Sure, we’ve all known pretty much forever that board gaming brings families together and we’re thrilled that the current quarantine situation has brought renewed attention to our beloved hobby. It’s terrific that titles are selling out and everyone is jumping in to support our FLGS. But how do you use this time and knowledge to bring your far-flung family and friends together when you simply can’t BE together?!
Sure, there’s Board Game Arena, yucata, Steam and all of those other really great online sites - big shoutout to my super-affordable Board Game Arena premium subscription that allows me to talk to my opponents - but I really miss the live experience. You know, the colorful swearing, the facial tics, the shock and awe and the grimaces; you can’t capture that with an avatar now, can you?
To recreate the live experience as closely as possible, our family has turned to Zoom gaming to get through these trying times. Just like our Zoom Seder, this fabulous communication tool is allowing my brother, niece and nephew in Seattle to battle it out with my daughter and I in Connecticut on an almost nightly basis.
How do we do it you might ask? Here’s the simple tutorial, using Ticket to Ride as an example:
- Each family must own a physical copy of the game being played.
- Divvy up the responsibilities- in this case one family is responsible for the train cards, the other for the destination tickets. More specifically:
- My group sorts our train cards by color for easy access (‘cause its easier and it was my idea!), while my brother’s family shuffles and deals. They hold up our four starting cards to each of us respectively as the other looks away from the screen and we grab our cards. They then toss the cards they’ve shown us into a stack. They manage the 5 face up cards as well, adding the cards we choose to that same stack. If we choose a facedown card they hold it up to the screen then throw it in that stack too. That way they can track the cards we as a family have taken without knowing who has which cards. As we claim routes they dig through the stack to pull the cards and put them into the discard pile, so that we all know when it’s time to shuffle.
- We are responsible for the tickets, dealing the requisite number out to each player and holding theirs up to the screen for each of them to see. They then dig through their ticket deck to pull the routes they’ve drawn. After giving everyone ample time to scan the map, we go back and hold each ticket up again, asking “keep or toss”. That way we have an accurate discard pile if it comes to a reshuffle, which it often does.
- As each person claims a route, we all lay out the trains on our boards, checking in every once in a while to determine that we have not misheard anything and we have matching maps.
- Play proceeds as normal, with the usual muttering, swearing, threats and laughter.
We have employed this method successfully with Ticket to Ride US, Switzerland, Pennsylvania, Legendary Asia, Team Ticket to Ride Asia and Europe, and a bit less successfully with TTR Rails & Sails (far too long).. We have also played Around the World in 80 Days, Vegas Showdown, New Bedford and Grand Austria Hotel, on a regular basis, as well as dialing in a third household on a few of our ventures.
So while no one wants to experience a global pandemic, our family has been fortunate enough to not be seriously impacted by health issues or job losses, so we are spending our days being grateful for all we have, while utilizing our favorite pastime to grow ever closer to our family on the other coast! How are you spending your downtime?