Posts tagged ‘blokus’

Hosting a Gaming Night with Non-Gamers

Author:  Seth Brown – The Rising Pun

Board games are fun. You know this; that’s why you play them.

But many of your friends probably don’t know this. It isn’t their fault, it’s just how they were raised.

Most people who think of board games think of childhood games like Candyland or Life, or abstract games like Chess. And when you get together for a little party, most of them wouldn’t necessarily suggest board games as the evening’s activity. That’s where you come in.

Set Up an Evening

Tell a few friends that you’d like to have them over for gaming and dinner. Even if they’re not sure they like gaming, they’ll probably want to come over for the dinner, and you’ll be able to convince them to play. Don’t invite too many people at once; 3-5 people is a good number.

“Board Games? Aren’t Those for Kids?”

Explain to your friends that board games have improved a whole lot since their childhood. Just like video games, computers, and cars have evolved tremendously in the past few decades, board games have come a long way as well.

It’s worth making the point to your friends that the difference between today’s video games and Pong is similar to the difference between today’s board games and Candyland. Innovation has made games a lot more complex, and a lot more fun.

“But will it be too complicated for me?”

Assure your friends that you’ll start off with easy games that they’ll have no trouble getting the hang of. And then follow up on it; don’t promise them easy games and then drag out a complex war game. You’ll want to make sure that any games you play on your first gaming night will be easy to teach to a group of non-gamers.

Remember, a game moves at the speed of the slowest player, so set the difficulty level of your games accordingly.

Choosing The Right Games

Game selection is absolutely essential when planning a game night with non-gamers. If someone has never played board games as an adult before, and his first experience is a bad one, he’s not likely to want to play again.

When sharing games with non-gamers, you’ve got to have something that’s likely to make them appreciate the hobby, or at the very least, not scare them away.

Avoid long games. Someone who hasn’t gamed before probably won’t want to commit an entire evening to a single game, even if they understand the rules perfectly and aren’t losing. Throwing three non-gamers into a complicated four-hour game where they feel at a loss is likely to make them stay non-gamers.

Games with quick explanations are essential. Non-gamers don’t want to learn a whole book of new rules on their first night out, so stick to games with simple rules and fast play times. Most importantly, keep the personalities of your friends in mind. If your friends enjoy things that are silly and random, they might have a great time playing Fluxx. If they hate randomness and can’t stand not controlling their own destiny, they might be better off with Blokus.

On The Gaming Night

You should plan to eat dinner first if you’re cooking, otherwise you’ll have a lot of hungry people sitting around the gaming table ignoring the game while you keep running to the kitchen. Unless your friends are very, very neat, do not play a game over dinner. You’re much better off cleaning up first, clearing the table, and then setting up for some gaming.

You may want to start with a party game, like Charades or Apples to Apples. These are mostly non-competitive and unlikely to intimidate anyone. This will draw in some people, and cause others to hunger for games with a bit more meat.

That’s when you can bring out a game like Fluxx or Blokus. Try a few different games if possible, but if a friend likes a game enough to want a rematch, go for it. You may want to sit out for a game. If you have more people over than can play the chosen game, be willing to let your friends play the game while you comment on their options during their turn. If there is enough room for you to play in the game as well, don’t play a cut-throat game or attack other players too harshly. You should view your role in the first game as that of a teacher.

With any luck, they’ll want a second game, and then you can kick things into higher gear.

Games mentioned in this post:


February 1, 2009 at 2:21 am 1 comment

Fun Family Activities – Playing Games with your Spouse/Partner

Author: Seth Brown –

Why Game with your Partner?

A friend of mine once told me, “Board gaming is like sex:  It’s a lot more fun with someone you really like.”

Presumably, if you have a spouse or partner, you really like that person. And you probably like board games too, whether for the brain health benefits, strategic challenge, or pure fun. It stands to reason, then, that combining those two things you like would be a great idea. Board gaming with a loved one is not only a cost-effective way to get an evening’s entertainment, but is also much more interactive than sitting in front of a movie. By playing a game with your partner, you’re really spending an evening *with* her, not just next to her.

Make the Suggestion

Casually bring up the idea to your partner. Tell him, “Hey, instead of a movie tomorrow night, would you be up for trying a game?” If your partner doesn’t seem receptive at first, be willing to postpone gaming with him for another night, after you’ve brought it up again. You don’t want to push really hard and demand gaming when your partner isn’t in the mood for it, or he’ll be pre-disposed not to enjoy it.

Bring it up again later and be willing to compromise. If your partner will agree to game with you instead of watching another TV show one night, then you may have to agree to try one of his hobbies. But don’t worry; in many cases, once your partner gets a taste for playing good games with someone he loves, he’ll be hooked.

Choose Your Games Carefully

This is probably the most important thing you can do when planning a game night with your partner. If you’re looking to get her to play games with you, then you’ve got to pick the games that she is most likely to enjoy. First of all, consider how much gaming your partner has done in the past. If she’s never played a board game before, then it doesn’t matter how great your favorite complex strategy game is, because it’s probably going to be too complicated for to enjoy it as her first modern board game. You’ll want something with rules that can be learned in five minutes.

Think about what your partner likes, and pick games with themes or mechanics that might appeal to her. If she likes Indiana Jones movies, consider a game with an archaeology theme like Lost Cities. If she likes playing Tetris, consider Blokus.

Make sure the game you have chosen plays well with two players. Some games like Lost Cities are made specifically for two players. And some games like Dominion can handle up to four players, but play wonderfully with two. However, certain multi-player games (especially auction-based games) become less fun with fewer than three players, so if you’re not sure, try it out with another friend first, so your partner doesn’t suffer.

Start Slow

Don’t overwhelm your partner by demanding a 4-hour gaming session on your first night.

Your ideal game for a first night out should have simple rules and a playtime of under a half-hour, so you can play a few games of it without taking the whole evening. Lost Cities and Dominion are both highly recommended.

Treat the first game as a learning experience. Play with your hands open, allow your partner to take back moves, and so forth. The only people playing are you and your partner, so you don’t need to worry about slowing things down for anyone else.

Finally, avoid being hyper-competitive, unless you know that your partner enjoys it. Forcing your partner into a new hobby so you can trounce him and gloat about it is not going to make him want to play games again.

The More The Merrier

If your partner starts enjoying gaming as much as you do, make it a regular occurrence. Set aside one night a week as “game night”, and you’ll know that you can both look forward to quality time with the one you love – whether that one happens to be Lost Cities or Dominion.

December 21, 2008 at 9:35 am 1 comment

Settlers of Catan and Blokus Rank on Top 10 List

According to, board games are still a big hit at the holiday times.

Every year, they post a Top 10 list of Christmas Toys. This year, we wanted to point out two items on the list. The board game bookends!

The first is the #10 item. The premiere strategy game from Mayfair Games, Settlers of Catan.  This game has reached mainstream status. It never gets old and can be expanded through three other expansion sets. The replayability is here and definiately worth checking out. If you have ever played civilization-building games on your PC, you will love this game. In Settlers, the process of resource gathering and strategic planning creates constant interaction with your opponents and every person’s turn can affect you – positively or negatively.

The other item is all the way up the list, at #1. The abstract game, Blokus, is one of the most accessable and intrigueing games in a long time. If you like games like Tetris, this is definately a game for you to try. It is extremely addictive. One of the cool aspects of this game is you can play it by yourself. Each player has a series of plastick tiles in different shapes. The simple goal is to put as many of the tiles on the board as you can. However, you must  follow a single rule – Each of your tiles must only touch a corner of another of your tiles (the same color). After a while, it becomes very hard to place any tiles because each other player is doing the same thing. Talk about a mind bender…

So, do away with the electronics and isolation this holiday season. Save yourself some money. For about $50, you can get two games that will have tons of replayability, the entire family will enjoy, and you might actually have a smarter child in the end.

For the record, we run the online board game store, Best Dang Games. Our sales pattern has shown that Blokus hits at #8, and Settlers of Catan hits at #10. But, we offer a strategy game bundle that includes Settlers of Catan, and it is ranked #2.

Get Settlers of Catan or Blokus.

December 17, 2008 at 8:50 am Leave a comment

Blokus – The Abstract Board Game Surprised Us

We had our first game night at Infusion Tea, in College Park, in Orlando. There were three of us, plus a guy we hope will come back as a fellow gamer. He saw our sign on the door and thought he would see what we were doing.

So, it was my friends Pam and Gary, along with me. We tried a game that was new to all of us – the abstract board game, Blokus.

I wanted to try it because everyone gives this game high marks, and this was the game I gave the owners to try out. The e-mail I received back from them was “We Love Blokus!”. So, now I was curious.

This is a very unassuming game. It is a gray plastic board with each player getting a set of 21 colored tile pieces that are similar to what you would see in the game Tetris. There are four seperate colors.

The goal of the game is to place as many of your pieces as possible. The player with the least amount of pieces in the end is the winner. Sounds like a no brainer, right…

That’s what we thought. We all said “That’s it? There has to be more.” Well, the catch is that when you place your piece, it can only touch a corner of your other pieces – not a side.

About half-way through the game, it gets evil. By that time, everyone is spreading into each other’s territory and you are losing valuable real estate pretty quickly. A wrong placement will mess you up for the rest of the game – as will larger tiles.

We found that playing into the angles seemed to work really well. I tried a pattern that looked like “fingers” but it did not work so well. I had five pieces left over and both Pam and Gary went out and tied with no pieces left.

This game is ADDICTING! Watch OUT! We played two games and were prepared for a third, but wanted to get a solid game of Ticket To Ride: Nordic Countries in.

At one point in the evening, one of us actually said “Oh, I get it! Block Us! The name makes perfect sense. What a great name.”

We did not play the special Three-Player variant. This gets even more tough. It adds a fourth player that each player makes moves for. So, not only does it take up more real estate on the board, but it also allows the other players to work against each other with one extra set of colors they are playing tug-of-war with. There are several other variants as well.

If you like abstract types of games that really make you think, we highly reccomend this one. As I stated in the title, we were greatly surprised by the addictivness of this game – and part of it is because it is quick to play.

If you have kids that are of about 7-10 years old or know someone looking for something to strain the brain muscles – look no further than this game. It is going to be a perfect board game gift for the holidays.

September 9, 2008 at 10:00 pm Leave a comment


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