FUN GAME: When listening to people discuss March Madness, imagine they are using “seed” in the biblical sense.— Matthew Baldwin (@matthewbaldwin)March 11, 2014
Board Games via Skype
— Virginia Roberts (@askvirginia) March 2, 2014
Hmm, that’s an interesting challenge. I’m sure I could search Google and find some board games that are routinely played via Skype, but let me ruminate on the problem a bit first.
How could this be done? I’ll think this through using Monopoly as an example. One party (A) would set up the board and position the camera such that the other party (B) could see it; Party A would also be in charge of moving the pieces and placing houses/hotels onto the board. Party B would roll their own dice, take deeds from their own set when purchasing property, and use their own bank. When money was transferred from a player in one party to a player in the other, the debtor would return the sum to their bank and the creditor would take an equivalent amount from theirs. When a player in Party B landed on a Chance or Community Chest space, a player in Party A would draw the card on his behalf and read it aloud.
So, as near as I can tell, Monopoly would work without requiring any modification to the game rules. As would Carcassonne, if someone in Party A revealed tiles on behalf of the players in Party B and placed them (along with the associated meeples) in accordance with the wishes of the active players. Viewing the board might be a pain for players in Party B, but it’s doable.
The problem comes when players draw items (such as cards) from a common pool (such as a deck), and these items are secret. Each player in Scrabble has their own set of tiles, for instance, which are kept hidden. Here again Party A could be in charge of the board, placing tiles onto the spaces dictated to them by the players in Party B. But from where does a player in Party B draw to refill his hand? If each party uses their own pool of tiles, it messes up the distribution: you have twice as many Z’s in the game, and you’ll have to play twice as long before you run out of tiles. If you only use one pool, and there are at least two players in each party, I can’t think of an easy way for a player in Party A to draw tiles on behalf of someone in Party B and communicate that information to them whilst keeping in secret from himself and others. (If Party B was composed of only one person this could be done, though. Party A sets up a rack right in front of and facing the camera; replacement tiles are placed onto the rack without the drawing player looking at them. When the player on Party B plays, he indicates which tiles he’s using and where they should be placed, e.g. “the second, third, fifth, and sixth tiles from the left to spell ‘carbine’, intersecting ‘trundle’ at the ‘n’.”)
So. The ideal game would be one without a central board or common pool from which hidden items are taken. Dice games leap to mind, such as Roll Through the Ages, King of Tokyo (the superfluous board of which could be replaced by simply putting the in-Tokyo monster figure in front of the camera), and Dungeon Roll.
Another category would be games in which each person plays from his own deck of cards. Dominion almost works (but when a player in one party bought a card, the other party would have to trash an identical card), as does Sentinels of the Multiverse (but the Villain and Environment decks are a “central board” of sorts).
Sentinels is also cooperative, which simplifies some aspects of playing over Skype. Other co-ops that should work well include Forbidden Island and Forbidden Desert, Flash Point: Fire Rescue, and Elder Sign.
What am I forgetting?
P.s. After posting I allowed myself to Google this topic, and there are fewer suggestions out there than I had anticipated. Most recommend playing via V.A.S.S.E.L. or similar service that mediates the game, with Skype there to facilitate the social aspect.[Original post on defective yeti]
Upcoming Gamenight / Tweetup
Based on the success of the last Gamenight / Tweetup, it has officially become A Thing.
For the next one, February 28, I have reserved a room at Cafe Mox, Seattle’s premiere game parlour. The room only holds 10 though, so please RSVP via Twitter or email if you intend to join; if we get > 10, we will relocate.
More details to be posted here as we approach the dates. Hope to see you there.[Original post on defective yeti]
Seattle Gamenight / Tweetup
Seattle! Come join me, royalbacon, hellbox and more on Thursday, January 30th at the Elysian on Capitol Hill for an impromptu gamenight / tweetup. The festivities will begin around 6 PM, and I will come armed with:
- @maxtemkin‘s Cards Against Humanity
- @malki‘s Machine of Death
- @cbdarden‘s Dungeon Roll
- @BradOFarrell‘s Story War
- @helvetica‘s Guts of Glory
Come to play, or just say hello.[Original post on defective yeti]
The 2013 Good Gift Games Guide
The 2013 Good Gift Games guide appears in The Morning News today. Kind of a strange list this year, populated almost exclusively with card games. The only games with traditional boards are VivaJava and Eight-Minute Empire (albeit one the size of a large index card). There also no games exclusively for two-players. I was originally going to include Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (see below), but ultimately omitted it from the main list for the crime of Excessive Dryness.
Here are the ten games featured:
- Eight-Minute Empire | Rules: PDF | Purchase: Appears to be out of stock everywhere, but the sequel, Eight-Minute Empire: Legends, will be released on 12/09 according to Amazon and Funagain.
My Other Favorite Games of the Year
The Good Gift Games guide focuses on games that are “easy to learn and teach, fun and engrossing to play, and that can be completed in 90 minutes or less”. I like games that meet these criteria of course, but also enjoy the meatier stuff. Here are five of my favorite mid- to advanced-strategy games of last year or so.
- Android: Netrunner (Fantasy Flight Games, 2 players, 45 minutes): I’m late to the party on this one (it was released in 2012, and is based on a game from the 90s), but holy smokes, Android: Netrunner presses all of my buttons. I’m a sucker for the setting — hackers vs. corporations in a dystopian cyberpunk future — and every element of the game reinforces the theme, from the mechanics to the art to the terminology (the corporation’s draw deck is called “R&D”, for instance). It’s a “living card game”, which means that there are endless expansions to buy, but there is plenty of game in the base set alone. [Boardgame Geek | Amazon | Funagain]
- Sentinels of the Multiverse (Greater Than Games, 3-5, 45 minutes): As long as I am confessing to late-adopterism, I should also point out that, after years of being urged to play Sentinels of the Multiverse, I finally did so a few months ago. And yes, everyone was right: it’s right up my alley. Each player has their own, custom deck in this cooperative superhero card game, which pits players against a supervillain and his minions. What elevates the game beyond the basic “play a card, do what it says” filler is the fascinating way in which the good guys, bad guys, environments, and assorted powers interact, providing lots of emergent gameplay to explore. [Boardgame Geek | Amazon | Funagain]
- Terra Mystica (Z-Man Games, 2-5 players, 120 minutes): Terra Mystica is very much a euro despite its fantasy theme, a worker placement game that emphasizes resource management and long-term strategy. I’ve had my fill of “point salad” games, but the various races in Mystica set it apart from its brethren: in my three games I’ve played the halflings, the giants, and the nomads, and each has required a completely different approach. There’s a steep learning curve on this one, and you’ll be perpetually checking the rulebook for clarifications, but so far it’s paid hefty dividends on the investment. [Boardgame Geek | Amazon | Funagain]
- Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar (Rio Grande Games, 2-4 players, 90 minutes hours): My other favorite euro of the year, Tzolk’in has one of the best board game gimmicks in recent memory: a set of interlocking gears that completely regulate the gameplay. You can read my full review at Playtest. [Boardgame Geek | Amazon | Funagain]
- Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small (Z-Man games, 2 players, 30 minutes): Agricola is a huge, sprawling, complex game, in which 2-5 players have to manage seven types of resources while trying to eke out an existence on a 17th century farm; Agricola: All Creatures Big and Small, on the other hand, is its adorable little nephew, allowing two players to just focus on the fun part of farming: chilling with the livestock. To that end the players take turns building fences, constructing stables, and raising sheep, pigs, cows, and horses. And what happens if you have two animals of the same kind at the end of the round? Yay, babies! [Boardgame Geek | Amazon | Funagain]
Don’t trust the yeti? Here are the highlights of some other “2013 best game of the year” lists. German Game of the Year:
- Winner, Overall: Hanabi
- Runner-Up: Rise of Augustus
- Runner-Up: Qwixx
- First Place: Terra Mystica
- Second Place: Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar
- Third Place: Bruges
- General: Terra Mystica
- Two-Players: Le Havre: The Inland Port
- Game of the Year: Garden Dice
- Family Game: Via Appia
- Strategy Game: Triassic Terror
- Advanced Strategy Game: Tzolk’in: The Mayan Calendar
- Abstract Strategy Game: Kulami
- Card Game: Morels
- Party Game: HomeStretch
Where to Buy
I dunno about your hometown, but board game stores have recently been cropping up in Seattle like toadstools after a rain. Plug “games” into Google Maps and see what you get. As for online, Amazon now carries just about everything I recommend. Funagain Games is one of the oldest board game retailers and remains one of the best. Others that I’d recommend include:
Need additional info, or want a more specific recommendation? Don’t hesitate to drop me a line.
This is Maciej Cegłowski’s talk from XOXO Fest - one of the best and funniest talks I have ever seen in my life. It was a privilege to get to see this in person, and I’m so excited that everyone will be able to enjoy it now.
About five minutes into Maciej’s talk, the skies opened up and the YU building got slammed with rain, which started dripping on the audience, rattling the windows, and echoing in the hall. As he ended the talk, the rain slowly stopped, and afterwards we were all able to walk outside and just be together outside.
Make a few moments to watch and enjoy this talk, you’ll be happy you did.
"Digital Projection" for the Portland Mercury
view the article here
I WROTE THIS! It’s mostly about how my life is weird on Twitter and for some reason our local alt-weekly put it on the front page? I only saw Mr. Floyd’s gorgeous illustration for the piece after it went to print, but obviously I felt very lucky to have his work next to mine. Look at that, man!
No More Month of Son Reblogs
I’m going to stop reblogging A Month of Son post to the dy tumblr. If you’d like to continue seeing them, please follow amonthofson.com, or read them at the main dy site, defectiveyeti.com. Thanks!
Lord of the Rings
My son loves the playground. I sometime joke that he enjoys monkey bars even more than I enjoy human bars.
Actually, it’s truer to say that he loves playground equipment, regardless of where it’s found. When we installed a pull-up bar in our last home, it quickly became his favorite hangout, so to speak. Given a choice of activities, “hang on the bar!” was often his pick, and he would while away an hour swinging like a trapeze artist preparing to dismount.
In the absence of equipment designed for hanging, he will quickly press something else into service: a door frame, an overhead pipe, even the top edge of the refrigerator. We eventually broke him of the habit of hanging from curtain rods, but only after each had been torn from the wall at least once.
When we moved into our new home, our first order of business was to erect a swing set in the backyard, one that would accommodate him even after he grows out of what is typically considered to be the swing set age range. We ended up with a monstrosity that looks like a Soviet-era oil rig, but also one that will survive the apocalypse with little more than scuffing.
Yesterday, well after his bedtime, my son were in the backyard playing on the swings in the near dark. Leaping off is his new favorite thing, and he would do so seemingly at random. I would push, the swing would reach its zenith, and he would simply continue on, arcing into the night.