Monday morning I was on Facebook to see if Mayfair Games had posted my review of Star Trek Catan which they did because (thank you) they understand social media much better than just about all the rest of the of the board game publishing companies and I noticed in their social media posting that they were at an ASTRA Toy & Game Convention in Nashville just one block away from the Starbucks I was sitting at working so I jumped online and registered and high-tailed it down there to check out what was going on!
It was a great event with lots of fun toys and board games which is of course what I was interested in and a great energy with very friendly vendors, store owners, reps and staff. Granted most of the product is aimed at children but some of the games were amazing no matter what the target market was and real credit is due to the designers on their originality and the ability to put together games that allowed for different levels of playability at the same time so any age can play the challenge will better fit each player without the parent or adult having to throw a game for the children to win. There was some great solo player games, a few original party games that looked like a blast, one being Donkey from Cleveland Kids and Spontuneous from Spontuneous Games Inc. It was amazing to see so many great educational, fun toys and games. Things have come a long way since I was a kid.
As mention earlier Mayfair Games had a booth there demoing Catan Jr. which is my daughters favorite board game and a game more for adults called Five Points that looked very interesting. Asmodee Games had a presence there as well for both kids games like Timeline, another of my daughters favorites and 7 Wonders which is a great gateway game for the older crowd. I’ll have reviews of many of these games out soon so stay tuned for that.
Like any sales convention, you can tell who is experienced by their booth personality and who isn’t. There were a handful of people who didn’t try engage anyone as they walked by and others that were all about demoing their product which is the whole reason they are there. Creating interested and sales is the whole point of the convention. There were some very talented sales people there and that was fun to watch!
I spent many hours talking to reps and publishers and for the most part across the board whether it be through my normal connections or just talking with this crowd, many really don’t understand or utilize social media to even a 10th of its potential. Sure many of them have witter accounts and Facebook pages but most publishers just post once a day whatever the product that day is and they never engage their fans, reviewers or anyone. Social media is about engagement. This industry has got to learn to embrace this medium and utilize it before board games become passe again. All these companies have a marketing person who might have to do it all, but that is no excuse. Mayfair Games is great about posting their reviews (thank you from all of us reviewers,) Catalyst Game Labs is the best that I have come across so far that understand social media in this industry with email blog updates that are constantly engaging and interesting, Twitter posts with replies to their followers, constant Facebook updates and most of it isn’t a sales push, it’s an attempt to engage their customer base.
Learning to use social media properly is critical to any business today. If the manpower isn’t available, there are of course options like interns to help run it, but there just isn’t any excuse any more. Social media has been around to long to not have put a plan in place. Remember, it’s not about how many likes are on a Facebook page, it’s about how many people are talking about you and engaging with you. I can’t wait for the day with publishers engage with their customers and help blow the door of our favorite hobby.
In the board gaming world there are many different types of games to choose from. You have strategy, family, children’s, deck building, thematic, abstract, co-operative, war and party games. So how do you determine what type of board game is right for you? I am going to break down the different types and through in a few examples to help you understand the difference so maybe when shopping for a new board game, you can more easily identify the type of games you like and make the decision easier.
Obviously with strategy games you are in for a brain burner usually. These games can be classics like “Go” or more current ones like “Twilight Imperium 3rd Ed.” Many of these games can be all day games. Now granted there aren’t a lot of people who are into spending all day playing one game. I am, but only if it is a game that is able to hold my attention not only with game play, but strategy and theme. You can have to player games like “Tide of Iron” which is also a war game or a eurogame like “Caylus” (one of my personal favorites.) Luck plays almost no role and these games and many board game purists love that. Many people don’t like a luck factor like say a dice mechanic in the game. They feel it takes away from the strategy. You won’t find those here.
Family games are just that, great for family and friends who come over and want a more social gaming experience. These are great also for introducing new people to gaming until you figure out what they really like and can pull out board games more to their style. “Settlers of Catan,” “Ticket To Ride” or “Lords of Waterdeep” are great games for this type of experience. Games like “Lords of Waterdeep” can fit into many different areas but fits just as easily here. Easy to learn, understand and have amazing replay potential. I have played two of these games hundreds of times each. They never get old.
Children’s games are self-explanatory. Finding games suitable for a child can be challenging but then also finding games for the right age as well. My daughters favorite is “Catan Jr.” based on the popular “Settlers of Catan” series, this game is very easy to understand but fun and teaches how board game mechanics work so learning harder games later becomes much easier. Other great games here are “Gulo Gulo” and “Zooloretto.”
Deck building games are all the rage now in board gaming. Some people consider “Magic: The Gathering” the Godfather of deck building games but it wasn’t until “Dominion” came out that these games took on a whole new audience. The object here are to develop a deck of cards that is efficient and allows you to win the game with as little clutter as possible in your hand. You will draw new cards every turn, typically 5 and try and strategize how best to use each hand each turn. Some deck building games have a board game component included as well. Publishers like Fantasy Flight Games have come up of a “Living Card Game (LCG)” system that allows you to purchase expansions separate packs but you always know what you are buying, unlike CCG’s in which you never new what you were getting. Some great games here are the new Marvel Superhero game “Legendary,” “Mage Wars,” “Android: Netrunner (LCG)” and “Sentinels of The Multiverse.” Realize there are many more great games, I am just throwing a few out there.
Thematic games are just that, thematic. They could be based on a show, book series, or a previous game. Some great thematic games are the Dungeons & Dragons “Castle Ravenloft based of their popular book series and RPG,” the popular TV sci-fi series “Star Trek: Fleet Captains,” the cyberpunk feeling “Android,” and the classic H.P. Lovecraft inspired “Arkham Horror.” Here the experience is in as much the theme itself as in the game play.
Co-operative games are basically a team of people working to achieve the same goals and not pitted against each other… usually. A few great games to play here and are also highly themed are the TV show themed”Battlestar Galactica,” a vampire deductive game “Fury of Dracula” hot on the heels of “The Walking Dead” “Zombicide” and the King Arthur inspired “Shadows of Camelot.” Three of these games have an antagonist in them, in both “Battlestar Galactica” and “Shadows of Camelot” there may or may not be one and you have to figure who they are. In “Fury of Dracula,” you know who it is but you have to find them on the board through revealing hidden location cards. All three are loads of fun and on my game table often.
Abstract games are low on luck and tend to be high on strategy. Games like “Chess,” Reversi,” or more recently “Tsuro.” Many of todays abstract games are classics that never grow old.
War games are always popular with a certain group and obviously usually very thematic. These can very on theme from the historical wars we have suffered as a world or through fictional wars from books or movies. Games like the World War II themed “Memorior ’44,” “A Game of Thrones” literal battle scene “Battle of Westeros” or again the classic World War II inspired “Axis and Allies” are popular war style games that done a great amount of family and friend bonding. The aforementioned “Tide of Iron” fits in here as a great one as well.
And finally we have party games. The always fun and easy to get a crowd of people into especially if they are non-gamers type of board games. Some fun games here are the vegas-style bidding game “Wits & Wagers,” the fantasy themed “Dungeon Fighter,” the spy and co-operative “The Resistance” where there are a couple traitors and of course the often funny”Apples to Apples.”
All of these games are fun, provide a great gaming experience and would be a great addition to your game shelf. So if you are looking for a new game, or new type of game then start here, click on the links and see what piques your interest!
This article was originally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/what-type-of-board-games-are-right-for-you/
For those of you looking to get into tabletop board games, but not sure how, a great place to start is with Geek & Sundry’s show TableTop hosted by none other than Star Trek The Next Generation’s Wesley Crusher, Wil Wheaton who does a fabulous job of explaining the games and keeping the interest level high.
TableTop is a very successful web series that effectively focuses on what are known as gateway games. In other words games that are fun, easy to learn and provide a great experience into this new world of board games. Just entering into it’s 2nd season, TableTop has done a great job of putting out high quality videos with stars and well known personalities in the geek culture such as Felicia Day (who run’s Geek & Sundry,) Veronica Belmont, Colin Ferguson (Eureka) and many others.
Each episode runs 20 – 30 minutes as the group plays a board game of the week in kind of a “celebrity poker” format. Will starts each episode with a basic run down of the game and its basic rules and then its jump right into it. As the game is being played, on screen hints and tips help to explain the rules so you know what is going on as the game is “paraphrased” in content. The players get little spots in the video where they can discuss their strategy and make jokes about the progress of the games so far. They don’t show the whole game being played as that would get a bit monotonous, they edit it down to key moments and funny bits.
Last season demonstrated great board games such as Pandemic, Settlers of Catan as well as card-based games like Gloom and Fluxx. You really couldn’t find a better primer into the world of today’s board games. Don’t worry, there won’t be any games that are too heavy as the show’s focus is to bring new players into gaming and not have them overwhelmed with deep strategy games.
For more information about TableTop, visit the Geek & Sundry website: http://tabletop.geekandsundry.com/
Other links to TableTop:
This article was orginally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/geek-sundrys-tabletop-board-game-web-series/
Hello! I am David Lowry and welcome the first article written for the tabletop board game section of Geek Eccentric.
In this primer I hope to help educate those of you not familiar with the ever-growing popularity of designer board games and the types that there are. Most of us are familiar with American mass-market games like Monopoly, Scrabble or Pictionary. While these can be fun, they often suffer from fundamental design flaws and can create runaway winners making it not fun for the other players involved.
So let’s look at these other great options.
Over the last few years, the popularity of board games has grown dramatically with the release of a game called “Settlers of Catan” referred to by many as the new “Monopoly” or “board game of our time.” Released in 1995 it had sold over 15 million copies by 2009. It has since had many expansions, revisions and has even become a video game.
Many of the board games today are also available as apps for your smart phone or iPad. This is a great way to try board gaming out while not committing to a bigger investment. These board games will range in price from around $15 up to $100 dollars depending on the type and size. They can also go for several hundred dollars if they are out of print on eBay. We are passionate about our board games!
Today’s designer board games are usually classified in two basic ways, either Eurogames or Ameritrash, although there are of course other categories but for the purpose of this primer we will focus on these two different types.
Eurogames (aka German style board games) such as the aforementioned “Settlers of Catan,” focus on being well balanced and streamlined. With less of a focus on theme and more use of abstract games mechanics. In these types of games, players often compete for points or resources, rarely is there player to player combat involved and players are never eliminated. Eurogames can be heavily themed but that may have little to do with the game play.
Examples of games would include:
Caylus (my personal favorite)
Popular publishers of this genre would be:
Ameritrash games tend to be heavily themed and dramatic in their game play style. There can be developed characters, factions or heroes. Player conflict is more likely and the games can feature a fair amount of luck involved.
Examples of Ameritrash games include:
Popular publishers of this genre would include:
There are many different types of board game classifications such as deck building games, war games, co-operative games, strategy games, family games, thematic games, abstract games, children’s games, customizable games and party games and I will be covering these in future articles.
Here are a couple of resources to help you learn more about tabletop board games:
Board Game Geek – Is probably the best resource on the web. You will find every board game you can think of and thousands you can’t here. Complete with videos, reviews, and game play blogs and news, this is the ultimate resource for checking out games and learning to play.
The Dice Tower – One of the more popular reviewers of board games and family friendly.
I hope this piques your interest in the wonderful world of tabletop board gaming! Make sure you check out your local hobby or game stores for these and other wonderful board games.
This primer was originally posted on Geek Eccentric: http://www.geekeccentric.com/the-geek-eccentric-table-top-board-game-primer/