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.

Posted in Board Games, Countdown, Gen Con

Countdown to Gen Con 2020: Days 180 to 171

We’ve finally purchased badges for Gen Con 2020! It’ll be our first time going, despite swearing we’d attend for the last 4 years. To celebrate, we’re counting down until the big day!

Every morning on our Instagram, we’re featuring a board game along with the number of days remaining until Gen Con (we were also posting on our Twitter and then sort of… forgot). We’ll have summary posts here every 10 days, and (at least try to) post about our GameDays on Twitter or here on the site.

We’re using Canva’s free template designs heavily to get this done every day, but the pictures we post are taken by us!

Games Featured:

Posted in Board Games, Game Day Recap

Game Day Recap, 1/15

We usually play from Kellye and Aaron’s game cabinet, since that’s where we have our GameDays. This week, Jason brought over his full library of games. We didn’t really get started until after 1, but still made our way though a lot of games.

 

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Codenames

Even though we all liked Terra Mystica a lot, Codenames garnered a fair share of our attention. We could be strategic, but conversational. We had some challenging rounds where very similar words were agents on different teams, and had to finesse fringe associations in order to locate the agents. By the end of the night, we had played Codenames with every possible team combination. Switching teams only made the game better, because we all gave clues a little differently. Each new round meant you had to change up your logic a little to understand what your team member was implying.

RESULTS*:

Aaron and Kellye vs Adam and Jason

Adam and Jason vs Kellye and Aaron

Kellye and Adam vs Jason and Aaron

Kellye and Jason vs Aaron and Adam

Kellye and Jason vs Aaron and Adam

 

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Terra Mystica

This game is a beast. We all studied the rules days beforehand, and Jason had played a few mock games himself just to get a feel for it. Aaron played as Nomads, Adam was Mermaids, Jason was Halflings, and Kellye was Witches.

Aaron executed the Nomads perfectly. We also felt that this race has a more straightforward strategy. He may have been helped by the fact that the rest of us didn’t know that we should have been fencing him in. He spread unchallenged through a fair section of the board.

Adam was successful in regulating his flow of power, but didn’t capitalize on his ability to foster indirect adjacency along the waterways.

Jason played the Halfings with a good balance, but didn’t capitalize on their ability to spread until late in the game. He very nearly robbed Aaron’s Nomads of their 18 point end of game bonus.

Kellye started fast with Witches, but reached a standstill early in year 3 due to a complete loss of cash flow. She sat a year out, and was able to finish strong.

The box suggests that Terra Mystica can be completed in 2 hours for 4 players, but it took us 5 hours to play. We are and aggressively analytical group, so we take longer even on games we know well. With a new game, there is a lot of rules clarification and speculative chatter as we absorb strategies.

RESULTS: Aaron, Kellye, Jason, Adam

 

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Hanabi

Hanabi is always a fun diversion, though we tend to get into abstract arguments about the clue that should have been given versus the clue that was actually given. When we’re all operating on the same line of thought, the game is pretty easy… but we are rarely that united. We considered playing Lanterns afterward just to stay on the Asian festival theme, but switched to Seven wonders (after playing Codenames again).

RESULTS: Co-op, “Excellent, Crowd Pleasing”

 

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Seven Wonders

This was one of the first “real” games our group bought after Catan. We’ve played it tons, because the randomness of the cards you get keeps it interesting. We discussed having progressive game days, where we play Sushi Go then Seven wonders, or Forbidden Island then Pandemic. The simpler versions would be like a warm-up for the strategic workout.

RESULTS: Jason, Kellye, Aaron, Adam

Get Bit

By the time we got to Get Bit it was pretty late, but it’s a great game to play when you still want to hang out, but are strategically spent. Despite your best efforts, you can only be so strategic. Don’t tell this to Aaron, who still took it very seriously (and won).

RESULTS: Aaron, Kellye, Jason, Adam

This was an especially awesome marathon gaming day. Maybe it was because we had gotten together last week after a long hiatus, and we didn’t have as many stories to talk about. Maybe it was because Kellye cooked up a bunch of food the day before, so we didn’t waste time discussing if, when, and what we were going to order for food. Or maybe it was just because Jason’s been holding back his great games from us. In any case, we’re excited to tackle Adam’s game library next Sunday (and maybe brew beer again?).

*Winners are underlined

Posted in Board Games, Game Day Recap

GameDay Recap, 10/9

Aaron and Jason started their brew-off early Sunday morning.

Jason was so excited to start brewing that he left every door to his car open in the driveway.

This was the first time the guys brewed seperately. They are both making porters, but Aaron’s secret ingredient is Dulce de Leche, while Jason’s secret ingredient is cocoa.

They both stared down their creations as they brewed.

Kellye unboxed some of the new games from the Target B2G1F sale, including Castles of Mad King Ludwing and Five Tribes.

With the Colts game in the background, we first played The Grizzled. It’s a simple to learn and relatively quick co-op game, with a bleak theme. You are playing as actual soldiers from World War one, trying to survive your missions without dying.

We played Colt Express next, a wild west, programmed action game. Each person plays as a wild west outlaw, trying to steal the most loot while evading capture and gunfire on a train headed west.

Last, we played the second half of April in Pandemic Legacy. Needless to say, the world is is pretty bad shape, and the middle east is a mess.

We had a ton of snacks with a bit of fall theme, including a sampler pack from Sam Adams. This bonfire blone is like drinking a campfire, in the best way possible.