Friday, 1 April 2016

Setting a good example

End of term at school means two things, Assemblies and 3 hours stuck in a class room with your form group. My group are year 7's which means they are 11 or 12. By the time I got to the room this morning the crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks were already being consumed. They were going to be high as kites till break time. The kids in my form split into three groups, lovely girls, nerdy boys and pain in the back side little grotty boys. I had to keep as many of the boys entertained as I could (especially a little tub of lard with a voice like a high pitched fog horn that we shall call Derek) in order for there not to be a riot of boredom.

So I pulled out my copy of Advanced Heroquest plus some of the old dungeon floorplans sets and braved my newly painted figures and went dungeon crawling with a whole heap of noobs!

At first I managed to attract about half a dozen of the boys to play. They each chose a figure to play and they were given quick and simple instructions. They could move 6 squares at a time and open doors and then we'd see what was in the room. I wanted them to get into the action quickly so that I could hook them. 

So they swiftly came up against some Zombies in the first rooms. All they had to do was roll a 4+ to hit and a 4+ to kill. All the basic monsters had one wound and all the heroes had three. 

I wrote the order they were to move down on the paper that the game was being played on and any wounds that the Heroes received were written down too. Simple paperwork for the kids.

Big beasties had multiple wounds and I stuck one in every so often just to keep them on their toes. I kept an eye on the time and stopped feeding them baddies as assembly time loomed.

The excitement level of some of the kids was mental! Screeching, cheering, shouting encouragement, screaming for help. Derek got his hero killed by the Minotaur (Oh my god! It's Flipping Minotaur! I wanna kill it!!) but let him pick another figure and enter from the start. With perfect timing they killed the last figure just before the bell.

The first game was such a success that after the  break I had about a dozen boys wanting to play. This time I used bigger rooms and threw Orcs, Hobgoblins, Beastmen, Ogres, Zombies and an undead Wizard into the mix. One kid got mugged by 3 zombies and killed of in one round. "Don't go into a corridor on your own!" was suddenly the latest advice screamed around the room.

The boys loved it and Derek told me that his Mum would never believe that he'd sat down and played a game for three hours. Do you know, I can see that with Derek.

The great thing for me was seeing the excitement on the faces of the kids (well, boys, the girls were sticking to type and doing each other's hair and trying to surreptitiously take selfies although a brutal game of monopoly was going on in one corner). They totally bought it. They were hooked. They wanted to play again immediately. They wanted to know where they could buy the game and how much it cost. They want to play it every lunch time. They wanted me to start a club after school. 

It was a triumph of indoctrination. 

Was this us all those years ago? Was it that much of an instant hit with us? What was the thing that made it stick so fast to our souls?

To be honest it was great fun. Apart from me cringing at my precious figures being manhandled so roughly (I'm going to have to inspect them for damage, just because....well we all would, wouldn't we! Filthy hobbitses!) I had a riot leading them into the underworld. The belief was suspended and at no point did any of them request a computer version. They worked as a team and beat up the baddies. They killed the evil undead wizard in the nick of time with the last roll of dice and the shit-bags shared victory with the nerds. 

It was a crazy, hazy look at what I and my friends must have been like nearly 30 years ago. 

And it kept Derek out of trouble for a whole 3 hours. 

Job done. 


  1. This is just fantastic to read....perhaps there is hope for the youth of today. I had a similiar experience with my own son the other day...he stopped by to watch my friends and I play a small RT game...and his eyes lit up...he immediately picked up the Ork with the biggest gun and it be "his guy" poor wife had to pry him off bed...and he was none to happy about it. I see some fun days with my kids in the future!! thanks for sharing this.

  2. ...also...I love that you bring this stuff to work! thats fantastic.

  3. I have no comment to make, I just want you to know that I'm standing applauding in front of my computer with a lump in my throat. You, sir, are teaching them right!

  4. Congratulations! Proof that simple, elegant miniature games still hold appeal for today's kids as much as those from a generation ago.

  5. Great post! makes me want to dig out my copy of AHQ (I know it's in the attic ...somewhere) :)

  6. Brilliant! And christ you're brave letting the monsters handle the minis!

  7. Brave move putting those lovely minis in small hands!

    I've always had really enthusiastic responses from my Y6's when I did a term's work on game books with this as a starter. Even the girls were getting into the whole class adventure and I even went as far as playing through the Dungeoneer Advanced Fighting Fantasy adventure with the whole class playing the characters in groups. The kids loved it and you could see them borrowing ideas from it for the game books they were writing on the computers!

  8. Wonderful post...just wonderful. I don't have anything more to say :)

  9. Well now, this isn't what I expected when you briefly showed us that photo the other day - what a fantastic idea! You could give them simple upgrades as they go ("you have discovered the deadly Murderblade of Death, your enemies now die on a 3+ instead!"). Keep up the good work!

  10. I ran a GW LOTR game with 10 year olds years ago at the school I taught in.It was great fun. I really enjoyed your account of the game and hooking them in. More power to your gaming elbow. Keep us posted on developments.

  11. I would suggest that you use plastics with about 6 coats of gloss varnish in future games.

  12. Fantastic post....
    Great to see in the days of CGI and hours in front of the flickering screen the kids still what to play with miniatures.
    PIcked up Zombicide black plague and the kids were hooked.... The dwan of a new generatation of gamers I hope so....

  13. Great post, it reminded me of how I stated this hobby at the age of 11 playing D&D at school with a few models used to represent the multiple combats the games seemed to be based around.


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