Games Games Games

As mentioned in the last post, I have four standing gaming sessions a week (if you include the work one). If anything, this pandemic has been better for playing board games with friends, albeit virtually, than life beforehand. Maybe that’s part of the reason I never feel like I have time to do anything, but at least the relaxingness is good?

We started out at the beginning with our old favorite BrettspielWelt. The last time we used it (years ago) it was a downloaded java client that was reasonable. Now it’s a more web-based interface that is mostly clunky to use, although it seems to be decent enough.

But then someone (Austin?) suggested moving to Tabletop Simulator instead, and that has been a much better experience. Greg describes it as a physics engine that happens to play board games, which makes for amusing interactions sometimes, but there’s nothing like flipping the table when you lose a game. It also fixes a lot of the tedium of playing normal board games, even for non-scripted games, by simplifying things like shuffling.

The Fairfax group has started a weekly Jackbox games session, thanks to Tim, and that’s been a blast. Drawful 2 is one of our favorites, and we’ve gotten maybe a little too good at drawing some of the prompts.

Work introduced me to the joys of Codenames online and Broken Picturephone (AKA Eat Poop You Cat), and that has been pretty spectacular too.

Lastly, we’ve been (more recently) playing board games with Mark and Sharon (AKA my San Francisco crowd) via Board Game Arena. It generally feels like a much better version of BrettspielWelt, with (somewhat) more usable interfaces and clearer game instructions. Its main downside seems to be that a lot of the popular games and critical features (like multiple players from the same IP address, AKA in the same household) are gated behind a paywall. Fortunately Mark’s membership takes care of that for us, so it’s a pretty seamless experience.

I’ve also been taking my first forays into tabletop RPGs with Patrick and David (from high school), somewhat via Roll 20 but mostly just via Google Meet. Patrick DMed a great introductory game for us with the Lasers & Feelings system, which was simple enough for me as a beginning, and also let David’s experience with other RPGs guide us through. We’re looking at starting another campaign soon, but in the meantime, I’ve been putting them through more Jackbox.

In addition to *all* of that, thanks to Tabletop Simulator requiring me to actually make a Steam account, I’ve also started playing some of my old backlog of Humble Bundle (and other) games. I finished up West of Loathing in a few days, had a period of Cities Skylines destressing, and found a great way to “cheat” in Cook Serve Delicious 2 to get huge perfect days and unlock content (serve only sliced turkey breast or brisket, plus one side, with max prep stations). I’ve also been dabbling again in some older games like Mini Metro, World of Goo, A Virus Named Tom, and Girls Like Robots.

More recently, I’ve been playing Overcooked 2 with Austin where we’re nearing our goal of 3-starring every level in the game and all its expansions.

So I guess the nice thing about this whole pandemic, at least, has been keeping in regular contact with many people who are not physically close, since (other than timezones) it makes no difference whether someone is physically in the same city as you. Having regular contact with (old) San Francisco people, high school people, old Tartan people, the Fairfax group, and other Pittsburgh friends that have moved away has been pretty great. I think I’d still gladly give it up for the world to not be so screwed up, but hey, silver linings?