Month: November 2018

It’s Time to Party Game

It’s Time to Party Game

Thanksgiving is tomorrow, and you can have an awkward meal with your in-laws, but the whole time doesn’t have to be awkward because there are party games that everyone from the crazy uncle to the clingy aunt can enjoy. Now, might be a little bit […]

Minis or the Mind?

Minis or the Mind?

There are two main ways that you can play Dungeons and Dragons, and they primarily resolve around combat. Do you do combat in theater of the mind or do you have a battle map with minis? There are some people that are going to prefer […]

Board Game Player Counts

Board Game Player Counts

I couldn’t come up with a puny title for this, but while it’s not a thing people tend to think about with board games, it can be a pretty big deal. A board game can play extremely different with a different number of players that can affect different areas of how the game runs. It’s possible that a game that you might have liked if you’d played with three players will be horrible with four players for various reasons, or it could be that a game with five people is really bad with two.

So, let’s start with, why do they say a game is for 2-5 players if the game isn’t that great with four or five players?

Image Source: Across the Board Cafe

I mean, that should be pretty obvious, it’s for money. If your game is limited to 2 or 3 players you are going to have more trouble selling it to people, because some people only really play games in groups of four or five. The same is for the opposite, if a game is really better at higher numbers. It’s always kind of gross to think about the money factor and how a game might be allowed to be play in a way that will give a number of people a bad time while playing it.

However, I don’t want to make it feel like you’re just going to have to hope you have the right number of players for a game, there is a website, Board Game Geek, that not only has a ton of information about any board game you’d ever wonder about, but you get to see game ratings and preferred player counts for games. And while your experience might vary, if you’re wondering about a game, you can see what other people thought is the best player count.

There are a couple main reasons why people might not enjoy a game at a different player count. The first one being time. When you sit down to play a game, unless you’re playing something like Arkham Horror 2nd Edition or Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition, you might not be sitting down to play a seven hour board game, or even something that’s three hours long. There are a number of games out there that with higher player counts are going to stretch out the game a whole lot longer. The box might say an hour, but that’s for three players, with five, it’s going to be two hours because every player beyond the first three add half an hour each to the game. And that’s not just because those friends play slow, but because it opens up more options or complexity to the game.

Fortunately a number of game companies or developers have realized that this is a problem, so you start to see more games giving you a time amount per player. I’d still assume those are a little short like the game time on the box normally is, but if you see that it takes thirty  minutes per player and you have five players and two hours to play a game, you know to pass on that one. A game being too short normally isn’t a player count issue, so I’ll pass on that, but I might come back to explain why sometimes games are too short.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

The other big reason is that it changes now the game is played. Now, it might actually change the rules or it might just cause the game to change in some other way. The game might become too logical or random or complex with a higher or lower player count. For example, Gloomhaven with one player might be too logical because you know all the information and could end up planning everything out and could ruin the Gloomhaven experience that way. Or if you have four, it could be too random, you’d have a number of times per scenario where the last player to go could have nothing to do, and if that is the same player often, it would be boring.

Abstract strategy games are another big area where this happens and for that reason a lot of them are two players. They are meant to be highly logical and have people plan out their turns and then have to stop and replan turns when something changes. When you have multiple people between your turns, that can cause a strategy game to become random and less what a person who likes those games normally is going for.

How do you fix this issue?

Honestly, it’s about playing games or using board game geek.  If you play enough games you can probably tell from reading a rule book or even looking at the back of a game what might be a better player count. Board Game Geek with it’s recommended player count is also going to be very useful to you. Finally, you can just play at multiple player counts and see what you like best. That, however, is going to take the most time out of all the options you might find that you don’t like the game at any player counts, even if you have kept an open might through all of the games. So really, research is probably your best bet with Board Game Geek (BGG), but reviews on Amazon or CoolStuffInc might also give you information as well.

Have there been any board games that you’ve found that you won’t play with a certain number or at you think are better with a certain number?


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Board Game Battle: Legacy Edition

Board Game Battle: Legacy Edition

I’ve done these battles a number of times now, but we’re going to talk about Legacy (if you’re a WWE fan, you might have a few legacy jokes going through your head). If not, we’re going to be battling it out between the four legacy […]

A Series of Unfortunate Books

A Series of Unfortunate Books

First, let me say that I’m not knocking a Series of Unfortunate Events, I actually enjoyed that series when I read it in high school. The option of using that as a title was just too good. What I am talking about is how series […]

Gloomhaven Characters: Quartermaster (Spoilers)

Gloomhaven Characters: Quartermaster (Spoilers)

Back with some more Gloomhaven character reviews, this one isn’t one that I’ve played but that another player is currently playing in our game.

Image Source: Cephalofair Games

This is part of a group that we weren’t sure was going to be a great group because we generally all felt like we had more support based characters and without a strong attacking character we wondered how we’d hold up. It took us a little bit to get the characters figured out and really set-up to play them but now the group has become quite powerful.

The Quartermaster has generally become our tank character, though the Sawbones, can be a tank at times. The Quartermaster is the tank because of their ability to manipulate items that they have. So while they might end up having to burn a card or two, as long as they are discarding cards, they generally can keep a full hand. That’s very handy as it allows our group to get going longer and because of that, they don’t always need to be taking long rests and can keep the enemy distracted when other characters might be getting low on cards and need to be taking those rests.

The Quartermaster really shines when it comes to item use. Now, it doesn’t always have to be to get back cards, but by using items at the right time and refreshing the items, the Quartermaster can do a ton of damage. This is probably some of the reason that this character got off to the rough start because without the full compliment of items they can have trouble dealing out that much damage. They aren’t an extremely low damage character, but probably middle level damage character with not many attacks that focus on an area or do other negative effects. Building up that collection of items to make them higher damage or able to hit a larger area makes a big difference, especially as the monsters are a good amount tougher at the higher levels.

Image Source: Cephalofair Games

Generally, I feel like this character is fairly mobile around the battlefield, which you want for a character who can tank. This is especially the case as they aren’t generally the fastest character in terms of going in initiative. We did originally run into the problem with the group of characters, and with the previous group of characters, that we weren’t always the most mobile around the battlefield. I think with this group we’ve focused more in on that which has been quite useful in some scenarios where you need to make it to multiple points or make it in and then leave or even just maps that are spread out the extra movement from the Quartermaster and the other characters has been helpful.

Overall, this seems like an interesting character to play and eventually when coming back to this game or as we unlock more characters, I could see trying this character to see if you could tweak the build in another way that would still use items but might help the party with items more so than themselves and see if the Quartermaster can be more support character.

Complexity: Medium/High
Combat: Medium/High
Support: Low

Trope, Trope, Maybe?

Trope, Trope, Maybe?

I’ve recently started the fantasy series, The Demon Cycle, I won’t be commenting completely on this series because I’m not done with the first book yet, but it did make me start to think a lot about tropes in writing. The series thus far, and […]

Mechanically Minded Board Games

Mechanically Minded Board Games

I mentioned the topic in the Kickstarter FOMO post, but I wanted to talk more about different game mechanics that you might here people talk about when it comes to describing a board game, this will be a bit more focused definitions than the Jargon […]

BoardGameBattles: Tsuro vs Zombie Dice vs Love Letter vs Ice Cool

BoardGameBattles: Tsuro vs Zombie Dice vs Love Letter vs Ice Cool

Hit the bell we have a new match up for the Cruiser Weight Title!

These are all games that are light weight games, generally fast, that fall into the filler category.

Let’s talk quickly about what is a filler game.

A filler game is any game you’re going to use if multiple groups are playing games and you’ve wrapped up one game, but the other group is still going and you need something to pad out the time, or for the start or end of a game night when you want to wind things up or down. It can also be for when you have a little bit of time otherwise and you want to fit in a board game. These games generally have a higher player count, short time frame, and are easy to teach.

Image Source: Me!

Let’s meet the contenders.

Tsuro: The Game of the Path

Tsuro is a faced playing tile laying game where you are trying to keep your stone traveling it’s path longer than anyone else. It plays up to eight people, and even with eight people plays in fifteen to twenty minutes. You pick a starting location on the edge of the board, then playing tiles on your stone, you move it along the path you laid in front of it. It get’s tricky when there are a lot of tiles on the board and you have to figure out where a different path might lead you because you continue until you find the end of the path or run into someone else. If you go off the edge of the board, you are out, if you run into someone, you are both out.

Zombie Dice

Basically a simple version of Farkle, in Zombie Dice you are a zombie who is trying to eat brains, as zombies are want to do. But the humans are fighting back for some reason. Blindly, you grab three dice out of cup and roll them. If you get a brain, you get a point, if you get a shotgun blast, you might get knocked out for the round, and if you get a runner, you have to draw back up to three, keeping that die, for your next roll. Zombie Dice is a classic push your luck game as you’re seeing how far you want to push it and how many brains you can get, banking them before you roll three shot gun blasts, and the winner is the person with the highest total after someone has gotten to 13 or more brains. With Zombie Dice you can play with as many people as you want and is a nice casual game, though, the more people you have the longer it’ll take, and if the dice rolls don’t go well it can take a bit.

Image Source: Wired

Love Letter

Love Letter is a simple and fast playing deduction game. It has a lower player count at 4 players, but each round of the game takes only a couple of minutes. In it, you have cards with different members of the royal court, and you’re trying to get a love letter to the princess. You want to end the round, without being eliminated and having the highest rank card, the one closest to the princess to hand her the letter. You score a point for a win, and technically you play up to four points, but you can go as high as you want or as low as you want for when people are showing up.

Ice Cool

This game has a bit more set-up, but even that is fast as you put together the board so you can start flicking penguins. While with Zombie Dice and Love Letter you barely need a table, with Ice Cool you definitely need one. Players take turns as penguins who are skipping class trying to avoid the hall monitor. The student penguins are trying to get fish and the hall monitor is trying to catch them. For each fish a penguin gets they get a point card, and for each penguin the hall monitor catches, they get a point card. While technically every player should get a turn as hall monitor, you don’t need to do that. Currently it only plays four, but the expansion is coming out to make the board bigger and allow it to play eight.

Now this one is harder to do similarities and differences on, so we’re just going to get to a judgement faster.

These are all fun filler games. Generally I use the first two for board game nights because of the higher player count. There are other games I considered as options for the filler battle, but thought that these four worked the best.

Personally, my favorite out of all of these is Ice Cool. The game is just silly fun, but I don’t think it is the best filler. It requires a little bit of set-up and it only plays four. To play the whole game also take s a little bit longer. Love Letter is also getting the cut because of the lower player count. Between Zombie Dice and Tsuro, Zombie Dice is the easier game to teach, but Tsuro is more fun, and you can get in more game potentially as a filler game. So the winner of the Cruiser Weight Title is Tsuro.

Image Credit: Daily Kos

Tsuro really hits that spot where there is a little stress to the game as sometimes your piece is in someone else’s hands just with how the tiles are on the board and you have to hope that they keep you alive. I think that makes the game stronger, also the fact that people want to play it again is something that I don’t get with Zombie Dice. It isn’t that people don’t like Zombie Dice, it’s just that it’s a bit more straight forward whereas with Tsuro, people always think, if I did this, I might have been able to win, and there’s less random luck in Tsuro.

What are some of your favorite filler games?


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Kickstarter FOMO

Kickstarter FOMO

For the fun of it, I check Kickstarters new board games every day, actually a few times every day. I like to see the new projects that are coming out and the trends in the gaming industry. The video games and decks of cards are […]