So I’m picking this one again because it’s one of my favorite themes and feelings in games. Also, the Dice Tower did a Top 10 list recently as well, so you can see how mine compares to theirs. But I am taking a slightly different…
Tag: Board Game
Alright, the classic mechanic in board games, rolling some dice. Whether it’s Monopoly or Clue rolling dice to move, Risk where you roll dice to attack, or Yahtzee where you roll dice to fill in a sheet, dice have been a staple of board gaming for a very long time.
When I am creating this list, I’m not just looking at games where it is mainly rolling dice, I’m looking at games where rolling those dice is a very important part of the game. So it’s not just going to be a bunch of roll and write games or older games, but a variety of games that rely on dice. I would guess that some people won’t consider the games to use the dice enough, but for me, it’s one of the major mechanics in the game, which is enough to get it onto the list.
10 – Sword and Sorcery
A good ameritrash game to take the #10 spot on the list, Sword and Sorcery has some story to it, but it’s all about crawling through the “dungeon” to advance the story, running across different monsters, fighting them and then going back and doing it all again. When you fight monsters, it’s about chucking dice. If you can gang up on them, you get get some automatic hits, or if you have the right items, you get more automatic hits, or if you aim, and maybe with all of that and a good roll you’ll be able to take a monster down in one hit. This game is about making you feel like a hero fighting through the dungeon and it might be a little bit easy. That said, the dice rolling is fun, especially with the extra symbols on the dice, not just hits or misses, because if you get the right combo, maybe you can boost your damage some more or ignore their armor. Of course, after your turn, you have to roll for the enemies and they might just hit you back hard and take you down as well. It’s a good straight forward dice chucking dungeon crawling game.
9 – Dead of Winter
I like the idea of games where the number of the dice matter, and not just in a simple comparison of does my number beat your number, if so, I win, like Risk. Dead of Winter gives you a lot to do with those dice. You can kill zombies, if you rolled high enough, you can search locations, if you rolled high enough, or you can barricade or do other things spending dice to keep the small group of survivors alive another day. There is no dice mitigation in this game, so that means that what you roll you get. Now, there are always things you can use the dice for, but it might not be what you really want. And while the dice roll is a random thing, it is one of the things that makes everyone look a little bit like a traitor, nothing that they can do about it, but it feels like a bad roll is somehow more likely to make a traitor. And that’s what Dead of Winter is about, it’s about fighting zombies, but it’s more about can you trust your fellow survivors, so are they out to get you?
8 – Village Attacks
Sometimes you just want to be a monster, and Village Attacks, you’re able to do that. You and your team of monsters are just resting in your castle most likely at the top of a cliff that somehow manages to keep the village below it in constant shadow when those pesky villagers decide to ruin your evening by attacking your castle with their pitchforks and torches. Can you fend them off? That’s what you use the dice for, they give you the ability to move, attack ranged, attack close and do other things, such as defend against the damage that might be coming your way. There’s less dice mitigation in this one, so you better hope that you roll well. But if you do roll three of the same symbol you are always able to reroll that until you don’t have it anymore. The theme is just fun, and while the game is a bit dark, I’ve found that it plays sillier because of the theme and the idea of these monsters just wanting some peace and quiet but the villagers keep bugging them.
7 – Homebrewers
I love beer, so Homebrewers might be higher on my list than some, but it’s a fun small engine building game where the engine that you’re building is the beers that you are creating. You do that by getting ingredient cards and adding them to your different brews. But the dice play a major part in that, the dice you get have to clean up the mess you’ve made while brewing, get you ingredients, add in ingredients, get you grain for brewing, and brew your beer, so your one roll is very important. However, there’s good dice mitigation just in case you rolled almost all of a single symbol. You can trade dice with other players. Maybe I have two brew and no grain and you have no brew and two grain, we could swap a grain and a brew so that both of us are able to brew. But maybe I think you’re in the lead and you brewing will help you more than just doing a simple trade would help me, so instead, you can spend a dollar and change the face of a die. The game plays fast and feels almost like a filler type engine building game, but it’s a ton of fun and who wouldn’t want to drink a bacon nutmeg ale?
6 – Criss Cross
Smallest game on the list and only roll and write on the list. This game is very simple and very dice driven, you are putting down pairs of dice like they’re dominoes onto your sheet, as is everyone else. And you’re trying to get symbols next to each other so that you can score points in both rows and columns. It might seem like there’s an optimal solution that everyone would gravitate towards form the dice rolls, but you are free to put the pair of dice down on on your grid where ever you want, and you get to pick what symbol you want to put in a starting corner, since there are an odd number of squares. So the strategy for the game and plan for it diverges based off of whether or not you can match symbols next to each other at the start. Overall, the game is simple, it plays fast, but it’s a good little filler dice game that I like a lot.
5 – Sagrada
Most of the games on the list, you’re rolling the dice and using them to resolve something. in Sagrada, you’re rolling the dice, then drafting dice, an using them to create a stained glass window. That by itself sounds like a lot of fun, but you have rules as to where you can an can’t place dice. You can’t have the same number or same color orthogonally adjacent to each other (left – right and up – down). Plus at the start of the game, you get to pick a stained glass window that you’re going to make. That is going to mean that you need certain colors in certain spots or certain numbers. So that locks in what you can pick even more so. Can you grab the right dice or get them to come out of the bag so that you can complete your stained glass window?
4 – Dice Throne Season 1/2
While this isn’t a pure dice game, it is one of the games that most heavily uses the dice. You’re rolling them every round, Yahtzee style, in order to hit your opponent and take down their health faster than they can take down yours. What’s interesting about it is that straights or four of a kind, that can mean a different sort of attack for each character. The Pyromancer might set someone on fire so that they are going to take more damage over time. The Shadow Thief might steal the CP (combat points) from another player and deal more damage because of that. And if you’re really lucky or can manipulate a roll so that you end up with all sixes, you can pull of a great ultimate attack. Then, assuming the damage can be defended against, the defending player rolls a single defense roll which might block damage, hit back for a little bit, or do something else, depending on the character. The game shines because of the cards, in some ways, though, because you can improve your attack or defense by playing down upgrade cards. So if you get a great combat upgrade, you might be able to swing for more or open up more options for what you can do on combat. It’s a really fun game and plays fast.
3 – Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition
Mansions of Madness is one of those games where you use the dice to check everything. If you need to see if you know the lore of something and won’t be going more insane, look at your lore skill, grab that many dice and roll them. If you need to fight off a monster from the depths of the oceans, it’ll tell you look at your strength and roll that many dice. The only thing that you don’t use dice for is puzzles, as those are handled by the app or something so simple that anyone could do it. But Mansions of Madness uses the dice well and like a lot of the games in the Arkham line from Fantasy Flight, there are ways to mitigate the dice with rerolls, or you can spend clue tokens to turn clue rolls into successes. I think this is a good example of having just enough mitigation in the dice that it doesn’t feel so lucky, but you’re always hoping for that perfect roll and as you get later in the game and need better rolls with less resources, often, it adds to the pressure.
2 – T.I.M.E. Stories
For what is basically a complicate Choose Your Own Adventure with a bit of escape room thrown in, you get an interesting game with a lot of dice rolling. Some might argue it’s too much dice rolling as you test your skills to see if you can get enough agility to slip a key off the cooks belt or to fight off a crazed monster down in the tunnels. You never know what you’re going to run across that you’ll need to make a roll for. Now, the rolling, like I said, is not some people’s favorite piece to the game, it can be random and it can be quite swingy. So you might make it through a couple of tough encounters with ease and then an easy encounter might just wipe you out and cause you to restart a run. But for me, that’s some of the fun of the game, in the game you aren’t be swapped into the best vessels from that era or location, so you aren’t going to always be the perfect team. Plus there’s the time die which gives some variability to how much time you’re counting down and that can also cause you to have to go on another run. A controversial pick, but one that I enjoy.
1 – Betrayal At House on the Hill
So remember, when I do these Top 10’s, it’s going to include a lot of my favorite games, but dice rolling in Betrayal at House on the Hill tends to be somewhat important. I don’t think that it uses it best out of all the games on the list, but it’s my favorite. In it you’re using dice for combat, but more importantly for the haunt. The haunt is when the game shifts from being cooperative and turns into a fight for survival as one character becomes the betrayer and has their own winning objectives compared to the other players. This roll is known as the haunt roll and you’re trying to roll more than a certain number to keep it from happening. So a poor roll early in the game could cause the haunt to come on faster. While this can be an issue for some, I like that fact that ti’s not as standard a feel as a horror movie because you never know when the haunt is going to happen or if you’ll be prepared to win.
There are a whole lot more games where dice can play a big roll. I actually left Star Wars: Rebellion off the list, because I think that the expansion changes up combat some so that it’s not as luck and dice driven, but it does have a lot of dice in there as well. And you can see that even though some of my favorite games use dice, not all of them is it the highlight of the game. T.I.M.E. Stories is on the list because I don’t mind the dice, but I’m there for the story, whereas other games use the dice really well, like Dice Throne or Mansions of Madness where it’s so key to what you’re doing.
Let me know in the comments below what some of your favorite dice driven games (or at least games where the dice are very important) are. Are there any that you think I need to checkout? Looking at my shelf, I need to get Formula D to the table which has a lot of dice to roll as you race.
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Another mechanic that I really love, action points/allowance is basically how many things you can do on your turn. Now, I want to say that this differentiates from something like Monopoly or Clue where you can do multiple things on your turn, possibly. I doubt…
This is a fairly big topic right now in the board game community as people around the world are physically distancing itself from other people out of necessity or mandate. There are plenty of people who are turning to solo board gaming now, but that isn’t quite the same thing for a lot of people, including myself. And while not being face to face is still tough, online gaming can help soften the blow. So let’s talk first about how you can do online gaming, various resources or set-ups out there, and then some good game options.
There are three main spots that I can think of when it comes to table top gaming. Assuming that you don’t just decide to play something like Ascension on an app because you want more of that real time interaction. Obviously, for conversation purposes you’re going to want to have a webcam ready to chat with.
This software works on all platforms and you can hook your Steam account up to it. Boasting more than 800 games to play, it certainly will give you a lot of options as to what you can grab.
Another digital platform, also available with Steam, that you can play a lot of games through.
Zoom/Other Meeting Software
This is the one that I’ve done thus far, but also going to be the hardest to pull off, because I have the streaming set-up for Malts and Meeples, I can go ahead and do a two camera set-up. That means that in a meeting, I’m able to have a camera on myself as well as then one of the table for the game. It’s also trickier because while Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator have all the pieces for the game, if multiple people don’t own the game, you need something with open information. However, because I played Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game with a friend and we both have it, that meant that the hidden information, what was in our hands, could be hidden because we each had a hand of cards.
I do want to check out the fully online options, but I have to say that I like the Zoom and using the streaming set-up that I did. Mainly because I still go to play with a physical game. And I think that’s a piece that’s always going to be missing from something like Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator. Now, I don’t think that those are bad systems to use and for a lot of people they are going to be the only thing that they can use because of limitations for their set-ups. Though, a webcam pointed at the game on the table would work, so even if you aren’t able to be “face to face” because of only using a camera, you’d still be able to play with a physical copy of a game.
So besides the library that they have on the digital gaming set-ups, what are some games that would be pretty easy to play even if everyone doesn’t have a copy of a game? Some of these will be easier than others because they have a smaller footprint, but all should work online.
Sounds like a joke, but it isn’t, because all the cards are face up, you need a single person moving pieces and flipping cards, but the decisions are still going to be able to be made by the person whose turn it is, just maybe with asking a few questions. Pandemic can have an Alpha gamer problem that might be a little bit worse if the alpha gamer is the person who has the game, but that’s not so much a problem with the game as an issue that the alpha gamer has to deal with. And if you use Zoom, the leader can mute the person if they are talking over others.
A simple enough abstract game where you’re racing from one side of the board to another while placing obstacles in the way of your opponent(s). You have a limited number of walls that you can place up, so as long as you can see how many you have left, it would work well online. Again, no hidden information so you don’t need to hide what you have or face a challenge of passing information to someone in secret or acting like you don’t know that information.
Cooperative games tend to work well, and this is a good cooperative party style game. In it one person has to not see the card being held up to the camera and then picks a number, everyone else writes down a one word clue, any repeated clues aren’t displayed and then the person has to guess. This should work exactly how it does in the real world simply by people closing their eyes at the right point in time. It’s also an easy game for people who might not be gamers to join in on because of how simple the concept is.
Second Chance/Welcome To…/Criss Cross/Cat Cafe/Yahtzee
Roll and writes or flip and writes are simple where you don’t need to be passing around the dice. Even the ones where you do, if they use normal six sided dice, like Yahtzee, most people can find the right number of dice. The trickiest thing is that as a roll or flip and write, you need something to write on. So it would require people to have a printer, but on Board Game Geek you can find a lot of these sheets that you can print off. Or if you have a scanner, you can scan them in and e-mail them so that people can then print them off. While Cat Cafe and Yahtzee might require a little more work, the other three would be simple to play and give you a lot of hours of entertainment. And all of them can play good sized groups.
This one can also play a large group and works as a party style game for more casual gamers. It works because you just need someone to display the list and you can play on a blank sheet of paper coming up with answers. Probably the simplest one to do because someone could just literally type the list into a chat window for everyone to see.
Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game
This is one that I saw people suggesting or talking about on Facebook, I believe in the Dice Tower group. Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game is what it says, a game about figuring out who done it. And it’s an involved and complex game. There’s an online database that you use, you can google things are appropriate times, and you can easily discuss a case and actions over a meeting. You just need one person reading off the case cards and presenting the options, which I think a lot of groups do in terms of dividing up the demands of the game. Plus, you need someone to take notes as to what has been discovered.
Legacy of Dragonholt/Choose Your Own Adventure House of Danger
Story driven choose your own adventure style games work. Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game almost falls into that category, but these are really just reading through things, and House of Danger has a few dice rolls with it but it’s a six sided die so that is going to work for most people because even if people don’t have many games, they probably have a die somewhere in their house.
Last one on the list, but I’m kind of surprised as I thought about it, that it actually works. The game is simple with just putting down pieces of cardboard to take over areas. So you just need to see how many characters you have left and how many are on each spot on the board. Plus, at times, what combos are available. Yes, you would need to have a single person moving everything around on the board, but that is pretty simple, there just might be a need for some clarifying questions as to what spot to place down your characters.
Now, I’m sure there are a lot more games that could work, and certainly classic games like Chess and Checkers where there is no hidden information would work really well. But those are some that I have sitting on my shelf that jumped out to me as good options for being able to play online. And while for me this will never replace playing games with people in person, during these times, there is certainly opportunity for groups to come together and play games online through one of the ways that I mentioned.
What are some games that you think would work well to play with a web cam? Have you tried out any thus far that have been a big success or a miss?
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To build off of the hot topic of the moment, which is social distancing, one thing, if you’re a board gamer, that you can consider to get your board game fix, assuming you don’t play games solo, is board game apps. And there are a lot of them out there. You can play them on an iPhone, iPad, Android device, some of Amazon Fire, and even some on your other systems such as a computer with Steam, Switch, or other consoles.
The reason that this came up is because I just downloaded a new one onto my phone and I was thinking about the various apps that I have where I can play board games. Just quickly listing off some, I have Onirim, Onitama, Ascension, XenoShyft, On Tour, Small World 2, Suburbia, and Silver. And you can get more, there is Scythe, Carcassone, Catan, and really so many others out there as well, some of them better than others. And generally, they are getting better overall.
Now, in the case of a few of those games, Ascension, Onirim, and XenoShyft, you can play the physical game solo, so you really don’t need the app, but for two of those, you can get through a game way faster on the app than in person and it’s a good experience. The last one, not so much. And some people are going to look at games this way and say, why bother if I’m just going to play against the computer, aren’t there always strategies that are going to beat them. Sure, maybe you’ll get to them eventually, but even though I win 90% of the games of Ascension that I play against the computer, it isn’t just a cakewalk always.
But let’s talk a little bit about what makes a good app.
1 – It Needs to Feel Like the Game
The mechanics should be the same, but you don’t need to show me all the upkeep. Small World is an offender of this, where it certainly feels like the game and there’s enough challenge there that it makes me stick with it, though. You want it to feel like you’re playing the game, that means that the visuals are going to remind you of the board game. What you have to do to make it work should feel some like the board game, though hopefully a little bit easier. A good example of this is Ascension where you are pulling cards into your discard and playing cards out in front of you, it’s how you’d actually use them in real life. Compare that to XenoShyft which is a mess of an app and a whole lot of work to get cards to go where you want or to know how to back out of something.
2 – It Should Be Intuitive
I don’t have all the games I have as apps as physical copies. That means, I need the app to teach me the game well. Games like Onirim, Ascension, Small World, and On Tour had good walkthroughs for their games, though, I already knew how to play Small World. But make it so that if I only kind of pay attention to the tutorial, I can understand the basics of what I’m doing. Suburbia is a more complex game, for example, so when I’ve tried to pick it up, it’s been harder to do so. Even going through the tutorial, there’s just more going on than some of the other ones. And because of that complexity, it should walk you through it better. Now, this isn’t something you can see without buying/downloading the game, but if it’s really bad, someone will comment on it, like XenoShyft.
Now, with all of this said, I don’t think app gaming will ever take away from face to face gaming. It’s just more fun to do it face to face for me. But it’s a good thing when social distancing, and you want to play some games that can’t be played solo. Some of these are just solo on your machine, OnTour and Silver are solo only. But others you can do as pass and play but if you can do that you can play a physical copy, and some like Ascension and Small World, you can do online play. That might be a little bit slower, but staying connected through an app to play a game isn’t the end of the world.
What are some of the board games apps that you love? Have you tried many of them, or does it seem taboo? I know that there are some out there, Through the Ages for example, that some people prefer the app because it makes a several hour game versus a much faster game.
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I almost forgot to do this today, but I want to keep it regular, would you back this game or is it a brick? Pros Based on a good game Can back part of it and decide more later Interesting premise/settings Not just a board…