Fun Outdoor Board Games

I’ve been to a number of weddings over the past few months, and have realized that large outdoor games have become very popular for receptions and these types of outdoor events. With games like Corn Hole and Bocce Ball becoming commonplace in colleges and vacation spots as well, it got me thinking about the best games that can be played outdoors. There are large-scale versions of a number of board games, but there are also games that are created solely for outdoor play. Here is a list of my top 5 outdoor games from both of these categories:

Large-Size Games

  • Yahtzee- Everyone’s favorite dice rolling game, there are multiple versions of outdoor Yahtzee, or “Yardzee”. The rules of the game are pretty much the same as the original game, but can be played out in a large space.
  • Monopoly-Lifesize Monopoly where the players are the pieces is a pretty fun concept. This is less a game you can buy and bring to a party and more of something that can be found in certain parks and vacation spots.
  • Jenga- While not necessarily an “outdoor game” giant Jenga is available at a number of bars/breweries, parties, and receptions. It is a popular game because of its simplicity and excitement, especially when someone loses!
  • Chess/Checkers- Another popular vacation/park game, outdoor chess and/or checkers have become almost as popular as their regular-sized counterparts. With rules that everyone knows and heavy strategy, these outdoor games are perfect for all ages.
  • Connect 4- This is one game that surprised me during my search for life-sized games. Connect 4, the chip placing game is available for relatively cheap in a large-scale version. This can be used for any number of events.

 

Original Outdoor Games

  • Cornhole- By far the most popular of the outdoor gaming genre, cornhole can be found pretty much anywhere you go outdoors. The object of the game is to throw bean bags onto a slanted cornhole boards; throw them into the small hole in the board and you get extra points.
  • Bocce Ball- Bocce ball has always been fairly popular in Europe, but it feels like it has only picked up in America recently. A game based on strategically throwing heavy balls towards a smaller ball (the “jack”) and the player with the bowls closest to the jack receives points
  • Ladder Toss- In ladder toss, you throw two balls connected to a string (formerly called “bolas”) onto a ladder. You get points for which rung of the ladder you catch your bola on.
  • Quoits (ring toss)- Ring toss is a well-known game in amusement parks, but quoits takes the same concept and makes it more portable for smaller gatherings. The board is set up specially to provide a greater score to certain rings, adding to the difficulty.
  • Croquet- While it tends to take up more space than the other games on this list, Croquet is a very popular outdoor game based on smacking croquet balls through rings in a particular order. You also have the ability to knock other player’s balls out of the way as you move towards the finish.

All of these games, and more, are great additions to a party, wedding, or any other outdoor social event. While some of them will be more expensive and more popular than others, they are all fun games that deserve consideration for your next big even

Different Ways to Buy Board Games

I’ve written about the evolution of board games numerous times on this blog, but I can’t stress enough how different things are than a while ago, especially when it comes to board game purchasing. Local game stores were the main place to buy board games when I was younger, and while they aren’t as common as in the past, you can still find local shops selling board games in most places across the country. Chain stores and Supermarkets also have taken on a wide range of different games and have begun to stock their shelves with newer and more popular games. The biggest change has probably been the Internet, which has taken over a lot of the board game space in the last few years, providing easy access to a large collection of games. So of these three major options for board game purchasing, what are the strengths and weaknesses of each? Each one has its own benefits and drawbacks, so knowing which one makes the most sense for you helps with the game purchasing experience. Here is a list of some of the pros and cons of each way to buy board games:

 

Local Stores:board game shop

Pros

  • Supporting Small Business
  • Greater Knowledge and Expertise of games
  • Meeting other gaming enthusiasts

Cons

  • More expensive than chains and online sales
  • Less accessible, fewer store locations
  • Limited store space and product availability

There isn’t anything like the feeling of walking into a board game shop and browsing through their wares. Local stores can have a great vibe and give the option of learning and playing with other like-minded gamers. Unfortunately because of the local flavor and inability to get products in bulk, prices are usually higher and there are times when the product you are looking for isn’t available. It’s best to use local stores when you are looking for help finding the perfect game, and also want to be sociable and learn about the game industry.

Chain Stores:target board game aisle

Pros

  • Cheaper Prices than local stores
  • More Accessible store locations
  • Can buy other items while buying games (convenience)

Cons

  • Less variety of products offered
  • Limited expertise in games
  • Slow to expand to new game options

Stores like Walmart and Target have been very good at stocking popular board games recently, so being able to buy products in these locations is very convenient. You can buy games along with groceries or household wares, and usually prices are fairly cheap because the stores get good deals on rates. However, supermarkets don’t have the same expertise available and it takes a while for the game options to change, so the variety isn’t really there compared to the other options.

Internet:best sellers page

Pros

  • Largest pool of games available
  • Cheap prices and potential for additional discounts/sales
  • Easiest way to access games

Cons

  • Longer wait for delivery
  • Potential shipping costs
  • No human interaction or assistance with purchase

Ah, the Internet- finding ways to deliver things right to your door so you never have to leave the house. The Internet is the ultimate source for finding that obscure board game not available on the shelves of local stores, and it certainly allows for cheap prices and easy access. There is a longer waiting period once the game is bought though, and ultimately the lack of assistance in buying could cause trouble for newer gamers where they accidentally buy the wrong game for them.

 

It’s important to know the strengths and weaknesses for the different board game buying options. Being able to decide on the best option for you to buy is a great way of ensuring that you get the games you want when you want them and have the best possible experience. Hopefully these different buying methods continue to grow and help expand the board game footprint nationwide.

Board Game of the Week- Space Sheep!

  • Game Title: Space Sheep!
  • Release Date: 2013
  • Number of Players: 1-8
  • Average Game Time: 20 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Stronghold Games
  • Website: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/141035/space-sheep
  • Game Designer: Anthony Rubbo
  • Expansions/Alternates: No
  • Available in Stores: Online and some local game stores

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I love Star Wars, and I love puns, so when I saw this game on the shelves at a local store in Pennsylvania I knew I had to play it. My girlfriend got it for my birthday, but I haven’t been able to try it out until last weekend. I expected the game to mostly be about Star Wars-based puns, but the game-play is actually very unique and fun. Fully customize-able based on the numbers of players and the level of difficulty desired, the experience is different every time you play.

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Space Sheep is a collaborative game where everyone works together to either win as a group; if you run out of cards before completing your goal, everyone loses. The object of the game is for you to move all of the sheep and shepherd tokens to the appropriately colored solar system. This is done by playing Tactics Cards, which are played to move either the sheep or shepherd (or both) to a different location based on the solar system they were in previously. In addition, there is a timer that is continuously going throughout the game, and if it runs out then the Wolf gets to attack and you lose tactics cards. The game ends either by the group winning and getting all sheep and shepherds to their correct systems, or the group runs out of tactics cards to use and loses. The game relies heavily on communication from player to player, as well as understanding that sometimes you have to move pieces to the wrong system in order to eventually get all of them to the right system.

The collaborative effort portion of the game is part of why it is so much fun. Talking through your turns and figuring out how to use the cards in your hand based on what other people can do is a lot of fun. In addition, the timer makes things interesting and keeps the game at a fast-paced level. The ability to customize the game is helpful because you can play with any number of players and adjust the difficulty based on who is playing. The game also would work well for children, because it’s cute and fun and also helps promote teamwork. Finally, for someone who enjoys Star Wars and cheesy puns, reading through the instructions for the first time is almost as enjoyable as the game itself.

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The downsides aren’t too drastic, but they are worth noting at least; first, the game takes a long time to figure out. Because there is a timer, it can be frustrating at the beginning stages when you don’t have time to decide on your best option for a turn. That, plus the numerous puns in the instructions which grow less entertaining after the first or second read through, can make the first part of learning the game tiresome. However, once you play through a few rounds the strategies and game-play become more apparent, and so the game becomes much smoother. The fact that the game is customize-able is one of its strengths, but also one of its weaknesses. If you don’t know much about the game, it’s tough to decide on how difficult you should make it right away. I recommend making it easier to start and then working towards the harder difficulties.

As a whole, I got Space Sheep expecting it to be all about the parody, but soon found that the theme was only a secondary part of a clever and fun game mechanic. I don’t expect this game to be one I play every week, but I do think that it’s a great game to play with friends and would be fun to pull out at parties and group gatherings. I also plan on trying to play the game by myself soon (a solitaire option is possible) to see if that’s as fun as playing with a large group. No matter what though, I’m glad to add the game to my collection, because nothing beats getting a chance to “Ewe’s the Force…”

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Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Kickstarter and its effect on Board Games

A
few months back I wrote an article about the internet revitalizing board games, where I listed Kickstarter as a major contributor to board games being revitalized over the past few years. That, coupled with my recent activity supporting some upcoming games on Kickstarter, has made me realize how big the tool has become for many game designers and enthusiasts alike. Being able to fund a game without the backing of a larkickstarter-logoge publishing company may not seem like the most effective way to get to where you want to go, but taking the game to the masses and hoping the concept draws enough support is certainly becoming more common. There have been over 9,000 board games that were created and published through a Kickstarter campaign, including significantly popular games such as Exploding Kittens, Zombicide, and Dark Souls- the Board Game. Still, there is a limitation to the effectiveness of Kickstarter, and it has to be noted that it is only one of the many avenues for finding new and exciting games on the market. Here is a list of pros and cons for using Kickstarter as a means to fund your board game ideas:

Pros:

  • You have full control of the process- For people who want to have full control of the creative process, having a publishing company come in and make decisions on how to proceed would be very bittersweet. There are plenty of people who probably feel like the freedom to make decisions without other interested parties is a blessing. While it does also equate to more work, for someone who has dedicated time and effort to creating a game a little extra management isn’t going to ruin things.
  • Gather a strong fan base before the game is created- The great thing about Kickstarter is that your game doesn’t even have to be published and it can still grow a huge following. Depending on the number of backers and the prizes each backer signed up for, you could already have a large number of people to send games to right away. In addition, Kickstarters thrive on social media expansion, so the more a Kickstarter is advertised the more likely it is to gain more traction once it is finished.
  • Easier access to funds than through publisher- It’s difficult to make the case that a Kickstarter game is going to have significantly more funds than if the game was published by a game company (Exploding Kittens being the possible exception), but there certainly is an ease of access that helps Kickstarter campaigns become beneficial to game designers. Once a successful Kickstarter campaign is completed, funds are transferred to the game creator within a matter of weeks to begin the creation/distribution phase. Gaming publishers, especially larger ones, most likely would take a lot longer to go through the process of devoting resources to a game.
  • Lower risk post-funding- Because of the clientele already built up with the campaign, a game that is funded through Kickstarter already has a good following and a group of customers lined up to purchase the game. Because of this, a game funded by Kickstarter has less risk than one that is published directly from other funding. That isn’t to say that there is no risk whatsoever, but after the funds come through the game has a group of supporters right away to take advantage of.
  • Cost-effective alternative to self-publishing with personal funds- There are certainly some people out there who have the ability to use their own money to create a game themselves, but for those of us without that kind of funding available having an option to receive funding directly from the consumer cannot be understated. People who never thought they would have a chance to bring a board game to life have suddenly received that opportunity thanks to Kickstarter.

Cons:

  • Goal must be met in order to receive funding- The biggest con about Kickstarter is that if you miss your goal, even by a dollar, you do not receive any of your funds. This means that you could spend countless hours promoting the game and making a working prototype, only to not receive funding because you weren’t able to generate enough backing.
  • Start-up costs incurred for prototypes, incentives, etc.- Ultimately you can’t just start up a Kickstarter with an idea- you have to have put a lot of time and resources into it if you want it to succeed through a Kickstarter campaign. This is true if you were going to fund your game any other way, but it is enhanced when using Kickstarter because of the rewards programs usually created in a project. In order to incentivize backers to pledge higher amounts, a campaign will provide additional incentives to people who give greater amounts to the campaign. While this does benefit the designer by giving them a clientele to work with right away, it also means that the costs of the initial game creation can potentially be higher than in other situations.
  • Less name recognition than if game is published- This isn’t always the case, and is only really applicable when compared to a game that is published by a larger gaming company, but Kickstarter funded games don’t always carry the same weight as with a major publishing company like Hasbro or Iello. It’s also more difficult to get a Kickstarter funded game into the hands of major stores, because the large companies have a significant investment in getting their games on shelves.

 

While there are risks involved in setting up a Kickstarter campaign for a board game, ultimately if done well and with a good idea it can be the perfect way to create something you never thought you could. Any aspiring board game designers out there should give a long thought towards using Kickstarter for your next game idea!

Board Game of the Week- Dungeon Roll

  • Game Title: Dungeon Roll
  • Release Date: 2013
  • Number of Players: 1-4
  • Average Game Time: 15-30 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Edge Entertainment
  • Website:  boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/138778/dungron-roll
  • Game Designer: Chris Darden
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

Dungeon Roll Chest

Dice games seem to be rarer to me than the other types of games out there, so whenever I find a game focused around dice rolling I always go out of my way to give it a try. My friend pulled out his copy of Dungeon Roll last weekend and I was immediately intrigued. The game is based on the classic Dungeons and Dragons story; a mysterious stranger goes into a tavern and recruits a party of adventurers to complete a task for him. These adventurers journey out into the world and fight monsters, gather treasure, and gain experience as they move toward their goal. This theme is then simplified from an all-encompassing and complex tabletop game to a straightforward dice-rolling mechanic where the goal of the game is to get the most experience of the group after three rounds of play.

Dungeon Roll Cards

To start off the game, each player is given a Hero card that has both a passive and an active ability (passive can be used any time, active can only be used once per round). These abilities can be used each round to help defeat monsters, change dice rolls, and any other number of abilities to help you succeed in the game. Each Hero card has two sides, one regular and one upgraded. If you are able to get at least 5 experience points in one round, you are able to flip your Hero card over to the upgraded sidDungeon Roll Party Dicee and gain even stronger abilities. Once each player has a Hero card, the player who starts first rolls the white party dice to assemble his/her “party”. This party can consist of up to 6 different options, including five different classes (Champion, Wizard, Fighter, Rogue, and Cleric) and also a scroll dice which allows you to reroll any dice once. Once the party has been assembled, the player to the left of the one who rolled the party acts as the Dungeon Lord. The Dungeon Lord is in charge of rolling enemies for the party to fight.

Dungeon Roll Enemy Dice

There are four different monsters (goblin, skeleton, slime, and dragon) and there are also treasures and potions that you can pick up after the monsters are destroyed. In order to destroy any goblins, skeletons, and slime, you have to sacrifice party members by removing the dice from your party. If a dragon is rolled, it is taken out of play until there aDungeon Roll Treasuresre 3 dragon dice total. Once the third dragon is rolled, the party has to fight the dragon, which can only be defeated by sacrificing three different class dice. Once you defeat a dragon, you can an extra experience and can grab a treasure chip from the treasure chest.
The more enemies that a party defeats, the more experience points the party gets and subsequently the more dice the Dungeon Master rolls. The player’s turn ends either when they decide to leave the dungeon, or they run out of dice cannot defeat all of the monsters, which causes the party to fail that round. If the party left the dungeon, the player keeps all of the experience earned up to that point. If the party dies, the player doesn’t get any experience from that round. Once three rounds of the game are finished, experience points are calculated and the person with the most points wins.

The game is certainly engaging and I had a lot of fun when I played with my friends. There is a lot of luck involved, but there are also important decisions about how you use your dice and your treasures that need to be taken into account. It took some time figuring out the best strategy for conserving versus using dice, but once you get the hang of it the game moves fairly quickly. The Hero card abilities also add an important layer of strategy, especially the active ability you can only use once per round. The game works better with a smaller amount of people, because with four people there are always two players that aren’t doing anything while the party and the Dungeon Master complete the turn. Apparently the game can also be completed with one player, but without other players to compare scores to I feel like this isn’t as exciting as with 2-3 people.

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Board Games Outside the Comfort of Home

Most of the time when I set out to play a board game, the setting is very specific: I usually want to play in the comfort of my own home or potentially a friend’s home. Not often do I veer from that preference, but sometimes I do feel like venturing out into the world and playing games in different locations. But what locations are fit for board games? For a while it felt like if it wasn’t in a house, it wasn’t going to happen, but recently I’ve been finding different locations cropping up out in the real world where board games aren’t just accepted, but encouraged. Here is a list of the 5 types of locations that are becoming “board game friendly”.

Bars/Breweries

Back in college I remember discovering that one of my favorite pastimes was hanging out with my friends, having a few drinks, and playing board games. At 25 this preference hasn’t changed much- I find myself spending plenty of days with friends playing games with a few beers or glasses of wine. I’ve always considered this type of activity more relaxed than the active, lively crowds that I join when I go out to a bar.

Surprisingly enough, there are places across the country combining these two seemingly different activities. Suddenly there are bars out there that you can play board games in. Some of them you can bring your own, others rent them out to you for use while you drink and chat with friends. I know of a few in the Washington D.C. area near me (my favorite is a place called Board Room), but from a simple Google search you can find locations in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles that have the same theme.

Board Room DC

Breweries fall into the same category- while they are usually more laid back than your average bar, the main purpose for going to a brewery is to have a few drinks and enjoy yourself with friends. Adding board games into the mix is slowly becoming more popular, with multiple breweries popping up with board game themes and outdoor areas being set up to play games that you bring with you. Breweries are taking advantage of the trend by inserting themselves into the gaming lifestyle- check out an interesting article about the phenomena by the Huffington Post.

Conventions

While comic books, anime, and TV shows still control the lion’s share of the conventions out there, board games have been able to find a slice of the pie in many of the more popular “cons” scattered across the US. Gaming tournaments, booths, and prizes are staples of almost all conventions that you would go to, and conventions tailored specifically to board games are also becoming more prevalent. A list of board game cons can be found on Board Game Geek, highlighting some of the best places to check out new/developing games in the market.

Board Game Shops

Shops dedicated to selling board games have been around for a while. In fact, it might be that they are less common now than they were before the internet took some of the board game sales from the “mom and pop”-type shops. Still, most areas have at least one local gaming store, which can include anything from card games to miniatures to traditional board games as well. These game stores have to find ways to attract old and new customers, and board game nights/board game tournaments are a big pull for weeknights and weekends.

Board Game Shop

Cafes

This new trend is the most fascinating to me- the Atlantic posted an article back in 2014 about How Board Games Conquered Cafes, and I tend to agree with them based on what I’ve seen. The focus of the article is a lot on families enjoying board games in coffee shops and cafes as a cheap way to get out of the house, enjoy some time with the kids, and play some games that everyone enjoys. That’s not the only option though, as the cafes are also great places for after-school activities of teens or a way to unwind for adults who spend their day sitting at a desk typing on a computer.

board game cafe

Based on what I’ve seen from personal experience, I can certainly verify that board games are making their way out into the world more often as time goes by. I always stress the social aspect of gaming, so seeing more and more location for playing board games crop up is very encouraging. That being said… I don’t expect game night at home to be going away any time soon.

Board Game of the Week- The Resistance

  • Game Title: The Resistance
  • Release Date: 2009
  • Number of Players: 5-10
  • Average Game Time: 20-30 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Indie Boards and Cards
  • Website:  http://www.indieboardsandcards.com/resistance.php
  • Game Designer: Don Eskridge
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes

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The concept of a dystopia has always peaked my interest, no matter the genre. Whether it is a book, a movie, or even a video game, I’ve always enjoyed engrossing myself in a world that takes the idea of perfection and warps it into something twisted and wrong. Books like The Anthem, Animal Farm, and The Hunger Games, as well as games like Bioshock and Injustice: Gods Among Us, always make it into the upper echelon of my favorites. IMG_2877That’s why when my girlfriend got me The Resistance (The Dystopian Universe) for my birthday, I was immediately drawn to it. While the same level of story detail isn’t the same as in books, movies, or games, the theme adds a lot of character to a cool collaborative card-b
ased game. A similar style to Werewolf or Mafia, The Resistance is based on a group of people trying to overthrow a government by completing missions. If the resistance completes at least three of the five missions, they win the game. However, there are also spies that have infiltrated the resistance, and if they are able to sabotage three of the missions then they claim victory instead.

The game starts with all the players randomly choosing a card to find out if they are a Spy or part of the Resistance- the amount of spies depends on the number of players. Once that is decided, everyone closes his/her eyes and the spies rIMG_2876eveal themselves to each other. This means that the spies know each other, but nobody from the resistance knows who is a spy and who’s not. The leader of the round then chooses a team of people from the whole group to go on the first mission (they can interrogate them beforehand) and the entire group votes on if they approve the choices. Once a team has been chosen or approved, they secretly play either a Success or Fail card. If anyone chooses a fail option, the mission fails and the spies get closer to victory. However, if nobody sabotages the mission, then it is a success and the Resistance moves closer to winning. A new leader is chosen, and the following rounds follow the same pattern until one team has three victories.

The gameplay in Resistance is a lot of fun, especially when you’re a spy. You have to think a lot about how you’re going to keep your identity a secret. If you choose to fail every time, you will be found out easier, but if you choose to succeed to throw people off your scent then the resistance gets closer to winning. Playing as the resistance is also fun because you are constantly trying to assess who might be a spy and making sure they don’t go on missions. The game is engaging, but also doesn’t drag too much since there are only five missions. The number of potential players is pretty high (up to 10) so it’s great for larger gatherings of friends. Finally, as I mentioned before, the theme is a lot of fun and you can expand on the dystopian world when you interact with the other players if you have a theatrical mindset.

The one potential downside I saw about the game is that it feels like the spies have a huge advantage. I played the game twice, and both times the spies wonIMG_2878 without even going to the fifth round. Because the spies know each other, they can try and signal each other to choose if they are going to pass or fail for a mission, as well as supporting the other spies when they are chosen for a mission. You have to be much more attentive when you are not a spy because if you miss something you will most lik
ely make the wrong choice and wind up losing the game. Overall, the ability to misdirect as a spy makes their position much better than a resistance member. This leads to an accurate portrayal of the situation, but also could be slightly annoying to those players who are not chosen to be spies. Still, after playing both as a spy and a resistance member, I had a great time with both and really hope to work on a strategy to catch the spies next time I play!

Jack’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Birthday Board Game Gifts

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This past Monday I was reminded of how truly lucky I am. I celebrated my 25th Birthday and was overwhelmed with love and support from my friends and family. Well wishes, cards, phone calls, everyone who reached out in some way made me feel thankful. One of the ways people made me feel particularly appreciated was by giving me board games. I received 6 board games this year, all valuable additions to my collection that I look forward to playing. Here is a list of the games I received, along with some additional detail on each game and the people who gave them to me:

From my Parents:

Doctor Who Yahtzee- My folks are very supportivIMG_2862e of my passion for board games. The vast majority of my board game collection has come from my family, and since I played so many games with them when I was younger they have a good eye for what I like. They definitely knew what they were doing this time too, as they combined two of my favorite things in this gift. Yahtzee is a game that is pretty unpopular in some gaming circles, but it holds a special place in my heart because I remember playing it with my Gran whenever I visited my Dad’s family. Board games were always popular in the Dixon household, and Yahtzee was one of Gran’s favorites. In addition, Doctor Who is one of my favorite TV shows, so it has added value in comparison to the regular Yahtzee game.

From my friend Annie:

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Doctor Who Monopoly- Once again combining my love of board games with British TV
shows, my friend and neighbor Annie was kind enough to get me a gift for my Birthday. I haven’t known her that long but she’s a really sweet person and I appreciate the gift immensely. I’ve written about Monopoly numerous times so it’s well documented how much I enjoy collecting these boards, so this fits perfectly into my interests with board games.

From my Girlfriend Mary:

I’ve mentioned my girlfriend, Mary, before on this blog, but just to give you some perspective: Mary is into superheroes, board games, video games, is a movie buff, and overall is probably as big a nerd as I am. Basically she’s awesome, and so the fact that she got me 4 board games is just another sign that I’m with someone who really gets me. Here’s the full list of games:

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Zombiecide –The first game on the list is Zombiecide, which we’ve both heard great things about, but have never played personally. It is supposedly a pretty intense cooperative game with ten different levels with varying difficulty for each. I’m seriously looking forward to trying this game out- be on the lookout for a post on it sometime in the next few weeks!

The Resistance – I admittedly haven’t heard or seenIMG_2860 much about this game before, but from what I can tell The Resistance is a tabletop party game based around a dystopian universe where a group is trying to overcome a corrupt government. I love dystopian novels and themes, so that immediately stands out to me. Apparently the game relies on deception and misleading the other players, so it could be a Sheriff of Nottingham-esque game style. I’ll be sure to see what it’s like soon enough!

One Night Ultimate Werewolf- Known to my girlfriend as “The IMG_2859Werewolf Game”, I’ve been hearing good things about this for a while so it wasn’t surprising when I unwrapped it. A fast-paced game (only allowing for ten minutes of play), the game apparently has an app that links to it and the board game is an expansion of that. Everyone playing gets a specific role and then… something happens. I honestly don’t know yet, but I know it’s a lot of fun and I have a group of friends lining up to play!

Space Sheep- By far the best gift I got for my birthday this year, I saw this game at the IMG_2863board game store Games Unlimited in Pittsburgh and was immediately drawn to it. Unfortunately I had already decided on the game I wanted to buy, so in order to avoid spending too much money I didn’t get it. Luckily enough Mary was there, and she was kind enough to buy the game for me. Now, for those of you with a keen eye, you will notice that this game is a parody of Star Wars… that involves Sheep. Here is a basic description of the game: “You are a Sheep. You are a Defender in the Strategic Sheep Command. You have trained all of your career for this moment in history. You know how to defeat Wolf – Ewe’s The Force…” Another cooperative game with some obvious wit and humor, I can already tell that I’m going to have a ton of fun trying this one out.

 

Once again, thanks so much to everyone who reached out for my Birthday. I can’t wait to try some of these games out, and rest assured I will be keeping my blog updated with my experiences along the way!

 

Board Game of the Week- Battleship (Salvo Rules)

  • Game Title: Battleship
  • Release Date: 1931
  • Number of Players: 2
  • Average Game Time: 30 minutes
  • Game Publisher: Milton Bradley
  • Website: https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2425/battleship
  • Game Designer: Antoine Bauza
  • Expansions/Alternates: Yes
  • Available in Stores: Yes (newer versions only)

It’s not that often that I choose to delve into games from the 30’s for a Board Game of the Week, mostly because the assumption is that if a game has been around for over 80 years, it’s not exactly new and so it’s harder to write interesting stories. Battleship would seem to be one of those types of games; pretty much anybody from my childhood, my parents’ childhood, and even my grandparents’ childhood has played the game or at least knows of its existence. One of the games that has withstood the test of time, multiple different versions and reiterations of Battleship have been created to keep the game popular through the decades. I had an anniversary Battleship as well as a Star Wars Battleship when I was a kid, so I’ve known the basic rules for a long time and remember them to this day.

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For a while I have felt that Battleship is one of those games that is fun, but there isn’t too much variety to it. Luckily for me, when I pulled out my classic Battleship game and played a few rounds with my sister’s fiancé I was introduced to a whole new way of playing Battleship; the Salvo rules variation.

Salvo is a great example of a rules variation helping make a good game great. Salvo is actually listed as a recommended game type in the Battleship rulebook for advanced players, but the rules are fairly simple so you don’t have to be a master to play. The salvo rules are the same as regular Battleship rules, except that instead of one shot per round a
player gets one shot for every ship they have. This means that at the start of the game you have five shots, and as time goes by and you lose ships you Battleship board gameget less and less until you lose all of your ships. If on any of your shots you hit a ship, your opponent must tell you where you hit and what ship it was. This speeds up the game significantly and also provides an added layer of strategy for when you’ve hit someone. Ultimately it’s a simple change, but it provides better results in my opinion compared to the traditional version. There is an element of luck to it because if you lose a ship early and have less shots to work with you are at a big disadvantage, but from the times I have played salvo I found that it stayed pretty even no matter how the first few games started solely due to the volume of opportunities to get a hit on your opponent.
Another version of the Battleship game with an added layer of complexity is the advanced salvo variation, which includes the same rules as salvo except when a player gets a hit the opponent doesn’t say which shot hit or what ship they hit, and only says the number of times they hit in that round. This is a significantly harder style of play and requires paper and abattleship pieces pencil available because you will need to write down as much information as possible each turn to help figure out which of your shots was a hit. For example, if on your first turn you choose A2, B7, H5, G9, and A10 as your five shots and your opponent tells you that you hit twice, that’s not a lot of information to go on. If you don’t keep a record of the hits and do some experimenting to figure out where those hits came from, it will be impossible for you to keep track of everything as the game progresses. This type of game can be a lot of fun if you play it right, but can also be very frustrating if you don’t keep organized and use your shots wisely.

Ultimately Battleship was a fun game by itself, but playing the Salvo or Advanced Salvo version is a good way to try something new with an older game. For those of you who haven’t played the salvo rules, I recommend picking up your old copy or buying a new one and giving it a shot (no pun intended).

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Jack’s Rating (salvo): 4/5 stars

Jack’s Rating (advanced salvo): 4.5/5 stars

Tabletop Monthly, Family Subscription

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With the holidays coming and going, I finally had some time to take a look at the second box I received from Tabletop Monthly. This is actually perfect timing, because it looks like Tabletop Monthly has officially begun their services as of January 1st! A quick recap for those of you who forgot, Tabletop Monthly is an up and coming company that sells subscriptions for monthly mystery boxes of games and accessories. They have two different types of subscriptions, one for more hardcore strategy games and one for lighter, family games. I’ve already reviewed my copy of the hardcore subscription, so this time I’ve taken a look at the Family subscription. Let’s get to it!

Board Game, Eat Me If You Can A smaller game with cards and tokens, this Iello game focuses on rotating rounds where players play as either the wolf, Little Red Riding Hood, the three little pigs, or the sevin young kids. When you’re the wolf you try to surprise the other players and avoid traps set by everyone else. A cute adaptation/combination of multiple children’s stories including an evil wolf, the game looks slightly more complicated than I initially anticipated, but it seems like it’s easy enough to pick up. I had heard of this game before and was interested in playing, so it’s a great addition to my collection.

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Card Game, Timeline: Historical Events A card game based on historical events, timeline focuses on playing historical cards in order from your hand until you use up all of your cards. If you play a card in the wrong order, you have to draw another one from the pile. Getting the correct timeline becomes more difficult as cards are played out. I’m not much of a history buff, but I’ll admit I’m intrigued with this game. I feel like depending on the cards in your hand it could be really easy or really difficult. For example, one of the cards is “Fall of the Berlin Wall” and another card is “The invention of Chinese Calligraphy”. I plan on trying this game out with some of my history buff friends soon.

Mini Game, Bus: Transit Demands ItNow this game is the most intriguing to me- the size of the game is smaller than a stack of gum,IMG_2821 but inside there are 30 road cards that create a fairly engaging game IMG_2822when spread out.  Created by a company called Perplext, Bus focused on players navigating b
us routes based on randomly laid out roads. After the road is created, each player then chooses what they think is the most efficient route to pick up passengers without driving too far to earn points. The fact that I can fit the game in my pocket is certainly appealing. I plan on taking this game on road trips in the future.

Overall I have enjoyed both boxes that I received from Tabletop Monthly. I like the games from the Family box more, but the expansions and accessories from the Hardcore box are cool value-adds to the box. I think that you can enjoy subscribing to both depending on your preferences with games. Ultimately it’s a fun way to increase your game collection without breaking the bank, as well as potentially being a good gift idea for board game enthusiast friends.