Posted in Board Games, Countdown, Gen Con

Countdown to Gen Con 2020: 100-91

This week, the State of Indiana released a plan to transition back into full public life after COVID-19. The current dates on the plan targets July 4th for all business and events to return to normal, though Indianapolis may be a bit delayed due to population density. With Gen Con’s start date of July 30, we are cautiously optimistic that the date will not be postponed! We hope everyone continues to remain safe as we transition back into public life, so that we can hit these projected dates.

Games Featured:

Catacombs & Castles is one of our few dexterity games. We’ve really only played it once, and only two of us at that. We enjoyed it, haven’t gotten it back off shelf. Downfall of Pompeii and The Estates are two more that we enjoyed, but have only played once. Discover: Lands Unknown also happens to be in this category, but it’s much newer than the rest. We bought this one out of curiosity; because the game is procedurally generated, no two copies are the same. We’ve since seen a few used ones at Half Price Books, and considered buying another copy to understand some of the variation.

Tsuro, Nefarious, 7 Wonders, and Camel Up are some of our most played games. They are all relatively fast, so we tend to choose these either when we are waiting for everyone to arrive, or at the end of a GameDay when we don’t want to pull out anything huge… like Talisman Kingdom Hearts. The game is beautiful, the implementation using the Kingdom Hearts theme is excellent, but it’s definitely a “start of the day” sort of game.

Mystery of the Temples was one that we first played on Tabletopia. Deep Water Games has been offering Gamer Relief Bundles with deep discounts over the last few weeks. The bundle we bought including Temples was meant to come with a playmat, but an inventory error meant that they were not available at the time of shipping. The company was nice enough to offer us a discount on a future purchase, but we can’t decide if we’d rather get another game or go for upgraded components.

 

Posted in Board Games, Countdown, Gen Con

Countdown to Gen Con 2020: 110- 101

We’ll soon be leaving three digits behind and we sink below 100 days to go! We’re still keeping a close eye on Gen Con’s COVID page, and will adjust our countdown if they are forced to postpone. We’re wondering how different Gen Con and other conventions will be this year… only time will tell. For now, we continue to #stayhome and play games!

Games Featured:

Banagrams, Coup, One Night Ultimate Werewolf, and Monopoly Gamer are some of our favorite party games. They are quick to teach and can accommodate many players. We’ve had some disagreements while playing traditional Monopoly, but have enjoyed the Gamer edition more than we expected. We searched lots of local stores before breaking down and buying the rest of the power packs from Amazon.

Machi Koro, Carcassonne and The Princes of Florence are some of our oldest games. Though, we did swap our original Machi Koro for the Bright Lights, Big City version. We found that you could sort of “break” the original by just stacking up a lot of the same number, and waiting for the the number to hit. Wingspan and Prophecy are some of our newest, both bought as gifts over the last year. We’ve considered getting the European expansion for Wingspan, but the core game come with so many cards already. We’ve played the core game a few times and still find it to be fresh and engaging.

We’ve enjoyed discovering new games on Tabletopia and Tabletop Simulator. We’ve learned and played a new game or two every week. We first played It’s A Wonderful World on TTS, and liked it so much that we ordered a copy the next day.

 

Posted in Board Games, Countdown, Gen Con

Countdown to Gen Con 2020: 120 – 111

By now, we’ve all sunk into our at-home routines (for work and gaming) and continue to wait out the pandemic while we count down the days to Gen Con 2020. Due to upturned schedules and plans, it hasn’t always been easy to keep up with the posts. We’ve been very fortunate to have jobs that transitioned to remote work, and good health to enjoy while we stay at home. The consistency of the countdown has been helped to mark the days, and remind us to look forward to the future.

Games Featured:

Imperial Settlers: Roll & Write is one of our newest games. We like that the box includes a separate scorepad for solo play, with 48 unique sheets. This keeps solo play interesting and engaging, and highlights how much versatility roll & writes can offer. The downside is that only one of each sheet is provided, and you cannot buy replacement pads. And, keeping track of all the resources while playing gets a bit confusing… So we use page protectors to write with a dry erase board, and grab components from another game to help keep track.

Overall, we don’t much like Munchkin, feeling about the same as discussed during this week’s On Board Games podcast episode. But, the Harry Potter theme makes it all a bit more palatable, the mischief more enjoyable, and gives us yet another opportunity to cheer for our respective houses.

We’ve been considering combining a lot of these small box games into some sort of storage system. Captain’s Wager, Fidelitas, Thief’s Market, Fantasy Realms, Zombie Dice and Unstable Unicorns could all fit together in a relatively small box. There’s something so sentimental about keeping the boxes, though.

Get Bit!, Zombie Dice, and Jenga Tetris are some of our older games. They are all a bit silly, but at least one of us likes each one enough to keep it around. Jenga Tetris is a rather ridiculous implementation of Jenga, since the blocks are all different sizes. But, it’s a great game to have on the shelf to entertain younger gamers (aka toddlers).

 

 

Posted in Board Games

GFH: Gaming from Home

With the world recently becoming a real-life instance of Pandemic Legacy Season 3, we’ve suspended our in-person GameDays until everything blows over. We’re all sheltering-in-place and finding new ways to play together while apart.

Board Game Apps

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The easiest and most reliable method is official board game apps, available in droves on Android and iOS, as well as some on Nintendo Switch, individual websites, and Steam. This is potentially the most expensive option, as you may be buying each game individually, often with additional costs for expansions.

Even with this expense, the games still cost a fraction of physical price. In addition to AI opponents and challenges, we’ve also found that apps have clarified rules for us and offer great tutorials. As we’ve mentioned before, some of our favorite apps are ones that involve a lot of moving pieces. Playing something like Through The Ages on tablet is like having a digital game butler presenting you with everything you need, right when you need it! Many of these games have online multiplayer, where you can either join with strangers or friends.

One way to disperse the cost is to use family groups to share apps. We’ve joined our Google Play accounts in a Family group, so that we can buy the app once and all play it. In addition to paid apps, your Google play family also shares TV shows, movies, and books. You can choose what to share to your family, and there are often sales on games.

And, there are many games available for free! Lots of classic board games have free versions that may include multiplayer. There are modern games that are free as well, such as Onirim, Onitama, Ascension, Fluxx, and Isla Rica (a Puerto Rico clone). Publishers have also been offering games at steep discounts or free on different platforms: Tokaido, Gang of Four, and Between Two Castles are some that have been available for free recently, with many more being offered on sale, like Scythe, Isle of Skye, and Carcassone.

Video Chat

We’ve seen lot of people lately using video chat to play together while apart. We briefly considered this so that we could continue our Clank! Legacy play-through… but decided against it. There are certainly many games that are simple enough or can be easily managed, but we don’t think this particular method is for us. I think we’d be more likely to host a This Game is Broken style quiz show than actually play a game over video chat.

Tabletop Sandboxes

We tried two tabletop sandboxes this week, both available through Steam: Tabletop Simulator($19.99) and Tabletopia(free). Tabletop Simulator has a lot more in-game options (and physics, and table flipping), but we couldn’t stop TS from dumping us from the server as soon as we tried to start a game. Tabletopia is also free to use, offering a subscription service to unlock premium games and run more tables at once. We found Tabletopia to be a bit more stable and easy to use.

There are a fair amount of games available for Tabletopia, but their catalog is no match of the steam workshop’s avalanche of user created content for Tabletop Simulator. While it may be a bit more finicky, we don’t regret the purchase. Tabletop Simulator also offers a four pack for $60, bringing the price down to $15 each. At first blush, that seems expensive… but it’s the price of one game, with the ability to play thousands. Subscriptions for Tabletopia are more individualized, at rates of $5 to $10 a month. Once you have a subscription, you are able to play premium games and “setups” – for example, a two-player game may be free, but a 3 or for player “setup” may be a premium feature.

Either one is a great way to try out games before buying them, in addition to being a great way to maintain your board game habit while apart. We’ve also found ourselves playing solo games, and using them to learn and test games before playing as a group.

Communication

While some games or apps may have a built-in chat feature, there are a number of services to use to communicate while playing. Our game group already used Slack, with separate threads for GameDay planning, general game chat, and random asides. For playing online, we used a Steam voice chat, which worked pretty well once we all found headphones. Google Meet and Skype are rather ubiquitous and easy to use as well. Discord is quite popular in the video gaming community, and could be another good option to try while playing apart. Overall, this depends on your group and what they will be most comfortable with. Even a regular old phone call could work!

Alone Together

Aside from being able to play board games, we’ve enjoyed staying in touch while apart. If we weren’t getting together to play a game online, we may not have called one another just to chat. Inevitably, as we wait for our turn or linger after a game is complete, we share what we’ve been streaming or reading and how our jobs have adjusted.

Posted in Board Games, Countdown, Gen Con

Countdown to Gen Con 2020: Days 130-121

We’re a third of the way through our countdown! We’ve been focusing more on our small box games recently, which has pulled us into the fringes of our game collection. Getting these boxes out on the table and opened up has been nice. Even though we love big, heavy games, we all agree that accessible, small games are great for intermissions or getting new people into the hobby.

Games Featured:

The only full size game in this set is Formula D, a press-your-luck racing game for up to TEN players. The most we’ve ever played with at once is four. This was one of the first games we added to our collection. Despite enjoying it whenever we get it out, we don’t find ourselves playing it too often. And, though it is not a small box game, it has small box accessibility. Because we play so infrequently, we often use the “beginner” rules, which don’t calculate wear and tear on certain parts of your car.

Deep Sea Adventure is another dice rolling, press-your-luck game, one of many small boxes from Oink games. Players are a group of divers sharing a common oxygen tank as they explore the depths for treasure. If the oxygen runs out in a round before you make it back to the submarine, all of your collected treasure drifts to the bottom of the ocean. We think the aspect of trying to plan around what your opponents may do reminds us of Traders of Osaka. Determining when to surface as a diver in Deep Sea is like trying to predict what ships will score in Traders. Both games change quite a bit depending on who is at the table.

Monopoly Deal, Doctor Who Fluxx, Sushi Go, and Bohnanza are all fantastic card games. They are all quick to learn, and any of the decks can be shoved in a pocket for on-the-go gaming. Railroad Ink and Sushi Dice won’t easily fit in your pocket, but are also great of portable gaming. We would warn that the bell included in Sushi Dice may irritate bystanders, but you can invite them to join in! Sushi Dice has a unique spectator mode that allows crowd interaction.

That just leaves Time Management. We bought this game used for a couple dollars at a local game store. It seems that it was a kickstarter game, and not horribly popular. And, we’ve only played it once… that said, we liked it enough to keep it around for a while. The game was certainly interesting, and we like that you can play this game solo.

 

Posted in Board Games, Countdown, Gen Con

Countdown to Gen Con 2020: Days 140 to 131

The world has changed a lot in the last ten days. We’ve seen a lot of people rediscovering board games as a way to pass time while other activities are suspended. Pandemic has re-entered the hotness on BGG and is holding steady as shelter-in-place orders ripple across the country.

For now, Gen Con is still scheduled for July 31 – August 2, 2020. If is postponed, or even outright canceled for a year, we will keep counting down until the next Gen Con.

Games Featured:

We’ve suspended our regular weekend GameDay, so this week we dipped into our photo archives to fill out the countdown. Eight-Minute Empire: Legends is once we haven’t played in maybe a year? But it’s so small and fun that we keep it around. Century: Golem Edition is one we play in-between heavier games. While it’s the same as the regular Century Spice Road, the theming and gems are so delightful that we’ll be buying the Century Golem – Eastern Mountains to match it.

Forbidden Sky, Kanagawa, Qwirkle, and Lewis & Clark were all games that did not make it through our winter tidying. We sold a good number of games to Half Price Books… and immediately spent the cash on more games. One of those games was Marvel Champions. We bought it in spite of Shut up and Sit Down’s review, since we had a coupon to get it new for 50% off.

We played Morels, Tiny Epic Defenders, and Dice Throne a couple weeks back at Doughnuts and Dragons. Morels is a walk in the woods, collecting and cooking up sets of fungi. Tiny Epic Defenders is.. well, explained in the title. Dice Throne is a super-powered dice fight with lots of individual characters with their own styles and strengths.

 

 

Posted in Board Games

#JOMOCON

This will be the first year we have ever attended a board game convention, despite Gen Con taking place in our hometown. Even in ideal circumstances, it’s not always possible to go to the conventions you want to attend. With social media allowing you a window into precisely what you’re missing out on, you can easily find yourself sullen over what you’ve missed. Just thinking about this leads many to feel FOMO: fear of missing out on something great.

A while back we started tossing around the idea of #JOMOCON. #JOMOCON does not have a specific date or location – #JOMOCON happens wherever you are, throughout the year. A #JOMOCON could happen for many reasons – maybe you’re out of town for work, and missing out on your group’s board game night. Maybe there’s a huge board game convention in your town, but your schedule or finances don’t allow you to go. Maybe you want to play games, but no one is around. Maybe you’re helping flatten the curve during a pandemic (hadn’t thought of that reason until last week…). Maybe you’re just plain bored. No matter the reason, you can start a #JOMOCON right now!

#JOMOCON could have many attendees, but you only need one! One player games and digital board game apps are great ways to start your #JOMOCON immediately. You can create a tournament or challenge for yourself, like beating a high score or bracket-style elimination for the best game. Many board game apps come with achievements or challenge modes that enhance the standard gameplay, and may even improve your strategy for your next game night.

Of course, your #JOMOCON may have nothing to do with board games at all. You might have a marathon of your favorite TV show, cook your favorite meals, or re-play a video game you love. Maybe it’ll be full of reading books, knitting, or even cleaning. (We’d be surprised, but we won’t judge!)

The length, location, and activity are all determined by the core principle of JOMOCON: cherishing the current moment. #JOMOCON takes the fear of FOMO and turns it into joy. Maybe you can’t be where you want to be, or be doing exactly what you want to do, but you can still find joy wherever you are.

 

Posted in Board Games, Countdown, Gen Con

Countdown to Gen Con 2020: Days 150 to 141

Another ten days closer! We’re counting down to Gen Con on our Instagram, and providing summaries here on our blog.

Games Featured:

Azul, Kingdomino, and Blokus great games that are also very approachable. They are easy to learn without sacrificing strategic gameplay. Mystic Market and Herbaceous may also be in that category, though they aren’t as popular. Junk Orbit is fun as well, and has a lot of replay value.

Istanbul is a bit tougher to get into. We played it wrong for the longest time, making the rules much harder than they actually are. It wasn’t until we played the digital version that we realized what we’d done. As a result, we’re a bit more careful about reading rules.

I don’t think Cursed Court or Catan Dice Game would be crowd-pleasers. We enjoy them, but they may be more of an acquired taste. Pandemic: Rapid Response is fun (and the dice are beautiful!), but its not as fun for us as Escape: The Curse of the Temple.


Posting one of the Pandemic games this week was more timely than we intended. As Indianapolis residents, we are glad that our state is taking precautionary measures to help flatten the curve and bring the current pandemic under control. Gen Con has stated that they do not anticipate postponing their event, but will continue to monitor the situation.

For now, we all have a great reason to stay in and play more games!

 

Posted in Board Games, Countdown, Gen Con

Countdown to Gen Con 2020: Days 160 to 151

The countdown continues on our Instagram, where we’re featuring a board game along with the number of days remaining until Gen Con. We’ve been tidying our collection, taking the “joy-less” ones to Half Price Books… and buying more games 😃

Games Featured:

Escape, Agra, Dojo Kun, and Attack on Titan were all Half Price Books finds. It’ll take a few more plays to know if they are keepers. Mexica, Dice Forge and Puerto Rico are all games that made it through our tidying test.

Despite how highly Terraforming Mars is on the BGG ranking… we don’t exactly love it. But, it’s also so new to us that we can’t be sure yet if it brings us joy. We’ve played How to Rob a Bank a bit more, and will be staying in our collection for now. We love Dice Forge so much that we bought the Rebellion expansion.

Posted in Board Games, Countdown, Gen Con

Countdown to Gen Con 2020: Days 170 to 161

 

Every morning on our Instagram, we’re featuring a board game along with the number of days remaining until Gen Con. We’re trying to do a different game every day, though this might require some trips to Doughnuts and Dragons once we exhaust our personal collections.

Games Featured:

These ten included some of the newest additions to our collection (Space Base, Everdell: Pearlbrook, and Ceylon) as well as some of our older favorites (Catan and Photosynthesis). Both Love Letter and Ganz Schön Clever are available as apps, which is a great way to try out a game with less financial commitment.

Twilight Imperium is such a beast that we’ve only played it once, and partially at that. Shut Up and Sit Down made an excellent documentary about TI that we highly recommend.

Element feels a bit like Onitama expanded for more players. Santorini falls somewhere in-between those two in strategic difficulty. We’ve recently bought the Sagrada expansion, Passion, but have yet to give it a try.