Life & Style

Love board games? Here are a few fun ones that you can play during this period of lockdown

It’s 11 pm on a Sunday, but the Dungeon Master’s shift is far from over.

Love board games? Here are a few fun ones that you can play during this period of lockdown

Santa’s elf is about to blow up a door to release his friend, the mighty ogre. All it takes is CTRL+SHIFT+B. Boom: the ogre is free. A dice is rolled and the Dungeon Master announces the next step, moving the game forward. He is sitting at home in Chennai while the rest of the intrepid players logged on are playing this game of Dungeons and Dragons from the comforts of their respective houses, all over the country and a few from across the world — everyone rightfully maintaining social distancing.

Normally, on the last Sunday of the month, ReRoll organises a Dungeons and Dragons night in Bengaluru. “We have been doing this since December,” says Karthik Balakrishnan who started ReRoll, a board game collective in 2016, along with Mithun Balraj. However, the country went into lockdown over the novel Coronavirus threat; these board game nights have moved online.

Love board games? Here are a few fun ones that you can play during this period of lockdown

Karthik and Mithun started out by hosting Table Top Thursdays. They would bring their own games to a pre-decided venue (usually a café), where they were joined by board game enthusiasts. “We got around 70 people a week,” says Karthik, adding, “That event went on for 180 weeks. It became a tradition. When social distancing started we did not want to break the streak. Plus we wanted to give our regulars something to do, so we took it online,” he says.

For the first two weeks, they did live streams on YouTube where followers from all over India played games such as Scrabble and Sketchful. There were, reportedly, 30 players playing for over three hours. To make things more engaging, two weeks ago they introduced a voice chat room so gamers could switch between rooms as they played. There are also quizzes conducted on chat, all board game related of course.

Go solo

The Board Room (a café in Chennai with over 200 board games) is deserted. Varun Devanathan along with the other co-founders Shravan Santosh and Sriram Mahalingam, are Working From Home, like the rest of the world, albeit in their own unique way. The team is using this time to learn new games as well as working on an online coordinated game session on Insta Live.

Love board games? Here are a few fun ones that you can play during this period of lockdown

Varun has been playing solo versions of games such as Teotihuacan and Firefly. Today, he’s leaning towards history with Gandhi: The decolonisation of British India. His other suggestions for multi-player games include King Domino, Word on the Street, Patchwork, Magic Maze, Planet... “This is a pretty rudimentary list. We can source some of these games for people who are interested,” says Varun, adding “Several heavier games have solo modes. These would include Wingspan, Scythe, Feast for Odin etc. These are wonderful games, but perhaps not ideal for a beginner to start with.”

It’s your turn
  • Ludo and Monopoly are not all you can play at home. Karthik Balakrishnan offers a few other suggestions available as apps:
  • Pandemic: How topical! It can be played by a single player too. It is about four diseases going around the world with doctors and military trying to suppress it.
  • Carcassonne: Where players place tiles to build cities, farms, roads and cloisters.
  • Codenames: Where teams of spies from different agencies have to look for their agents.
  • Wingspan: A card-based game where players find a way to attract birds to their aviary.
  • Ticket To Ride: Since holidaying is hardly an option now, the travel-starved can play this game where participants build train lines to get from one city to another.

The games suggested by Karthik and Varun are available as apps or for purchase online in India and through Bored Game Company, a Pune-based enterprise that currently stocks nearly 400 titles from publishers across Poland, Germany, Czech Republic, the US and India. “Just a week before the actual lockdown, we got twice the number of orders that we normally get. Around 30 titles such as Azul, Sagrada, Targi and Songbirds went out,” says Moiz Bookwala of the Bored Game Company. These are mostly games targeted at 15-year-olds and above. The orders were primarily from Bengaluru and Mumbai, he says. The company is currently not delivering because of the lockdown. Once it lifts, they will be back to sending out these simple joys in a box.

In the meantime Jill Veera of Mumbai-based The Board Game Co, offers Print and Play games as an option. The company has detailed tutorials on YouTube and provides links from where games such as Knister, 12 Days of Christmas, Quartz and Spyfall can be downloaded and printed. “The mission is to better human interaction, instil positivity, mindfulness and increase one’s cognitive capacity along with social competence, through the channel of experiential learning and modern board games,” says Jill.

And as with most things, there is always the D-I-Y option. “Games that can be set up by people with very little by way of tools or equipment,” says Varun. Few of these are familiar ones like Tic Tac Toe or Mafia. Some are traditional games like Adu Puli Attam or Ashta Chamma, which our parents and grandparents played, he says.

“There are several others too that can be played with pebbles or seeds on a piece of paper. Like Nine Men’s Morris (paper, pencil and nine stones/pieces, each of two colours, for two players), Liars Dice/Perudo (dice cups, several sets of five or six-sided dice, where each set of dice are all the same colour), Shobu (an abstract stone movement, and board control game, which requires 16 stones of each colour in two colours, for two players) and when all else fails, Dungeons and Dragons (a little advanced, but all it requires is a set of polynomial dice, and a dungeon master with some experience),” he explains.

The rules for all these games are available online. Alternatively, perhaps this could be the best time to make your own rules and create a new game.

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Printable version | Nov 29, 2020 4:41:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/love-board-games-here-are-a-few-fun-ones-you-that-can-play-during-this-period-of-lockdown/article31271394.ece

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