After a busy Thanksgiving with a fair amount of driving, I’m back to posting. We’re onto Cyber Monday, but I don’t have anything that I’m really looking for, so let’s talk about some games that you can give to that solo gamer in your life,…
Tag: Arkham Horror
It’s that time of year, with Black Friday and Holiday Shopping nearly upon us. That means that people are starting to think about the gifts that they’ll be getting for others or what they might want to ask for themselves. This list is basically the…
There are so many board games in the world, and while I would like to say that I have a massive room dedicated only to board games where I can fit in lots of Kallax shelves from Ikea, I don’t. I was able to fit in one Kallax shelf that quickly got full so I have a few games for streaming up in another location, and a few games that I don’t need as often down in the basement, don’t worry, the basement is dry.
And I’ve been picking up games, I got a bunch of games at GenCon on August, I’ve gotten Lords of Hellas, Blood Rage, and Deep Madness from a local game store, used, to add to my collection. How can you keep a collection under control to have what you really want in it? And not to have games that are just going to sit around and never be played?
There are a few different factors that I look at when I consider what board games I want to keep or what games I want to get rid of. I think the mindset has to be there that you are looking for games to get rid of, not just games to keep, because I could make an argument to keep all of the games. Instead, look for the games that you can remove, not just to keep the collection smaller, but also to open up more room in your collection.
The first thing that I look at, and even though I find the extreme version of this dumb, is, does it give me joy. A lot of people take that to the extreme and end up getting rid of so much that they actually do miss it and realize it was and has given you joy. But, for a board game, I look at it this way, if I didn’t play it again, would I care that much? With the batch of culling that I’m doing right now, I considered the game Krosmaster Arena. While that game has adorable little figures, and I do enjoy the game, I won’t miss playing it. So, it doesn’t really bring me that much joy, but looking at another game I considered, Dead Men Tell No Tales. That game I’ve had more fun times with, and I would still pull it off the shelf and play it, even though I haven’t in a long time.
Next, when considering getting rid of a game, I also look at how much I have that is like it. Now, I have a number of deck builders, Xenoshyft: Onslaught, Clank! In! Space!, Ascension, and more, so I got rid of one of them? No, because I like all of those games and they give me joy, but when I considered the game Unspeakable Words, which the little chibi Cthulhu in it still entertain me, I realized that I have other word games, Quiddler and soon Letter Jam and I don’t think, when I want to play a word game, that I’d ever pull Unspeakable Words off of the shelf again. So there are times when a game might bring you some joy, but if you’re never going to play it again, it might be time to take it off of the shelf. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, because there will be times where you have some games that you just want to keep because of the memories that you have with those games.
I also consider if there is a new edition, and this ties into the previous point, but in some ways it’s a little bit different. For example, I am getting rid of Arkham Horror because I have the newest edition of Arkham Horror, and while I’ve had fun with the 5-6 hour game that the Arkham Horror was, I’m not going to get that to the table over a 3 hour or slightly less Arkham Horror 3rd Edition, or even a game like Arkham Horror The Card Game or Mansions of Madness. Or I’m getting rid of Machi Koro: Bright Lights Big City. Now, I don’t have another version or edition of that on my shelf, but I know that Machi Koro Legacy is out, and when you are done with Machi Koro Legacy, you still have a playable game of Machi Koro. So I’m not going to need both versions of the game in my collection, because they would fill the same need, and I can simply pull out the completed Legacy version.
I also ask myself if a game is still my taste or if I need a game like it still in my collection. Your collection can have only games that you love in it, and maybe only one type of game, but I personally think that you can have a breath of games and find some things out of your comfort zone that you kind of like, you should keep that in your collection or add it to your collection. Now, these games might not give you joy, but there are times and occasions to pull them out. I’m not a huge of Splendor, I think the game works decently, but it doesn’t excite me to play it. But that game came off the shelf a few weeks ago, because we needed a short game that is easy to teach. So sometimes you keep a game that you don’t love and you maybe have other versions of it that you like better, Century: Golem Edition scratches the same itch that Splendor does for me, but you keep the game because it is easy to get to the table in certain situations.
Finally, it might be a game that you’ve never played and never will play. Maybe there is a game so important to keep in your collection just to have collected it, that isn’t a thing for me, but sometimes, if a game has sat around long enough, it’s time to move on from it, because you won’t be able to play it. This is especially the case if you’ve tried to play it or tried to learn it and it just doesn’t look interesting or you can’t find the group. If you’ve tried to play it and you can’t find people to play it with, you have to decide if it’s worth keeping in your collection and if it’s stopping you from adding something you can play to your collection. Now, it might be that it is worth having it, and that is cool, because there will probably be a time, sometime in the future, where you find the right group to play it with, but if you don’t care that much, it might be time to move on from it instead of letting it eat up space.
So, let’s talk a little bit about what I’m getting rid of and why:
KrosMaster Arena: I think this game is the hardest to explain why. I enjoy the game, but I just know that I’m not going to consistently get it to the table again. And I think when it comes down to it, I have other dice chucking fighting games that I like better.
Rise of Queensdale: I was looking forward to playing this legacy game, because it’s a legacy game. With that said, the group I was going to play this with fell apart and I haven’t even removed it from the shrink, and that was about a year ago. So I don’t think I’ll find a group to play it and I have other legacy games, Betrayal Legacy, and probably in the future Clank! Legacy, Machi Koro Legacy, and Pandemic Legacy Season 3 that I’m going to prefer to play.
Unspeakable Words: This game was mainly kept around because the Cthulhu minis were cute. I have other word games that I’d pull out before it, and for me, the game is too random with it’s dice.
Forbidden Desert: A lot of people would keep this game as an introductory coop game in their collection. And I considered it for that reason, especially since I got rid of Forbidden Island before, but I have Pandemic, and I can teach and play that game as an introductory coop game.
Machi Koro: Bright Lights, Big City: Machi Koro Legacy is a thing that I’m going to want to play.
Albion’s Legacy: An interesting one to get rid of, because I haven’t played it, nor have I tried to play it. I got it for free at GenCon, and I wasn’t really that interested in it, but free things. So might as well get rid of it instead of having it take up space on my shelf.
Arkham Horror 2nd Edition: I have the 3rd Edition, and it just takes too long. I’m not going to get it to the table again over the 3rd edition because of the amount of time. I’d prefer to open up room for expansions for 3rd Edition.
That’s all of the games that are leaving this time. I could have maybe found a couple more small box games, but the small box game area still had room, so I didn’t look too hard at it.
Now, what I didn’t talk about was where to get rid of these games. I think that’ll be a separate post, but I sell mine for store credit, you know, to get more games.
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This was a topic that they talked about on a Backtalk on The Dice Tower, or more specifically, board games causing emotions. They spent a bunch of time talking about it in terms of horror though. So that got me thinking, one of my favorite games, Betrayal at House on the Hill has a horror theme, but does it bring in the feeling of horror, and thinking about it, I don’t think that it does.
So can a board game bring in a feeling of horror or can a board game be scary?
Obligatory joke, if the rules are bad it can be scary.
But the game itself can a board game be scary, possibly, and it elicit a sense of horror in a game? I don’t think that they can.
Board game are inherently social by nature. Sure, there is a huge push towards solo gaming, but with the exception of a few games, they aren’t only built for a solo audience. So you are experiencing something as a group. When you do that, things are generally less horrifying. Even when something scares you, you can talk about it and joke about it with the group. In fact, this is why when I go into haunted houses, I tend not to interact with my group or at least speak. I want the more immersive experience, but in a board game, it’s not built to work that way. Board games, in cooperative ones that could really draw out the most horror for the group, have you planning and discussing.
But board games can do a few other emotions that you can experience that get close to horror. Good board games should have a feeling of tension. Again, going to cooperative games, you can have a game where you are looking for that one card before a timer runs out. Or in Pandemic, you know that an epidemic is probably going to be coming up shortly and you hope that you get what you need or you can abate a situation before it happens in what could be that next card flip. You can also have a sense of dread. I think that Arkham Horror does a decent job of this as does the card game, you are pulling a chit from a bag and you are worrying that it is going to be something that makes the situation much worse. Or you are pulling a card and you know that there is something that might cause the big bad guy to win or at least show up and make the game way more difficult. And you know that it’s going to happen eventually and as you pull more good cards, the closer you are to that very bad thing happening and the more likely it is that the next pull is going to be that bad one. I think that Betrayal at House on the Hill does a solid job of this as you roll for the haunt after every omen.
What are board games missing, then, to keep them from feeling horrifying and can they get there?
This actually goes back to my apps in games or technology in games. Something like Chronicles of Crime isn’t horrifying with it’s VR technology as you look at a crime scene. Yes, it is a crime scene and they could make it easily horrifying if they wanted to, but they haven’t. Plus, that asks the question, is that part of the board game. You can look back into the archives and find that article if you want to discuss that more. But I think that’s an obvious way that you could create a jump scare, but I’m not sure that it would be a lasting sense of horror still.
Again, board games are such as social experience for me, and even when I solo game, that is basically always done on the stream, so I feel like I’m still engaged with an audience. So you’d have to get the whole group feeling horrified at the same time. I think another thing that is often missing that really can create a sense or horror and might work for a group is the ambiance. So you could turn down the lights, add in some spooky noise or music in the background and I think that would help create a bit more of a sense or horror, but I feel like it is still going to fall short. I feel like dread is the best word to describe it as you worry about the bad thing that is going to happen.
Now, it’s hard to say that dread is horror though, it might touch on that because you are getting a sense of fear from the card pull, but I think with horror, most of the time you are having fear but you don’t know of what. With dread, you are fearing what is inevitably going to happen. And again, with an app, you might be able to create more fear because you don’t know what is going to happen as you unfold a story.
I think that’s the final way that you can help create a sense of horror. I think with a good story that you can get a sense of horror in a game. Again, I’m going to say that an app is going to be helpful. A good narrator in the app is going to be able to read some part of the story in the right tone with the right background noises to make it feel more horrifying. If I were to read it myself, and I didn’t want to spoil what is coming up, I wouldn’t be able to intone correctly to create that sense of building tension and dread that you’d want. Even with that, I feel like it’s less horrifying, because you are still part of that group.
So, no, I’m not sure that a board game could ever truly be horrifying by itself. I think even with an app that is playing the right music and telling the right story that are part of the game, you are still part of the group. The other things, like dimming lights and creating a spooky feel, those are outside of the game that you can use to enhance a feeling of horror. Now, I think that’s probably a fine thing, I think the tension of a roll or a card draw and the sense of impending doom, those can be enough for a board game, because you don’t always want to be terrified. But because you can’t really do a jump scare, unless you are adding in VR to the mix, the game feels like it’s never going to be truly horrifying because you’re never truly afraid of what is around the next corner.
What do you think, can a game be horrifying or scary? What is the game that gets the closest for you?
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Final top 5 list, I think that I could maybe come up with some more lists, but I might do eventual lists of games that play best or up to two through six or seven to give ideas for games like that. As I know that’s something that I want to think about as a person who hosts a board game night, what games provide that range in player count or allow players to split up more.
But we finish off with action points. What are action points, they are points or tokens that tell you how much you can do on a single turn. Maybe you can take five actions, and then you allocate those points to specific actions you can take, like moving or attacking.
5. Dead Men Tell No Tales
A cooperative game, in this one you are spending actions to try and find treasure on a pirate ship that is haunted and currently on fire. You have to contain the fire, try and find the treasures, deal with skeletal deck hands, and you have a certain number of actions you can take to do all of that. This game is like a lot of cooperative games in that you feel like you can never do enough. The interesting thing this game adds in with action points is that you can pass on your unused action points to the next player. So it might be that you are limited in what you can do, but the next person has a lot of useful things that they can do. You can move closer into position to set-up what for your next turn and then pass any unused action points to the next player so that they can do more. In a lot of cooperative games the action points are static but you can act upon other characters, in this one, you can’t do that, but you can pass out action points.
4. Dead of Winter
Dead of Winter is an interesting game on this list as it uses dice as your action points in the round. The dice don’t encompass every action you can take in the game, but the strongest actions, the ones that help you complete objectives are going to spend a die. Not only that, but the number you roll on the dice makes a difference as well. Some characters aren’t able to search or kill zombies with a low die roll. So in that case your die, which is supposed to be your strongest action is now made weaker and it looks like you are hurting the colony and people are starting to suspect you are the traitor more, but at the same time, they can see the roll, so they know it wasn’t great. And then you get more dice and actions when you have more survivors, but you are also responsible for more zombies showing up and more mouths to feed and making the game harder that way.
3. Arkham Horror LCG
This game doesn’t use the points as a physical token, but a lot of the games with action points don’t. Action allowance might be a good way of describing it as well, because you have a certain total number of actions you can take on a turn. Arkham Horror does this well, limiting you to two actions, and while you can do the same actions multiple times, you always feel the crush of not being able to do enough. Arkham Horror LCG is a placeholder on this list for all of Fantasy Flights Lovecraftian games as you feel the crunch Arkham Horror, Elder Signs, and Mansions of Madness as well. It’s a system that works well for them as it keep the tension high when you don’t have enough actions to do everything that you’d want.
2. Blood Rage
Action points are huge in Blood Rage as you try and get into territories, move troops around, and be able to hang in the round long enough to stop your opponent from doing what they are trying to do. What I like about the action point system in Blood Rage is that certain actions cost a certain number of action points. And the monsters, who are possibly more powerful or useful in some other way, also have action point costs. So you’re trying to balance using your action points so that you don’t run out much before anyone else, because once you are out of action points, you are out of the round at least in being able to take the large actions that are going to be most useful long term.
1. Pandemic Legacy
This game does great with action points, basically each turn the active player spends up to four action points, moving around, curing diseases, trading cards, and finding cures. Then as the game continues, you gain more and more actions that you can take. At the end of the game, you’re trying to balance out these actions in hopes that you’ll be able to survive. Pandemic does a really good job with these actions, because it evolves over time. A lot of games have more of a static action pool with maybe unique characters have special player power actions that they can take, but Pandemic Legacy, both seasons one and two, give more options as you play and unlock more of the game.
There are a ton of games that use this action point/action selection mechanic. It’s a strong mechanic for adding tension to decisions, because you’re almost always short of the action points you want to use in a round. This mechanic, however, isn’t always an ideal for players who might have AP, because it makes your choice really matter. But let’s talk about some honorable mentions:
Forbidden Desert/Forbidden Island – Cooperative exploration games that feel like Pandemic light.
Flash Point: Fire Rescue – Another Pandemic like game that also has a bit of a Dead Men Tell No Tales feel to it as well, this time you’re being fire fighters though.
KrosMaster Arena – Plan your movement and attacks in this Chibi MOBA style game. A little bit simple at times, and almost ways a best way to use your action points.
The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game – This game is all about the Fate Points, as the action points are called. It’s a pool of action points which is a very different feel from a lot of the games as you as a team have to replenish and manage that pool of points.
What are some of your favorite games with action points? Is action points/action selection a mechanic that you enjoy?
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