Meet “The Husband”!

Hello Readers,

Well, every other contributor wrote a profile article, suppose I should crank out one. I am “The Husband,” here’s hoping you find the aimless prattling about my the more hobby-centric portions of my life interesting. Either way, let’s kick thing’s off, shall we?

Due in no small part to my (almost 6 years older than me) brother, I’ve had an interest in “geek culture” since even the most early of my memories. I grew up playing on an Nintendo Entertainment System, reading comics, and playing parlor games with my family. During every family gathering (of which there were A LOT), I was forced onto a folding chair to be slid into whichever side of a card table needed a warm body in order to “fill out numbers.” Odd evenings spent being inundated with long diatribes about how my generation were a mouth breathing herd of degenerates…and being viciously obliterated at games of Skip-Bo (Mattel) or Phase 10 (Mattel). My initial impression of table top gaming was being voraciously descended on by 30-70 year olds whom wanted to impart on me some manner of comeuppance.

…I assure you, it gets better.

When I was much younger, my brother would take me on excursions to our friendly local comic shop, upon occasion…whenever my Mother would proclaim that she was weary of looking at her “little mistakes.” I swear, that joke gets funnier with time…no? O-okay… Regardless, this particular shop was my initial gateway to multiple things that would heavily influence my life. My first comic, first manga, first anime, and my first table top game that was all my own!

See, this shop generally kept primarily to selling trading cards and (the gorgeous and all too confusing for my young brain) Magic the Gathering (Wizards of the Coast) as its gaming contingent. However, one day I stumbled into the corner of the store furthest away from my precious “DC Dollar Bin…” and there it was… a wall of composed entirely of baggie games! That’s to say, games that were packed into moderately sized baggies, in lieu of boxes. As I scanned the wall, one game in particular caught my eye: Ogre – Pocket Edition! (Steve Jackson Games) Featured on its cover was a large, futuristic, hovering tank volleying bombs every which way but loose! My young brain was enthralled with the prospect of bombing the ever lovin’ ass out of everything! What’s more…it only cost $2.95! My brother, seeing an opportunity to circumvent possible begging, purchased the game for me…under the agreement that I shut up. It only took 3 bucks to buy me off as a child…oh how little has changed.

As I went through my preteen and early adolescent years I found myself drifting towards athletics, video games…and girls. Sure, I tried the occasional game here and there, sampled Settlers of Catan (Mayfair Games), played the occassional nondescript RPG, and the occassional collectible card game. But, primarily my hobbies were left in the electronic realm. Fast forward to age 18…when I suddenly became a Father of three. Now, it’s a safe assumption that children like video games, but there’s some connection that’s simply lacking on a digital medium. And that’s when I decided to give parlor games a try…I never knew Skip-Bo wasn’t terrible! It also helps when I’m the person verbally assailing the other players: “I haven’t seen such a crappy move since the last time I had to change your diaper! HA!”

My return to the hobby didn’t occur in earnest until I met my Wife, the blog author with whom you readers are so well acquainted. See, she encouraged me to seek out my interests and enjoy all of the things in life there weren’t previously available to me, for any number of reasons. I got back into comics, anime, and table top gaming. Less than a year after we initially became a coupling, I was already sonically berating her during games of Skip-Bo! Loyal readers, it was true love. Due to lovely programs like Wil Wheaton’s Tabletop and Tom Vasel’s Dice Tower channel, I had an amazing insight into the hobby that once intrigued me so much as a kid…and now financially cripples me as an adult.

Now my days consist of violently pacing around my table during a game of Disc Duelers (Level 99 Games), accusingly pointing at the horrible person who totally obstructs Las Vegas (anarchistic jerkfaces!) during a game of Ticket to Ride (Days of Wonder), or weepily staring bullet holes through the person who purchased the only large building that would allow me one final sliver of hope for victory in Puerto Rico (Rio Grande Games). Needless to say, I love it!

This hobby is a phenomenal one, filled with the highs of ravenously gathering up victory points one game, to the monumental lows of hearing the thunderous roar of your large Nordic friend (KYLE!) bellowing “Wu-Tang” as another player (SAM!) manages to Kill Doctor Lucky (Cheapass Games) with an overly tight hat. But, you know what’s even more phenomenal than this hobby? Having family and friends to share it with…and to verbally berate.

Thanks for reading.

– The Husband

Tabletop Day 2017

Greetings All,

So as you may have noticed, “The Husband” and “The Bartender” will be joining the blog once in a while and I am grateful to have them. Also new… my site is no longer livingbytheboard.wordpress.com, it’s just livingbytheboard.com. How cool is that?! I have also joined multiple accounts of mine: Facebook, Twitter, and Etsy. Please check us out and give us a like. 🙂

-Tabletop Day 2017-

This year for TTD we had several sponsors that helped provide games, party favors, and prizes. Literally everyone went home with something, which is a great way to keep the spirit alive because we hold a competition every year. If you’ve ever heard of a television series called The League (If you haven’t please check it out, it’s great.) then you will be aware that it is about a group of friends that play Fantasy Football. During the Superbowl the two people with the highest points go to the Shiva Bowl and the two with the lowest points go to the Sacko Bowl. Well we copied that for our TTDs, except it’s the top four and bottom four players. These players go to two separate games to decide the winner and loser. To get to that point, however, we play three mega games that get graded. The way we grade this is by using the Mario Kart point system.

This year our qualifying games were Mega Dixit, Disc Duelers, and Ticket to Ride. I have enough decks to where Mega Dixit was easy. We used post it notes to label the cards and to vote. Disc Duelers and Ticket to Ride can be utilized with multiple copies of the game if you have large numbers of players. Our Shiva Bowl game was Tokaido and our Sacko Bowl game was Takenoko. That said, just because we used Takenoko as the Sacko Bowl does not mean we dislike. Quite the opposite actually, it is a very easy game to grasp and has a fun subject matter which I feel lessons the blow of being in the Sacko Bowl. After the competition we played Kill Doctor Lucky.

We played for nearly ten hours. There was a potluck and a $10 charge at the door if you were drinking because The Bartender was our bartender – thus the name. Everyone got a gift bag with games and promos and there were door prizes. The winner (myself) and the loser both get plaques. I wood burn them so they are not ready on the day of, I’ll post pictures when my polyurethane dries.

One of my favorite things about TTD is watching newbies enjoy themselves and really see the new-found board game addiction blossom. There are several people who frequent our table, including myself, that are anxiety riddled or just really keep to themselves. TTD brings out the social, goofy person in those people and it’s a lovely sight. We have goofballs whom seem like they can’t take anything seriously, but the moment the competition starts… they are on the ball, it’s fantastic! We are all so incredibly different and to see the lot of all working towards one goal and having such a great time… well to be honest, it is weirdly breath-taking and yes I know that sounds odd. Let me explain. I am not social. Large crowds freak me out and I am slightly temperamental. This is the one time of year when I am not terrified of being smashed into a small place with tons of other people, and do you know why? Because it’s worth it. No matter who I am before I start playing a game, I can be someone else during the game. If I’m playing Castle Panic, for a little while I really feel like I am defending my castle. If I play Tokaido, I get to relax and believe I am on this wonderous journey. I love it and oddly enough I’m not a fan of RPGs.

Something that concerned me thins year is that I had my 15 month old son with me. We don’t have family that I trust or that are willing to watch him because of his age. We don’t have spare money to pay for a babysitter. What we do have is a great group of people whom do not mind his presence at all. Just like last year, these people were by our sides offering to hold him or distract him while I took my turn. I got to watch my friends feed him and play with him. I am very grateful for them and their reactions. Sadly festivities were cut short because my son caught a stomach virus from my ten year old. We took him to the ER. Luckily nothing seriously was wrong, but it did last eight days. He is doing much better now.

Anyhow, thanks for hanging in there with me through this extremely long post. Feel free to reach out with any questions, although I can not reveal my sponsors for TTD, so please don’t ask. Thanks again and until next time… Live by the board.

-Livingbytheboard

Exceed by Level 99 Games

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Greetings All,

I was lucky enough to receive Exceed from Level 99 Games to review! This will be my first review requested by a game company so I am a bit nervous.

Let me start by requesting that my readers go check out a quick start tutorial video so that you are caught up on the rules, as the rules are extensive. Don’t worry, I’ll wait…

*Cue the Jeopardy music.*

…Alright, did you study up? Good.

I’ll be honest I am not a large fan of fighting card games or living card games, but this was actually really fun. I have a few Level 99 games and I will say that they just get how to do fighting games. Off hand I can think of two in particular that I’ve played in their fighting genre that are also pretty great and those are Sellswords (very similar to Triple Triad from Final Fantasy 8) and Disc Duelers (it’s like RPG Battle Pogs), which has sadly been discontinued. I am terrible at both of those games, but I held my own well in Exceed.

The artwork in Exceed is beautiful, however, it does have that typical big breasted women look which has always been a turn off in board/card games to me. It just gets old seeing it everywhere. I do like that this fighting systems art differed from the style of Pixel Tactics, Sellswords, and Disc Duelers. The character cards in Exceed are incredibly detailed and the normal attack cards have this great water-color look which is phenomenal.

The cards are good quality, but the box and rules bothered me. I don’t like the idea of a game box that opens at the end, but honestly I may just be spoiled by all these great board game boxes and clamshell card games. The rules fold out open, which wouldn’t be terrible if they weren’t so massive. I just wish the rules came in a booklet style. Other than that the rules are well written, however, I was confused on when to use Boosts. Boosts are actions listed on some of the cards and the rules explain how they play out, but didn’t clarify whether or not they could be played during a Strike. I later received clarification on this from Mr. Talton Jr from Level 99 Games, whom is a really nice guy by the way. I informed Mr. Talton that I hadn’t used Boosts during my first few playthroughs and his reply was great:

“Boosts generally start to come into play once you have the fundamentals down and understand the matchup against your opponent. They allow you to get around the normal “X beats Y” flow of play, but that requires a solid understanding of the Normals and their relationships. A lot of depth that experienced players will find in the game is through the use of these boosts to alter the ordinary attack relationships. :)” – D. Brad Talton Jr, Level 99 Games.

The characters in the game really bring heart to fight, they all have their own things they focus on. For example in box one of Red Horizon you have Reese, Heidi, Nehtali, and Vincent. Nehtali focuses on the use of Gauge, these are cards that are set aside after Striking. These cards are used to essentially pay for attacks. Nehtali had some of the most powerful natural attacks and widest range of any of the eight characters I got to play as. Vincent focused heavily on movement and close ranged attacks. Heidi focused on Boost abilities and Reese focused on gaining the Advantage.

Final thoughts

This is a great two player fighting game and I really enjoyed it, it will definitely be in rotation with my husband and I. It reminded me a great deal of Brawl by Cheapass Games and while Brawl is much easier and faster… Exceed has much more depth and with so many characters all focusing on different things it has way better replayability. I am hoping for a better box and rule set up, but at this point I’m just being picky. Looking at games that are strictly two player, it’s in my top five for sure.

I highly recommend checking out Exceed on Level 99’s site, there is print and play version so you can try before you buy, tutorial videos, and information on Seasons 1 and 2 of Exceed.

 Please remember to check the links I’ve inserted by clicking on the highlighted words. So how’d I do guys? Let me know! And until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard

Castle Panic Attack (I made a funny about my anxiety, haha)

Greetings All,

I’ve got to tell you that I wrote, rewrote, and erased this post probably about a dozen times. I’m not very good about writing about my feelings and getting my point across. I’m more of an over the phone type person. Any who, between my husband asking me to put this up and some of you asking me to elaborate of how board games have helped my anxiety, here I am.

Let me start off by saying that anxiety varies, some people have mini panic attacks or stress induced sweat caused by the tiniest of things and for others it takes a great deal of pressure to evoke a reaction. I’ve had panic attacks that last for seconds and I’ve had some that had long-lasting effects, I’m talking the entire day. These things aren’t jokes or cries for attention. People with anxiety, just like any other mental illness are actually suffering.

I happen to have panic attacks brought on by the smallest of things, sometimes even something as simple as people chewing too loud. I have a great deal of trouble in crowded areas, stores are a nightmare for me, but sometimes even game nights cause issues. I know it’s cheesy and cliché’, but my husband greatly improves my anxiety. Where as my kids make it so much worse… Going to the store with four rowdy kids is very intense.

At game nights I occasionally have an attack, it has nothing to do with who’s there. I can be around people I am 100% comfortable with and still get worked up. A couple of years ago, we just started warning new comers by saying “Hey I have a bit of anxiety please don’t take it personal and please don’t judge me.”. Now, sometimes this worked like a charm and sometimes I’d be stared at all night, like people were waiting for it to happen. So I had to develop techniques to focus on the task at hand and calm my self down before it became a show. As much as I love International Tabletop Day, it takes a great deal of effort to stay focused.

Now on to the helpful board games. I’ve found that really focusing on specific parts of game helps. Games like Five Tribes (intense Mancala) are great for this. It is a game night favorite for me. Staring at the board to calculate and count up my next move and several back up moves in case mine get taken…is hypnotic. I hate to say this, but I think anxiety actually helps me with Five Tribes. I’m certain that if I wasn’t so busy trying not to focus on relieving my attack that I wouldn’t be so engrossed in the game strategy. Then you have games like Castle Panic and Love Letter that for me are so automated that if I need a break from the room I can literally block out everything and play those games in my sleep. I’m not sure if this is because of my love for these games or because I’ve played so many times, but when I say automated… I mean it.

On to the not so helpful games… There are games that I love like Dixit, Codenames, or Concept that just increase pressure if I’m experiencing an attack. In all of these games you are giving hints and such keep the game going . Something fun like giving the table a silly hint towards your Dixit card can become something horrible like: Was my hint good enough? Did I make it too easy? Too hard? Am I going to get any points? What if no one understands my hint? What if I got my Pop Culture reference wrong? It is exhausting, which is why I try my best to never play trivia games. There are also games like Ticket to Ride (love) and Disc Duelers (like) that become so competitive that it turns into an angry situation. We have an intense group of friends, my husband and myself included… and when someone takes the six train route on TTR that you’ve just got the final card for or someone knocks you off the table in Disc Duelers, it becomes a glaring match and sometimes a screaming match. For the most part my game night attendees are close to us, that these angry moments are because we are comfortable enough to say ‘Hey you d!ck! You took my route!”.

I want to clarify that when I say helpful and not so helpful, IT DOES NOT reflect the quality of the game itself. For instance I said I love Dixit, Codenames, and Concept… well I do, and they are party games. They are games that usually mean I’m in a bigger group. That isn’t always a bad thing, in fact, if not for party games I’d probably never be around that many people… so kudos to party games for making me less of a hermit. I absolutely love Ticket to Ride, it’s probably my favorite game, but it gets intense. I do not dislike Disc Duelers, I just have NEVER had a relaxed game of that (my husband refers to it as RPG battle pogs.) It is still a great game for a group… that you are comfortable with. Do not play that with strangers.

Moral of the story is, do not let anxiety hold you back. Although some games are not helpful to my anxiety… I would not trade my gaming experiences for the world. Each time I play it brings me closer to working though my issues, each time I play I feel closer to my friends and family. I try not to avoid games with the exception of a few, and even then, I do try play and enjoy myself. Not every game is going to help you and not every game is going to make things worse, but at the end of the day, you still played games didn’t you? You didn’t let your worries stop you and that itself is worth it. I’m sorry about how long this post was, but I do hope that it helped someone. Please look at board game names as there will be links attached to them. If any of you want to ask me questions please feel free.  If you liked this review and want to be kept up to date please follow my page and like me on Facebook. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-Livingbytheboard

Recruiting New Gamers

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Greetings All,

This is one I still struggle with. My husband, however, is much better at than I am, which is why I asked him to co-write this one with me. I’m fairly certain that half of the ability to convince people to try board games has to do with charming them. My husband is by the far the most charming person I know so he has a very easy time getting people on his side. Please read more below to get his take on recruiting new gamers. Enjoy. 🙂


-Husband-

To recruit new gamers, you need to at least have a vague idea who you’re playing with. This makes it way easier to potentially draw anyone from the hardened gamer to the total neophyte.

Know someone who’s never played board games, but loves video games? Too easy! Suggest an analogue of a favorite game of their’s! “You like Starcraft? How about showing me your strategic prowess in a quick game of OGRE?” Know someone who likes casual cell phone games? Too easy! “Something quick, easy and fun? How about you lend me 10 minutes of your time and play some Coin Age or Brave Rats with me?” How about a non-competitive type who just wants to have fun? “How’s about a co-operative game then? We can save OUR castle together!” I’ve found that far and away the easiest way to get people to game (in any situation) is to tailor your approach, almost like you’re trying to sell gaming as a product. “Man, have you ever heard of a game called Disc Duelers? It’s like a super open game of RPG battle pogs!!!” “Dude, Zombie Dice is like zombie Yahtzee…y’know, except without being schooled by old people.” I jest, of course! Or my general use line: “Can I borrow five minutes of your life? I’ll repay it 100 fold in entertainment!”

BATTLE POGS

If you do manage to secure someone for game night, its almost equitable to catching a fish on a hook… now you just have to reel them in! And how do you do that? You whip out the AAA titles from your game shelf! I am a thorough believer in “palate cleaner” or “feeler” games. By which, I mean shorter games that will better help you understand the temperature of the table. Did your table of new invites enjoy the rule light, rapid play game? Or the slower, more complicated/methodical game? These are important things to know about your guests to insure the success of your evening as well as potentially insuring the return of your guests.

Great “feeler games” I personally use are:

Love Letter by AEG

2-4 players (we’ve played w/ 5), 10-20 mins

Love Letter is easily one of the biggest, quickest crowd pleasers I own. Easy to learn rules, quick gameplay, and a friendlier competitive structure. Hard to go wrong with this one.


This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The 2-4 Of Us by TMG

2-4 players (we’ve played with 5), 10-15 mins

This game shares a lot of elements with Carcassonne. Fantastic simplicity coupled with a hidden level of complexity make this an easy way to spot the more thoughtful members attending your table.


We Didn’t Playtest This At All by Asmadi

2-15 players, 1-5 mins

This is a card game that is so absurd, it’s divisive. It’ll either be an instant favorite, or an eye roller. Great way to sift through senses of humor, or lack thereof.

Fantasy by Asmodee

2-4 players (we’ve played with 5), 20-30 mins

Fantasy is a slightly longer card game with (somewhat) simple rules, and a nice (you guessed it!) fantasy motif that keeps players in the game until the last card is dealt and the scores are tallied. A great game to help your table rev up for a tougher, longer game.


Now, let’s get to real meat and potatoes of all of this. The AAA crowd pleasers that turn these new acquaintances into fast friends:

Ticket To Ride by Days of Wonder

2-5 players, 30-60 mins

If you’re visiting this blog, odds are you’ve AT LEAST heard about this game…or I’m actively judging you and your life decisions. 🙂 Needless to say, few board games can truly pull in veterans and neophytes alike. It’s got a great, turn of the 20th century aesthetic, profoundly easy to understand rules, and utterly FANTASTIC gameplay. I can’t opine about this game enough!


Castle Panic by Fireside Games

1-6 players, 30-60 mins

I’ll be frank with you readers, this is my personal favorite game of all time. Published by Fireside Games, this is a co-operative “tower defense” style game. This game is a remarkable bonding experience for all involved! It’s you and your team struggling against a common foe, you’re all left with little more than randomly drawn cards and your wits! Fantastic for game nights!


Puerto Rico by Rio Grande Games

3-5 players (there is a 2 player variant), 90 mins

This one is quite a bit more complicated than the previous entries on this list. Puerto Rico is a “prosperity” simulator, in essence, this game tasks you with being able to expand your city and island faster (and more efficiently) than your opponents. There is a very little luck to strategy ratio for this game, so veteran gamers are likely dominate during the first play through with neophytes. This game is equipped with no “actual” game board to play on, but is managed through individual’s city boards and a PLETHORA of smaller game pieces, so this game does require a little bit of imagination. That said, this is a 90 minute game with a HIGH amount of strategy and lateral thinking…so this game isn’t for everyone. HOWEVER, I HIGHLY recommend this for every kind of gamer…at least to try once.

Variety is the spice of life, however, most people will be more inclined to try a new dish if it looks more appetizing. Bottom line, presentation AND substance are both CRITICAL in your approach to gaining new members of your table. Just play your experience by ear, and try to cater to everyone’s tastes without compromising anyone’s. And, above all else, MAKE SURE TO HAVE FUN!


I’ll have to have him co-write more often… I’m pretty sure he blew me out of the water! 🙂 Anyhow, his description was shockingly accurate to how our “gaming interviews” go. When I say gaming interviews it is exactly what it sounds like, we’ve even told people they were essentially being interviewed to be a regular at our table.

We both hope you enjoyed this topic, as it was readers choice. Soon I will be starting another three-day segment, this time regarding solo play games. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livingbytheboard