Enemies to Gaming

This article was originally written for Board Game Crate, but never got submitted. Needless to say, this was written before COVID-19 and Lockdown which is a definite enemy number 1 nowadays – particularly with the government pretty much banning the playing of board games over Christmas.
For day 17 of #Blogmas 2020

The other day I listened to the Dice Tower’s Top 10 Enemies of Gaming on youtube. Here, three panellists presented their main barriers to playing games. Although I agreed with everything they said, I thought I’d try and compile my own list.

1. Lack of players
You’ve got all those great games, but nobody to play them with, or not enough to play that 6-player that’s been collecting dust. Finding players isn’t nearly as easy as it should. The rest of the list explores why there are so few.

2. Lack of player compatibility
Yes, you’ve managed find some game players, but they’re not into the games you are. Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons are examples of this. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but for some, it’s either you play that, or nothing.

3. Lack of games
Unless you’re lucky enough to live close to a games store, the high street offers a very narrow selection of games which leads into … –

4. Lack of new games coverage
We all grew up with the likes of Monopoly, Cluedo, Game of Life, Scrabble and Connect 4. Even if we didn’t play them, we were aware of them collecting dust on some uncle’s shelf. Today, if you speak to a non-gamer about the hobby, their immediate go-to game of reference are these old games. The Settlers Of Catan, for example, is over 25 years old and I’m still introducing it to people who’ve never heard of it.

5. Lack of storage space
Not limited to this hobby, but some of those games come in big boxes – I’m looking at you Gloomhaven. Storing 100+ games is also a problem.

6. Lack of play space
Some games require a lot of space to play and not everyone has the table or floorspace to spare, particularly if it’s a game that is played over multiple sittings.

7. Lack of time
The enemy of just about everything, tabletop gaming is very much included here.

8. Lack of money
Unless you live near a friend or gaming café with a good games collection, chances are most gamers will have to make do with a few of the more affordable titles. The silver lining here is that there are some great games in this category.

9. Video games
After Time, the greatest competition to tabletop gaming is the one where, at the push of a few buttons, a full and immersive game can be played with thousands of other players across the globe. Video games also don’t suffer from a lot of the other issues on this list.

10. Bad experiences
If someone’s first, or last experience of a game was a bad one, for whatever reason, they may be inclined to think that tabletop gaming isn’t for them and move on to other things. A bit like not enjoying a book and never reading again.

That was my list, it’s not exhaustive, but it’s what I’ve experienced or seen.

Expansions – What are they good for?

Another article that I wrote for Board Game Crate. This is for #blogmas2020

If you’ve ever been to a games expo or one of the better games stores, you may have encountered countless expansions of one of your favourite games. As you peruse this dazzling display you see that each one promises extra bits, more cards, alternative boards and Cthulhu.

Although many of these expansions won’t exactly break the bank, the sheer number of expansions accompanying some games can hit the bank account pretty hard.

Expansions are content add-ons (DLC, if you like) for a game that either couldn’t be released with the original game due to costs or time or are subsequent ideas that have been made available later. The base game will work fine without them, but if you are thinking about getting an expansion, consider the following:

If you already love the game as it is and enjoy the particular nuisances of it, then expanding it may well change that, and not necessarily to your liking. Try it first.

If you’ve played a game so much that it no longer has any surprises for you, then an expansion can reinvigorate your interest in it by giving you new goals to aim for or extra things to do. Dixit can benefit with more cards to talk about, King of Tokyo/New York gets monster variety with the Power Cards, Catan can be reimagined with new gameplay, and everyone needs more Cthulhu (apparently).

Don’t feel like you have to get every single expansion to a game to make it work. Pick the expansions that work for you. You don’t like Cthulhu – then don’t get that expansion. Some expansions may also be doubled up (Smash Up) for increased variety.

If other players in your gaming group also have the game, it might be worth syncing your expansion lists so that you don’t double-up unnecessarily. When they come to you, you can play your expansion, and vice versa, thereby increasing your gaming experience further.

If player limits are a problem, some change the game to support a greater number of players (Small World, Cosmic Encounter, Catan).

If you encounter an expansion of a game you particularly enjoy, it might be worth picking it up on the off-chance, you may be surprised and you may regret turning it down. I am constantly lamenting not picking up the long out of print expansion StarCraft: Brood War when I had the chance.

Once you’ve got an expansion you may wish to keep it in its own box allowing you to play the original (vanilla) untainted game – particularly if introducing to new players. Or you can fully integrate it all into the base game box (if it fits) and play the complete experience. Cards from expansions are usually marked so they can be identified and separated out again if need be.

At the end, no one is forcing you to buy an expansion but their relatively low price tags can make them idea gift ideas or even the answer to that difficult question: So what do you want for your birthday?

Games Night 1st December 2016

This week we finally decided on:
Catan Seafarers
EM and PH had not played the Seafarers expansion before and the rest had not played it as a 5-6 player game before.
We chose the Foggie Islands scenario with the added excitement of all the gaps being filled in with the land tiles upside-down.
Once all the starting settlements were put into place, we all looked on dumbfounded as it was terribly apparent that we were deviod of all sense by not claiming any of the forest tiles (excepting for PH, but you can probably guess where the bandit spent most of the game).

Stuff was built, land was found, armies were raised (EM), roads were long (AL) and the game was won (AL).
Final scores:
AL: 12
EM: 7
MC: 3
PH: 4
SF: 4
Well dones are in order for AL!
MC go and hang your head in shame!