In Eight Games different board gamers share the eight games they’d select in eight different situations. The links are given to Board Game Geek listings for you to find out more. This month Sarah Atherton shares her eight games.
Sarah is a board game enthusiast and runs Get Your Game On Ltd (GYGOL) – a retailer based in Palmers Green, North London. She set up the small business in October 2020 and sells online at www.get-your-game-on.com and at Sunday markets and events across North London.
Many of her customers are families with children of different ages and she sells a lot of quick-to-play games which younger children will find easy to learn, but which will keep older kids and grown-ups interested too. Sarah also sell to local board game enthusiasts, many of whom return to the stall each month offering recommendations and reviews.
What’s GYGOL about? The belief that board-games are for everyone. There can be an elitism about board gaming which Sarah thinks is unnecessary. Anyone can learn to play a good board game and there is a board game out there for any person of any age! Sarah says, “The best part of my job is meeting customers and finding the right game for each person or group to play.”
1: A game to play on an aeroplane:
Tiny tables and turbulence.
I have very fond memories of playing this game with my mum when I was little and thinking how grown up and clever I was to play a game called ‘Mastermind’! It’s nothing to do with the television programme but is iconic to the 1970s (like the image of Dave Allen sitting on a stool with a whisky in his hand or watching a dance routine from Pan’s People on TOTP).
Mastermind is a fast, simple strategy game for two players where players take turns setting secret codes with coloured pegs and then solving the codes by using deductive reasoning and logic. It comes in a small portable case; the pegs secure into the base of the game and I reckon if there is any turbulence on the plane it’s quick and easy to snap shut the case and not unsettle the game!
2: A game to play in a pub:
Murky lighting and plenty of noise
I love this drawing game from London based board game company ‘Big Potato’. It’s a party game but doesn’t require anyone to leap out their seats and will suit introverts and extroverts alike. Essentially it is a combination of Pictionary and Chinese Whispers. Each player has a handy whiteboard and pen and takes a set of words from a card and then attempts to draw a picture to express the words (e.g. Darth Vader in his day job).
They then pass their picture to the player to their left who then writes down what they think the picture depicts and passes their written solution to the next person who draws a picture of these words and so on and so on. At the end of the round all whiteboards are revealed including pictures and words to see what the original set of words have become. It’s actually better to be a bit crap at drawing as this is where the confusion and silliness occur! The guess for my drawing of DV at his day job (as a cashier in a supermarket) was ‘death taking out the trash’ which really sums up my artistic ability!
3: A game to play with a large group:
A captive audience for something big.
Who’s the Dude?
This silly game is easy to learn and breaks down barriers quickly. Basically, it’s like charades with someone else to help you! Players take turns to act out an action or a phrase from a card with the help of the dude (a moustached inflatable man who might be based on the Dude from the Big Lebowski film but actually looks like someone from the 118 ads!).
You and the dude can play guitar or roller-skate or be a paramedic or a limbo dancer. Physical and funny, I guarantee that Who’s the Dude will get the most reluctant member of the group on their feet and giggling.
4: A game to play with four players from four different generations:
Fun for everyone from 4 to 104.
This game involves catapults and goblins! Come on, what’s not to like?
On the count of three, all players catapult their goblins towards the castle hoping they land in a room full of diamonds or coins or knock off another player’s defences. It’s easy to learn, it’s quick to play, the castle and catapults will remind older players of toys from their childhoods and when the parents pause to put the kettle on and the older kids want a bit of space, the younger kids (and the grandparents) will continue playing this or their own made-up version of the game on the carpet for ages!
5: A game to play outdoors:
Wind, rain and seagulls won’t stop play.
We demo this quick-play dice rolling game on the stall as it’s easy to set up and quick to put away should the heavens open. Throw the tiles down randomly on a table (or on the grass or the sand), roll two dice which depict each symbol that appears on the tiles. When you see the symbols on the dice on a tile, quickly tap the tile with your cobra paw (i.e., your finger!) and the tile is yours. Simples!
If you want something more physical… then Molkky – a Finnish version of skittles where players have to reduce their score from 50 to exactly 0 during the game or go back and start again – is also a great game to play outdoors.
6: A game to play in a library:
There are so many fantastic games which you can play on your own in a quiet corner these days it’s hard to know which to choose!
I think Cat Stax by Brainwright (in which you try and fit various numbers of cats in layers on to grids on small cards) can be easily hidden on a shelf in your local library. You can also pick it up and have a go each time you visit without needing to remember where you were the last time you played it.
7: A game to play with someone who claims to hate board games:
Can you convert a non-believer?
Playing a never-ending game of Monopoly or endless rounds of memory card games when your kids are small can send the most patient person running for the hills when someone suggests playing a board game!
Despite his battle scars from playing Operation with me when we first started dating and repeatedly winning (not a great evening), my husband Alex has recently re-discovered the joys of board gaming. Although, he rarely wants to play anything with lots of rules and components such as Everdell or Terraforming Mars, he often fancies playing a small box game particularly those with cards.
His favourite right now is pick and pass card game Sushi Go! by Gamewright and I think it ticks a lot of boxes for those with a fear of never-ending and complicated board games. It’s easy to learn, requires a bit of strategy and memory but not so much that your brain hurts; it plays over three rounds so there are opportunities to do better each turn; picking and passing encourages concentration and quick decision making and the sushi drawings are fun without being too cute or childish!
8: A game to play with one other player:
A cosy game for two .
Oh, the joy of the two-player game and the uninterrupted time to play it. I book in games evenings at my friend Celine’s pad so I can pretend I have all the time in the world and no dishes to do.
Both only children, we are really patient with each other and takes turns in explaining the gameplay so no stress there but we also don’t have to pretend that we don’t mind losing! There are lots of cliches about only children that don’t hold much water but it is my suspicion that most onlys are not great losers in the board game arena…even when they are old enough to know better! We settle this by playing enough rounds of a competitive game to ensure that we both end the evening smiling!
Current fave? Plotalot by Moonstone Games. An allotment themed card drafting game, Gemma Newsome’s first game combines beautiful artwork, pleasantly paced game-play and enough strategy and sabotage opportunities to engage and entertain. I’m also shouting out here about escape room games such as the EXIT range by Kosmos Games. For one to four players, I think two is the magic number when you want to play one of these – take it in turns to read out and try and solve the clues, bounce ideas off each other, enjoy the clever twists and turns designers Inka and Markus Brand have fiendishly thought up and choose whether to play against the clock or come back to it another day.