Extra copies of the essential games you’ll need to get you through to New Year have been arriving over the past few days. Business has been really brisk and we have had people registering interest in many of these titles, so if you would like to get your hands on one, don’t hang about! There are plenty more titles on the web site, with a full description and explanatory video on the product page, and also information on how easy they translate into playing over Zoom (other video conferencing apps are available!). More restocks are due in in the coming weeks so keep watching the site and subscribe to any out of stock product you are interested in.
With COVID-19 restrictions continuing, 2020 has been the year when one of the most often-asked questions in the board game world has been “does this game work over Zoom?” So here at All Good Meeple we have started adding a “Zoomability” attribute to many products to give an indication of how well each game would play, with one or more players on a remote video connection link.
Before explaining further, there are of course sites such as Board Game Arena and Tabletopia which offer multiplayer computerised versions of many popular board games. But this article is all about trying to get as close as you can to playing your friends and family in person, using a boxed game over a video link without breaching any social distancing or group size rules that may be in place where you live, whether those people are in the next house to you or in another country. It requires at least one member of the group to have a physical copy of the game in question, and the ability to set up a video conferencing session on a laptop or mobile device, via Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, Goto Meeting, Jitsi, Houseparty, or other similar service (paid membership may be required to get past time limits or feature restrictions on some platforms).
Not all games have been assessed as of end October 2020, but the Zoomability level is shown on the “additional information” tab for each product and you can filter the whole shop catalogue for this attribute, in the margin. We’ll get through the back catalogue in due course and will add this attribute for new stock as it comes in. The four levels are, Easy, Medium, Tricky, and Impractical (i.e. don’t bother!). Below are some descriptions of the sort of complexity involved at each level and the factors you may need to consider. It’s just our personal assessment and your mileage may vary, but if you have a neat way of doing remote play for a game that we hadn’t considered, please let us know.
Games with no playing area, where players can participate remotely with just their own camera, with players holding cards or written notes up to camera, and remote players using pen and paper and/or dice (or if appropriate, materials from their own copy of the game). Generally applies to most acting/talking, quiz or word-guessing games. Also dice games where the dice are rolled centrally, and both local and remote players make selections or take actions accordingly. Plus, some co-operative games where the remote players can give meeple-movement instructions and/or chip in with ideas and suggestions to the others. Might require some printing off of notes / score sheets for remote players.
You will need additional help or tools, e.g.
- Someone to manage and play remote players’ hands of cards/tiles (could be another player who remembers “not to look”, or a separate referee), draws new cards/tiles for them and moves their playing pieces
- Racks of some sort to show remote players their hands of cards or tiles on camera – remote players will have to give directions to someone to pick a card/tile (e.g. “third along from my left”) and where to play it
- A phone camera tripod to support an additional device showing the overall playing area and key game components held by each player (e.g. in Ticket to Ride, players’ remaining carriages) – that device would need to log in to the meeting as an additional attendee (disabling sound to avoid audio feedback)
- NB any card dealer role may not be able to rotate round remote players
Google “playing card racks” to find them in several online retailers for a few pounds each – they can also be found at retailers who provide products for the elderly and care homes.
Likewise search online for “iphone tripod selfie stick” and similar phrases – there are many available under £20.
- Requires some of the above but you may also need to have additional processes or controls to avoid remote players seeing other players’ cards, notes, drawings, etc.
- May require multiple cameras showing different elements of the game area, or focusing in on remote players’ card racks
- Egg-timer elements may need replacing with digital timer or app
- Remote players may need their own sets of dice or indeed own copies of the game, to be able to use some component or other
- Remote players may need to take written notes of ticket or victory point cards they have collected, notes of special cards that are in play for the current round, or goal cards applying to the whole game, and/or print off their own copies of game sheets for notes, scoring etc.
Very hard to replicate the game play over video conferencing, e.g.
- remote play may slow things down to frustrating levels or the amount of technical setup needed would be extreme
- large and complicated playing board with many pieces not easily visible remotely
- game requires close player interaction over a game board or playing area, placing of tiles or playing pieces or passing of items between players
- game requires speed of reaction or physical action, e.g. flicking, balancing, stacking and so on
- game requires drawing of cards or items from a bag or shared pool, depletion of which is part of the game mechanics
- game requires close observation of players’ faces and reactions which would be lost over a remote connection
Here’s hoping you find this zoomability guide useful in helping you to enjoy board games when you can’t be physically close to your gaming friends.
In these weird times of virus lockdown, customers have been asking about games which can be played solo. Generally, co-operative games can be played with just one player and some other games have rules variants for solo play.
A new “solo option” search tag has been added to the store to pull out any we stock that fit the bill. See the selection here. If there are others you know of that work well for whiling away the hours of solo quarantine, please drop us an email!
Just to let everyone know the online store is still open for business during these strange times, if it says it’s in stock then that’s almost certainly correct, so please continue to place orders as normal. There could be an extra day’s delay in despatch perhaps, if waiting to drop larger packages off early mornings when depots are quiet. Deliveries may also be delayed if sorting offices are short-staffed. If I’m aware of any problems I will send you an email.
Currently the wholesalers are still sending out new stocks from their warehouses. Potentially there could be issues with their incoming new supplies globally though. If the store has to close any time for our own self-isolation reasons, this will be made obvious with a site-wide message and the “add to cart” buttons will be removed.
Finally if you are self-isolated and looking for a board game fix, perhaps give boardgamearena.com a look. This site has adapted many of the popular games we sell on this site, for online play, including the likes of Carcassonne, Puerto Rico, Kingdomino, Takenoko, Love Letter, Jaipur, 6 Nimmt, and many more. Their servers recently (understandably) became very busy as people joined from all over the world. You may even discover a new game you would like to buy the traditional version of.
Meantime stay safe folks and look after each other!
As usual we will be taking orders for games throughout the Christmas period and into New Year. Friday 20th will be the last day for delivery before Christmas though. Any orders that come in over Christmas will be sent out on the 30th or 31st, and we will be back to normal on the 2nd January 2020.
With thanks to all our customers, have a great Christmas and a happy New Year!
After a slow start to the festive season things really picked up on the sales front, and as well as lots of games going out, a whole load of new ones came in, so… time to have a bit of a clear out. There is a sale running for the rest of January, click here to see the items currently on offer.
Two new games we have been playing ourselves here over the festive period, and which come highly rated, are Sagrada, and The Mind. We took both for a game at our local pub, and Sagrada caught the attention of others with its colourful dice and game boards. It was easy enough to learn although we realised afterwards we should have paid a bit more attention to the scoring criteria at the beginning, nonetheless we had fun assembling our stained-glass windows over a pint or two.
The Mind has proved a real challenge and we have played with 2, 3 and 4 players and still not got past Level 6. It all goes well until all players have got high numbered cards that are close in value, so there is a fairly long wait time before anybody plays anything, and then a rush in which it’s easy to play an 86 before an 84. Still, we’ll persevere. If we ever get through all the levels, “blind mode” awaits, which seems virtually impossible!
The festive season approaches, and as usual, All Good Meeple will be open throughout, taking your orders for games. Often we find that the period between Boxing Day and New Year is as busy as the days leading up to Christmas, as people look to buy board games that they played and enjoyed round at someone else’s house! Phones won’t be manned between 22nd December and 2nd January but you can still email enquiries and place orders in the normal way.
The last post we will send out before Christmas will be Saturday 22nd, thereafter we’ll hold fire on any parcel despatches until Thursday 27th. Don’t want your games potentially spending Christmas in a heap in a sorting office somewhere! More games are due in stock, during the week of 17-22 December, including some new titles, so keep checking the Facebook page for updates. After that, distributors are closing until the first week in January so there won’t be any new stocks until after New Year.
There are several web sites offering lists of “top board games” at this time of year, and depending on the gaming preference of the relevant editor, they are all completely different! However the Games Radar list is a good match with the types of games we sell here, with numbers 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, and 9 (plus “original” Pandemic) all available from us.
Whatever you are playing, have a great Christmas 🙂
The festive season approaches and with the prospect of family get-togethers comes the increasing likelihood that a game of Monopoly might be on the horizon for many. Well-known podcaster, designer and reviewer of board games, Tom Vasel, has recently released a short video explaining the issues he has with Monopoly, which echo the views of us here at All Good Meeple.
Tom’s beefs include the amount of luck involved, the amount of time it takes to play, and the way that players are eliminated and left as spectators, potentially from quite early on in the game.
Alternative games we stock here, that would be well worth your attention this year, for those occasions when everyone comes round to yours, are:
Catan (formerly known as Settlers of Catan) – race to settle the island and build roads and cities to earn victory points, by trading goods with your opponents. The amount of resources, such as wood and ore, are designed so there is never quite enough to go round, and someone always needs to make somebody an offer. Watch out for the random robber who can plunder your stash at any time, though! No player elimination and the winner can easily come from behind quite late in the game.
Ticket to Ride (Europe) – build rail routes across Europe and try and thwart your opponents’ routes at the same time. The routes you are building are kept secret from your opponents, so it’s not always clear how many completed routes (and thus points) someone has built up. Great for geographical education, again no player elimination, and lots of points available at the end of the game to bring someone from last to first in the final reckoning.
Dixit – a storytelling theme, describe a wacky picture using cryptic clues to try and get people to guess which is your card from a selection laid out on the table. If your clue is too obscure or too obvious though, you score no points that round! If you have more than 6 people, use Dixit Odyssey which can handle up to 12, and there are additional picture packs you can buy, to keep adding variety to the game.
Codenames – a great team game where you are giving clues to words that appear on a 5 x 5 grid. The premise is that you need to contact a group of spies who have been left out in the cold, using their code names. If you have, say, two teams of four, it’s easy enough for people to join and leave a team as the game is in progress, so ideal to be playing when somebody has to keep popping out to check the dinner or if new guests are arriving.
Forbidden Island – rather than compete against each other, why not work together to beat the game itself? Forbidden Island puts everyone on the same team of explorers trying to save precious artefacts from a sinking island. If the island sinks before you all escape, you all lose, but if you get off the island with all the artefacts you can share in the euphoria of having outwitted the game. Great if you have someone who doesn’t play board games because they don’t like coming last!
So, try your family and friends with something different to Monopoly this year, and you may discover a new favourite festive game!
Not fake news, but news about fakes! A word to our customers to beware of counterfeit board games which have started appearing in the last year or two. Several publishers have experienced problems with products being sold through the likes of Amazon and Ebay, with lower quality components, flimsy card stock and other production issues such as toxicity of paint and plastics used by the fakers. There is an in-depth article on the topic on the Tabletop Gaming web site, in which Shari Spiro, CEO of independent publisher Breaking Games and manufacturer Ad Magic, whose games include Exploding Kittens, says “buying counterfeits only helps the counterfeiters – and takes money out of the pockets of the hard-working people who are creating the games and products that are being illegally counterfeited.”
You can often spot a game that has been subject to counterfeiting by checking its listing and comments on Boardgamegeek.com. Games which previously had good feedback will start seeing comments about poor printing or misaligned cutting of card stock, missing pieces and other similar issues.
General advice is to buy from reputable retailers and always check the seller’s feedback or star ratings. If you see problems noted in seller feedback, you may be in for a bad deal. Some of the counterfeit board games are being sold at half the price of the real thing, so as ever, you get what you pay for and if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.
For the avoidance of doubt, all the games we sell on this site come shrink-wrapped from the authorised UK distributors (such as Esdevium / Asmodee UK , Coiledspring, or the Green Board Game Co) or in some cases we source them direct from the manufacturers (such as Ferti), so you can buy in confidence from us.