Defeating your children in a game may not always be a difficult task, but there is a right way to do it. I play games with my children quite a bit, and the outcome is the same most of the time. But, they keep coming back to play. I hope I have instilled in them a desire to play, regardless the outcome. There are a few things I’ve learned (through failure) about what it takes to win the right way.
Ask Lots of Questions
When I’m playing games with the kids, I ask them questions like, “Why do you think I made that move?” It helps them to think through your strategy, and maybe even help them with theirs. There are many ways to play most games the “right” way. Lead them with your questions toward one of those ways. The same goes for their “wrong” moves. Ask them, “What were your thoughts when you made that move?” Sometimes, they just do it because the rules allow it. Questioning helps the transition from learning to play and learning to win.
Answer Their Questions
As their gaming knowledge grows, they will ask questions. They will want to know about which move is best. They will want help on making decisions. Always offer help when it makes sense. Don’t let them rely on your help totally, but help them enough so they can gain confidence. Confidence in one’s own decisions goes beyond gaming, but it can start there.
Show Them Your Strategy…and Have Them Copy It
After the game, talk to them about your strategy. Show them how you did well, and how you didn’t. Give them a goal for their next game. By giving them goals, you help them to craft their strategy. For the pictured game, Scythe, my oldest child likes to wander around the board triggering the encounters. While that’s fun, it’s hard to win that way. I try to encourage her to still wander the board, but to get a basic economy running. It may take several games, but she’ll figure it out.
Then she’ll start beating me.