You’ve probably heard the familiar proverb, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Unfortunately, in Small World there are no fences. Races are at each other’s throats, using their special powers to gain the most real estate possible. As the game box’s catchphrase states, “It’s a world of slaughter, after all!” Don’t be a victim of the massacre and read our new Small World strategy guide.
Railways may be disappearing quickly in the 21st century, but that won’t stop you from laying tons of track in the early 20th century. In Ticket to Ride—any of the incarnations!—the player who claims the longest and most effective train routes wins. If you want to know how to be the greatest Ticket to Ride train magnate the world has ever known, read through our new Ticket to Ride Strategy Guide.
A short promo for GameChips.
and a link to our store.
Head over to GameKnight’s new online store and check out our offerings.
In episode 257 (“Gaming Money”) of The Dice Tower audio podcast, Tom Vasel, Eric Summerer and some of their guests weigh in on the question of “What is their favorite gaming money?” No, I didn’t submit that question, but I was happy that all of the hosts arrived at the conclusion that poker chips make the best game currency. The discussion takes place at around the 1:10:15 mark if you want to jump right to that part of the show.
Tom – I think you’d love a set of GameKnight’s GameChips..and if you read this..contact me…I’d love to get a set of these over to you to review and enjoy.
Another Kickstarter project to create game accessories. This one is to create some amazing-looking dice. Check it out here
If you follow my site, you probably know by now that I’m a big fan of component upgrades. Check out this kickstarter campaign that has some cool-looking, laser-cut tokens for a couple of different games. I’m tempted on the Lords of Waterdeep upgrades since I really can’t stand the cubes that come with the game. There’s also an ongoing thread on BGG talking about a variety of ideas using laser-cut for board game accessories and components.
The pics on this post show the tokens for Lords of Waterdeep.
We have all either hosted games or been to someone’s house to play games. The quality of the experience depends on a lot more than which games are played. Here are some tips to make a good game night great.
Have a Plan
Nothing ruins a game night (or day) like having no one show up. While last-minute cancellations due to weather and other factors are unavoidable, try to make sure that you have a date that works for everyone and that everyone knows well in advance when the meeting will be. A weekly game plan (every Wednesday at Dave’s house at 7:00 PM) or monthly ritual (the third Saturday of the month at Ravenblood Games) is a great way to help people plan for the long term. Even if you are planning a one-time event, give people a few weeks if you can to check their calendar and juggle dates.
Starting and ending times are another factor. For a standard evening of weekday gaming, three or four hours is a good time frame. Start no earlier than 6:00 PM to ensure that people have time to get home from work and eat dinner, unless you plan on ordering pizza for everyone at the game. If they are not bringing their significant others to the game, then a later start (say, around 7:00 – 7:30 PM) gives them a chance to ask the wife or husband how their day was. You’ll also give yourself some breathing room to get ready. On the other end of things, 10:00 -10:30 PM is a good cutoff point. It allows for a little run over and gives people a chance to get home and into bed in time for work or school the next day. If you find yourself done with the main game for the evening by 8:30 or 9:00 PM, you can always play a pickup game or two before sending everyone home.
For longer days, such as gaming on a Saturday, allow for gaming in several “shifts.” A common practice is to have people come around noon, and then game until dinner time. After ordering pizza or stopping at the local deli, a new game session resumes. This is ideal for those who can come early but have to leave by 5:00 PM and for those who can’t show up until later.
Choose (Your Games) Wisely
Avoid having people come to a gaming event with different expectations. Some folks simply don’t like “build” games like Agricola and Settlers of Catan, while others hate battle strategy games like BattleLore and Heroscape. Some will be in their glory with random dice fests, while yet others are only happy with cooperative play. If you announce ahead of time which games will be available, people can bring their own or decide whether to come this time around. A related point is to know your friends’ preferences. Try to always have options that will work for everyone, so no one feels left out.
It’s also a good idea to have plenty of short “pickup” games like Titan: The Arena and King of Tokyo. These are great if you have to wait an hour for someone to show up, or if the main event ends early. If you have a large group with multiple games going on at once, one game will undoubtedly end early, leaving just enough time for a quick round of something before the next group finishes. On the epic side of things, if you are planning something like Arkham Horror, let the people know ahead of time to expect that. That way, even if you are free all day Saturday, your friend who can’t be there until 7:00 PM can either opt out of the game day altogether or perhaps play a shorter game with other friends who also can’t come until later.
It is also important to have some knowledge of the rules, especially for complex games. If one of your guests is planning to teach a new game, be sure that she comes early and has plenty of space. Player aids are helpful for any game, and if you know which games you are playing ahead of time, you can more easily prepare.
Word of mouth and telephone calls are not the best way of letting people in on an event. The advantage of emails (or better still, email groups and message boards) is that each person can participate in the discussion. No one likes to be left out of the loop, and you will receive RSVPs more quickly if you have a simple user group or thread on a message board set up for the discussion.
Food is important. Try to have soda and chips or other snacks. It’s a good idea to have fruit for the health conscious as well. Be sure to have a variety of takeout menus on hand in case the gaming gets intense and no one wants to take a full break to eat. If you are having adults over, you might consider some light alcoholic beverages.
If you are having people you’ve never met before come over, greet them at the door. It helps them to feel welcome and eases tensions. Have the space relatively clear of clutter and game tables situated so that people can move easily throughout the house. If possible, allow people to step into the kitchen or some other room if they want a change of scenery or to make a cell phone call without bothering anyone.
Finally, try to have a supply of tissues, toilet paper, pain relievers, pen and paper, drinking glasses, paper plates, etc. This is especially true if women are coming over or if people are bringing their children. No woman will return to a house where the bathroom is dirty, so take steps to ensure her comfort. Along those same lines, strike a balance with the heat or air conditioning, according to the season, that is comfortable for everyone. And if the children are young, try to keep their limited attention spans in mind by having video games or other activities to keep them occupied while the adults continue to game.
Follow these guidelines, and you will have a successful game day or night, with many more to follow.
Nick Gauthier has been gaming for over 30 years and loves both the latest titles and the classics. A freelance journalist and writer, Nick reports on gaming events in the NYC area as well as on live music and indie films, all on www.examiner.com.
Full disclosure: I’m currently running a Kickstarter campaign to create a board game related accessory (hopefully that’s not news).
Almost every blog and podcast now features a discussion about Kickstarter and its potential impact on the board gaming hobby. Why should this blog be different? Here are a few of the themes that almost always surface:
1. The quality of the games that will be created by first-time creators will lower quality compared to those from established publishers.
2. Eventually, the creditability of of Kickstarter-funded game development will be harmed by a project that either fails to deliver what was described, or delivers nothing at all.
3. The Kickstarter ‘craze’ will begin to wane as a result of the above two themes.
So, are these 3 theories accurate? In 5 years, what impact will Kickstarter have had on the hobby? No one knows the real answer, but here is my opinion.
I’ve been in the board gaming hobby for at least 10 years, and in that time, the number of games being brought to market each year continues to rise. This growth trend was in motion before the Kickstarter mania. Now with Kickstarter, even more games are created and marketed each year. Another equally gamer-friendly trend is the rise of IOS gaming, which logically should have taken market share away from the board gaming hobby as consumers could simply pay the small fee for the IOS version and not need to invest in the physical copy of the game. According to many game publishers, the IOS versions actually end up causing more sales of physical copies. So, simply put, more games are hitting the market than ever before in the hobby games market.
In many ways, the growth in board gaming seems similar to the rise in PC\console games. In both PC\console gaming, the number of games published each year seems to rise. If you look at the Wii platform, which appears to have fairly loose publishing requirements, there are tons of games published each year. If you were to chart these games, they probably would fall into a bell curve with some incredible games..and some terrible games. If you just look at higher number of games being published, logic would dictate that game buyers should be treated to some great games.
The net effect of the increasing number of games on the market will likely be that gamers will become more selective in their purchases. In recent years, an avid gamer could take chances on games that were not proven and\or not from established publishers. I foresee that serious gamers will become more cautious in their decision making to determine if to add a game to their collection or not. To attract these more selective gamers, more elaborate Kickstarter campaigns will become required to rise over the sea of average offerings. I would predict some very large-scale campaigns from established publishers will soon begin to appear. The marketing appeal of Kickstarter is simply too large for even established companies to overlook. Expect highly polished videos and some really unique reward offerings.
I imagine that some established publishers might be concerned that the Kickstarter phenomena may start to shrink their slice of the gamer’s budget. I would expect that they will react with one of their best weapons that will be hard for independent publishers to compete with….using licensed properties. Regardless of how good some of the independent games are, the use of recognizable characters and themes is a strong draw for some gamers.
The fact that the Kickstarter funding platform exists may drive the entire industry to improve. Gamers will have even more games to pick from. Producing games that will rise above the average titles will be the challenge for publishers to meet. This could translate into great times ahead for gamers.
The last point I will make is that Kickstarter’s project structure allows game designers to get immediate input from players before the game goes to print. In my opinion, this is the most exciting element of Kickstarter. Small issues will often be resolved and this may allow some games to make the leap from an average title to a great title.
So, are the 3 premises correct?
1. Quality will suffer – In terms of quality, yes, the quality of games from established publishers will be better than most independent games. If they aren’t, what extra value is being provided?
2. Kickstarter credibility – Quite possibly a scandal will happen, but I think it’s unlikely to derail the viability of Kickstarter as a path of game publishing.
3. The Kickstarter craze will subside – I doubt it. I believe that the campaigns will get very ambitious and elaborate to attract backers and those companies who are able to find the formula for engaging gamers will raise lots of $$ for their projects.
Of course, this is just the opinion of a gamer who is optimistic about the future of the hobby.