Myth Battles 

The firstborn is really, really into Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.  Thank goodness, because that is one very good series of books, and the little human’s interest in history (godly or not) is picking up.  Win win situation.

As this is the current “it” item in our home, we’re pretty inundated with Percy Jackson.  Play time is dedicated to Olympian sword fights, taking down Ares and trying to find Pan.  Drive time does not escape the story either as we’re making our way through the series in audio book form.

The audio books are amazingly well done.  The narrator keeps the pace going, gives each character (a whole pantheon it seems) their own voice and acts out scenes with incredible skill.  The firstborn loves it.  He’s completely enamored with listening to the book read by someone who isn’t me trying to stay awake and fumbling over words.

The toddler though.  Oh golly the toddler.  The youngest is not exactly a “sit and listen” type.  From time to time (read: every drive) he just yammers, shouts, and generally makes noise for the sole purpose of impeding his older brother’s story intake.  When this happens, the story is paused until the toddler calms down and we can listen again.

Sometimes it takes a whole drive for the toddler to allow the story to play out.  This is wildly upsetting to the firstborn and we parents hear, “can we play the story now?” over and over again in increasingly impatient tones.

This was a problem.  I like solving problems.  So, for those moments in the car that we can’t listen to the hijinx of one Perseus Jackson, the firstborn can now play the part.

This hear is “Myth Battles” a clever title for sure.  While in his car seat, the firstborn can work his way through a stack of monster cards and roll dice to defeat them.  Each monster has a combination that is needed to ‘defeat’ them in order to move onto the next one.  The kiddo rolls the dice attempting to get that combo.  Each time he rolls one of the numbers on the card, the dice is placed to the left hand side and the remaining dice are rolled to take down the baddie.  Each time the dice do not come up with a number on the card, there’s a peg system on the right hand side that works from left to right, top to bottom as a sort of life meter.  If the monster is not defeated before the peg falls off the meter, the game ends.

Cards are stored in a cut out section of 2×4, I drilled into the board with a spade bit a few times created a cavern.  As this is meant for car travel, I tried to make it as self contained as possible.  The clothes pin can clamp down cards and the dice fit rather snuggly in the holds at left, but everything fits in the blue section that is used as a dice tray for play while on the move.  During play, the monster cards sit in that cut out part and the monster being battled is put in the clothes pin so it doesn’t move anywhere.


Monsters include Graeae, Medusa, Hydra (which is defeated with a roll of 1, 2 and 4 – it’s a myth math joke!), manticore, chimera, and other monsters he’s met in the books.

His very first battle was against a Minotaur which requires 5, 5, 5 to defeat.  Pretty tough foe that one.  He rolled three dice seven times and not once did he roll a five.  I thought for sure that was the end of the game and I’d be breaking it down before nightfall.  He surprised me though and went onto the next baddie; Ares.  He defeated that god and was so friggin’ excited he played for another half hour.

As for mechanics of the build, I stuck with trusty ol’ scrap wood.  2x4s on either end, since they can be cut into and molded as needed.  The dice are held in spade bit cuts just slightly larger than they are.  The peg side is…drilled? I’m not sure of the exact phrase there.  I put a bit 1/3 of the way through the 2×4, laughed maniacally the whole time and had a good time doing so.  Everything is held together with wood glue.  Lots of wood glue.  It’ll fall apart one day, but that day will be long after the kid loses interest.

The cards were put together in Word and feature stolen art from the internet.  I wanted to go with the OpenClipArt.org option, but the kid would not have played if a black and white Chimera was the first card he pulled.  Cartoons and colors win the day for this one.  Thank you, Internet artists, for making my kid smile.  I can’t even cut on the dotted line, let alone make something a kid would like looking at.  Going to have to put this thing into mass production in order to feel better about the whole art choice made for this one.  The cards are pressed between two sheets of “Do it Yourself Lamination Sheets!” The box looks like it came from 1993 and was full of dead spiders.  We don’t laminate a lot of stuff around here.

So far so good with this little toy.  The kiddo rounded out the rules to make the game playable.  Rules now included if you are facing a monster with a 2, 3, 4 type of combo, if you roll a 2, 3, 4 after already placing that number in the holds you get all your health back.  It makes the fights a little longer, a little more intense and you’re less likely to lose the game right off the bat.  With that rule in place, he defeated eight monsters in a row before collapsing to the three headed hell hound of Hades.

We’ll expand the cards options as he moves into Egyptian lore and other series.  Spiderwick is likely next with some Star Wars stuff not too far off. This is all dependent on the toy being of interest beyond this very weekend.

Ah, parenting.

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