My board game New Year’s Resolution, 2017

I have a number of New Year’s Resolutions that I’m working on this year: get in shape, eat better, save some money, all the usual ideas are on my list much like plenty of people going into 2017. Sometimes resolutions get thrown away by the end of the month, but I’m feeling confident that I can follow up with a number of the ones on my list if I work hard and stay focused. Ultimately I feel like 2017 is a great year for me to grow, and I’m hoping this growth will come in a number of different areas.

Looking back on 2016, one of the things I am most proud of is the expansion of theboardwalkgames.com. I realized how different my blog has become since the beginning of last year, and have seen the ebbs and flows of my ability to post along with more and more people beginning to read what I write. I then began to think about 2017 and what it had in store for me and my board gaming adventures. I decided that the best way to move forward into the New Year was to create a separate New Year’s Resolution dedicated to my blog and my goals surrounding board games. I came up with what I believe to be 4 great resolutions that I am hoping to follow through on in 2017:

  • Play a new board game at least once a month- I’ve found that recently I have gotten myself into a pattern with playing board games. I find myself focusing on games that I’ve already played before more often than not, because it is easy to play a game that is familiar rather than try something new. I will usually try out new games in bursts, where I try out 3 or 4 new games over the course of a month and then add the ones I like into my routine. While having a group of games that I can bring out for game night is never a bad thing, I’ve realized that trying out new games consistently will help me learn more about the games my friends and I like and also help me make sure I have new material for blogging. Because of this, I plan on trying out at least one new board game each month this year, and hopefully try even more than that.
  • Buy 5 new board games I’ve had my eye on- I realized recently that for whatever reason (time commitment, cost, convenience) I have had a few board games on my “need to play” list for quite some time without ever trying the games out. I have either heard about these games through a friend, a Kickstarter Campaign, or my own research, but however I found out about the games I am going to make it my goal to play them in 2017:
    1. Pandemic Legacy– I have heard nothing but amazing things about Pandemic pandemic-legacyLegacy since the game first came out. While at first the idea of a game board permanently changing based on your play made me nervous I would screw it up, more and more I have thought of it as an exciting and bold style of game. After playing a Pandemic marathon over Christmas I have decided that Legacy is a game I have to try soon.
    2. Arkham Horror– I received a copy of Arkham Horror a long time ago. Known to be one of the most lengthy and brutal board games out there, I haven’t been able to find the right group of people or a good time to play the game yet. I’m hoping that 2017 will finally be the year that I am able to try it out and understand why it is, as the title suggests, a “Horror”. P.S. Everyone should fear Cthulhu.arkham-horror
    3. Firefly the Game– This game goes on my list mostly because I loved the showfirefly-the-game Firefly and the movie Serenity, and I also heard that the gameplay is quite good. I recently gave this board game as a gift to my fiancée for Christmas, so I am looking forward to trying it out with her sometime soon!
    4. Carcassonne– Known as one of the best board games in carcassonne-gameexistence, Carcassonne is up there with Settlers of Catan as one of the board games that drove the recent board game resurgence. I am sad to say that I have never had the opportunity to play Carcassonne, and I am hoping that in 2017 I am able to remedy that. The game is easy enough to find, so hopefully in the near future I will be writing a review of it.
    5. Zephyr: Winds of Change- This game is probably the most obscure one on my list, mostly because the game is still in development. I donated money to the Zephyr: Winds of Change Kickstarter a while back, and I am a huge fan of the look of the game and the demos of gameplay I have seen online. I am extremely hopeful that the game will finish development this year, and if it does I am looking forward to being one of the first people to try it out.zephyr-winds-of-change
  • Write a blog post once every 2 weeks- I wrote recently about one year of blogging, and I noted that my posting frequency started to go down over the last few months. While I do believe that you shouldn’t force yourself to blog to the point of overexertion, I also feel like I have a lot more content to write about and I want to motivate myself to follow up on that. Because of this, my plan is to try and publish a post at least once every two weeks. I feel like this is a good middle ground between posting too frequently and not posting enough. I won’t be too upset if I miss a week here or there, but if I can keep up a consistent schedule of posts I think it will take The Boardwalk Games to the next level!
  • Create a test copy of my new board game- For those of you who weren’t aware, last year I came up with an idea for a board game and have been diligently working on the game mechanics and playtesting for a while now. I have refined the rules multiple times and gotten feedback from my friends who have tried the game out. I believe that I am ready to make a legitimate copy of the game and start having people outside of my inner circle try it out. Hopefully within the next few months you will be hearing a lot more about it. In the meantime, if you have any recommendations for good board game designers or if you want to try the game out yourself, feel free to contact me!
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Christmas Gift Shopping Tips

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Hey everyone, happy holidays! I hope your days are filled with Holiday cheer, laughter, fun with family, and all around merriment. That being said, I’m sure there is also plenty of stress planning for relatives, figuring out vacation plans, and of course the worst thing of all: gift shopping. I’m obviously not saying that giving gifts is a bad thing, but if you’re like me then you definitely have had plenty of years when everything was done last minute.

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Last year I wrote an article about ten great board games to buy as last minute Christmas Gifts. This year I wanted to throw out a couple ideas for good ways to get quality gifts for your friends and family with time to spare. Hopefully you’re all finished with your shopping this year, but if not I hope these tips will help you look in the right place this week. So without further ado, here is Christmas Shopping Tips Round 2, Electric Boogaloo!

Amazon Prime is your Friend

I’m not exaggerating when I say that every single gift I bought for Christmas this year was off of Amazon. It’s mind boggling to me how they are able to provide so many products atamazon a competitive price, and guarantee that almost all of them can get to you within two days. Am I fishing for a sponsorship right now? Perhaps. But I’m also serious when I say that Amazon can be a lifesaver for busy people who can’t find time to go out to a store and need gifts delivered in a hurry. In addition, if you have an Amazon Prime subscription you can get a number of games (and anything else you can think of buying) with two days free shipping! Just for reference, I did a search for board games on Amazon and was able to find the following games right away:

Check Websites for Holiday Sales

It’s hard to deny that board games can get expensive, especially newer ones. Luckily enough, around the holidays most businesses take advantage of the holiday rush and provide big sales to incentivize people to buy their products. You see this as early as Black Friday, but a lot of deals stay valid until all the way through to Christmas Day. If you want to see what type of discounts are available before going shopping, most stores now have an online catalog on their website with information about the sales that are going on. This is more common with large stores rather than small businesses, but it still is helpful to know how much you’ll spend before you walk into the store. I recommend checking out Target, Walmart, and Toys R Us to see what sales they offer.

Local Stores have a Larger Stock

If you’re lucky enough to have a local game store near you, I highly recommend going to see their selection if you get a chance. They might not have exactly what you’re looking for when you first walk in, but they probably have a lot of good alternatives and their game selection will be much larger than any other chain store in the area. On top of that, supporting small businesses is always a worthwhile venture, so if you have the opportunity don’t skip out on checking them out!

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.

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!

 

A Blast from the Past

All Board Games

This Christmas vacation, like the ones before it, has had a lot of fun surprises in store for me once I drove up to see my family. I’ve been to a cool Pittsburgh museum, had lunch at a church converted into a restaurant, saw a University of Pitt basketball game, and have gotten some much needed R&R in the process. One of the coolest surprises, however, came in the form of a large box my Grandfather handed to me my first day in PA. This box contained a large number of games for me to add to my collection.

For some background on this: my Grandpa recently sold his condo in Florida and was working hard packing everything up to take to his house in PA for Christmas. A lot of unneeded items were donated, and unusable ones were discarded, but he was always keeping an eye out for useful things he could give his relatives. He also was aware that I write this blog, so one day in November he called me up and asked if I had any use for his old board games. As I’ve discussed before in my post about old school vs. new school games, I have always enjoyed older games and like the idea of owning originals of some of the more popular ones. Remembering that I used to play original versions of Monopoly and the Game of Life at his condo when I was young, I told him that I would be happy to take those games off of his hands.

Fast forward to the present, and the box I was given was much larger and heavier than I originally expected. I open it up and to my surprise, it’s a large stack of older and newer games in all shapes and sizes! Grandpa gave me over a dozen different games, including some staples of the gaming industry as well as some games from my childhood. I’ve been delving into the games periodically throughout the trip and have found some gems, including but not limited to:

  • An original copy of Monopoly
  • An original copy of The Game of Life
  • An original copy of Battleship
  • An original copy of Parcheesi
  • Block-building games such as Blockhead!, Ta-Ka-Radi tiles, and Lincoln Logs
  • Slightly newer games like Hoopla and Tiddley Winks
  • Games I don’t remember and haven’t seen before, but am looking forward to trying out!

I’ve already gotten a chance to play a few rounds of Battleship with my sister’s fiancée, and plan on trying out some more along with newer additions to my collection the rest of the week. Needless to say, I’m extremely thankful to have such a kind-hearted Grandpa, and I can’t wait to put these games to good use!

Top 10 Board Games as Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Christmas Logo

We’ve all been there at some point in our lives; it’s the week of Christmas, the holidays are in the air, and you’re trying not to panic because you still don’t have all of your Christmas gifts figured out. Whether it’s a Secret Santa gift you’re not sure about, or a close friend or family member who is particularly difficult to give gifts to, you’ll sometimes find yourself scrambling for something to wrap up and give out on the 25th. As someone who has a tendency to pick up gifts last-minute, I’ve gotten used to going to a store with a vague idea about what to buy somChristmas Shopping its over its doneeone but not knowing for sure until I actually see it. This year was the first year in a long time when most of my Christmas shopping was done well
beforehand, so I am on the outside looking in to the hectic last-minute rush, but I can honestly say I’ve felt your pain. So, in order to help with your struggles, I’ve compiled a list of some fun and simple board game gifts that you can find easily in stores this week!

Now obviously, board games are not the perfect gift for everybody. There are plenty of people out there who, for some reason, don’t enjoy board games as much as me. But for nieces and nephews who enjoy playing kids games or for older friends who like to host an occasional game night, there are some great options out there for you to find. Below I’ve listed my top ten Christmas gift games you can find in stores this week:

  • Apples to Apples– Apples to Apples is a great family and/or party game, and luckily enough it’s still around in stores pretty much everywhere you look. The game focuses around choosing the noun card that best fits a card picked by the judge. Fun and easy to play, it’s relatively cheap and popular among friends.
  • Clue– The mystery-based board game has goClue Logone through some changes since it was first created, but at its core it’s still the same game we all played as a kid. A popular game for youn
    ger audiences, I’ve used it for the occasional game night too so it’s not completely outdated for older groups. Make sure that the person you get this for doesn’t already have the game before you buy it for them!
  • Headbanz– The new version of an old game, Headbanz takes “Who headbanzAm I” and simplifies it for younger audiences. This game is fairly popular now and can be found in stores like Walmart, Target, and Toys R Us.
  • King of Tokyo– I found this game at Target when I bought it, and its popularity hasn’t waned since so it is definitely available in a number of different places. A topic of my most recent blog post, King of Tokyo is a dice rolling game that is perfect for all kinds of gamers.
  • Pandemic– Pandemic is a very popular cooperative game currently on the market, so it can be found pretty much anywhere you look. It is slightly more complicated than the average game, but is a good purchase for people who like to have friends over on a regular basis and would be interested in trying something new.
  • Quiddler– A less known game created by the designer of the card game Set, Quiddler is not the most common of Quiddlergames but I’ve seen it in department stores and most frequently in Toys R Us. The game revolves around spelling out words with letter cards and trying to use up as many
    cards in your hand as possible. Good for kids as it helps with critical thinking and mental acuity.
  • Qwirkle– The colorful mix and match game, Qwirkle focuses on matching shapes and colors to form groups and earn points. A good game for younger audiences, but also has appeal to older groups. The game is a bit older than some of the others so it might not be in every store, but it’s considered a staple of the board game industry and shouldn’t be too hard to find.Qwirkle
  • Settlers of Catan– It’s fairly self-explanatory as to why this game is on the list. Settlers is considered one of the most important board games in the industry’s growth and is a heck of a lot of fun to play. If you know someone that doesn’t have a copy of this game, go to any store and you’ll be able to buy it for them (along with many of its expansions).
  • Sorry!– A game that brings back memories for me, Sorry has been a Sorry!popular game for a while. Based on moving four pieces around the board, the trick is to avoid getting your pieces knocked off by other players as you race towards the finish. While the original is probably hard to track down, the newer version of the game is available in most stores.
  • Ticket to Ride– The ever-popular railroad expansion game is pretty pricey in comparison to others on this list, but is worth it if your friend or family member hasn’t played the game or doesn’t have a copy. The game focuses around building rail tracks from city to city, and can be found in all of the major stores without any difficulty.

This list isn’t all-exhaustive, and is more meant to prove the over-arching point that board games can be a good last minute gift for anyone on your list this year. Walking around a game section of a department store is a good way to find something that fits a person’s personality and offers a fun and interesting gift idea for a number of different audiences. To those of you who still have gifts to buy, good luck, and enjoy your holiday rush!