Thoughts by Bez

I am a full-time designer/artist/self-publisher and I am available for freelance work. I go to cons as a trader and help run the all-day Friday playtest sessions in London. I left my last 'real' job in 2014. I was getting benefits for a few years. I'm currently writing sporadically, but getting back into the habit of daily posts. If you have any questions/topics you'd like me to address, send me a geekmail and I'll probably address the topic within a week.

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Starting conditions. An attempt at a break-down.

Bez Shahriari
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A week ago, I started a twitter poll. 200+ votes later, it turns out that folk like whimsy in their games. Who knew‽

https://twitter.com/stuffByBez/status/1219914450058252293

Whilst responses came in, I was shown a couple of geeklists that made for interesting reading.

https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/260601/start-player-r...
https://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/76700/many-odd-and-mu...

I currently believe that there are (broadly) 4 ways to determine start player:

Compare attributes of the players (physical qualities, or characteristics)
Compare when you all did X.
Compare how much you all did X.
Mini-game/competition.



As someone said on Twitter, these start-selection methods can be fun to read whether you actually use them or not. At worst, they will be ignored in favour of randomness. But given that folk enjoy whimsy, let's all get whimsical, whimsical...

Compare attributes of the players (physical qualities, or characteristics)

E.g. Looks most like a cat. Hairiest. Calmest. Most Zen.

This can be problematic in that it may be unlikely to change. Will 'pointiest ears' ever change, realistically‽

One version of Once Upon A Time apparently asked folk to draw a random card and ask who looks most like that card. This is a clever way to change it up and spark new conversations (which is arguably the reason to play that game).

Having a more mutable quality (best hairdo, most colourful) is another way to ensure that it changes up. But even then, some folk have their preferred style of dressing and stick to it. I'd almost always win the 'wearing most red' comparison.

Some of the comparisons (most money in pocket, biggest house, biggest nose) can lead to some bad feelings. It's important to consider how people will actually feel and the emotional/social impact of this cmparison.


Compare when you all did X.


E.g. Most recent player to touch a tree, find a leaf, visit Portugal, go swimming, buy something.

Arguably, 'youngest', is simply 'most recent to be born'. The issue is simply that it never changes. And what happens if you're all doing it right now, e.g. playing a game in Portugal‽ I really like things that are likely to be done regularly, as that changes the start player within the same group (and facilitates new conversation and interest, which is really the point of these comparisons).

Other than being born, I don't know many games that define start player as the person who has not done X for the longest period of time. That might be a bit trickier to compare, but it'd be fun to have an anti-capitalism game that awarded start player to the person who had not bought anything for the longest period of time. Of course, such a game should probably be given away and not sold, but that's beside the point. I'm sure someone can point out other potential applications, or even games that already do this, in the comments.


Compare how much you all did X.


E.g. Who has read the most sci-fi books.

This just sounds like it's hard to compare in a group that often does X. If 'most boardgames played' were an option at Bastion, I don't think we'd have been able to estimate at all. I've played between 500 and 2500 games, I think? Maybe read between 5 and 25 sci-fi books? It's hard to judge.

Also, the start player is unlikely to change.

This seems like a terrible one to me.


Mini-game/competition


E.g. Who can jump the highest. Who can roar the loudest. Everyone point at another player and the player with the most fingers starts. A quick game of throwing components and trying to get them to land near a wall. Reveal fingers - lowest unique number starts. First player to choose their starting card.

I'm a big fan of the 'lowest unique number' starting method when there is a small advantage to starting.

Interestingly, the last option mentioned allows the mini-game to be a very real part of the actual game and encourages fast play.

Another point of note is that 'who found a leaf most recently' can turn into a mini-game, even though I put it into another section. There is also some cross-over between this group and the comparison of characteristics.

Other methods:


Random, based on game components:
E.g. The person with the card earliest in the alphabet. Cards can have a small indicator to determine start player.

Lottery:
E.g. picking components out of a hand. Chwazi and other apps.

Auctioning of in-game resources.

Previous loser chooses.

Can you think of a start-selection method that doesn't fit into one of these categories?
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Wed Jan 29, 2020 8:29 pm
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Food and play.

Bez Shahriari
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Day 3 of Bastion.

Every game I've played has been enjoyable for one reason or more.

Most notable were the 2 food events.

Firstly, Y planned one of Jenn Sandercock's edible games. 'High Tea Assassins' is basically Win, Lose, Banana, where the cards are replaced with food. Whilst I'm never happy as such to see such similarity in rules, the food absolutely adds another level. Not only do you have to judge people's emotional reaction to learning the information (via hidden card, or hidden ingredients), but the reactions to the taste gives another thing to discuss. We played 4 rounds and everyone got into roleplaying the 'royal high tea' setting.

Food is just filled with emotional resonance and I think it's this that made this (and Y's edible game playtest last year) so wonderful to experience.

Later in the evening, we had the 'cheese+ party'. It became a tradition in 2018 and the idea was for everyone to bring something (chocolate, port, crackers, cheese, mead...) and enjoy tasting a whole bunch of delicious things.

After 3 games of 2 Rooms and a Boom, it was nice to be able to relax and just chat for half an hour.

UKGE, Airecon, and even my own BGDevCon all appreciate that good food is an important part of a con, so ensure that there are plenty of delicious, and relatively-healthy, options.

As we sit and navigate a framework of rules, trying to read each other's bluffs, knocking balls into holes, working out matchs, or whatever the game may encourage... Why not tantalise all our senses?

This is probably a big part of the reason why videogames are more popular - visual and aural spectacle - as well as the reason I adore every aroma/food-based boardgame I've played.
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Sun Jan 26, 2020 12:39 am
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10 ways to show something evolving/upgrading

Bez Shahriari
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Replace the object
Game rules imbue each object with inherent characteristics. Remove the object and replace it.

E.g. Maybe you have a wooden token representing wheat. After taking an action, you replace it with a wooden token representing bread.

Add chits onto the thing
E.g. Maybe it's a mini and you slide in card chits to show it has some additional powers/properties. Or you can use the base of a standee.

Add cards onto the thing
E.g. Creature enchantments in MtG.

Putting other things onto the upgraded object
E.g. small cubes onto chits, swords onto meeples with grippy hands...

A separate pool of cards representing stats
E.g. Evolution.
By separating the stats from the physical object, you allow for a lot more space for info and added readability.

Adding chits/cubes to a player board
E.g. Dominant species
Similar to the above, but adds the barrier of knowing up-front what icons mean, or (as with DS) a very simple/elegant system.

sliding cubes/other markers on a sheet/player board
Susceptible to being knocked on the table

But when it's a cube on the stock market of a massive board (e.g. 18xx) I think it's fine.

Writing numbers on a player sheet
E.g. D&D

Placing cards onto a human
E.g. a financial/stock market expansion for Yogi that I conceived but will probably never sell, because of reasons. (As an aside, I would like to get this ready for my next birthday. And I'll probably offer the expansion as a free PnP if it's ever good enough.)

The pool of cards IS the object.
Maybe the company/animal is represented by the collection of cards. To modify it, you simply add cards. This is the same as having a 'separate pool of cards' but without any representation on a board.


As you can maybe tell, I found this list quite challenging to write.

Do you have any other ideas? Have you seen any other ways to represent things evolving/upgrading? What is your favourite method?
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Tue Aug 28, 2018 6:46 pm
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Ticket to Ride: New York: First Impressions.

Bez Shahriari
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On Wednesday evening, I tried Ticket to Ride: New York for the first time. And then, soon after, a 2nd and then a 3rd time.

I've played other Game: Ticket to Ride games before of course. I think USA or Europe were my first. I also played the Indian map and at least one other.

I think I technically own the original, though it's been in someone else's house for 5-ish years. I have memories of an ex-lover getting annoyed at being blocked when we were playing that 2-player (and the incentives for aggressive play are greater).

Honestly, I'm not a massive fan. I bought it partially as it seemed an easy thing to teach other folk. I've not bothered asking for my copy back. I'll play a TTR game at a game-night, but I'd never seek it out. And yet I'm thinking of buying TTR:NY. Why?

WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?

I'll assume you know TTR. Here, the main differences (compared to the original) are:

A smaller map.
15 'train' pieces to use during the game.
A new 'landmark' system that replaces the 'longest route'.

That's basically it. Of course, there are a lot of smaller, more cosmetic changes. It's themed around taxis (and buses and trams) rather than trains. And all the tickets (and the routes) are re-done, just like every other map. There's a lot of mechanical details I'm glossing over.

I like the focus on a single city rather than a country or continent. I find that charming in that it feels like I'm getting to know little details about a place. I see the landmarks (most of which I'm unfamiliar with) and they feel like interesting places I'd like to read and learn about; as opposed to just learning names of cities.

The landmark system feels interesting and there's probably something to analyse there. It removes that (indirect) interaction and adds another consideration when planning your routes, but it really didn't feel like the biggest change.

The biggest change is clearly the tiny map (15 spots instead of 36), with a correspondingly smaller number of pieces (15 instead of 28), shorter playtime (10-15 minute estimate rather than 30-60 minutes) and smaller deck (44 instead of 144).

AN ASIDE OF THE DECK

Since the deck is so much smaller, there is some possibility for card counting. It also means that a random draw will tend closer towards the mean.

Personally, I find the potential for the former interesting and could imagine engaging in that if I played a bunch. I appreciate the latter.

THE BREVITY

This is really the main difference.

The map is tighter and it all feels much more tense to me. I once grabbed 2 long tickets and - because of an unintentional block - I needed one more piece than I had to score both my tickets. So, of course, I made sure to complete the higher-value one. (And ended up losing by 2pts.)

In a normal game of TTR, I'll be drawing from the top of the deck for most of the game. Watching some top-level play convinced me that this is indeed the correct move. Not only might you luckily draw a wildcard, but you avoid giving away info.

Every so often, a major route may be nabbed - either one of the longest pieces of network (for the inherent points) or a critical path that you worry someone else may nab. And once a critical path is taken, then someone else may rush to grab a back-up piece of track and that possibility of missing out is essentially the only thing that stops everyone from doing all their drawing before their laying of pieces.

In TTR:NY, I felt that with fewer alternate routes, I had to keep a closer eye on the board.

Honestly, I feel like the NY map is one I'm almost able to internalise. It's like playing 9x9 Go as opposed to 19x19 in that with a larger map there are different skirmishes happening on different parts of the board that don't obviously interact until it all comes together at the end.

I guess one reason why I love the shorter playtime is that I feel that TTR has a fair amount of luck. I want to be able to play a game, celebrate my success/congratulate the victor, and then maybe play another. And for a game to teach folk, a shorter format is always better. Folk can feel less pressure during the game, knowing that they'll probably play it again.

I could probably write an entire month of blog posts about the benefits of shorter games.

Happily, none of the narrative arc seems to have been removed. The part that gets curtailed is really the drawing of cards. Whereas in TTR I was drawing 30 cards, maybe using 10 before the 3/4-way point, in TTR:NY, I was drawing around 17 cards, maybe using 4 before the 3/4-way point. My play isn't optimal and this isn't an analysis of strategy - just my personal experience.

There's still the punctuation of a few tracks being placed. The excitement of knowing that you want a particular route and worrying that someone else will claim it before you.

The tension of trying to grab the correct card is even greater. There's enough flexibility, given the grey/double-connections but there's a point far earlier in the game when I need to start thinking about the specific colours I need and how I'll optimise my cards.

I'm very aware in writing this that I play in a particular way. Maybe playing differently would let me enjoy the basic game more.

Ultimately, I feel like this game gives me the tension of Coloretto. I don't know if this will dethrone Coloretto as my possible 'tensest game' but it certainly felt like a contender. So quickly, you get to a situation where you know what you need. Whether it's a colour of card, or a route, you are sitting, waiting for your next turn, hoping that no-one else grabs the things you absolutely need.

For whatever reason, TTR:NY just feels more intense. It fills me with excitement. I feel that every turn matters so much more. I need to think about the routes and where I'll put my cars a lot more than in the regular game.

I just tried to buy it, having convinced myself that I can afford it. Honestly, I didn't realise it wasn't out yet.

Now I regret having turned down a 4th game.
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Fri Jul 20, 2018 7:05 am
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AQs: How many times do I play a game before judging it?

Bez Shahriari
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Honestly, the answer is 0.

I have judged games all the time before playing them.

In my personal life, I like to play games for enjoyment. I simply do not have time to play everything once, let alone multiple times. I need to make some assumptions based on the look of the games.

If a game is from GMT, maybe I'll assume that it'll take a bit longer to learn and play.

If a game is carved out of wood, I might assume that the game has been a bit more tested than a game that is made out of thin cardboard.

If I notice typos in the rules, I might assume that is a reflection of the lack of care that went into other areas of the game.

Of course, first impressions can be wrong. I might be mistaken. I'm willing to give things a 2nd chance if so, or perhaps ask other people why they love something.

Sometimes, I just know my own personal tastes. Sometimes, even if folk love something, it might not be a thing for me. I have learned to have some confidence in my own judgements.

I've probably played thousands of games at this point. I've read hundreds (but probably not thousands) of rulebooks/rulesheets. I've developed an ability to tell what a game might play like and simulate it in my mind somewhat.

Professionally, I'll usually play a game about 0.3 times before deciding with Caezar whether it's suitable for publication or what should be changed. If something clearly isn't working, playing to the end of the game is a waste of time.

With a published game, I'm usually a bit more patient. If the rules sound good enough for me to show it to my friends and we start playing, we'll almost always at least finish the game.

There are games I own that I have dismissed after reading the rules, or after 1 game. Often I like a game, will play a 2nd, 3rd, etc. time and probably keep the game around for a while.

Some games I'll play and dislike, but want to try again as I might feel unsure about an aspect; perhaps it's strongly group-dependent, or maybe I feel I missed something.

I think this is the key - my judgement is never set in stone. I am always happy to be proven wrong. I absolutely understand that a game I love for the first 100 plays might be a tiresome chore later on. A game I feel negatively about might become charming and enjoyable to play.

Sometimes the trajectory is a surprise and I end up learning things about my own tastes, or even myself or the ramifications of various aspects of games.

Generally, the trajectory isn't surprising and I'm getting better and better at predicting my own future opinions.

So, I have an opinion straight away. Even after hearing the name.

But I never really 'know' how much I'll like it in the future, and I'm willing to admit that.
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Thu Jul 5, 2018 7:00 am
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Creativity in Games (e.g. Blank)

Bez Shahriari
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I played Blank last month. It starts off as an Uno/Crazy 8s-style game, with the ability to play multiple cards shortening it to an acceptable length.

After each game, players are allowed to write on cards, adding special rules.

It's certainly a legacy game imo, but much more about creating than editing.

Risk Legacy was about choosing between options. Placing premade elements. Any creation was almost superfluous - names of countries or cities.

Blank is more like 1000 Blank White Cards or Nomic. Players are free to write literally whatever they want. The game can be figuratively ruined. At that point, the players would need to change the over-arching rules in order to make the game work well.

It allows everyone to see the ramifications of adding a new rules. It's a live wire, with so much potential for joy and power; but also ruination.

Of course, there are other ways to have this. I once played an old quiz/word game with John-Paul Treen. The winner of each game was allowed to add a new topic and I was delighted to be able to add to the list that had grown over the decades!

Last weekend, I played a social game of truths, lies and dares. It was a great icebreaker at the start of a party. The rules were mine but the content was mostly generated by everyone else (with the assistance of pens and hundreds of blank cards). The game was so much more personal and meaningful than anything I could have made alone, let alone anything mass-produced.

You can have dedicated blank cards in a published game. I had 2 blank cards included in In a Bind, hoping that folk would draw their own crazy binds. Almost no-one does.

Is there a real fear of ruining things? I think that adults do suffer this. A quick performance in Charades can trigger anxiety. Using up one of your only 2 blank cards even more so.

I find that a child has no such compunctions.

I feel that having a game that makes creativity its entire focus - rather than just a few extra blank cards - really forces everyone to embrace the spirit. Things can go wrong. They probably will.

But there's so much joy in creation.
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Sun Jul 1, 2018 7:00 am
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Things I am backing on KS and why.

Bez Shahriari
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All these things are recommended. In the name of openness I'll try to explain my biases and how much I'm actually backing the games for. I'd love to be getting all these games but finances are of course a limitation. ;-)

A Rather Difficult Choice

I'm biased because the creator is the events manager for Draughts, a boardgame cafe in London, and has facilitated plenty of public playtests. I've tried this game a few times and it's seriously fun.

A gamification of 'Would you rather...', the strange situations described are designed to elicit conversation. The game itself works fine but the appeal of something like this is in the content. When you're exploring the hypothetical ramifications of only being able to ever travel at 1mph with your group, you will be pondering things that you've probably never pondered before.

Russ has a great imagination and the scenarios are all super-weird and evocative, as they should be.

I backed for a buck to show support. I doubt it'll fund this time around but I hope that Russ comes back with some reviews and finds the audience for this game.

Wreck And Ruin

I'm biased because I met Mark when he was first starting to design this game and asked me for advice at a talk I was doing with Richard Denning (Medusa Games, UKGE director), Jenny Harman (Yay Games) and probably some other folk. I saw the game evolve over the following year and playtested it a few times in Glasgow, when we met up for some all-day 2p playtesting. I have seen Mark at a few events and enjoy spending time together. Mark is insanely determined and I am happy that - after 2 unsuccessful attempts - Mark is managing to fund the game.

The main difference (other than a bit of graphic design work for the page) is that Mark has continued to show the game at conventions. For this to translate into backers of a big-box game shows the quality of the experience.

It's all about driving your vehicles around a map, ramming each other, and controlling certain locations long enough to grab the tech. You also get special events and super abilities that add a fair amount of spice and variability.

I don't like this sort of thing usually, but I found it far more enjoyable than it had any right to be.

I backed for £1, to show support. I don't think I'll ever have time to pain the minis and am not sure how often I'd really get to play. But if you enjoy games of high interaction, confrontation and a bit of high-octane dice-chucking, I recommend it heartily.

Art Deck

I'm biased because I read about this thing in Tabletop Gaming Magazine and developed familiarity which breeds love (despite the old adage). Also, Holly was on the podcast where Matt Jarvis and Alex Sonechkina said nice things about my stuff at UKGE, so I have nice associations.

You get cards that tell you to draw things in a particular way. One instruction and 2 modifiers. E.g. "Draw circles" "over and over" "without taking your marker off the page". Everyone gets involved in creating some art. Eventually someone claims the page as 'theirs'. At the end, you have all had good times. There is a vague nod towards a winner, but that's not the point.

I thought that this would be a fun game to play with all sorts of folk that I have over at the house. It seems to be doing something completely different and I respect that.

I backed for the game+expansions.

The Board Game Book

I'm biased because Owen Duffy invited me to talk at a convention in September. Also, we met at UKGE, Owen said nice things, and I invited Owen onto an episode of my show earlier this week. (The episode was aired Tuesday/Thursday and will be available to download within a week.)

This KS is for an annual for boardgames. A book that interviews folk and celebrates everything that has emerged over the past year in the world of boardgaming.

The photography looks lovely and the writers all have plenty of experience and proven skills.

I backed for £1 because I want this to succeed. I think that this will be a great thing. At the moment, I need to be careful with spending but I expect to pick up a copy after release.

Edible Games Cookbook

I am biased because... I specially like food. And games.

Jenn makes 'edible games'. Often, they require a bit of baking and construction. One is a gamified tasting experience. I know little about these games. By their nature, the ones requiring preparation aren't able to be mass produced. And maybe that would remove most of the charm anyway.

But to have a project that combines baking and games - both things that can bring folk together - is wonderful. I want to support it and also to experience it. I want to live in a world where more things like this are made. Where folk are being playful in all aspects of their life and finding joy everywhere.

Extravagant as it is, I backed for a physical copy of this book.
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Fri Jun 22, 2018 11:45 pm
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Ingress - a mobile game that's great for incentivising people to meet up irl

Bez Shahriari
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WHAT IS INGRESS?

Ingress is the precursor to Pokemon Go. It's a GPS game played using a mobile phone that has a constant internet connection.

You go to certain points in the real world. This determines what you can interact with.

Around the real world are 'portals'. You can 'hack' portals to get items if physically close by. You can use weapon-type items to turn enemy portals into neutral portals. You can then use other items to turn a neutral portals into portals aligned with your team.

Sometimes, when you hack a portal, you get a 'key' that is specifically for that portal. You can use keys to connect two portals. If you connect 3 portals in a triangle, it creates a 'field' and your team gets points.

WAYS THAT INGRESS MOTIVATES WALKING/CYCLING

* Every action uses energy. One way to recharge energy is to walk around for a bit.

* The bigger the triangle, the more points your team gets. One time, I cycled for 2 hrs up north to create a giant triangle and was really proud. Of course, the other team destroyed my triangle soon after.

*Each portal can only be hacked so often. You need to go to different portals in order to get more items.

* The entire concept of a GPS game - you need to be in a variety of places in order to play.

Ways that INGRESS MOTIVATES TEAMWORK, AND EVEN MEETING NEW FOLK

* There are 2 teams. This is the perfect number - you are working with the maximum number of folk you could be, whilst still having some human competition. 3 teams would mean that you want to work with 33% of folk and have 67% as competition. 50% of the players makes for plenty of competition.

* A 'portal' can be improved, to give better items and be stronger against enemy attacks. One player can make a decent portal. 2 players can make a better one. 3 players an even better portal. 8 players working together will be able to make the best possible portal. This is a small enough number to be realistic (in London) but large enough that it's something to aspire towards. I remember one day that I cycled around 20-30 miles with a bunch of people, playing with our phones on the way and creating some really high-level portals. You don't necessarily need to all play at the exact same time, but you do need to do it before the portal is captured by the other team. By rewarding players for getting other folk to visit the same portal, folk are incentivised to either wander around together, or perhaps just meet in a pub together, creating a top-level portal which they can hack for a few minutes before socialising.

* Some epic triangles can be created, but only by virtue of synchronising your actions and working together. I have seen triangles that stretch for literally hundreds of miles. One time, the enemy team covered 90% of Scotland! To do this, they need to link 3 portals that are incredibly far apart, at a synchronised time. One giant line going up will attract attention and be brought down quickly. But if you synchronise your actions, you might be able to make an incredibly large triangle and keep it for a few hours.

* There's an in-game chat. This could be better but is good enough to arrange some meetings with folk who are playing at the same moment. For folk who are arranging stuff a week in the future (or maybe a boardgame evening), other methods of communication are used. But the existence of the chat - even if new players are soon encouraged to meet up and then join a slack channel - is vital.

* You can only have 2,000 items. This means that folk aren't able to just hoard tens of thousands of items. Some people hack a lot of portals and give their items away to other players on the same team. I once met someone who gave me several hundred top-level weapons. I actually met a fellow player last night to give them 100 items they might want as I've since acquired an item that continually multiplies things. Since trading is incentivised, and it requires folk to be physially close, it means you want to meet people.

so...

I'm not saying that this is an amazing game that you should all play.

I do, however, think that there are some great lessons to learn. And the community it is fostering is really healthy.

As an example, the game retired the 'guardian' badge. Previously, this badge rewarded players for holding onto one single portal for many days. Some 'griefers' would try to work out what portal was a potential guardian and destroy it just before the top guardian badge was awarded.

Every other badge is about actions you take, with no potential for griefing. Make triangles. Hack things. Travel a lot. The fact that the guardian badge was removed is presumably part of the effort to foster a healthy community.

I played yesterday. It made me smile. And when I was trading items, Muriel invited me to a boardgaming evening on Sunday. This is the sort of friendly environment that Ingress has created.
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Tue Jun 19, 2018 2:01 am
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Last Word (a fantastic game for visually impaired folk with bad memories and inability to read braille)

Bez Shahriari
United Kingdom
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Microbadge: I play with red!Microbadge: I play with purple!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level III - Are we geeks because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are geeks?Microbadge: I'm genderqueer/nonbinary!Microbadge: I'm a gut player!
Cherry was a wonderful friend who enjoyed many things in life.

I introduced her to 'Last Word' last August and learned a month ago that it was her favourite game.

summary

Everyone races to shout words that fit a given category and start with a given letter. A timer will buzz at some RANDOM point - the last answer before the timer buzzed wins!

So it's not just a case of being the fastest. To win, you want to have many answers. Ideally, you'd spout out a never-ending stream of answers. But no-one's that fast. So you come up with as many things as you can and hope you get the 'last word' in.

Maybe someone only comes up with one answer but manages to be last. There's a healthy amount of luck - enough that no-one feels 'locked out' - with enough rewarding of skill that everyone wants to try their hardest.

changes made

To play this game, I just dealt everyone a subjectcard, read them all out loud, turned over the letter, read that out, then started the timer as if it was a 'jump start'.

Cherry enjoyed this enough that she bought the game.

The other way to play is just to flip over a random topic (skipping the preliminary race that the default rules advise), read it out, then flip a card and read that. Last month, I learned that Cherry's favourite way to play was with custom topics and flipped letters.


Let me talk about why this game is so approachable.


Basically, you don't need to see anything. The flipped card can be read before you press the timer. Seeing the flipped card early offers no advantage.

The most important element is the electronic timer that buzzes at random intervals. It's an easy concept to grasp - be the last person to shout a word - and easy to adapt.

Little memory is required. Only what words have been shouted in the past minute and the topic/letter you need to use.

64Ozgames do some great 'adaptation packs' for folk who can read braille. But not everyone with visual impairments can.

This was the game that Cherry could really engage with. Incan Gold was probably 'just about' manage-able. There is a fair amount of memory required.

By contrast, Last Word was a great game that allowed us all to play together.

If you know someone with visual impairment, I highly recommend this game.
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Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:32 pm
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I like The Mind

Bez Shahriari
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Microbadge: I play with red!Microbadge: I play with purple!Microbadge: Citizenship Recognition - Level III - Are we geeks because we gaze at the stars, or do we gaze at them because we are geeks?Microbadge: I'm genderqueer/nonbinary!Microbadge: I'm a gut player!
I played The Mind about 5 more times tonight.

The last time was a specially memorable game.

To quote Gil Hova, who played 4 of those 5 games, it's a game where you're trying to read other people, but also trying to be read.

You get to feel clever when you properly understand someone else's body language. You feel clever when conveying info via body language.

With nearly every card, there is tension and then possible relief.

So many memorable moments. Having 2 people pause after 33, correctly playing 42,43 in that order. Simply by making faces at each other. You feel so clever.

With 4 people who had only just 15 minutes previously, we managed to get to level 8. We felt a sense of accomplishment. There were high-5s. High-10s. Laughter as we had such relief.

It's a fucking awesome game and it seems so simple - the sign of a truly brilliant design.

Games are to bring people together and provide memorable experiences and this game does that in spades.
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Wed May 30, 2018 12:53 am
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