Spontaneous Gaming

Hi readers!

Filling in today for your standard contributor, is…her husband. I haven’t the time (or really the inclination) to come up with a compelling pseudonym, so…I’m the hubby. Weak introductions out-of-the-way, all right, let’s dig in!

Today I wanted to discuss “spontaneous gaming.” I classify this as when a table top game breaks out with little forethought or planning, and usually in a public place or atypical venue. For instance, I used to work in a hospital. I had the pleasure of unplanned, intermittent lengths of downtime due to nature of my position. I also had the pleasure of interacting with many, many patients. I met with patients whom suffered from conditions that allowed few opportunities to leave their rooms, or…move. I found very quickly that the best way to alleviate the pain and frustration of a physical malady, is by entertaining the mind! This became an increasing practice of mine as I found more, and more regular patients to interact with.

Now, the key to making a “spontaneous” game session work, is having the right game. This requires a number of considerations:

1) Length of play. If a game shows even a hint of going over 20-30 minutes, it’s a no-go.

2) Footprint. If a game exceeds the (admittedly smaller) size of a standard bedside table, it’s a no-go.

3) Gameplay. If a game isn’t particularly engaging, or has a longer period of downtime between player turns, it’s probably a no-go. What’s more, the more simplistic the rules are, generally the better experience you can have in an “on the fly.”

Having run some games through this algorithm, and having tried to account for universal appeal (have to account for non-gamers out there,) we have my following list of games that I found most favored by people for “spontaneous gaming”:

fantasy

1) Fantasy (Asmodee)

A Simple, set collecting card game for 2-4 players. So, this game has a general (you guessed it!) fantasy theme, wherein you collect all manner of cards (representing forest inhabitants) in the hopes of having to most by the end of the game. This game plays in about 15-20, doesn’t take up a lot of space, and has a more engaging form of gameplay. See, on every turn, the cards (which range from goblins, to elves) you play effect both you and your opponent’s cards. It’s a good way to keep a person’s head in the game, and trying to formulate their own strategies. Deceptively simple, intriguingly deep.

jack pocket

2) Mr. Jack Pocket (Hurrican)

Excellent theming and puzzle-like gameplay make this little game shine! A 2 player game in which one player controls the Jack the Ripper killer, and the other player controls Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, and a dog. The detective player moves his characters around the edge of a modular grid, taking actions in an effort to investigate several key suspects to determine who the actual killer is. Meanwhile, the killer player is taking efforts and actions to undermine the detectives. If after a few turns the detectives haven’t found the killer, the killer wins. This one is a bit on the heavier side as far as rules go (as far as quick games go), so the first game may be spent primarily getting accustomed to the mechanics for newbies. But, once both players are well acquainted, this game gets TENSE! Nothing beats the verbal jousting you and your opposing player will have during turns: “I know friggin’ well that the killer is in that center square! You can’t run from me!” “…Yes I can!!!” Also, nothing beats a when a patient waxes rhapsodical about getting away with murder to an unaware member of medical staff. Classic! In summation, the game takes up a moderate amount of space, plays in roughly 15 minutes, and will call for attentiveness from both players during each turn in order to assure victory.

Lost-Legacy-Logo

3) Lost Legacy (Alderac Entertainment Group)

I thought hard about choosing this PARTICULAR title. See, it holds the distinction of being the spiritual successor to the INSANELY popular card game: “Love Letter.” Personally, I love them both. And, I must also admit, Love Letter plays better as a 2 player game, than Lost Legacy. That said, I had to choose Lost Legacy. It simply doesn’t get enough attention, and it is a fine game in its own distinction. The largest difference between the two games is in their approach to other players. Love Letter emphasizes eliminating other players, whereas Lost Legacy (though still having the option to eliminate other players) emphasizes deduction. Lost Legacy plays virtually identical to Love Letter, insofar as you have a small deck of cards, you draw one card each turn, play one card each turn, et cetera. Lost Legacy’s whole bent is trying to find the location of a single card, and doing everything you can to improve your odds of finding it before anyone else. I REALLY like that approach, I like protracted rounds where everyone has a chance of victory, even if slim. The game plays in roughly 5-10 minutes, takes up extremely little space, and features quick and engaging gameplay.

Though I referenced my time playing with patients at a hospital, these games are accessible in most any public situations. I’ve had some fantastic times just whipping out Lost Legacy in a restaurant, or Mr. Jack Pocket at a park. It’s also truly fantastic to have people approach me and what I’m playing. It’s always a nice thrill to give someone a taste of the hobby, and for it to be a positive recieved…that’s just a great feeling! Either way, I’ve prattled on far too long as it is. So, until next time, live by the board! (I’m just gonna steal that tag line until I come up with one for myself!)

-The Husband

10% off Clearance Section at Miniature Market!

Greetings All,

Miniature Market is notorious for their great prices and the have a special going until this coming Sunday.m Go check out their clearance section and get an additional 10% off! I highly suggest checking out Fantasy, which I’ve reviewed on here before! Happy Hunting!

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

Gateway Games

Greeting all,

Today I thought I’d bring some great gateway games to light. There are several larger games that I would also consider to be gateway games, but for today we’ll focus on the smaller ones.

zombie-dice-contents

-Zombie Dice by Steve Jackson Games.-

2 or more players, 10-20 mins

Zombie dice is a really fun fast paced game in which you (a zombie) try to accumulate brains. This is accomplished by rolling dice, the dice have three symbols: Brain, Shotgun, & Feet. You need to collect 13 brains to win, however, sometimes it’s not that easy. The shotgun damages you, if you get three during your turn you die and lose the brains you collected during that turn. The feet represent Walkers, walkers are fast and if you roll a walker you have to reroll it. You roll three die at a time and there are three different colors that essentially represent difficulty. During your turn you may also choose to stop at any time and keep the brains you’ve collected. Zombie Dice also has two expansions: Zombie Dice 2 – Double Feature includes three new characters: The Hunk, The Hottie, & Santa. Zombie Dice 3 – School Bus includes… you guessed it, a school bus. The school bus has lots of extras on it. There is also a Zombie Dice App that is free, with an optional 99c upgrade. The best price I’ve found for the game is at Miniature Market: http://www.miniaturemarket.com/ssearch?q=zombie+dice *** Check out the Steve Jackson Games website for more information, including merchandise and multiple review videos: http://www.sjgames.com/dice/zombiedice/

cthulhu

-Cthulhu Dice by Steve Jackson Games-

2 – 6 players, 5 – 10 mins

Cthulhu Dice is quick game in which Cthulhu is trying to steal your sanity. Each player is given three sanity tokens to start off, during the game you can lose and gain sanity tokens. Players target other players before rolling the die. The die has multiple symbols: The Yellow Sign – The target loses one sanity to Cthulhu (goes in the middle), Tentacle – The active player takes a sanity token from the target, Cthulhu – everyone loses one sanity to Cthulhu, Elder Sign – Active player gets one sanity token from Cthulhu, only if he has any, Eye – Wild, Choose any other option. After the active player rolls, the target player has a defense roll. The game ends when only one player has sanity or no players have sanity. If no players have sanity then Cthulhu wins the game. As long as there are at least two players with sanity points the game continues and players with no sanity can still play, they can actually regain sanity by getting it back from Cthulhu, but can not get sanity from other players. Only players with sanity can be targeted. There are many different Dice Designs to choose from. The cheapest I’ve found it for is at Miniature Market: http://www.miniaturemarket.com/ssearch?q=cthulhu+dice *** For more information including reviews and accessories, check out the Steve Jackson Games Website: http://www.sjgames.com/dice/cthulhudice/

dino

-Dino Hunt Dice by Steve Jackson Games-

3 – 8 players, 10 – 20 mins

Dino Hunt Dice is very similar to Zombie Dice. In this game you are a Dino Hunter trying to collect 20 Dino to win. There are three symbols: Dino – you caught it!, Leaf – The Dino is hiding and you get to reroll it, Footprint – You get stomped! Accumulate 3 stomps and your turn ends and you collect no Dinos for that turn. There is also a Dino Hunt Dice App for free. You can see a review of the game here: http://www.dicetower.com/game_reviews/d/dino_hunt.html *** The cheapest I’ve found the game for is at Miniature Market: http://www.miniaturemarket.com/catalog/product/view/id/34472/s/sjg131302/ *** For more information check out the Steve Jackson Games Website: http://www.sjgames.com/dice/dinohunt/

fluxx

-Fluxx by Looney Labs –

2 – 6 players, 30 mins

Fluxx is a really fun game that involves constantly changing rules. Honestly Fluxx is one of those games that you must have in front of you for instructional purposes, simply because the rules are always changing. There are MANY versions of Fluxx, you will see these versions in the links to follow. There is a Fluxx for everyone, we started with Family Fluxx for simplicity’s sake. We now have Regular Show Fluxx and Cthulhu Fluxx. For reviews, I would suggest using Google to locate a review of the specific Fluxx you are interested in. The cheapest I’ve found it for is at Miniature Market: http://www.miniaturemarket.com/ssearch?q=Fluxx *** For more information including the ability for request lost or missing cards, check out the Looney Labs website: http://store.looneylabs.com/Web-Store/Fluxx-Products

Poo-Card-Game

-POO: The Card Game by WildFire Games-

2 – 8 players, 5 – 15 mins

POO is a fantastic game that creates too many giggles for its own good. In POO players are monkeys flinging Poo at each other. There are lots of poo cards as well as cleaning cards. After a player throws poo at a target, the target then has a chance to defend themselves. Players are out of the game when they accumulate 15 or more poo. Last person in the game wins. To see a review look here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QDQbgZck0s *** The cheapest I’ve found it for is at Miniature Market: http://www.miniaturemarket.com/catalog/product/view/id/23364/s/psiwdf1107p-1/

nuts

-Nuts by WildFire Games-

2 – 6 players, 5 – 15 mins

Nuts is very similar to POO. In Nuts you are a squirrel stealing nuts from other players. There are multiple Nuts cards, as well as swipe cards and defense cards. Each target player gets a chance to defend themselves. First player to accumulate 20 stashed nuts wins. The cheapest I’ve found it is at Miniature Market: http://www.miniaturemarket.com/catalog/product/view/id/19683/s/wdf11082/ *** Although Miniature Market is cheap Amazon has some adorable reviews: http://www.amazon.com/Sandstorm-11080WDF-Nuts/dp/B0043T4C5S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1416580478&sr=8-1&keywords=nuts+game

get bit

-Get Bit by Mayday Games –

3 – 6 players, 10 – 20 mins

Get Bit is a cute little game that my son (13yrs old) loves. In Get Bit players are swimmers trying to survive a shark attack. Players use numbered cards to determine their position. Higher numbers in the front, lower number in the back, and ties do not move. The swimmer in the back loses a limb, however, you’re still in the game until all your limbs are missing. The game ends when only one player is left. Check out this great review from Tabletop, it also features Zombie Dice 🙂  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMtlQxJeWvc *** The cheapest price I’ve found is at Miniature Market: http://www.miniaturemarket.com/ssearch?q=get+bit *** For more information including expansions, extras, and replacement parts check out the Mayday Games Website: http://maydaygames.com/card-games/get-bit.html?p=1

playtest

-We Didn’t Playtest This by Asmadi Games-

2 – 15 players, 1 – 5 mins

We Didn’t Playtest This is a completely nonsensical game, which makes it fantastic. This game features cards that create rules, physical actions, and instant win/lose cards. There is no real way to explain it to you without having it in front of you. This game is hilarious and one of my personal favorites, I highly recommend it. There are several expansions as well, all just as nonsensical as the first. Check out this review: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtpOpsjlLsE *** The cheapest price I’ve found is at Miniature Market: http://www.miniaturemarket.com/ssearch?q=we+didnt+playtest *** For more information including expansions and extra cards, check out the Asmadi Games Website: http://asmadigames.com/detail_playtest.php

catan_dice_game_deluxe-right_new

-Catan Dice by Mayfair Games-

1 – 4 players, 15 – 30 mins

Most of you are probably familiar with Catan the board game, Catan Dice is a very simplified version of Catan. Players roll dice (resources) to build on the maps provided, which have two sides. 🙂 If Catan looks intimidating, Catan Dice will definitely encourage you to play. Check out The Dice Towers review here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cNZSy35uoKE *** The cheapest price I’ve found it at is GameSurplus: https://www.gamesurplus.com/advanced_search_result.php?keywords=catan+dice&x=0&y=0 *** For more information including extra pieces, check out the Catan Website: http://www.catan.com/board-games/catan-dice-game

Lastly I’d like to mention….

fantasy

-Fantasy: The Family Card Game by Asmodee Games-

2 – 4 players, 15 mins

This game I bought because it was on clearance, I had no clue what it was… I just took a chance. It is fantastic. In the game you’re in a forest fighting to become the leader of the forest. The cards have many different abilities to allow you to get the most followers. The game continues until the deck has run out and then players count their cards, whoever has the most wins. The art is beautiful, as is all art from Asmodee Games. You can see some smaller reviews here: http://boardgamegeek.com/collection/items/boardgame/3422?comment=1 *** The game is still on clearance at Miniature Market: http://www.miniaturemarket.com/catalog/product/view/id/14846/s/asmkg03a/

I’d also like to mention that http://www.boardgamegeek.com has a fantastic collection of used games for great prices, the previously mentioned prices were all for new games, http://www.boardgamegeek.com also has tons of reviews and in-depth information regarding game history, etc. Thank you for reading, I hope these Gateway Games urge you to go play a few. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me. Until next time… Live by the Board.

-livebytheboard