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Top 5 Games to Play Remotely

Remote Gaming Feature
Remote Gaming Feature

It’s game night, but you are all stuck inside! Each member of your gaming group with a different set of games on their shelf. So what do you do? Remote gaming!

Times like these call for games which you can play remotely and only need one copy.

Never fear, Zatu is here to give you some suggestions of games for just that situation. We have also written a separate article which gives you ideas for games to play remotely with more than one copy.

As well as being perfect for games night, remotely playing games can also help you be part of “Raise your Game” for Dementia UK which is running during the month of October. The aim is to raise money for specialist dementia nurses by playing board games.

Two of the Zatu bloggers are taking part in Raise your Game. They are completing 24-hour board gaming marathons (rather them than me!!). Nick T’s will be taking place on 2 October and Jim’s is on 10 October. Head to our blog post to find out about Nick's event click here or for Jim's event, click here.

Now, all I need to do is start a video chat and get ready to play one of these great games...

Just One - Nick T

Just One is a light co-operative party game where players will collectively strive for the best score possible. Players take it in turns to choose a number which corresponds to a word on a card. They then close their eyes and all other players write down a single word that will aid that person to guess the word on the card. Sounds easy, and it would be, but there is a but! Once all players have written down their word and before the guesser opens their eyes everyone compares their answers. Now here is the crux, any words that matches another will not be shown to the guesser. They will then have fewer options to deduce the correct word, on rare occasions possibly none!

This is where the game gains most of its enjoyment and gives players the biggest headache. Do you go for the obvious or something a bit more tenuous? If no one goes for the obvious option though, there is a chance they won’t be able to guess the word correctly, go too obscure and it could lead them astray on their hunt for the word.

If the guesser does deduce the word, the team gets a point, and the guesser moves on to the next person. After 13 cards you total your score and tally it with the end of game score sheet to see how you did.

I can’t think of any games that play better at a social distance or virtually. There is no need to send sheets of paper to people, no printing off sheets from the internet and no weird camera rig up to see a game board. One person will need a copy of the game, but anyone else who wants to play can literally get away with a pen and paper. Cards can be shown over video call or to players 2 metres away with ease. The one person not seeing the card closes their eyes of turns their phone over. There is no passing of components, no peering over a shared board and yet still plenty of laughs as you and your friends and family try to get the highest score you can! Just One really is an ideal game for these unusual times.

Welcome To - Jim Cohen

Welcome To from Blue Cocker Games is a brilliant flip and write game that I would recommend for any gamer. It works for any group due to its streamlined play that offers a nice level of strategy and choice whilst still being very simple to learn. Unlike a lot of roll/flip and writes, this game has a theme that make sense as you play the game. It’s not dropping in theme by any stretch of the imagination, but it does have one that ties in nicely with what you are trying to do, make the most appealing set of three streets.

It also works brilliant is ANY player count due to the simultaneous communal play, making Welcome To scale endlessly with no real change in rules of play time. There is also a brilliant free app that allows you to access all the different player boards. As such, if one person has a copy of the base game, they can play with multiple people online via video call very easily. The player with the game just needs to show which cards are being flipped each turn. Each player watching just needs to have the app open and ready on phone or tablet. It’s a really simple game to play and teach too, so no matter the group, you will be up and having fun, subject to buffering, within minutes!

Welcome To is an easy game to play. Flip three cards. Choose one of these as an action. Mark that action on your board. Then go again. There are multiple ways to score and you can never progress in all of them. You need to decide! Do you want to focus on your gardens or pools? Or perhaps aim for scoring more points for groups of houses. The game is so simple, but the choices are varied and satisfying, but never slow. As such, the game flows quickly and it’s a perfect game to try with friends and family via video calling apps.

Corinth - Joe Packham

Socially distanced gaming, who knew that was going to be a thing?

A lot of us got into board games as a way to spend quality time with our friends and loved ones but.... Covid! Thankfully, where there’s a will there’s a game. It’s still possible with socially distanced or even remote gaming, to enjoy board games with actual people, providing you have the right game. Corinth is one such game!

Corinth is a roll and write in which you play the part of an entrepreneurial trader in the ancient city. Each round 9 dice will be rolled and will fill the harbour board. Each pip value (1-6) making for different types of goods. Players then select a type of good and mark it off on their player sheets. The more dice in that section, i.e the more dice that rolled the same value, the more of that good you get to deliver. Certain goods can be used to build buildings which give you useful abilities.

The real meat on the bones of the game though is the market. You can, on any turn, use your dice to move your steward around the market. This is instead of taking the goods they represented. The market provides the perfect opportunity to use strategy to bring your plans to fruition. If used efficiently it offers serious points and the chance to gain those goods eluding you in the harbour.

The wonderful thing about Corinth is that if one person owns the game and controls the harbour set up, it’s possible to play with others over Zoom or Skype or similar. Anyone can print out player sheets from the Days of Wonder website. Then simply set up a camera facing the harbour board, share it on screen, et voila, get trading!

Camel Up (Second Edition) - Tom Harrod

Camel Up by eggertspiele is a superb suggestion for a game to play over video call for Raise Your Game. The original Camel Up won the Spiel des Jahres back in 2014. The 2018 Second Edition comes with some fun extra variants, including rogue camels!

Which camel will return victorious after one lap around the great pyramid? Camel Up is, after all, a day out at the races. Players don’t control an animal each; instead, they’re punters at the track. They’ll bet on which different-coloured camels they think will win – or lose! – the race. On a player’s turn, they either release a die from the pyramid shaker, place a tile that influences the race track terrain, or make a bet. All actions are achievable via instructing your intent over video call.

Of course, one player will own the game, and set it up. They’ll need to locate their camera so it faces the board in a manner so the other players can see it. Situated above the board, looking down, should work. On players’ turns, they can state which action they want. Because they can see the race track, this is no different to playing around an actual table! The one element they’ll miss is releasing a die – only the game owner will activate this, upon command. (If they’re anything like me, that’s always a fun, physical part of the game.) The result, though, is not related to the player’s piece – but a communal camel. This means the active player shouldn’t feel too detached from the action!

Due to the unpredictable and often-chaotic nature of Camel Up, playing over video call only heightens the hilarity. During the virtual UKGE this year, Zatu themselves hosted a game of Camel Up on Facebook live that you can catch over on YouTube. I tuned in and got hooked – and I wasn’t even playing! This strengthens my confidence that Camel Up should gallop to first place on your list of games you can play over video call.

Shobu - Kirsty Hewitt

In order to work over a video call, ideally a game should have no hidden information. This makes abstract strategy the perfect genre of game to play this way. My choice from this genre is Shobu.

In Shobu, a player wins when they push all of their opponents stones off of any one board. This sounds simple but there is a level of complexity to the game. Each turn a player has to make two moves. A passive move where they can move a stone up to two spaces in any direction on one of their home boards. An active move where they have to repeat the movement of the passive move on one of the boards of the opposite colour.

The main difference between the moves is that you cannot push an opponent's stone on a passive move but you can on your active move. This leads to some very interesting gameplay decisions as players try to set themselves up for the knockout blow.

One of the reasons why the game works so well over video call is the simplicity of set up. You simply need to place one board of each colour either side of the central rope and line up the stones either side of each board. As long as the remote player can see all four boards they have everything they need. As the rules are quite specific on what moves can be made on what boards it is easy for a player to indicate what stone they want to move on what board. You could even label the rows and columns if you wanted to make it easier!

Shobu is a great abstract strategy game and perfect to play over video call. The only issue is whether you will be able to play just one game!