I only got a couple of physical games to the tablet this week. The first was the fantastic Raiders of the North Sea from Renegade games and the second was a two-player game of Sorcerer from White Wizard Games.
I noted physical games because the other thing we did this past week is start something new. Thursday nights we’re planning on live streaming some digital board game plays. This past Thursday Deanna, Sean and I played and live streamed a few rounds of Carcassonne played over Board Game Arena.
Besides streaming Carcassonne the three of us have also been trying out Through the Ages (the new edition) on BGA and enjoying it quite a bit. I also gave Kingdomino a try. Read on to see my thoughts on all of these games.
Disclosure: Some links in this post are affiliate links. Some games mentioned in this post were provided by publishers for review purposes.
The board game Raiders of the North Sea from Renegade Games Studio continues to be a hit.
Last Monday my friend Mike Murphy was over and, along with Deanna we played a three-player game of Raiders of the North Sea. Along with that he also dropped off a giant box from CMON. This box contained a ton of Zombicide Invaders stuff hot from Kickstarter. Mike was letting me borrow that so I could do an unboxing video. That actually went live today, so check it out when you have time.
I reviewed Raiders of the North Sea a couple of weeks ago and my opinion of the game hasn’t changed since then. I’m still loving this game. This was Mike’s first time playing and he really enjoyed it. What I thought was interesting was seeing his enjoyment of the game grow as the game went on and he started to grasp exactly how some of the mechanics worked.
A good example of this was the first time he couldn’t take the two actions he wanted with the unique place a worker/take a worker system. By the end of the game, he specifically commented on how much he enjoyed that mechanic and noted how more games should use it. A sentiment I share.
I enjoyed showing this game off to another friend and was happy to see they enjoy it as much as I do. What I need to do now is get my hands on the expansions.
Sorcerer from White Wizard Games is a great two-player duelling card game.
Monday night after we finished up our game of Raiders of the North Sea, Deanna was tired so called it a night. That left Mike and I to play something two-player. I used this opportunity to show him Sorcerer from White Wizard Games.
Last week I talked about playing Sorcerer with three players, which we found to be a non-optimal way to play. That three-player game, which you can watch on YouTube, was okay, but definitely not great. Since that play, I’ve been looking forward to playing Sorcerer with two players again.
This was Mike’s first time seeing the game and I think it went really well for a first play of a new game. Mike has quite a bit of experience with similar duelling card games like Magic, and I think that really helps when trying to learn Sorcerer. He picked up the basic mechanics pretty quickly. The teach was quick and we were deep into playing in no time.
I’ve said it before and I’m sure I will say it again, Sorcerer has a steep learning curve. Not to learn the actual mechanics but to learn how to implement them well and to understand the various card interactions. This is a game that rewards system mastery. Despite that, Mike kicked my butt in our game Monday night.
The main thing that this play did is reaffirm how good Sorcerer is with only two players. Our game only took about an hour and was very tense. Mike really enjoyed it and noted he may be looking to pick up a copy to play in the future with his own home group.
We’re going to be live streaming digital board game plays Thursday nights!
A couple of weeks ago we had a big meeting to talk about the future of Tabletop Bellhop, one of the things we determined at that meeting is that we should be live streaming more often. Sean, Deanna and I discussed this and what we could do that we thought people would like to watch. Since the three of us aren’t in the same city live streaming actual plays is out. What we did determine we could do is play digital board games and stream that.
Our initial plan was to play Terraforming Mars on Steam. Unfortunately, due to the way Steam works, even though we have family settings on and I can share a copy of Terraforming Mars with Deanna, we can’t actually both play at once. Which I personally think is ridiculous. This is one disadvantage that digital board games have over the real thing. With the real thing only one player needs to own the game, I bring out my copy of Terraforming Mars and we can all play it. I can play it with any number of people. With a digital version, we each have to buy a copy of the game.
Since this fell through, we decided instead to go with Board Game Arena for our first live stream. You will be able to catch these streams at Twitch.tv/tabetlopbellhop Thursday nights starting at about 9pm Eastern.
Digital Board Gaming with Board Game Arena
This past Thursday, Deanna, Sean and I live streamed a few board game plays on Twitch using Board Game Arena. This is something we plan on doing every Thursday night where possible.
The first game we streamed was a game of Race for the Galaxy with the Gathering Storm expansion. While all three of us love Race for the Galaxy and we had a solid game, it just wasn’t the best game for streaming. What I had hoped to do is have the stream swap between players when it was their turns. This didn’t really work for two reasons. First off, most of the play in Race for the Galaxy is simultaneous. Players select actions and then play out those actions at the same time. Second, swapping who the stream was showing meant that I got to see everyone’s hand.
After one game we decided that we were better off picking something that was actually turn-based and something with a central playing board. That led us to Carcassonne.
I really like the way Carcassonne is done on Board Game Arena. While we were playing I was tweaking Streamlabs so that you could see each of our faces as we played and in the end, I was really happy with the way the stream looked. We played a handful of games in different configurations.
We started off with the base game, which went really quickly. Then added in the Inns & Cathedrals expansion which I think made for a much more interesting game. That’s an expansion I think you should always use when playing Carcassonne. We played a couple of games with those rules. Then we played a final game with the Traders & Builders expansion, another one of my favourites. This one had a bit of a learning curve for both Deanna and Sean. For Deanna, it was because she hadn’t played with these rules in so long and for Sean it was because he had never used this expansion.
The three of us had a lot of fun playing. I personally spent quite a bit of time fighting with Streamlabs and the conferencing software we were using, something new called Jitsi. By the end of the stream though I think I had everything figured out, so our next stream, later this week, should look much better and be more stable.
Besides the games we live streamed, the three of us have also been playing a lot of Through the Ages A New Story of Civilization on Board Game Arena. Learning to play this game on Board Game Arena has been quite the learning curve climb, especially for Sean who had never played the physical game. The BGA implementation of this civ building classic is done rather well but there are a lot of idiosyncrasies to the interface that can take some time to get used to. The one lifesaver is that, unlike many games on BGA, this game has an undo function. So when you mess something up you can usually recover from that mistake.
We’ve now played many basic games and are just getting into trying out a full game with the full three eras and all the war rules. While I can’t recommend learning Through the Ages through Board Game Arena, if you already know how to play this is a great way to enjoy the game when you can’t get a group together in person.
The final game I want to talk about on Board Game Arena is Kingdomino. I just tried this out for the first time this past week, thinking it may be another game that will be good to live stream. I’ve only played a couple of games so far but I’m impressed by what I’ve seen. The game looks great and the BGA interface is simple and easy to use. I was pleased to see that a bunch of the rule variants are also included. Things like The Middle Kingdom rule where you get bonus points if you can finish the game with your castle in the centre of the kingdom.
What I’m not sure is if it will be good for streaming, since you can only really see one player’s kingdom on the screen at a time. This is a game where I may need to manually update the camera focus in Jitsi. At least with Kingdomino I don’t have to worry about seeing hidden information as everything is open and out on the table at all times.
So there you have my #WhatDidYouPlayMondays list of games. While I only got two physical games to the table that doesn’t mean that I didn’t get much gaming in. What did you play this past week?