In today's fast-paced and digitally saturated world, finding ways to recharge and repair our mental health is often quite hard. There are so many distractions that draw us into a bubble that seems comforting at first. Modern life is all about speed and work, while our own health and life are often seen as secondary. However, among the hustle and bustle, there is one activity that can really help with mental health: board games. In this article, I want to look at how board games can foster connection, promote cognitive skills and provide a much-needed respite from the stresses of everyday life.
I always used to be very much a competitive player. Pitting my wit against other people was my thing. I would usually lose games and still do, but it was always a lot of fun. Cooperative games really only came into my life when our daughter was young enough to play games with us that weren't just roll-and-move. I remember our first game of Forbidden Island, which we all really enjoyed and played many times since. So in this article, I want to explore why cooperative games have become so popular in recent years.
If you're a very competitive player, then winning is all that counts. Depending on how ruthless you are, you will push for victory at all cost, as long as it is within the rules. Even if you're less cruel, you will do what you can to win. Either way, ending a game in first place feels good. It not only proves that you played well, but that you're a better player than the other people around the table. Yet, I often find that not winning or even doing badly in a game can be fun and here is why.
We take language so much for granted, whether it's written down, spoken out loud or conveyed via signs. Yet, when we communicate with others, we sometimes notice how words can be misinterpreted. We can see how a message can come across differently from how it was intended. That is when we realize how important words actually are. Choosing one word over another can make a huge difference. It's already hard enough to get your point across in your native language, but it reaches a completely new level of difficulty when you use a foreign tongue.
I recently had the honour to be tasked with donating most of the 2023 Spiel des Jahres, Kinderspiel des Jahres and Kennerspiel des Jahres nominations and longlist titles to good causes on behalf of Spiel des Jahres. Being curious about the association and their selections, I decided to play some of the games myself. As a result, I wanted to share with you more about the Spiel des Jahres association and how I think its goals are reflected in the games they select.
Fresh off the back of demoing games for Asmodee at UK Games Expo 2023, I wanted to share my experiences with introducing people to a new game. I think demoing and teaching games are two similar, but also different approaches. In this article, I want to look at them more closely.
Most of the earliest card games were trick-taking games played in the 800s in China. These will have felt quite different to our modern eyes. They didn't have the concept of trump cards or trump suits. There was also no bidding. Trumps were added to European card games in the 1400s, followed by bidding in the 1600s. It took another 100-200 years for familiar trick-taking games like Whist and Skat to appear. A few hundred years after that, the mechanism has now found a new lease of life in modern hobby games.
Pretty much every hobby game contains some sort of score which measures who is in the lead and decides who wins the game. That's undoubtedly true for competitive games, but sometimes also for cooperative ones. The score can be in the form of victory points, glory points, reputation, money or something else or even a mix of different things. Some games keep track of players' scores throughout the game, others count everything up at the end and there are also games that have a mix of in-game scoring and end-of-game points. In this article, I want to look at these different ways of score keeping and how it affects gameplay experience.
Card games date back to the 1400s with Karniffel, or Thuringian Karnöffel, often listed as the oldest one, at least the oldest in Europe that we know of. As a popular trick-taking game in Germany for centuries, it clearly started a trend. Many trick-taking games are still popular in Germany today and I certainly grew up with a fair few. However, card games have come a long way since then. In this article, I want to look at deck-building games specifically and how this mechanism has been applied in many different ways since Dominion made it popular.
When you publish a review every week, there is a certain amount of pressure to frequently play games that are new to you. Even if you bear in mind that I sometimes re-review a game and that once a year I list my top 5 games as well as look back at the past 12 months, that still leaves around 50 games that I need to get to the table and play a few times. That's a fair amount and risks taking the fun out of it.