Game Reviews for Education purposes

This will be a series of blog posts with brief reviews of games and their application for the classroom.  Because there will be so many, the comments are brief. These have all been marketed by companies as ‘suitable for the classroom’–but ultimately, that’s a comment designed to sell copies to (potentially gullible) teachers.  Hopefully the little comments here will help give an idea for you of whether these are games worth considering in some fashion.

GAME: Great War at Sea (several titles in series)
COMPANY: Avalanche Press
PRICE: $45-$55

AGES: Upper-level High School and up
COMPLEXITY: High

CLASSES SUITABLE FOR: History

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2
CAN TEAMS BE USED?: Yes

TIME TO LEARN: 4-5 hours
TIME TO TEACH: 90 minutes
TIME TO PLAY: variable (2-18 hours)

COMMENTS: These cover various aspects of navy fighting at the turn of the 20th century.  They are interesting for their discussions of the U.S. Navy Color Plans.  These are easier to use if the teacher is already a “gamer,” but they really are meant for older HS students, college students, or Honors/Talented-and-Gifted classes.

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GAME: Days of Decision
COMPANY: Australian Design Group
PRICE: $50

AGES: High school
COMPLEXITY:
Medium, many things to know more than an issue of difficulty.

CLASSES SUITABLE FOR: European History, U.S. History

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: up to 6
CAN TEAMS BE USED?: Absolutely!

TIME TO LEARN: 3-4 hours
TIME TO TEACH: 90 minutes
TIME TO PLAY: variable (5-10 hours)

COMMENTS: The 1st edition tends to be directly tied with the World in Flames board game (making it harder to implement).  This gives a good overview of the buildup to war, but requires some tinkering for classroom use.  For a simpler game—less realistic but plays quickly in a class—consider using the (ancient) Avalon Hill game “Origins of World War Two”.

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 GAME: Iron and Fire
COMPANY: A&A Game Engineering
PRICE: $15

AGES: High school and up
COMPLEXITY: moderate

CLASSES SUITABLE FOR: US or European history

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: variable—one person/ship
CAN TEAMS BE USED?: definitely

TIME TO LEARN:  2-4 hours
TIME TO TEACH: 90 minutes
TIME TO PLAY: variable

COMMENTS: This requires one of two things: money to purchase ship miniatures -OR- time, which can be used to xerox/create ship silhouettes.  For a classroom budget, silhouettes are probably more efficient, and students could even be assigned creating the silhouettes, researching ships, etc. before playing.  For an added twist, anyone who has a ship sunk has to have their assignment torn up!  This recreates hesitation at throwing ships in to battle willy-nilly and creates a very realistic hesitation.

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GAME:  Road to Osaka
COMPANY: DAISHO GAMES
PRICE: $18, $16 for each supplement

AGES: Junior High up
COMPLEXITY: low to moderate

CLASSES SUITABLE FOR: History classes

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2
CAN TEAMS BE USED?: absolutely

TIME TO LEARN: 2 hours
TIME TO TEACH: 30 minutes
TIME TO PLAY: variable, minimum of one hour

COMMENTS: The rules are ok while the supplements have good information on Japan’s feudal system.  The advantage is the rules are simple.  The disadvantage is that it requires having little figurines (although using Risk™ pieces work).  It’s not going to be of interest for 90% of a class.

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GAME: Settlers of Canaan
COMPANY: Cactus Design Group
PRICE: $30

AGES: 10-11 or older
COMPLEXITY: low

CLASSES SUITABLE FOR: World History/Ancient History, Religion

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-4
CAN TEAMS BE USED?: Yes, but not great for it

TIME TO LEARN: 30 minutes
TIME TO TEACH:
Can be taught as started, 15 minute overview would be handy
TIME TO PLAY: 1-3 hours

COMMENTS: Great for religion class, goes from Joshua to David.  This could be a touchy game for a public school class as the game is very Christian-oriented.  Otherwise, this is Settlers of Catan.  If you are a religious, home-schooling family, this is fun and appropriate.

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GAME: Call of Cthulhu
COMPANY: Chaosium
PRICE: used–~$15, new: $38

AGES: junior high up, should be considered PG or PG-13
COMPLEXITY: low

CLASSES SUITABLE FOR: American Lit, Science Fiction, Horror, 20th Century Lit, 1920s History

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: as many as desired
CAN TEAMS BE USED?: No. Each player is a single character.

TIME TO LEARN: 2-4 hours (making characters is the hard part to learn)
TIME TO TEACH: 30 minutes.
TIME TO PLAY: as desired

COMMENTS: This is a role-playing game and free-form.  It explores the horror mythos of H.P. Lovecraft which inspired Stephen King and other writers.  References to Cthulhu are quite frequent, including Arkham Asylum in the Batman cartoon series.