Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Shall We Play a Game?

I've always liked games. It's partly the game itself--the brain tease, problem-solving feeling of achievement--and partly the camaraderie of the time with my playmates.

When I married my husband, I leveled up when it came to games, learning about a world of different sorts of games than the Gin Rummy, Clue, and Yahtzee that I grew up on. Now we're a pretty serious gaming family, whether we're talking about board games, card games, improv games, role-playing games, or video games. We have quite a library of games to enjoy, but it can be hard to find time amongst all of life's other demands.

I got to play quite a few games in the past few weeks. Summer vacation is great for that, because I sometimes still have a little brain left to use for fun at the end of the day :-)  Some of the fun is choosing the right kind of game for the group and the time frame.

So here are a few of my favorite picks from Bryant family gaming so far this summer.

What do you play with an 11 year old girl, an 18 year old girl and her boyfriend, three grandparents, an aunt, and a set of parents during a family graduation party? We went with Use Your Words.

It's a party game for a videogame console. We played it on our Playstation 4. It doesn't require any video-gaming skills. Instead it networks your phones, tablets, or other internet-accessing devices through a website with a room code. It's a series of mini-games in which you make up subtitles for a film clip, newspaper headlines, and mad-libs style fill-in-the-blanks, with the goal of being funny enough that the other players will vote for your answer. It's great in that it's not knowledge based (unlike trivia games), so younger players (so long as they are old enough to read and write well) can participate fully. 

Another console based game I enjoyed recently was Overcooked on the Nintendo Switch. This one is a co-op game (meaning all the players are working together to achieve a goal, rather than working against each other). It's probably easier for people who have some video game experience, but there are only a few buttons to figure out. This matters to me as I'm not that great at remembering complicated game controls. 

The premise is that we are a group of chefs trying to fill orders while the kitchen itself provides additional challenges, like occasionally getting rearranged as the ship rocks, or having very narrow passageways so it's hard to move around each other. It's got a silly animation style and each challenge is short, so you don't need a lot of time to play either. I'm especially fond of co-op games, so this one is right up my alley. 

Off screen, I've been enjoying short board and card games: games with a less-than-15 minute
playtime. Our recent high school graduate is one busy young woman and it can be hard to pin her down long enough to play something good, but with quick-but-fun games like Kokoro, Tides Time, and Wonderland, we can fit in a quick round of fun after dinner and still leave time for her to spend time with all her friends.

Kokoro is my favorite of these three. You get a printed white-erase board with the grid for the game on it and based on the cards you pull, have to build a maze-like path connecting certain elements. The more you connect, the higher your score.

Tides of Time and Wonderland were also beautiful and fun to play, but are only two player games, so great for me and my husband, but not great for family night.

I'm looking for more games with a very short play time like this because they really fit well into this phase of life.

One more recent play was Rising Sun. This is a big board game. Best with several players (we played with 5) and requiring a long play time of three or more hours.

My husband scored this one on Kickstarter, so we have the edition with all the fancier fiddly-bits: metal coins, 3D building and tokens for various parts, and extra materials that don't come with the standard edition. The more I've played games, the more I've come to appreciate the art and craftsmanship of well made game pieces. They make a game feel like a luxury experience. 

This game took me a while to understand, but I really came to appreciate it. Both complex and easy to understand, it's a satisfying experience for more experienced gamers who are looking for something a little different. It's a territory game in some ways, but there's also a political element, monsters, special abilities, and several different possible paths to victory, not necessarily coming from winning the most battles. I look forward to playing this one again!

So, that's what I've been playing this summer. You can read my fuller reviews and comments about these and other games I've been playing in this Google Plus collection

Any other gamers out there among my blog-readers? What have you been playing? Got any suggestions I should check out? 


  1. I love board games and card games. Lately, I've been playing Scrabble with a friend of mine, and I lose every single time. She's amazingly good at Scrabble. Still, it's a good time.

    I haven't played any of the games you've mentioned here. The Rising Sun game kind of looks like Risk with a dash of Dungeons and Dragons, maybe?

  2. Scrabble is a long time favorite of mine. (Big surprise: word nerd!). Rising Sun does have some awesome monsters like D&D.