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 …
When buying gifts, sometimes I do that to try and improve someone’s collection of games, and by that, I mean to move beyond the likes of the Monopoly, Clue, Scrabble, Chutes and Ladders, and Candyland that most househoulds have had, and take those people who …
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?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
When people tend to think of playing board games, some of the most common first images are table flipping after some roll goes horribly wrong in a four hour game of Monopoly or Risk. So something like Sorry where you just are rolling turn, after turn, after turn, to get the exact number to get to the end and then flipping the table.
I’m hear to let you know that your board gaming doesn’t have to be that way.
Now, maybe you like the heavily confrontational games, and that’s great. I like a lot of the modern ones, because they aren’t as table flipping as someone getting lucky roll after lucky roll and chipping away at your army in Risk.
But maybe you want to play a game that feels more peaceful. Maybe you want to relax and enjoy the gaming experience that way. I think that’s a viable option in our age of board gaming as well. There are more and more games that are being put out to create that zen gaming experience.
They tend to be smaller games that are more puzzle based and that limit the player interactions, but they are out there. With the large number of roll and write board games, we’re seeing a lot of them come out of there. That’s because you aren’t interacting with other people, you are building out your own solution to the puzzle, and what someone else does doesn’t effect you.
Games like Welcome To…, Criss Cross and Second Chance fall into this category. These roll and write games really have you focusing on your own puzzle, and while there can be a little bit of stress hoping that something will show up, you really can just sit back and let the cards or the dice decide what you are going to do. And with Second Chance, you are filling in spots on a board and it gives you the chance to doodle and just enjoy as you go.
Thinking about it, there aren’t any larger games that I would consider to be that relaxing. Now, I consider most games to be relaxing because it’s a great way for me to unwind. But the ones that focus a lot of the zen aspect are those smaller games. I think there is a good reason for that. In something bigger that has more of a time investment, you need to be kept hooked for longer. Something like Welcome To… is a 30 minute game, no matter how many players you have, so you are done before you start to notice that there isn’t any major hook to draw you into the game long term.
When you’re playing a larger game, even a cooperative game, you want to feel the pressure from the game or from the other players. There’s either a story or some sort of conflict that you want to deal with. Even in Euro games, while they are building up your trading and you might be just doing that yourself, there’s a limited number of spaces, so there is an interaction piece where someone takes where you want to go, even though there will be other good options as well for you.
But, there are certainly games that are more stressful in the larger game category and less stressful ones. And the ones that are more story driven, they can be less stressful until they are a dungeon crawl as dealing with the monsters is always a bit stressful. But something like Tales of the Arabian Nights, because you never know what story you’re going to get, you can just enjoy the story and you don’t feel the pressure from the game because you can’t fish for certain types of stories for those last points. Though, that might be frustrating for some people, because it is so random. Another larger game that is pretty relaxing is Charterstone. That is because as a worker placement, you can bump someone’s worker back to their hand, so you’re always able to go anywhere, which means that there’s no pressure with that part of the game, you just have to decide if you’re going to help someone else by bumping their worker. And in it, your point engine is just your point engine and no one can really mess it up.
That said, the smaller relaxing games are nice because they are a good pallet cleanser. They give you a chance to relax and relax your brain, some, before you jump back into something heavier. And with the likes of Welcome To… and Second Chance, they still give you decisions to make, but the pressure, with the card flip or die roll is less on you as a player because those things are random and well beyond your control.
What are some board games that you find relaxing to play? Are there any larger games out there that are relaxing?
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!
When you mention board gaming to people now, there are a lot of people who think of a game like Catan or something that is newer, but you get a lot of people who say, “Like monopoly”. The answer to that question is generally, for most people who talk about board gaming, a resounding “NO!”
With people who think of Monopoly or other classic games, what games can you recommend that might take them further into a journey of board gaming? I’m going to try and take a stab at what classic games can be replaced or have a game that can be used as an advancement into the board gaming hobby.
If You Like Clue
T.I.M.E. Stories or the Escape Room board games, Unlock and Exit are two of the more popular ones would be good options. These games are cooperative, which might be something different, but there is still the puzzle aspect of trying to solve the escape room or in T.I.M.E. Stories trying to solve the case presented to you. T.I.M.E. Stories is my recommendation here, however, there are games like Chronicles of Crime and Detective: A Modern Crime Board Game that if they are looking to solve a murder, might work better, but I haven’t played them yet.
If You Like Chess
Now, I personally think Chess is a really interesting deep game that I’m not good at. It probably doesn’t need to be replaced, but if you have someone who likes Chess, there are a lot of other abstract board games that they might like as well. Onitama is my recommendation here. It’s a fast strategy game where you can have any of your pieces do one of two moves you have in your hand, however, whatever move you use goes into the middle and your opponent will get it in their hand after their move. The game has a ton of really interesting strategy to it as you try and eliminate the others players “king” piece or get your “king” to the opposite side of the board. From there, you can branch into a variety of other abstract games, but Onitama has a nice Chess-like feel to it.
If You Like Risk
I only have one replacement for this game, and that’s Smallworld. Smallworld takes the area control and conquest aspects of Risk and makes it so that you can’t hide in Australia. The conflict in Smallworld is high, but everyone is in conflict, so it isn’t like you should gang up on a single person. The variable powers of the races and then random ability that they get paired with makes this a fun game. It also almost eliminates the die rolling luck aspect of the game as well and the game play is so much faster as it has a limited number of rounds.
If You Like Scrabble
Personally, I think that Scrabble has aged quite well, but can be a bit slow as people try and figure out words. My replacement for Scrabble is Unspeakable Words. The game has a Cthulhu theme on it for no good reason, other than to be silly, but there is luck involved in this game, and the ability to make a big word isn’t always the most useful. And even if you are falling behind and have gone insane, you are still part of the game. It’s a simple word game, there are others out there that I want to try as well, but for someone who likes Scrabble, but it’s too long or they aren’t the best at word placement, Unspeakable Words could be a fun time with them.
If You Like Sorry
Sorry has some very frustrating rules as you race around the board and get sent backwards and then as you are about ready to win, you have to sit there until you roll the right number. It’s a bad game that ends up with people annoyed at each other. I actually have two recommendations, and I haven’t played either of them. The first is CamelUp, it’s a camel racing game through the desert where instead of a person having their own camel, you bet on which camel is going to be ahead at time and roll dice, but if a camel lands on another camel, they stack, and if the bottom camel moves, all of those on top of them move. The other one is similar, but it’s auto racing and Downforce is the name of the game. In this game, you do have your own car, but you bet on peoples cars if yours isn’t doing too well, and you have difficult decisions to make, because you have a card you have to play on your turn, and it will probably move your car, but will also move other peoples cars, so you have to pick which card you play carefully.
If You Like Trivial Pursuit
I have so many issues with this game, one person can simply be better at trivia and run away with this game. And not just that, you might not get the pie piece you need. Most trivia games are going to suffer from the one person knows more issue, so what is a trivia based game that might not do that? Wits & Wagers is my choice. In the game, everyone is answering a question, like how many yards does the record rusher in the NFL have? Now, Gary might be the trivia expert, so his number might end up being the closest, but everyone writes down a number ,and then you bet on which one you think is the closest without going over. So even if Gary always does the best, you can bet on Gary and you can play as many or as few rounds as you want.
If You Like Monopoly
I’m not going to say that someone is a bad person for liking monopoly. I know that a lot of people have fond-ish (or horrible) memories from playing it growing up, because there weren’t that many game options out there. But there are a lot more now. Monopoly is a tough game to suggest a replacement for, because there’s the buying property aspect, there’s a collecting set aspect, there’s the collecting rent aspect, and what is really the aspect that people like in the game? My choice is going to be considered an odd one, but I think that Ticket to Ride can be a decent Monopoly replacement. This is especially true if you’re playing at higher player counts. There’s a card set collection aspect, there are locations that you’re getting to, and there is a take that aspect that you can block someone out of a place that they wanted to go. Definitely not a perfect replacement for Monopoly, but I think it’s a game that someone who likes Monopoly would enjoy.
What other classic games need to be replaced? Are there any games you think would make sense to replace or to be suggested in place of the ones listed that I’ve missed? If so, comment them below.
Share questions, ideas for articles, or comments with us!