Game Night Post Sickness
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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