We’re back with the next ten, a bullet point of what I said in the first part (which you can find here): These are my favorite, you want what people consider best, see the Board Game Geek Top 100 If a game you love isn’t …
Now, if you’re reading this years down the line, this might be the norm, or it could be something that isn’t even in your mind. Right now, though, we’re in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic with places having flattened the curve of the infection and now starting to reopen. That means that people are talking about game nights and now that might work on places like The Dice Tower Facebook group or Board Game Geeks forums. I wanted to write something about this, kind of as a suggestion list, for how you can create a gaming situation that can reduce the spread of a disease.
There are some games out there that are high contact games. Everyone is using the same cards, pieces, pool of resources, and things are just getting touched quite often. A couple of examples of this would be 7 Wonders or Sushi Go Party! where you are passing hands of cards for a draft. Classic games like Monopoly or Clue where you are passing dice and money or cards around, or Scrabble where you are drawing tiles out of the same bag, all of these are going to have more cross contamination potential. Now, we don’t know the precise likelihood of transmitting this disease that way, you’re definitely at more risk just sitting around the table and being in proximity. But if you’ve taken precautions, people are wearing masks, these wouldn’t be your ideal game options.
Instead lets look at games that have limited amounts of contact or potentially no contact.
The first genre of game that makes a lot of sense is roll and write games. Now, not all roll and write games work in this situation. Yahtzee has communal dice that are shared. However, Yahtzee has standard six sided dice, so, if you’re like me, you have plenty of six sided dice lying around for dice for everyone. But more so the roll and write games that are using a communal pool for placing. So games like Welcome To…, Criss Cross, and Second Chance, one person is rolling the dice or flipping the cards that everyone is using for a given round of the game. All you’ll end up with as points of contact as the player sheets and possibly writing utensils. However, I’ve laminated mine, so it’d be easy to wipe those off and the dry erase markers as people are taking them. Even if you haven’t laminated them, a pencil and a piece of paper as single points of contact isn’t bad for a game.
I’d also say that some party games work. Now, some, Catch Phrase or the likes where you are passing something around in a circle won’t work well. But there are others that have a similar roll and write amount of contact. I think that there are ways you can make something like Wits & Wagers work, where instead of having everyone sort and people grabbing random dry erase boards back, you put your own guess in the right spot, numerically and then take it back at the end of the round. Scattergories is another one that would work as you are coming up with answers. If your game is set-up well with the sheets and category lists already in the folder, there would be limited to no contact if you let a single person roll.
Finally, there are some other games that just don’t have much interaction in the game. A few that pop into my head are games like Dice Throne where each character has it’s specific deck, specific cards, and specific player board. So there is no reason to touch the other person’s cards. Skulk Hollow actually has some of that with the two asymmetric sides. While they react and interact with each other, that is only as a game play mechanic, not something that is physically done. Even something like Photosynthesis, which has a shared board, but you only are ever dealing with your own trees on that board. If you have one person who moves the sun around, and you lay out the point chips so that only one person is touching them, it’d be quite easy to have little to no interaction.
Now, the simplest way would be to play the games digitally. As I said, the proximity to people is going to be the bigger thing than the interaction of the game components for your likelihood to catch a disease. Even when there isn’t something like Covid-19 going around, it’s very often that “con-crud” will happen as big gaming conventions where a group of people get sick from being there. And that’s not because of interactions with games or anything, it’s about being around the people. But, if you are concerned about the physical interaction with the components of the game, there are certainly options out there that you can try when playing.
I think the final and best piece of advice I can give for getting games back to your table and starting up gaming after illness is going around, whether it’s the seasonal flu or something like Covid-19, if you’re worried about exposure but you still want to game in person, limit the amount of people you see. Don’t go to the game night at the local FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store), or don’t have your normal fifteen people over, instead, invite a couple or a couple of people to game with and do that a few times with the same people, then you’ve limited your points of contact to the possible infection. That, more than finding those multiplayer low component interaction games is going to make a difference, but those low interaction games won’t hurt either. And then just clean surfaces once people have left, there’s not going to be any ways to completely eliminate risk, but you can be smart about limiting it.
What ideas do you have to starting up your board game night around when people have been sick? Are there any games that don’t require component interaction that you’d play?
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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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It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a new board game to the table, it’s mainly been playing a ton of Gloomhaven, which is awesome as always, but I’ve been wanting to get new games to the table. So this Saturday we had a board game night and since a FLGS (Friendly Local Game Store) was doing a video game giveaway, where I get the games for Cartridge Capers from, and a sale, I went in and picked up Just One.
I actually went in there looking for a roll and write game that would accommodate a large number of players. But they didn’t have any, and I saw Just One on the shelf. It’s a game that I’ve been interested in, because it’s a cooperative party game. We got it to the table two times for that game night, so we clearly liked it.
Just One, while being a party game, does a few things differently. It follows the pretty normal trope for party games where there is a word and players are trying to guess the word. However, in this game, the person who is it picks a number, one to five, and on their card that is the word that they are trying to guess. The other players can see the word and must write down one word clues on their boards. But if any of those one word clues are duplicates, the person guessing can’t see that clue. For example, we had the word “Karate”. Two people wrote down the word “Kid” and the other two people playing wrote down “Discipline” and “Style”. We got lucky on that one, and the person guessed “Karate” but was definitely a tricky one when getting words eliminated.
The big reason for picking this game up was because we needed more games that can go to higher player counts. Technically the game is 3 to 7 players, because that’s how many player boards there are, but I think you could go higher than that. You’re going to have more clues that can’t be shown at a higher player count, so I don’t think that it should make it too much easier. While I like games like Scattergories, Sushi Go!, Wits & Wagers, Tsuro, and Stipulations, there is only so many times that you can play them. Basically, at times, how the games work, just kinds of runs their course, so it’s nice to add in some more starter games for a night to the collection.
So clearly I like this game. There are a couple of reasons that I like this game. The first being that it is cooperative. It’s rare to find a cooperative party game like Just One. Most party games are a race to points based off of guessing or team based. That’s fine, but it’s nice to have a game that you feel the tension for, but isn’t cut throat or won’t end up with one person falling so far behind, like you can in most other party games.
I also like it because while it is a word guessing game, it makes it simple. Something like Balderdash, you are writing definitions to words, or what Acronyms mean, you have to think more about it. In Stipulations, which I love, you have to write a complete Stipulation and come up with that weird, funny, or good stipulation by yourself. Here, it’s simpler, because you’re coming up with just a single word. Sure you have to think about how clever you want to go, or try and guess what one word other people might be writing down, but it’s still only a single word.
I think where this game will really shine is that kicking off a board game night or with people who don’t like to play games as much. This is the sort of party game that most everyone is going to be able to understand and play. There is a bit of reading, and there are a few words on the cards that are tricky. So I would say that is one downside to the game, there are going to be some words on cards that people don’t know. And I think, I’d preface the game by saying, if someone picks a word that someone doesn’t know, and this is by blind luck, the person picking the number can be asked to pick again.
Overall, definitely a fun game. Definitely a game that will go into that party game rotation. Was one of the highlights of gaming that night, though I did play another new game that was an interesting twist on push your luck dice games, what game was that, you’ll have to see. Just One is a game that seems like it should work in most any group, and I’d definitely recommend going and finding it online or at your FLGS.
Overall Grade: B+
Gamer Grade: C
Casual Grade: A
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