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NZ Games Association awards programme

What a week! First I was doing what I love – playing the game. I went over to Lower Hutt, and worked with students at 4 enviroschools: Dyer Street School, Naenae Primary School, Tawahi School, and St Bernadettes School

Then the news was out (in Saturday’s Dominion Post) that Cloak of Protection is a finalist for New Zealand game of the year. This award programme is being run by the NZ Games Association.

We are up in two categories – New Game of the Year, and Teacher’s & Children’s Choice.

New Game of the year is being judged by a panel of six industry experts, including a renowned game designer, board gaming event organizers and retailers.

The Teacher’s Choice and Children’s Choice awards are being judged by teachers and students at four schools nationwide. The participating public schools are all full primaries, offering years 1-8: Clyde, Martinborough, Ramarama and Westport South Schools. Judges will consider criteria including the game’s appearance, quality, clarity of rules, interactivity, and uniqueness.

Results in August.

This week I’m off to the Wairarapa, playing the game with enviroschool teachers & students in Masterton. So the Cloak spreads!

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variations on a theme

Often I write about the game as it is played by children & families. But I also have regular players who are adults. And they play some interesting variations. Here are three that fit within the rules.

1) No-one ever builds a cloak as they are collecting cards. They just lay the cards randomly in lines in front of them. Then they wait ‘til the last moment to show their cloak. In this way, while the cards are showing, the actual cloak remains hidden.

2) All the cards are held in the hand, which must be quite a fistful(!) but is quite possible. Keeping the cards hidden makes trading much more edgy, as you never know how much you are helping the other person.

3) 8 players. 2 packs. Players proved much readier to sacrifice their gods, rather than their birds, so the game moved quickly, remaining interesting & dynamic.

Do you have any interesting variations in the game? If you do, plse post & let us know.

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@ the Upper Hutt Library

SO yesterday I spent a pleasant hour at the Upper Hutt Library. Students there played Cloak of Protection as part of their Summer Reading Challenge.

This was my first session in a library & it was a treat! We had a great corner to play, with plenty of right-sized tables.

Librarians were on hand. Kate, the Children’s Programmes Co-ordinator, kindly organised the visit, and was an amazing hostess. Sophie (pictured) carefully watched over a group.

Whoops soon filled the library, as the kids got their cloaks underway. These sounds were a joy & a delight to librarians’ ears!!!

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Wellington Enviroschools update

Our first sale on this programme was 26 Sept 2012. That was the day we launched the teaching, learning & sales partnership with Enviroschools Wellington.

21 schools from this region now have a page on this site, & 14 of these have begun gaining points toward rewards. Points range from 1 to 39. Muritai School – who are sitting on 39 – have received $125 (which they are putting toward their new worm farm), plus 4 games to go in their classes.

December has been very exciting! If you do the maths, you’ll see that today’s total is 86 games. So the cloak spreads.

So – to all you students who are getting a game in your Christmas stocking this year – I hope you, your friends, and your families have a blast playing the game. All the best. And thankyou.

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nature nerd stocking fillers

at that least that’s what Nicola Toki has put us under, in her blog this week on STUFF (Dominion Post on-line). Titled In Our Nature.

Here’s what she said about the game:
“The maker of Cloak of Protection kindly sent me one of the games, which the bloke and I played last night. The bloke was tired and is notoriously cranky about card games in general, but he got quite into this one, beating me (annoying!) and it didn’t take us long to work out that if you landed a “predator” card it was night-night to half of your collection.

“This game is entertaining, educational (the impacts of predators on our native species becomes very obvious very quickly) and the cards are beautifully illustrated. I’d definitely recommend it for families that are interested in our native wildlife. It’d be great for camping or at the bach over summer.”

Thanks Nicola.

She knows her stuff, having written a couple of books herself.

The first, Invaders – animals from elsewhere that are causing trouble here – was selected as a finalist in the 2010 LIANZA Children’s Book awards for best non-fiction. It’s basically about all the baddies that we’ve brought over here (including sneaky stowaways, out of control pest control, and pet escape artists), and the impact they’re having on our precious native wildlife.

The second book Wild Buddies – friendships and unusual relationships in nature – is about all the different wildlife that relies on other species to boost their survival. Like, for example, the tuatara that take over the burrows of seabirds, eventually becoming flatmates from hell, muscling into their space, eating their eggs and chicks and generally being a pain. Or the worm that takes over the mind of a weta!!

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on Newstalk ZB

Last Tues I was on Danny Watson’s show on Newstalk ZB – new products / bright ideas. Danny has this session on the first Tues of each month, & it’s fascinating what NZers are up to!

I’ve had some calls & quite a few orders for the game, Cloak of Protection. So a big thankyou to Danny.

Should you want to listen in: click our link, second right (Jil on Newstalk ZB)

Danny thought that ‘the images were so fantastic you could put the cards on the wall’. Here’s one that caught his eye in the (black & white) book that comes with the game. Adzebill.

Adzebill were 80cm tall, flightless, rail-like birds. Their massive down-curved bills were probably used to capture animal prey as large as ducks.

Giant flightless birds, chasing huge flightless ducks. Must have been quite a sight!!!

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ethical shopping

As you know, our major retailing drive is through Wellington Enviroschools. They emerged as the most aligned organisation in terms of its kaupapa and the integrity of the game.

But also, in the Wellington region, we have a retailer who is also aligned to our core values. Commonsense Organics.

Several years ago Morgan & I made giant pohutukawa for the Commonsense Organic stores in Kapiti & Central Wellington. Kapiti now have theirs up all year round: Wellington put theirs up for xmas.

Now, in the Kapiti store, the games are sitting on the counter, beneath the pohutukawa. There they’re storming out the door!!!

Games can also be found in Commonsense Organics stores in Lower Hutt, Wellington & Kilbirnie (both later this week). Also in Kilbirnie we are in the fabulous Children’s Bookshop.

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Room 14’s learning log

Today we had a very special, and fun visit from Card game designer Jil Hemming. Jil has created a game called ‘Cloak of Protection’. This game is a superbly exciting card game which challenges and educates children as well as builds strategic and problem solving skills. The aim of the game is to build your own cloak, made up of birds from four different realms – the forest, the sky, the earth and the underworld (extinct).

The game really was awesome – for all ages and abilities. The whole class got so excited and competitive – what a great buzz!!!

Muritai School, Lower Hutt

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human protection

Today I’m at Muritai School teaching the game to a class. As they want to promote it – at their carnival – this coming weekend.

I’m always happy to go into a school & teach Cloak of Protection. Hopefully – as the teaching, learning & sales network, with Enviroschool Wellington, gets going – students all over, will be teaching others too.

Cloak of Protection is simple enough to learn. But as you pick up strategies, it becomes quite fierce!

This way of marketing is new. Instead of a retail space taking their cut – the rewards go back into the Enviroschool Progamme at each school. Schools earn – among other things – extra games, and cash rewards. For early games the schools gets $5 per game – but the amount increases dramatically as sales go up!

One school, Otari, is sitting on 9 games sold, and when one more game sells they will have reached their first point band. I have a brand new cheque book sitting here, ready to send them their reward package!

Meanwhile, Kapiti Island, has won something huge – it’s been declared free from stoats. It was. Then it wasn’t. Now it is again.

The island is offshore my beach – Waikanae. Close by, and really accessible.

But we never thought a stoat could travel there too. The best guess about how one got there, is by floating on a log. Female kits are pregnant before they leave the (feather-lined) den – so it’s like a whole family arriving in one!

The forest birds who live there, will again thrive. Stoat and ship rat are the big time forest silencers. In the game over half of our forest birds get eaten by the stoat. Just as well players of the game have gods for their protection. And just as well the island has humans for its protection.

Massive undertaking – well done DOC!! Thankyou for keeping the cloak alive.

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games, and more games

Had a fabulous time at the Kids Connect hui, Hutt City, last Tues. Students, years 5-8, were there from many of the Hutt schools.

In the morning I was part of a discussion group. Students shared all the fabulous things they were doing to look after our plants & animals.

Then in the afternoon we played Cloak of Protection. We had groups of 8-10 students for 15 minutes a rotation. My friend Elizabeth & I taught the game on speed!! But all the groups got to trade and feel the impact of our predators.

The next day, I heard that some students were back at their schools playing the game – cool!

It was great to meet students & teachers, and to start 13 new schools on the enviroschools teaching, learning & sales network.

Meanwhile Gordon & Ann, of Kapiti Boardgamers, were in Hamilton this last weekend – playing games. They’ve taken Cloak of Protection to play with the Hamilton folks + they’ll be testing Gordon’s new role-playing game about saving the ocean. We played it last weekend & we all lost – we weren’t sure whether to blame the CEO of the company, or if it was the lack of a green person to fight more strongly for the environment. But down went our eco-system.

I was a beach-walker, and, as the beach got lost & saved & lost again, I had to walk around the city.

I would SO miss Waikanae beach. Me (walking and collecting), dogs (chasing sticks & seagulls), & families (splashing in the water / net fishing on the beach).

In Cloak of Protection, the dog is a predator. Attracted by the strong smell of brown kiwi, one dog can do a lot of damage – some kill hundreds!! Even adult kiwi are easily found and crushed by dogs. SO we know to be careful where dogs are allowed to run free.

Once – the kuri dogs (they arrived with the Polynesian settlers about 1280AD) – were fed mostly on fish – not from the beach, so much, but from scavenging around camps.

Interesting facts & trivia from the booklet that goes with the game, Cloak of Protection