The bathroom scales protest as you hop on. The neighbours have mistaken your empty beer cans and wine bottles for the local recycling centre. And then there’s that novel or Hollywood screenplay, which isn’t going to write itself…
New Year’s Resolutions. Some of us love them – or rather, the idea of what they represent. New year, a chance to start a new lifestyle or philosophy. To others, they’re a bane. They’ve gone out the window by January 12th. But putting aside general resolutions, what about those of a board gaming nature? What do the Zatu bloggers have lined up for their board game resolutions? And, will they stick to them?
Jim Cohen – 2021: The Year Of The Open-Minded Jim
In 2021 I resolve to be open to more opportunities. I started my collection trying to get the best game from each mechanic. What’s the best party game? Great, get Decrypto. Which family game would be best for me? Okay, get Bunny Kingdom (and many more)! You get the idea. But I didn’t branch out and look to more niche areas or mechanisms I thought didn’t suit me.
At first, I dismissed word games, because I didn’t think I liked them. I’m not that good at them, which doesn’t help! I see the value in Bananagrams, but I’m terrible at it. As such, I didn’t explore many more. But then I tried Master Word, and had my mind changed, completely. It’s a brilliant game and doesn’t require me to be a genius with a Stephen Fry-like vocabulary! I’ve enjoyed it so much with my family. It’s more like a detective game than Boggle.
So, what other genres have I dismissed? What else should I grant a second look? Pick-up-and-deliver and roll-and-move are two mechanisms that don’t immediately inspire me. Terror Below almost did this for me with its brilliant theme, but not quite. What other gems are out there that I have not yet tried due to my mechanical stubbornness? Horrified and Istanbul are two I’d like to try from this area…
I’ve decided 2021 is going to be a year of open-mindedness for me. I want to try every game, no matter the mechanism or game style. Who cares if it’s from a huge publisher that I love? Or from a designer I admire? I want to try every game! Here’s to a great 2021 for you all. Happy gaming, y’all!
Tora Leslie – Entering The Exit Series
2020 has been a unique year for everyone in ways we could never have imagined. In among my own fears, anxiety and distress, I experienced a surprising, positive, life-changing experience. I became a board gamer.
Like Nemo, I’ve been splashing around in the enormous, exciting sea of games. That includes: playing, watching, streaming, absorbing, reviewing, writing about them, since spring! Now at the end of this year, my small (but growing) collection now contains a wide range of mechanisms! Abstract puzzles, deck-builders, drafting, dice-rollers. Pick-up-and-deliver, real-time, racers, roll and writes, tile-layers, and worker placement! It’s a real A to Z of playing styles to match my omni-gamer personality.
But, when I look closer, my shelves reveal one particularly huge, empty, dark void. I don’t play co-operative games. Now, I own Pandemic – a great one at that, so the entire world informs me! Alas, I haven’t played it. It’s sat there, forlorn, waiting for its moment to shine. Meanwhile, I’ve scurried past it in favour of direct competitive games every… single… day.
I’d like to say this tabletop epiphany came about by my own embarrassment outweighing my power to resist! But no. Our very own benevolent Zatu Secret Santa saw the error of my ways. They gave me an opportunity to make amends and do better in 2021. I’m now the lucky owner of Exit: The Cemetery of the Knight and do you know what? I cannot wait!
An escape room type party game that I can play with my family, safe at home? How exciting! Even more fantastic is that the Exit series from Kosmos is now so big, we could play one every month of 2021! I don’t have a great track record for sticking to my pledges. But this is one new year’s resolution which I am not going to break!
Tom Harrod – The Lament Of ÜberGeek
I am ÜberGeek. StatMan. CardboardBoy. I am the (corona-)masked vigilante that roams game rooms, silhouetted against the moon. I pose like Rodin’s The Thinker, as I face my Kallax unit. I run my fingertip along my collection of board game box spines. My neck’s craned, almost to 90°, as I tilt to read the titles. I murmur to myself, harnessing the spirit of Panini Premier League football stickers, circa 1995. Instead of, “Got; got; need,” a different sort of eidetic memory escapes my lips.
“Played. Played. Not played…” I don’t need to check my logged plays of 2020. I know. In my heart, I know the games know, too. Some of the titles on these shelves haven’t seen table action this calendar year. For some, nor the year before that. I close my eyes for a wistful moment. Upon opening, I see the character art of Klemens Franz and Michael Menzel staring back at me. These are not bad games. Far from it. That’s not why they feel abandoned. Instead, it’s me.
Every hero has a flaw. It’s why we love them and urge them to defeat their demons. My flaw? It’s one that other gamers might feel, too. It’s making time to love your older games, in equal measure to the new ones that burst in through the door. I wrench my eyes back to the base game of Ticket To Ride, unplayed since 2018. “This #shelfie deserves a better class of gamer,” I vow. “And I’m gonna give it to ’em.”
I ball one fist, the whites of my knuckles reflecting off the sheen of shrinkwrap. And at that moment, I know what I must do. For I am ÜberGeek. This is my board game collection. And no more shall any game get left behind.
Kirsty Hewitt – The Roll/Flip & Write Rabbit Hole
My New Year’s board game resolution is to check out and play more roll/flip and write games. Roll/flip and write games were not on my radar until a few months ago. I tend to not be too much of a fan of ‘luck’ in my board games, and thought this would be too much of a factor.
However, I decided to buy my mum Railroad Ink as a present, as an interesting game to play with my brother. Because Railroad Ink works remotely, my husband and I took a couple of boards home so we could play, too. Since that time, I’ve played several games with my family. But I’ve also had the opportunity to play with several wonderful Zatu bloggers via video call and had great fun. I love the way that everyone plays at the same time. It’s also interesting to see how different all the boards can be with the same dice!
Then I got introduced to Troyes Dice: a wonderful, crunchy roll and write. This further cemented my enjoyment of this genre. It has some very interesting chaining mechanisms. There are also many different ways to make points, which is very satisfying.
Finally, a recent purchase was Patchwork Doodle. I bought this to play over video call with my family over the Christmas period. My husband and I thought we would give it a ‘test run’ before playing it with my family. We thought it would be solid, but it surprised us a lot how much we enjoyed it! It has quite a Tetris-y, fun feel.
This genre has opened my eyes in recent months. As a result, it’d be a missed opportunity not to explore more roll/flip and write games!
Callum Price – Flyin’ Solo Is A Go-Go
I’ve never understood the ‘New Year, New Me’ mentality. After so many new yous, that’s borderline identify fraud, right? Luckily, my New Years (gamer) resolution is simple: play more solo games. If this year has been a lesson to me, it’s to be comfortable in one’s own company. Not an easy feat, and not something I myself find easy, but a necessity and a valuable skill.
I’ve got two reasons for wanting to try more solo games. (I’m sure they’ll apply to anyone who’s used to regular group sessions!) The first is simple: it’s for the fix. The feel of playing a game. Of achieving something, of having one’s brain challenged with some lateral thinking. I know it’s a small thing, and feeling challenged (tactically) is achievable in many ways. But hey, board games are our passion!
The automata programmed within games are often designed to scale to your preferred difficulty. What’s more is how similar they often run to the games, themselves. They hit the spot to a tee, and keep within their thematic and mechanical constraints. Wingspan; Pandemic; Cthulhu Death May Die. These all play beautiful solo and they don’t dilute the fun.
The other reason is for the missed experience. Seems weird to think that these games I’ve loved and enjoyed have fun pools I’ve not managed to tap into, but it’s true. As much as they hit the spot fulfilling the group session’s void, at solo they offer a different angle. The difficulty scale isn’t always up and down, it’s sometimes a need to take a new approach. Tiny Epic Dinosaurs is a good example. The four different ‘bots’ force you to adapt and take on different defensive/offensive approaches. And it’s not easy! The Poacher, for example, takes your own efforts and steals them!
I’ll be trying more solo gaming experiences this year, and I hope it broadens my gaming horizons further. After all, if you can’t get a game to the table at a group game night, you can always go solo!
Rob Wright – No more ‘thou-shalt-nots’
The presents sit unwrapped and (and some already broken). You’ve consumed snacks in vast quantities. That hangover that’s been threatening to arrive since March looks like it is finally here. Time to make some unreasonable demands on this already-beleaguered body!
You could do that. But let’s face it, 2020 hardly played fair. In my book, all bets are off when it comes to the old ‘thou-shalt-nots’. Why don’t we focus on some ‘thou shalts’, instead? More positive for the old noggin (which has taken a proper pounding this year, I can tell you)!
Chances are my first resolution is among everyone else’s resolution, too. Get out and play with friends more. Not even friends – I’ll happily take on strangers with vague interest, too! I’ll stick to some minimal-shared contact games to start with. So no 7 Wonders, but seeing how much I love deck builders, that could work…
My second resolution is to help build a robust local gaming community. It’s time to have a gaming society in Shipley. I’ve made some in-roads, via social media and some games nights/days at various places. If we can get a permanent base, I could even move some of my games into a shared library! Share the joy, and all that.
My third resolution is to try something new. I’ve always been a bit wary of ‘Legacy’ games. I’m now reaching the point where I’m looking at my games collection and thinking: “That needs a trim.” So is it time? Dare I consider dropping some serious notes on a game that’s a ‘one-and-done’? And if so, which one? Watch this space…
Regardless of what you resolve, stay kind to yourselves. There’s a resolution that we can all share. 2020 was tough – may 2021 see better times ahead!