November Writing Challenge Day 19: Party Games

I’m blogging every day this month. Some will be game-related, but this challenge is different than my most recent play-a-game-and-blog-about-it challenge. I’m writing a single post every day: no topic guidelines, with some posts being a collection of random thoughts. Click here to read yesterday’s post.

I love me a good party game. At last night’s gaming event, I played two of my favorites: Just One and Blank Slate. Both are easy to learn and both are not easy to win. Just One is a cooperative game that gives you a ranking based on how many cards out of 13 you answer correctly. Our group last night did well and scored 9. I always play our one house rule, which is that there is no passing when it’s your turn to guess. If you answer incorrectly, you still lose two cards.

For me, the “let’s pass so we don’t lose another card” goes against the spirit of the game. What’s the point of everyone writing down clues if the guesser is just going to pass? I’d rather have them take a stab in the dark and risk losing two cards than playing it safe and losing only one card.

Blank Slate is another word game that’s been well received with my main gaming group and everyone I’ve played it with. The last two Mondays it’s hit the table with a lot of new and casual gamers.

For a competitive word game, Blank Slate is outstanding. It’s easy to learn and it’s perfect for a casual game night. Game play is simultaneous so there’s not much wasted time: reveal a card, which has a word and a blank, then everybody secretly writes a word to fill in the blank. For example, the clue may be “salt [blank].” See the photo above for what I wrote.

After all players have written an answer, they all reveal them. If your answer matches with exactly one person, then you each get three points. If your answer matches with two or more people, all the matching players get one point each. If nobody matches you, then you get zero points. The first player to collect 25 points is the winner.

I love the Dixit-style scoring in Blank Slate. It creates this fun dynamic of trying to be original in your answers, but not so original or obscure that nobody matches with you.

Games usually take 20 minutes to play and it’s also an excellent icebreaker. The group I played it with last night are new-ish gamers and they absolutely loved it. One of them messaged me tonight to say that one of their friends went out and bought it today!

Nothing makes me happier than hearing someone bought a great game. Whether they decide to dive deep into the hobby or not, we’ll see. But it’s always nice to see them take that first step.

The Day in Gaming, September 23, 2019: Star Trek Panic

I’m posting about a game every day in September! Here’s a link to yesterday’s post.

My dad introduced me to the original Star Trek series when I was a kid and I’d catch reruns whenever they were on Channel 13 in L.A., igniting my love of sci-fi that still exists today. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I was watching a series about a better tomorrow; a future full of wonder and hope, with technology being a part of how humanity solved (and caused) its problems.

It’s this glimpse into the future that still appeals to me. You can have your orcs and goblins in those decaying dungeons; gimme light-speed journeys to different worlds and epic space battles any day of the week, plus twice on Sunday.

Thematically, Star Trek Panic hits on all of the right notes for me. It’s a re-theme of Castle Panic (an early favorite of mine when I got into the hobby) and based on the original Star Trek, which is what I grew up with. And while the game is more space battle than anything the TV show ever got into, it’s still nice to see all of the call-backs to that original series.

Since Star Trek Panic is a cooperative game, it’s easy to solo. But it’s not an easy game, unlike the original Castle Panic. I reviewed it for Geek & Sundry so check out that link for more detailed info. I loved how they ratcheted up the difficulty in this version of the game. Here, you’ll have to complete missions in addition to clearing the bag full of baddies. It’s all tied wonderfully into the original series, with missions like The Trouble With Tribbles and Space Seed.

Tonight I solo-ed a game playing Sulu and Kirk. My only complaint about the game is that for this weight (gateway/gateway plus), the game is about 30 minutes too long (a full game usually takes 90 minutes). So I decided to see if I could beat two random missions, which I did in about 45 minutes.

Or maybe I didn’t. It’d been awhile since I’d played and I realized I missed a few rules while I was playing. I was already halfway into the game and didn’t want to start over so I decided to just put an asterisk if I managed to win. I failed my first mission, but recovered to complete the next two, as Sulu’s move-twice-per-turn ability came in handy and worked well with Kirk’s play-a-mission-card-and-draw-two-more ability.

The Enterprise took a lot of damage (as it always does in this game) and I won* tonight, despite (thanks to?) a few rules mistakes. Until my next game I’ll enjoy the win*, live long, and prosper.