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  • Writer's pictureMike Douglas

Lockdown Board Games

I have written a few posts in the past about board games and my recent love for them. If you follow my social media, you will have seen a few photos from games nights and new game discoveries over the last 3 or so years.

In our current lockdown environment games have helped me in a few different ways. They have distracted me from my thoughts, they have provided a break from computer and tv screens (very needed), they have also allowed me to have a bit of fun.

Through some of the games I've played I have also had the chance to spend time with Laura and have something to talk about other than work (because we can't go anywhere, or do much right now), I have also played games via video call, with replicated boards or turn taking activities and slight game adaptions.

One such adaption was blindfolded Beasts of Balance, which well, was quite the learning experience, hahaha.

In the last year our games collection has grown, mostly after I've attended an event, visited Dice (board games lounge in Southsea), or played a new game with Paul.

I have found that I particularly like coop games; I think for two main reasons. One, it's a fun way to play a game and 'be in it together'. But also, two, because I can play a coop game on my own or with someone else; so there is that solo option still.

Two coop game I have really enjoyed playing through are: Thanos Rising and Heroes of the Grid. In fact I think I have played them more on my own than with a second or third person.

I find these type of games (coop adventure) have so much more re-playability. Whether I want a bit of fun, a break, or to invest in a mini campaign, coops are my thing.

That said, Heroes of the Grid, so far, has been flipping hard. There's quite a lot going on, I mean setting up the board still takes me 30 minutes!

I am hoping that HotG, a Power Rangers game, will become like Thanos Rising. Which is still my favourite game and one I look forward to playing every time. Even if I do only have about a 40% win record. It just makes it all the more fun to battle the odds.

We have recently picked up Patchwork, Azul, Cobra Paws and Pandemic. I think Pandemic may also become a mainly solo game. Laura isn't too keen on that one, particularly at the moment. But Azul and Patchwork have already had multiple plays and I think will be amongst our most played games. They are easy to pick up and play, and while you can try a strategy, it's just as easy (and sometimes successful) to make random choices which may or many not work out.

I do enjoy that we now have a mixture of games including strategy, random luck and reaction. Plus Laura has started to grow her puzzle collection, which I think fulfils a similar need and enjoyment for her, as games do for me.

I find having good quality (nice to touch) board/ pieces makes a real difference too. Maybe this is because I can struggle with some of the thoughts in my head, so having representation for the game actions (dice, tokens, etc) keeps me happy. Though it could also just be my desire for pretty things. Who knows, maybe it's both.

What I can tell you is, I have started to ask... tell Laura to roll the dice on a mat when we play a game, rather than the table. For obvious reasons... so the dice don't get hurt or damaged. That's obvious right?!

Linked to this I have heard that Photosynthesis has a particularly pretty board and pieces, but I am yet to play that.

The simpler and quicker games like Cobra Paws, Cat Chaos and to some extent Forbidden Island mean you don't have to invest 30 minutes plus in a game. Gone are the days of Monopoly and a 3 hour minimum investment (and forced competitiveness). Maybe a Monopoly game where you coop to take on the bank would be more interesting?

I really appreciate the variety in gameplay options and the growing array of game types, boards and adaptations that are coming out. Checking Kickstarter for recent projects is well worth looking at to find out about new and upcoming games. Plus, if you get in at the Kickstarter stage you can often get game extras, not available after the Kickstarter stage.

For me boardgames provide that opportunity to escape our lives and minds for a short period. Something many of us are grateful for at the moment with the current lockdown in the UK.

Do you have any games that you would recommend? Have you found you have a particular game preference?

I am looking forward to hopefully visiting Dice in Southsea again soon. Also to attending events like Portsmouth Comic Con and Guildhall Games Fest to try and discover more new and fun games.


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