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…
Tag: Board Games
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…
I started doing Top 10 Lists last week to talk about my top 10 deck building/deck construction games. This time, I’m continuing that with some area control. I like area control games and I think that there are some good ones out there, but there are also some old ones, that you’ll have to see if they make my list.
While putting together this list, I found it more challenging than putting together the deck building/deck construction list. I think that while I enjoy area control or area influence, given their more confrontational nature, they don’t tend to get to the table as often so it’s harder for me to come up with them off of the top of my head. And toward the bottom of the list are games that I’ve enjoyed, but might not be in my collection anymore.
10 – Smash Up
This is a game that I actually dropped from my collection for a few different reasons, but I don’t think that it’s a bad area control game. The idea of pairing two random factions together, finding their synergies, and creating a strategy to get points and have the control of these locations when the score works really well. And the game play itself is simple which made it pretty easy to get to the table quite often. It’s a good sort of game for people who are intimidated by the bigger games later on in the list, but want more than just a simple take that style game.
9 – Carcassone
Yes, technically there is area control, and it’s in two parts. First it’s for a city, if you are in a city and someone places down a connecting piece, they can’t also place in that city. But the farmers are also area control for scoring at the end of the game. While I don’t think the area control comes across heavily in the game, there is a bit of that, especially with the farmers, that can make a difference in end game scoring. But when most people thing for Carcassone, they rightfully so consider it more of a tile laying game. Did I mention this was a harder list to make?
8 – Risk Legacy
I don’t have regular Risk on here, pure control all the areas for the game to end is not enjoyable to me. But with Risk Legacy you still get more resources for controlling more areas. And by controlling your opponents HQ, that also brings you closer to victory. The legacy nature of the game is fun as well, while it isn’t as heavily a story as some of the more modern board games, it does provide enough to open up and the games are fast enough that it’s a good time. If you want to play the first (or at least one of the first) legacy games, Risk Legacy is really enjoyable.
7 – Root
There is one major downside to Root, and that is that teaching it takes a while, won’t be the last with that, because each faction plays asymmetrically. But it’s a good area control game where you are fighting over the woodlands, but that isn’t purely how everyone wins. The different factions get points by doing different things, all the while needing to keep the cats in check who are really about area control. Each faction plays so differently that without playing it often you’ll need to do the teaching of the rules, but if you can get it to the table, it is really interesting and lots of interesting options
6 – Cry Havoc
The other game that can take a bit longer to teach. This game is also asymmetrical, so you need to explain some of the players what their factions are best at. But this game is all about controlling games, and the more that you control on the alien planet, the more points that you get. It makes an interesting game because while the faction that’s the Pilgrims doesn’t care much about having many areas, they still need a few to be able to produce games to score points, but they can bunker down. The combat in this game is interesting as well and actually has a tiny bit of deck building to it. While it has some of the looks of a dudes on a map games, it also has some strong euro style mechanics.
5 – Small World
This is the intro to area control game. I like this game for it way better than Risk because Risk can go on a long time, Small World plays fast and is a lot of fun. In it you mash up a race and power combo and start taking over the lands. However, the board is small enough for each player count that soon people will start attacking you, so you need to put your race into decline, the next turn grab another race and start attacking with that one. This game is a ton of fun and simple to teach because you aren’t counting up troops, building a die pool, playing cards, and rolling dice to determine a winner, it’s just if you can put down two more pieces of cardboard than area already in that space. It works well, it’s a lot of fun, and while the game can last a little while if you’re playing more than three, turns are still pretty fast, it’s just that there are more of them, and it’s not a heavy strategy game, so the time goes faster because you can chat.
4 – Lords of Hellas
So, this one wasn’t in my top 100 when I did that at the end of last year because I hadn’t played it yet. It was a bit of a trick to figure out where I wanted to slot it, but this seemed like the best spot. Lords of Hellas has a bunch of different ways to win, but two of them deal with area control. First you can control two regions which can be up to eight smaller areas, or you can control five temples. There’s some interesting combat in this that is done through card play, and while there are other ways that you can win, you definitely need to be paying attention to areas that you are controlling or other people are gathering up, because when various events happen in the game, you can really benefit from controlling temples. This is again a dudes on a map game, but one that doesn’t have all the ameritrash feeling to it with dice chucking.
3 – Star Wars: Rebellion
Probably the most ameritrash game I have on the list, besides Risk Legacy. It’s a two player game where one side is the Empire trying to find the Rebels base, and the Rebels are trying to do missions to subvert the Empire’s control and if they can weaken it enough they win. But a lot of the game is big land and space battles for areas where you are trying to wrest control of a planet from the other side so that they aren’t able to produce as many ships and troops. The game has a good cat and mouse feel to it as the Empire spreads out trying to find the Rebels, and it feels like Star Wars original trilogy. Just the pieces that we weren’t seeing because the movies are so focused on a handful of characters, this is the stuff that was going around that.
2 – Hanamikoji
Another two player game, that surprised me, and I was also surprised when I realized that this is definitely an area influence game. In Hanamikoji you are trying to put influence over various Geisha and win their favor by giving them gifts. If you can get either four to your side or eleven points worth of Geisha you win the game. It’s a fast game and an interesting game because it’s played with a small deck of cards. And each player only doe four actions per round, and the same as the other people. You either pick a card to keep face down, discard two face down, put out three and your opponent picks one, or put down two sets of two and your opponent picks one. It is interesting because in some ways you’re forcing your opponent early to make decisions for you because there’s enough hidden information to make a fully puzzled out decision.
1 – Blood Rage
I think that this game would top a number of peoples lists, as it’s been a game that’s been hard to find for a while. In this game you are fighting over and around the world tree to improve how many action points you get, how much glory you get in battle, and how many troops you can have on the board. The game does a whole lot more than that as well because you are also upgrading your troops and drafting cards at the start of each age. So it might be possible that you don’t want to actually have any of the areas with a Loki strategy, but you do want to bump up some stats, probably, because that gives you points as well, so there is a good reason to do some area control.
Looking at the list, I think that Small World is the only one that is purely area control, though I should say as people will think of it. I think that Hanamikoji is also basically just area control. Looking at what Board Game Geek has for area control, I know that there are some more that I want to try. Twilight Imperium is a massive game with a lot of area control in it, though not just that, that feels like something that I’d like. I also have Scythe on my shelf that I haven’t played yet which seems like a fun game with some area control in it as well. Same with Cyclades, a game that I picked up a while ago but haven’t been able to get to the table yet.
What are some of your favorite area control games? Based off of the ones that I’ve rated in my Top 10, what are some that I should checkout?
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