In part one of this series, I covered the inaccessibility of hidden information, dexterity mechanics, and real-time games. Below are three more game mechanics and styles that prohibit me (and other disabled folks) from enjoying board games to their fullest. As always, please share your thoughts in the comments, or send a tweet to @geekygimp!
The Problem: While component-heavy games could be appealing, especially when it comes to miniatures, they present an access barrier. Some games require different tokens to track a plethora of stats, points, and movements; add in multiple card decks and 20 robot miniatures, and you’re inundated with cardboard and plastic. I have trouble extending my arms, and my table space is limited, making it hard to keep all the components separate and organized. For someone with shaky hands, stackable tokens and exact component placement render many component-heavy games difficult or entirely inaccessible. … Read more…
I’ve always needed help playing board games, as I don’t have the range-of-motion, strength, or dexterity to do it on my own. There are actions I can do, like roll dice or pick up a card, and others I can’t, like shuffling or reaching to move pieces across the board. Gaming has always been an act of interdependence, much like all my activities of daily living, and something I’ve adapted to over the years with personal hacks.
House rules and small-scale solutions can work, but what if these adjustments were baked into the game? Thoughtful and inclusive design doesn’t just mean more disabled people can play, but it can improve the quality of the game for everyone.
In this two-part series, I point out six access barriers I’ve encountered in tabletop gaming and offer potential solutions that can work right out of the box. These access issues are from my perspective as a physically disabled individual, and the hacks below may not apply or work for everyone, but I hope my words can be a resource and starting point for designers and players alike. … Read more…
While 2016 has been a difficult year for many, I want to reflect on my favorite things that helped me get through the hardest days. Our joy and entertainment, our binge-watching Netflix or slipping away for a few hours with a good book, will aid us now and in the coming years. I hope you enjoy my Best of 2016 list – in the comments below, let me know what you think of my choices, and what’s on your best-of list!
Best video game: Stardew Valley by Chucklefish
By far my most-played game this year, clocking in at 129 hours and counting. You leave a dull office job and travel to Stardew Valley, a small, struggling community with a farm you’ve just inherited from your grandfather. By growing, harvesting, and selling crops, as well as caring for livestock, you earn enough money to expand your farm and help rebuild the derelict community center. You can also go fishing and mining to level up your character. The game never punishes you too much, and there are no time limits for the overall goals; this eliminates the boring grind of most farming sims. Despite all the hours put in, I feel like I’ve just scratched the surface. Pick this up if you liked Harvest Moon! Available on Steam. … Read more…
Imagine dice rolling across the table, landing on a number that seals the fate of your latest in-game decision – how does that moment make you feel? For me, it’s this inspired burst of energy and excitement – the same visceral reaction when I crack open a new book. Dice not only remind me of good times with friends, but they bring out my creative side with all their possibilities. With just a few d20s, I could design a game; add a pencil and paper, and I could imagine a whole world and its heroes.
My dice collection is fairly small, but I’m always on the lookout for pretty ones at game conventions. My five-year-old niece is getting into the hobby as well, which couldn’t make me happier. So of course I was delighted when Easy Roller Dice Co. offered to send me some products of my choosing to review. When I saw their clear-with-pink-sparkles set, I knew a kid who would love them.
Appearance alone, Easy Roller Dice Co. dice and bags are gorgeous. The dice all have a nice weight and shine, feeling like polished, cast acrylic. Each die is hand-inspected before shipment, and there were no blemishes or chips on any of them. The small dice bags have a black velvet exterior, and a vibrant satin interior that comes in four different colors: blue, purple, gold, and red. Each bag also has the logo sewn on a small tag, sturdy pull strings, and some sort of stiff fabric inside to hold their shape. My mom wants to steal them to store her jewelry, so they’re multi-purpose too!
The 7-piece dice sets include one each of the following: a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20, and a percentile 10-sided die. … Read more…
Many thanks to Andrea for sending me this to review. Her design is a unique game that is just revving up on Kickstarter, so check out my thoughts to see if this is something you want to pick up! As always, leave your comments below to let me know of any questions or concerns you may have. Enjoy!
Players: 2 to 4, but up to 6 with a future expansion
You’ll like this if you like:Harbour and other market manipulation games.
In Mining Maniac, players act as executive officers of their own mining companies. The object is to amass the most cash by the end of the year, sabotaging your competitors and dodging their attacks along the way. Choose from among your best workers to go out and mine for precious gems, coal, copper, and gold. You can sell the minerals at their current market price, or hold out until next month when they’ll be worth more money. But watch out for unexpected events like collapsed mines, taxes, labor strikes, market crashes, and landslides; these obstacles will hinder your progress and affect the profits of your company! … Read more…
Have you ever woken up from a horrible nightmare, covered in sweat, your heart beating out of your chest? Do you remember the frightening images that flashed before you, waking you from an otherwise peaceful slumber? Designer Aerjeen Tamminga created a game centered around this theme, and was kind enough to send me a copy for review. It’s one of the most unique games I’ve played, both in theme and mechanics. The fact that all the cards are tarot-sized certainly drew me in. But don’t let me spoil the review – read on to find out what I thought!
Last night, I started thinking about what I was trying to do with my reviews. The obvious is that I want to promote accessibility in gaming and center the marginalized voice of disability, but what else do I want to accomplish? As passionate as I am about challenging and changing assumptions about disability, that isn’t the sole reason why I write this blog. I also write to express myself, in hopes that you’ll express yourself too. I love geeking out with other people, and blogging helps me connect to other people through the stuff that we love. The Geeky Gimp has fostered new friendships, and is a constant source of positivity in my life – especially when I need it the most.
A huge part of that positivity has come from the board game community, and that is why I am writing this review now. I’ve been dealing with some heartbreak, and so many of you have inadvertently helped me by either making podcasts/videos/reviews to keep me distracted, or offering me a virtual shoulder to cry on. Because of your awesomeness, I am inspired to share with you one of my favorite games, aptly brought to me by last year’s BGG Secret Santa. I hope you see why I adore this game, and maybe you’ll pick a copy up for yourself. So I guess this is less of a critical review and more an unabashed squee fest. Either way, enjoy, and let me know what you think in the comments section. … Read more…
Like many board game reviewers, I have a twitter account for engaging with my followers and to keep tabs on what’s happening in the gaming community. One of my followers, David, posted about these new games he was creating that fit entirely in Altoid-like mint tins. I was intrigued, and found his obvious love of the hobby and enthusiasm refreshing. Over the course of a few months, we exchanged ideas, gave each other feedback on our respective projects, and grew to be friends. As the Kickstarter for David’s games revved up, he kindly sent me a copy of both Mint Tin Aliens and Mint Tin Pirates, knowing I would give an honest review of his games.
So here we are, a few days before his Kickstarter ends, and I’m finally ready to show you these (spoiler alert!) awesome games. I’m going to review each separately, since they both give you a completely different gaming experience. Also, many thanks to Ing for the fantastic piece of art he created just for this review! You can purchase a print of his work here.
During one of my daily BoardGameGeek website visits, I came across Paperback, a game by designer Tim Fowers. It was only on Kickstarter, with a few people receiving and playing prototypes. Advertised as a Scrabble-like deck builder, I knew I had to back it. I’ve been playing Scrabble with my family since I was a kid, and I figured this was something I could enjoy with my parents. About six months after the Kickstarter, I received Paperback in the mail. I had completely forgotten that I’d ordered it, so talk about a pleasant surprise! I managed to play two games of it since then, and you can read my thoughts in this review. Currently, the only way to buy this game is to find it on auctions, or pre-order the second printing. You can order it here (click me!), and I strongly encourage it if it seems like something you’d enjoy. Once pre-orders reach 500, the printing will proceed, and you will not be charged until that goal is reached. But I have no doubt it will happen.
Also, this is a special review because I am co-hosting/co-reviewing with Mr. Richard Ham of Rahdo Runs Through! I’m a huge fan of his videos, and I can’t believe I am getting the opportunity to collaborate with him. Thanks to Richard, my wallet has suffered from buying the games he features on his channel. I can’t say I mind, though my mom is a bit annoyed at the stacks of board games taking over the house. C’est la vie! There is a great interview at the end of this review, and once Richard posts his video and final thoughts, I will include them in this post. [Edit: the videos are now below!] Meanwhile, check out his run throughs on YouTube by clicking the link in this paragraph.
This review also will be different because I am trying out a slightly new format. Let me know which you like better in the comments – just check past tabletop reviews for comparison. I’m always trying to improve, so feel free to give constructive criticism 🙂 Now, on to the review! As always, click on the images to enlarge them.
Designer: Tim Fowers
Artist: Ryan Goldsberry
Publish Date: 2014
Players: 2 to 5 gamers, ages 8 and up
You’ll like this if you like: Scrabble, Dominion, Boggle … Read more…
This past Christmas, I participated in BoardGameGeek’s Secret Santa. It’s a pretty huge event, with over a thousand people signing up to send complete strangers brand-new board games. This was my first year giving it a go, and I could not have been happier with my experience. Not only did my Santa send me Forbidden Desert and Ghost Stories, two games that have been on my radar for a while, but they also sent the hard-to-find (at the time) Le Fantôme de l’Opéra. I’d heard about Fantôme when I read a preview of the new games premiering at Essen, and the theme alone sold me. Phantom of the Opera is kind of my guilty pleasure – I adore the musical, and even liked the Gerard Butler movie. My mom is a bigger fan than me, so I knew I had to get this game as soon as it came out. Thanks to my Secret Santa, though, I didn’t have to! If you’re reading this, Santa, you’re awesome. So what is this game all about? Did it live up to my expectations? Let’s find out.
Le Fantôme de l’Opéra
Publisher and Date: Hurrican, 2013
Designers: Bruno Cathala and Ludovic Maublanc
Ages: 9 and up
Length: 30 minutes BoardGameGeek Link: Le Fantôme de l’Opéra
You’ll like this if you like: Mr. Jack, Clue, or any strategic bluffing game