Tabletop Game and Accessibility Review: Avenue

Tabletop Review: Avenue with a cartoon castle in the background and a blue sky

The Basics:

Avenue is a quick pen-and-paper game where each player draws directional lines on their 6×7 grid, connecting green and purple grapes to farms and castles. It was published in 2016 by Aporta Games, and was designed by Eilif Svensson and Kristian Amundsen Østby. It’s for ages eight and up, supports one to ten players, and has an average game time of 15 minutes.

Rules:

At the start, a random farm card is picked and revealed to all players; there are six farms designated A through F. One player then flips over route cards depicting one of six different lines you can draw on your grid. After the fourth yellow card is shown (direction cards have gray or yellow backgrounds), the round ends, and you score based on how many grapes connect to the specified farm. You continue this for five rounds, then tally up your points and add bonuses for similarly-colored grapes connecting to the green and pink castles. The highest score wins! … Read more…

LARPing While Disabled: My First Impression

LARPing while Disabled. Two Storm Troopers, one in a wheelchair being pushed by the other

It’s been a few weeks since I attended Dreamation, a tabletop and LARP convention in New Jersey. I’m more of a board gamer, and my only experience with RPGs has been online. I play-tested a LARP about disability at a previous convention, but beyond that, I’ve yet to break into the hobby. My boyfriend Michael is into LARP, so I decided to go out of my comfort zone and play a full game. At the least, I would get blog material; the worst outcome would be me spiraling into anxiety mode and quitting. I ended up playing two LARPs that weekend, taking away a new understanding of myself and the space I inhabit as a disabled woman at a convention.

The hotel hosting the event was ADA compliant, with elevators, smooth flooring, automatic doors, table seating near the bar, and spacious rooms. The folks running Dreamation also had a disability liaison on hand (the amazing Elsa), and attentive staff aware of potential access needs. Because organizers give attention to safety and accessibility, a lot of disabled people attend; not just physically disabled, but mentally and chronically ill gamers were in abundance. So I knew if I had a problem in-or-out of the game, Dreamation’s staff would support me and find a solution. Other conventions should follow this pattern for disabled attendees. … Read more…

Six Board Game Accessibility Fails, and How to Hack Them: Part Two

Board Game Accessibility Fails and How to Hack Them: Part Two, background is a close up of wood tokens and dice

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!

Component Heavy with picture of trains in ticket to rideComponent Heavy

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…

Six Board Game Accessibility Fails, and How to Hack Them: Part One

Six Board Game Accessibility Fails, and How To Hack Them: Part One

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…

The Geeky Gimp’s Best of 2016

The Geeky Gimp's Best of 2016. Image of Erin overlayed with fireworks.

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

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 MoonAvailable on Steam. … Read more…

Easy Roller Dice Co. – Tabletop Review

Easy Roller Dice Co. Product Review. Below text are three d20 dice, blue, purple swirl, and sparkly pink

shiny blue dice with varying side counts d10, d20, etc 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.

Inside dice bags, aerial shot, black exteriors and blue, purple, red satin interiorsAppearance 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…

Tabletop Game Review #9 – Mining Maniac

CoverMany 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!

Overview:

Game: Mining Maniac

Designer: Andrea Tsang

Artists: Chung Fong and Vincent Tang

Publisher and Date: X-Axis Production, 2014

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…

Tabletop Game Review #8 – Pleasant Dreams

Pleasant Dreams box artHave 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!

Overview:

Game: Pleasant Dreams

Designer/Artist: Aerjen Tamminga / Wayne Dorrington

Publisher & Date: Aerjen Games, 2014

Players: 1 to 2

You’ll like this if you like: Press-your-luck games with a twisted, dark theme … Read more…

Tabletop Game Review #7 – Ghost Stories

Ghost Stories CoverLast 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…

Tabletop Game Review #6 – Mint Tin Aliens, Mint Tin Pirates

Click to enlarge.

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.

Read more…