, yet he was not yet at the age where he understood how delicate “Daddy’s toys” were. At five-years old, I had to resort to more robust components or ones I would not be at a loss should damage occur. Now that he is six, there is an additional level of maturity where I can trust him to play nicely with my supervision.
Great Games, Bad Market
Miniatures games come in various levels of quality and rule depth. Unfortunately, they can also go out of print if the market does not support them. For example, Heroscape has recently been put on the chopping block but you can still find Master Sets in larger department stores as well as places like Amazon.com.
Heroscape is my first recommendation as it can scale with your son’s age. Using the basic rules, the game eliminates the special powers and assigns each model 1 hit point. The game comes with inter-locking terrain that allows you and your son to customize your battlefield. The terrain is hex-based, meaning no measuring is required, and each model has an assigned number value that specifies the model’s movement and combat range, if applicable. Additional models sold are not in blind packs, so you know what you are getting.
Again, Heroscape has been discontinued by Wizards of the Coast making general availability limited and the listed price can vary from clearance to outright gouging.
There’s No School Like Old School
You mentioned that you are a Warhammer player. Chances are your son already has some plastic army men, which provides familiarity for both of you on different levels. Assuming you do not have any sets of little green plastic army men, they can be purchased at places like Target and Walmart. Some even include things like tanks and cannons. This provides you with a method to teach him some of the basic Warhammer rules while using the green army men as proxies, or better yet, an opportunity to design a new Codex!
I did this same thing with my son when he was younger, using simple rules from the game of Risk. Movement was not really regulated. For combat, we simply rolled buckets of dice (kids love that!) and compared highest die rolls. Tanks got more dice than infantry, but other than that, the rules were pretty simple and he could feel free to knock my guys over should he roll well.
I think any of these options will provide fun for the both of you. Feel free to write us back letting us know what you did and the results!