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Celebrate World Kindness Day With Board Games

world kindness day
world kindness day

Giving A Little Can Mean A Lot

November 13th - World Kindness Day. A movement set up in 1998, it encourages acts of kindness and just plain being nice to each other, something we all need a little more of. It strives to highlight good deeds in the community focusing on the positive power and the common thread of kindness for good which binds us. They state that “kindness is a fundamental part of the human condition which bridges the divides of race, religion, politics, gender and location” and what brings people together more than board gaming! However, in competitive board games there are so many negative interactions with other players, whether stealing resources, occupying worker placement spaces or even hate drafting. Since the popularisation of co-op games it can be easily forgotten how cut throat the tabletop can sometimes be, and so it felt fitting to explore those games that decide to give rather than take. So here are my top ten positive interactions for a more civilized experience.

10) Catan - KOSMOS

An oldie but a goody, Settlers of Catan (now just ‘Catan’) came along in 1995 and has become a household name. Although looked down on by some board gamers because of its huge amount of luck with the dice rolls, it is loved by many all over the world and is still one of the leading gateway games for many into the hobby. You roll dice in order to get resources in order to build in order to get more resources and so on. The dice rolls can be brutal but in order to mitigate this luck, designer Klaus Teuber, adds a trading mechanism. On your turn you can ask the other players to trade with you. For example, “would anyone give me a wood for a stone”. The game encourages you to negotiate and find a deal which suits you both. This kind of trading mechanism can get quite mean with some players but you are rewarded by being generous in your trades so that others will be generous to you when you need it the most.

9) Fantastic Factories - Metafactory Games

Joseph Chen and Justin Faulkner’s tableaux building game is all about dice placement to build factories for the most points. In the game you gain resources, metal and power, in order to place cards in front of you offering more and more dice placement spots as the game goes on. In each market phase you may pick a factory blueprint card for free or you can hire a contractor by spending a card of a matching suit. It is with these contractors that come the main interactions. Contractors offer you a one off bonus such as extra dice or resources. Some will offer both you and your opponents these one-off bonuses. The Electrician for example might give you five power and everyone else two. Or the Architect will give you two blueprint cards and everyone else gets one. Nice little gifts that can, if they come at the right time, really change your turn plan.

8) 7 Wonders - Repos Productions

2010’s iconic drafting game is all about collecting cards to build the best civilization over three eras. Part of the game is selecting what you might need but you also need to be aware of what cards others are going to need in case you want to ‘hate draft’. So far not so nice. There is also a battle phase where you compare your military power to the players directly on either side of you. Higher power wins bonus points where the losers lose them. However, there is a great mechanism built within the resources element of the game. Across the top of your player board you will be adding cards that give you building materials such as brick, iron or cloth. These will be what you need to build more expensive cards later in the game. If you need a resource at any time, you can pay your neighbour to have access to one of theirs. With both of you benefiting from the transaction it’s always a nice surprise when someone drops some coins on your board when they’ve bought something from your market.

7) Everdell - Starling Games

2018’s woodland hit is all about creating a thriving city of cute woodland creatures and their businesses - editors note, this sounds perfect for world kindness day. In front of you, you will create a tableau of upto 15 cards representing your ever expanding city. You will have critter cards and building cards that you will collect by spending the resources your little wooden meeples collect as you place them around the Ever-Tree. Known for its adorable artwork from Andrew Bosley and the impressive cardboard tree structure that dominates the table, it is of no surprise that there are ways in which to help out a neighbour. As well as the worker placement spaces on the board, you will be able to add more in your tableau using specific cards. You can always visit cards in your city but if a card happens to have an ‘open’ sign on it, then anyone can visit it by simply giving the owner a coin/point. Afterall it would be pretty isolating if you couldn’t pop over to the next town to buy a bag of sugar!

6) Wingspan - Stonemairer Games

Elizabeth Hargrave’s mohemath game about birds is a pretty solitary experience on the face of it. You get food tokens to attract birds onto your player board and build your engine so as each turn goes by you can get more food to get more birds. It is a great game of board management and the main interactions come from the tension of who is going to get ‘that’ bird from the market row or who is going to score the most that round. However scattered through are wonderful little moments of positive interactions that enable you to give someone to your fellow ornithologists. Some bird powers enable you to give resources to other players, some even allow them to pick first if you want. Some allow everyone to collect a new bird card from the deck. These nice little surprises sometimes come at the best time and really help boost your next turn. You know what they say, “birds of a feather…” something something.

5) Root - Leder Games

Root is an incredibly aggressive wargame (what better way to celebrate world kindness day) based around factions of adorable looking woodland creatures. Cole Wehrle’s smash hit is as far from friendly as you can get, however, buried in amongst the bloodshed is a character who’s entire gameplay is about gifting and building friendships. The Vagabond will move around the woodland gifting other players cards in order to get a crafted item otherwise useless to them. This allows them to move players up their alliance track gaining more points each time they trade. At some point the Vagabond might well stab you in the back (player dependent) but until then, a card for a useless token sounds pretty good to me.

4) Brass Lancashire\Birmingham - Roxley Games

Brass, (whether Lancashire or Birmingham), is a big old euro game based during the industrial revolution in the UK. As you gain resources, you expand your network in order to build throughout the middle of England, gaining more resources to keep on expanding. It can sometimes feel like a brutally tight game where industry spaces are highly sought after and resources are tough to come by. However, there is a great mechanism to encourage sharing of resources. As you build by placing tiles on the board, they often come with resources on them that are completely free for you to use. But if they are used by other players (they must have a network connected to them first) then once your tile is empty it gets flipped in order to score points. So there's this great satisfaction of watching others use your coal or iron because you know that once it’s gone, you get to clock in a load of victory points.

3) The Gallerist - Eagle Gryphon Games

When people think of Vitel Lacerda, they don’t normally think of lots of interaction. Most of his games revolve around worker placement so there is always a tension over who will take the spaces you might need or the resources you want. However, generally you continue to work towards your own personal goals in your own personal way,while your brain hurts in the best possible way. 2015’s The Gallerist takes these base mechanisms and levels them up with a really interesting addition. You will be traveling around four main areas to discover artists, buying and selling art, and gaining points as you make the art you have more popular. However when someone else uses the space you are at you can do a smaller bonus action. In such a heavy and tight euro where actions are scarce, these bonuses are always a welcome treat.

2) Flamecraft - Cardboard Alchemy

The newest on the list, Manny Vega’s worker/dragon placement game is as cute as it gets. You move dragons around the town, from shop to shop, gaining resources in order to cast enchantments to gain reputation/victory points. At any point you have between six and twelve areas/shops to visit. However if you see another player at the shop you are visiting you give them a gift (a resource of your choice) as you enter. This idea of payment if you are not the first player to visit a site is not unique. However the thematic choice to make it a gift rather than a penalty is the cherry on the already joyous cake.

1) Fort - Leder Games

This deck building game from Grant Rodiek is already oozing with charm as you build your group of friends in order to eat pizza and build forts. Each turn you decide which friends you are going to play with and which ones have the chance of being poached by another player. Once you have played your gang, dictated by their suit, the rest of the players get a chance to get in on the fun. By declaring that they are ‘following the leader’, they can play a card from their hand in order to use the active player’s action. This can be a really powerful move when played at the right time but really when the leader asks if anyone ‘wants to join in’ it’s just a lovely thematic moment that takes you right back to being a kid.

That concludes our list of games to play to celebrate World Kindness Day. Is there any we missed? Let us know your thoughts and tag us on social media @zatugames. What will you be doing/ playing to celebrate world kindness day?