Tag: Board Game

RPG Elements in Board Games

RPG Elements in Board Games

Normally I’d be doing an Friday Night D&D article, but it’s an off week for playing, and I don’t have a new campaign idea floating around my head right now. So instead, I want to talk about how some board games use RPG elements and 

Malts and Meeples – Tainted Grail Wave 2 Unboxing

Malts and Meeples – Tainted Grail Wave 2 Unboxing

The Game Something I’ve been waiting for, for a while showed up yesterday. Really, compared to when it might ship for some people, I didn’t have to wait too long, but I have the rest of the Tainted Grail stuff, the two big expansion campaigns, 

How To Teach a Board Game

How To Teach a Board Game

A few years ago I wrote a post about how to teach board games, I want to revisit that today, and take a little bit of a different tact with it. I think that teaching a board game is one of the often overlooked things by people who are really excited or passionate about their board games and playing board games. They want to get games to the table but that only works if you have people who are willing to play with you and if you can teach the rules well, that helps people want to play with you.

So I today we’re breaking down the whole process of teaching a board game.

1 – The Prep

Step one is before people even show up at at your game night or to play the game, you need to know the game. The most important part in this is to know and have read the rules. I don’t mean having skimmed over them but really dived into them recently so that you’re ready to go. If you want to take it one step further, play a few practice turns for the number of people you’ll have as that’ll help you get a real idea of how the game works. Now, I rarely do that last step unless it’s a game that I can play solo, then I will play through it solo. But reading the rules before you play is important. This also doesn’t happen all the time, so have read the rules at some point in time prior. Pretty often I’ll get a game, bust it open and read the rules right away just so that I have a base for it, but ideally I refresh myself on the rules later.

2 – Start with the Theme

Even if the game doesn’t have a ton of theme, start with that the theme is and use that to sell the game. When I talk about Welcome To, I say that it’s a roll and write game about building your perfect Stepford neighborhood. Now, obviously the Stepford part is added, but it gives the game more flair. Overall, people will get into a game if they can get into the theme, even games without theme try to act like they have theme, so sell the theme. Even Euro games that have you trading in the Mediterranean technically have some theme that the designer is trying to claim is there. Sell that theme. This won’t be a large part of your teach, but it’s the hook, that sales pitch that you start with to get people into the game and get their attention. To go back to to my Welcome To example, I put Stepford in my pitch because that catches people’s attention. Talk about theme and hook the players.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

3 – Talk About How You Win or Lose

Really another quick part of the teach, talk about how you win the game, generally. I wouldn’t, at this point in time go into details of how you get the victory points or how you defeat the bad guy, this is building up to really teaching the game. In a cooperative game, I would point out how you win the game or how you lose the game and try and keep it as thematic as possible while you’re doing this. For example: In Pandemic we’re members of the CDC who are fighting diseases (that’s the hook). Our goal is to cure all four diseases before time runs out, there are too many outbreaks, or a disease has spread too far (that’s the win/lose).

4 – The Game Play

So after that little bit of an intro, we’re now into game play. Ideally you give the pitch before you open anything up, and if people are still interested, you start setting things up. Unless, you know you are for sure going to play the game, then set it up ahead of time. When teaching the game play, show and tell is your friend. Telling a player they can go to the store and spend gold to get a card, that makes sense and is easy, but showing a card and demonstrating the whole process makes it clearer. Especially when you can also go to the Saloon, the Temple, the Fair, and 12 other spots. Another example of this, from an actual game, would be with Gloomhaven, show how you use the top and bottom halves of the cards and how you can and might change what you’re doing off of your cards. Go through everything you need to know to play the game. Now, for Gloomhaven, keeping it as my example, I might not explain what the poison, wound, stun, etc. tokens do at this point in time. They are important to playing the game, but not to starting to play the game. So only teach what needs to be taught to start the game. Also teach only important exceptions to the rules. A lot of games might have a lot of exceptions, but if they are small, don’t dwell on them. Teach the important ones so there aren’t any gotcha’s in the game.

5 – Reinforce How to Win

Get into how you win the game now. While teaching the core mechanics you should talk about how they impact how you win the game. But this is going to be the third time you talk about how to win and the time where you just focus on the mechanical aspect of the game. In Pandemic: “As a group, we need to get sets of five cards of each color and turn them in at a research station. We have to do that before we have too many outbreaks from the epidemics in the player pile, before the player pile runs out, or we can lose if there are ever all of the disease cubes for a disease out on the board and we need to play one more.” Then go into more detail on those lose conditions again. Again, show and tell is your friend here. Demonstrate what an outbreak looks like again. Point out the cubes and the player deck again. This is really about reinforcing how to win or lose the game. Obviously this is a cooperative example, and it’s even more important to point it out in a competitive game. With a competitive game if you don’t reinforce how to win (or lose) people will sometimes get upset because they feel like they could have or would have won had they remembered how to score points or what the victory conditions were.

Image Source: Across the Board Cafe

6 – Play One Round

Some people might say to play this open so that everyone can see what everyone is doing and then restart the game. I don’t personally love playing open handed for two reasons. The first being that it can allow someone to quarterback everything. Players need to make their own decisions, so let them. The other being that at the end of round one, you can see if people want to reset. If you play with everything out in the open, you need to reset everything, because as the person who knows the game you’ll know what players might be planning. If you play it normally, and you can still give advice, players can choose if they want to continue or restart now that they know the rules better or have a better feel for the game. If the first round of the game takes a little bit, or if the game doesn’t have that many rounds, I think a lot of players will want to continue, but give the option or reinforce the win conditions or rules again if you decide to continue. This step isn’t always needed, sometimes you can just continue with the game, especially in a cooperative game where you might be already sharing information openly.

7 – Play the Game

Simple as that, play the game. Now, teaching doesn’t stop when you start playing the game. Especially if you know how to play the game and have played it before. Talk about what you do on your turn. Point out when an exception happens, why exceptions happen. Teach what conditions are in Gloomhaven when they come up, for example, or things along those lines. People wouldn’t have remembered them from the start, but once they show up and are put into practice immediately people will remember. And try to win but maybe hold back from destroying. Some games allow you to completely crush a new player, Ascension is kind of an example of that with the Construct strategy, so either try a new strategy to see if you can win that way, or point out the really good strategy in the teach, to avoid the gotcha moment.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully that helps you know how to teach a board game. One important rule that I don’t mention is don’t read straight from the rulebook, because I wanted to focus more on the teaching process. There are some exceptions to that, TIME Stories has a great hook at the start of the rule book, so use that hook. Some games will bullet point out all the actions you can do on your turn, you can use that and demonstrate them at the same time. But if you’re explaining beyond the bullet point, you are explaining it, not reading from the book. Rule books tend to be very dry and boring, so try and keep it more interesting with how you describe and demonstrate things. But I talk about a lot of those things in the article linked at the top of the post.

What are some tips or tricks you have for teaching a game?

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Point of Order: A Gift Order

Point of Order: A Gift Order

Normally you get to hear about all of the games in a given order, but this time you won’t. There will be one game in the order that won’t be talked about, because it’s going to be a gift. But I can, of course, talk 

Back or Brick: Epic Seven Arise

Back or Brick: Epic Seven Arise

Based off of an app game, Epic Seven Arise is a dungeon crawl, fantasy, adventure where you play as the heir of the covenant trying to stop the cycles of destruction. Pros Epic fantasy game Theme Artwork Campaign Solo Cons Artwork Price First time company 

Top 10: Roll and Write Games

Top 10: Roll and Write Games

I couldn’t have done this list a year ago but now I’ve played over 10 of them, and I have even more on my shelf that I need to play. Roll and Write games (or flip and write or flick and write) are a very hot genre of game right now. And while I still need to play some of the classics, like Qwixx, I’ve played a number of them and I’ve really enjoyed the ones that I’ve played. So let’s dive into the list.

10 – Criss Cross

This was one of the first roll and write games that I picked up. I saw it on the Brothers Murph YouTube channel, found here. I really like the simplicity of this game, and how it plays so incredibly fast. All you are trying to do is get like symbols in columns and rows, which is easy enough to do in one of them, but in both can be a bit tricky. And the more you get the more points it is. The main thing you have to pay attention to is that you aren’t blocking yourself into a single spot in two places on the board because you have to place the rolled symbols adjacent to each other. This one also works really well over Zoom or some other meeting software. You can find my full review here.

9 – Metro X

Image Source: Gamewright

The newest game to the list is Metro X, this one I just wrote my review about yesterday, you can find it here. I like how this game makes you think for something that is pretty straight forward in what you are doing. I think that it works well solo as the game is really a multi-player solitaire as a lot of these games are. Some of the excitement that comes from the game is seeing what cards are going to be flipped over, especially when you really need a skip or maybe that free space card to show up way more often than they do, or they show up at the wrong time where it really doesn’t help you that much. And the components are really nice for the game.

8 – Second Chance

Image Source: Stronghold Games

Another one of the first roll and write, or really a flip and write, that I got. Second Chance is a lot of fun and a very peaceful game. I don’t think there are that many board games that I would consider to be really peaceful. Now that isn’t to say that I don’t fine most games to be pretty relaxing or destressing anyways, because I just love games, but Second Chance is really peaceful, which is great. You flip two shapes, and everyone places them on their board, and then repeat that. It is peaceful as you doodle on your board, filling in the shapes that you’ve placed, and while you can plan ahead a little, most people don’t too much. Just a good game overall that you can find my review of here.

7 – Twice as Clever!

Image Source: Schmidt

There are going to be a number of games from this series by Wolfgang Warsch. While there are older roll and writes out there, Yahtzee missed my list but an obvious forefather, this line of roll and writes definitely brought them into the board gaming spotlight. You are rolling dice in all of them, picking one, setting aside anything lower, repeating the process until you don’t have any dice to roll or you’ve used three dice. Then the other players pick a die to use from those that you didn’t. This version is my least favorite just because I feel like it’s a bit more complex, but mainly for complexities sake. This one has combos but it doesn’t feel like the combos do as much.

6 – Super-Skill Pinball: 4-Cade

Image Source: Z-Man Games

A newer game to me, though not as new as Metro X, this one has a theme that I was really excited for. I like playing pinball machines, though in 2020 it hasn’t happened as often. So when there was a roll and write pinball game coming out I thought it’d be interesting. I’ve written some opening thoughts on it here, but I want to play it more to give it a full review. What works so well for me is the flow of how you fill in spaces. There are the bumpers in the upper section that you can just ping around on for a while, but once the ball drops out of that, it will start falling, so you need to figure out, best you can, how to control that fall, hitting the sides along the way, before you flip it back up. Point scoring is nice and easy, for the most part, and the components are really good.

5 – Clever Hoch Drei

Image Source: Schmidt

The next of the series by Wolfgang Warsch , and actually the most recent of the roll and writes, Clever Hoch Drei, which I’m getting from Germany, has been a blast to play. This one returns you to a ton of combos in the game, something I feel like is missing slightly in Twice As Clever. But it actually has some really interesting choices in it with how you fill in the sections. I like that this and Twice as Clever also incentivize going for specific things, like rerolls or plus ones, to get even more bonuses. The main mechanics stay the same as well, so it makes teaching it easy if someone already knows either That’s Pretty Clever or Twice as Clever.

4 – Cartographers

Image Source: Thunderworks Games

I almost missed this one when I was ranking my roll and writes because I have it on another shelf. This one is set in the Roll Player world, which really doesn’t matter. It’s about making a map, but that’s fairly weird how that works or doesn’t work, because there are monsters on the board. But it’s still a lot of fun. There are two things that stand out to me, the first being the scoring system where you play through four seasons and in the first season you are scoring objectives A and B, then in summer, B and C, but when you get to Winter, you are scoring D and A. So each thing gets scored twice, and you have to balance how much you go for scoring, because if you push hard for B in rounds one and two, you might not score as many points later. I also find the monsters interesting. It makes the game less multi-player solitaire because your opponents place the monsters (unless you’re playing solo) and they are going to try and place it in the worst spot possible for you. You can find my full thoughts on Cartographers here.

3 – That’s Pretty Clever

Image Source: Stronghold Games

The first and my favorite for the roll and writes that are part of what currently sits at a trilogy of games. I fully expect that there could be more because they are certainly popular enough. I like this one for a couple of reasons better than the others. Firstly, it was the first that I really played of them, which there is a nostalgia factor. But I also like it because it is the simplest. It makes it the easiest to teach in a lot of ways, and playing it over Zoom works well because while it takes a minute to draw out the board, it can be done easier than the others. The dice mechanics are the same, and overall, just a game design that I really like. You can find my full review here for more information on the game.

2 – Sonora

Image Source: Pandasaurus Games

Now, for something completely different. Flipping cards or rolling dice to fill in stuff on the boards is common and normal, Sonora, by Pandasaurus Games, is a flicking game and then you fill stuff in. I think it might be possible to get good at the flicking aspect of it, but you don’t need to be great. No matter where you end up with flicking, you will score points, and that’s fun, and you can generally land it into the large area that you want, you might not get double the area if you can’t flick as well. This game is all about the combos when it comes to filling things in, and there are four areas to do it in. If you wanted, you can really focus on one area, or you can diversify to some extent, and the scoring seems really balanced in all of them. Definitely a really fun game to checkout, and you can find more about it here.

1 – Welcome To

Image Source: Board Game Geek

Finally, my number one, still, though, I think that all of the top 4 could be my number one on any given day, is Welcome To. I really like this game, and I’m not even always that great at it. I like building my perfect Stepford neighborhood, with it’s white picket fences and most definitely not anything crazy that will go wrong there, but that’s for someone else to deal with, I’m just building Helmouth on a Hell Mouth, a pet cemetery and probably more cursed things, and that’s just the flavor I add to the game. This game has a lot of different ways to score points and you can push your luck as well, but there’s also strategy as you consider how many of each number have passed by, I always seem to find something else that I want to think about or try in the game each time that I play it. I’ve had this one in my Top 100 games since I’ve played it and it’s stayed strong, you can see why I love it so much here.

Now, I have a few more roll and writes on my shelf to try. I have the Red Box for Railroad Ink, Booomerang, Floor Plan, Welcome to New Las Vegas, and Patchwork Doodle all to try as well. And I had two, Cat Café and Yahtzee that just missed the list. Yes, I still do enjoy the original, Yahtzee, as well, though that game mainly plays itself now.

What is your favorite roll and write game?

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TableTopTakes: Metro X

TableTopTakes: Metro X

We’ve been over this many a time. I like Roll and Write or Flip and Write games a lot. So when I saw a chance to pick-up Metro X, it seemed like a good idea. This is a flip and write game where you are 

Point of Order: First Order of 2021

Point of Order: First Order of 2021

Yeah, those are a bit stacked on top of each other from the end of 2020 to the start of but I had a little money left on a gift card for the order, so let’s see what I have coming now, it isn’t big 

What Type of Board Gamer Are You?

What Type of Board Gamer Are You?

Over the years, I have played a wide variety of board games and have a lot in my collection. I have pure Euro games and bit dice chucking Amerithrash games. This got me thinking about the different types of gamers that people are and which one I am. I am going to put down five different types of gamers, and see which you you might fit into.

The Euro Gamer

Image Source: Stonemaier Games

This gamer is all about the mechanics. If a game has really interesting mechanics, focuses on those mechanics, and allows them to strategize a lot, they’ll like this game.

I think another name for this gamer would also be the strategy gamer. This person likes to pick a strategy and be able to build towards it throughout the game without having to change and deviate from it much at all. It’s all about taking the set of inputs at the start of and throughout the game and implement a long term strategy that can get them the most points.

The Amerithrash Gamer

Also known as Ameritrash, Amerithrash just has a nicer ring to it and also sounds less derogatory to the gamer. This gamer likes their big games that have a lot of theme but a lot more randomness. For an Amerithrash gamer, theme is king and they are more willing to overlook mechanics if the game has a lot of theme.

So, another name for an Amerithrash gamer would probably be a theme gamer. This gamer is going to be fine with a whole lot more randomness, less laid out rules, and changing states of the game and events shaking up the game, as long as it is thematic.

Image Source: Board Game Geek

The Party Gamer

This one is pretty simple and probably not reading an article about different types of gamers. This is the person who might dip their toe into a game like Monopoly or even Ticket to Ride, but they really only play party style games. For them, the point of a game is to make them laugh. The funnier they find the cards or a theme of the game, the better that game is going to be for them. They look at board games as another form of entertainment like a movie or television show where it is the entertainments job to provide the fun, not incumbent at all upon the person watching, reading, or playing it.

The Omni-Gamer

This gamer likes all games whether they are Euro or Amerithrash, they are going to be willing to sit down and play most any game and probably find something fun with it. They’re even cool sitting down and playing a party game.

I think that a lot of gamers almost fall into this category of being an Omni-gamer. Most, however, will have one way that they prefer, whether it’s the more strategic Euro style sensibilities or the heavily involved theme of Amerithrash. But they’ll be willing to play most any game, at least once.

The Experience Gamer

Image Source: Across the Board Cafe

I think that all of them that I’ve written to up to this point are gamers that most board gamers would find to be pretty normal. Euro and Amerithrash are two very accepted styles of board games and games that gamers often have strong opinions on.

I think that there is a fifth type of gamer, and I think that I fall into this one. I will say that this might skew a little bit more towards the Amerithrash side, but not completely there. While I don’t mind dice chucking madness like you get in a lot of heavy Amerithrash games, I prefer games that give me an experience. A lot of Amerithrash games do that because they have heavy amounts of theme and theme as king gives a lot of interesting experiences.

But I think of gamers like Gloomhaven and Lords of Hellas, two games one that has a story running through it and another that doesn’t, but both aren’t just your standard dice chucking game with minis. Then again, both of the games do have some minis. Gloomhaven does have some randomness with a modifier deck, but you are able to tailor that as you play so it’s less random, or more random, or more randomly better. And the card play in Gloomhaven and how you build your deck is definitely strategic. With Lords of Hellas, sure you can go fight giant monsters, but it’s done through card play again, and you can pick various strategies from just building temples to fighting lots of monsters to beating up on other players to building statues. The main thing about those two thematic but not really Ameritrash games that drew me in was the experience I had playing it.

So I think there is a fifth gamer option, and that is the experience gamer. This is the gamer who doesn’t care about the mechanics, if they are great or bad, doesn’t care about the theme, if it’s dripping with theme or non-existent, they care about the experience of the game. This is also made trickier by the fact that experience can depend on the other players at the table as well, but most of the time I can separate that player experience from the game experience.

What type of Gamer Are You?

Let me say, while some board gamers might look down upon other types of gamers, all types of gamers are good board gamers and true board gamers. Just because ones taste doesn’t match with someone else’s or because party games are easier to learn and play than other games doesn’t make them worse or better. I really want to hammer this home because often gamers look down on other types of gamers, and I want to see the hobby grow.

So let me know in the comments below what type of gamer you are, or over on Twitter and Facebook.

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Point of Order: The Last of 2020

Point of Order: The Last of 2020

So, there was one final order in 2020, as Miniature Market did an end of year sale on their sale items. Now, I will say, I didn’t only pick up sale items, but I did pick up two games that I’ve been looking at for