What to Expect at a DDM Game Night

You’re curious about game nights; you’d like to come and try it out – but you’re unsure what to expect and that makes you stay home. We know you’re out there and we want you to feel comfortable – no, excited! – about coming out to play some games and meet some game players.

Our Game Guides are our greatest assets. We have five of them, so one should be able to greet you at the door. We’ll take care of your ticket and show you the room. If we’re helping other folks, feel free to wander back to the stacks of games – we’ll greet you soon!

At any venue, there will be lots of noise and people playing; it’s not uncommon for new folks to wander around, look over shoulders, and ask to join a game. Really! We’re all here because we love to play board games, so jump in if a game is starting. If you’re a bit shy, don’t worry – our Game Guides will find you and get you a seat at a game as soon as one becomes available. You’ll be playing in no time at all.

Some general thoughts:

DO introduce yourself. Someone else hovering over your table is a bit creepy, no? So introduce yourself and express interest in the game being played. Nearly everyone will jump right on that to tell you about the game play, the rules, and how much they love this game.

DO ask for a specific game you’d like to play. Ask a Game Guide to setup a game when you first arrive. In fact, you can jump into the discussion on our Facebook event and ask for others who might be interested in playing a particular game. Setting up a table of players ahead of time make the best use of your time at the game night.

DON’T expect folks to seat you after a game has already started. If you’ve arrived in mid-game, that may mean some downtime before you get a chance to play. Use that time to your advantage – introduce yourself and watch a game (or two) that you’ve never played before. Who knows, you may find a new favorite!

DO leave your ultra-competitive self at home. We’re here to have fun, not to gloat over the mangled bones of our vanquished opponents.

DO be willing to try new games. We bring well over 100 titles and each has its own distinct theme, mechanics, and style of play. Playing old favorites is great but so is finding a new game that you just love. Our Game Guides have played every game we bring – ask for suggestions.

DON’T touch a game you’re not playing unless asked. Picking up someone else’s cards, dice, or meeples is a no-no. Watch and learn; if you’d like to touch, just ask.

DO be present for the people around the table. In between turns you can make conversation, get to know your fellow gamers, or order a coffee. Texting on your phone during a game takes your head out of the game space and spoils the fun for others.

DO be careful with food and games. There are no restrictions on what you can eat while playing, but try to keep messy sauces and grease away from cards and cardboard parts. We have wet-naps for this exact reason – just ask!

DON’T quit a game in the middle unless the whole table agrees. You may have decided, half way through, that this isn’t the game for you. Be a good sport and finish it off. Variety is the spice of life and the next game will likely go better.

DO expect your first run-through of a game to be a learning experience. Game rules can be vast, and even our experts may have forgotten some small tidbit. Look at the first half of the game as a chance to learn how it works, then study and play your strategy.

DO shower. We jest on this one, but yes we have been to game stores where hygiene is an issue. That is not Decks, Dice, and Meeples! Nerds, geeks, and game enthusiasts of all ages are welcome in a friendly atmosphere.

DO relax and have fun! Game night is not just about the cardboard and rules – it’s meeting new people in a fun context, getting into the spirit of friendly competition, and enjoying an evening out. You can do all of these with or without a win.

We love to see new faces at game nights, so check our Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter accounts for the next date!

Small World

From the box: “Small World is a zany, light-hearted civilization game in which 2-5 players vie for conquest and control of a board that is simply too small to accommodate them all. Picking the right combination of fantasy races and unique special powers, players must rush to expand their empires – often at the expense of weaker neighbors. Yet they must also know when to push their own over-extended civilization into decline and ride a new one to victory. Designed by Philippe Keyaerts, as the fantasy follow-up to his award-winning Vinci, Small World is inhabited by a cast of characters such as dwarves, wizards, amazons, giants, orcs and even humans; who use their troops to occupy territory and conquer adjacent lands in order to push the other races off the face of the earth. Small World marks the return of the Days of Wonder line of heavily-themed, big-box sized games featuring evocative illustrations, high-quality European components and a compelling, fun theme. ”

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Game Mechanics 101

At the onset of board games exploding into mainstream life, games were simple: roll the dice to move X number of spaces around a square board, then use a specific element to perform some action, like making a guess (Clue) or avoiding bombs (Stratego). Most classic games follow this pattern, whether it is Monopoly, Sorry!, or Candy Land. It took over half a century and some German ingenuity, but board games have finally developed to be more unique and complex. With the surplus of games released each year (thousands in the last 5 years) it is daunting to choose the style and theme that you enjoy most.

Enter the game mechanic. This fancy term refers to the methods used to drive the game. Most games today can be divided into categories such as: dice rolls, cards, and freestyle. While some of these driving factors can be controlled, others are decided by fate. So which type might suit you best?

Dice Rolls

Here we are talking about games where dice rolls help determine the outcome. For example, in Catan, you receive resources to progress your empire of settlements. If you receive no resources from dice rolls, you cannot grow your empire. These types of games rely on the player understanding probability of certain dice results, and also a bit of luck. Modern games use this probability/chance idea from classic games – but – add in multiple strategy components so players have more control over what result the dice rolls would provide. The boards are no longer square and players can move in almost any direction. Modern dice rolling games, while similar to classic games, have boards vastly different than their predecessors – helping to keep them fresh.

Cards

Dominion and Hogwarts Battle are two games that utilize cards to determine game flow, and often modern games using cards are ‘deck builders.’ As the name suggests, these are games where players use a central stack of cards to create unique decks for each player that change with each game. A board may sometimes accompany modern card-board games, but these boards serve to provide organization or as a variable board where players are not restrained to forever circling a rectangle. If you like games such as Rummy or Kings Corners, card-based games may be for you. Generally each turn you draw new cards from your unique deck, play what you can, and end by discarding unused cards to your discard pile and drawing a new hand.

Other modern card games, such as Exploding Kittens, Pit, and Fluxx, work differently. These games’ decks have special effects to draw, discard, win points, or play against opponents. These games do not have any board, but still provide a unique experience from traditional games such as Rummy or Poker because these modern card games do not have suits nor traditional numbers of 2 thru King/Ace.

Freestyle

Able to consist of elements of the above two types of games or function completely on its own by rules governing its own gameplay, freestyle games are versatile in what they offer. Examples of these are Codenames, the Forbidden Series, Splendor, and Tsuro. In these games, players decide how the game progresses without relying solely on dice rolls or card draws. In Codenames, players decide which words to guess on a randomized setup; in the Forbidden Series, players travel around a set of tiles to find items and keep the island or desert from beating them; in Splendor, players collect mines and buy gems granting additional abilities; in Tsuro, players literally build the board by laying pathways for their pieces to follow. Freestyle games break all conventions of traditional board games and allow players nearly unlimited control in how the game progresses. These are fun and can be easy or hard, complex or simple. If you want a game that is different than most you have played, freestyle games are the way to go.

With so many options of various game mechanics, deciding which type you would enjoy best is difficult. and you will only know which game type you like best. Game nights such as Decks, Dice, and Meeples’ can provide you with each of these types of games and some that are combinations of these types of games. Our Game Guides have played each and every game in a library of over 100 titles, and can recommend some choices. Come out to play and discover your gaming passion.

 

Santorini

 

 

From the box: “Build Like A Mortal – Win Like a God

Do you have what it takes to join the pantheon of winners? Build like a mortal and win like a God in the game of Santorini! Created by mathematician and educator Gordon Hamilton, this pure strategy game requires players to sharpen their wits! Everyone can gather around Santorini and face-off in a build-to-the-finish.”

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Terraforming Mars

From the box: “In the 2400s, mankind begins to terraform the planet Mars. Giant corporations, sponsored by the World Government on Earth, initiate huge projects to raise the temperature, the oxygen level, and the ocean coverage until the environment is habitable.

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Takenoko

From the box: “A long time ago at the Japanese Imperial court, the Chinese Emperor offered a giant panda bear as a symbol of peace to the Japanese Emperor. Since then, the Japanese Emperor has entrusted his court members (the players) with the difficult task of caring for the animal by tending to his bamboo garden.

In Takenoko, the players will cultivate land plots, irrigate them, and grow one of the three species of bamboo (Green, Yellow and Pink) with the help of the Imperial gardener to maintain this bamboo garden. They will have to bear with the immoderate hunger of this sacred animal for the juicy and tender bamboo. The player who manages his land plots best, growing the most bamboo while feeding the delicate appetite of the panda, will win the game.”

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Games for the Road

We’re a camping and picnicking family, and we like to pack a game or two in case things slow down. We’d much rather play a game when waiting in an unexpected line or at a restaurant; it keeps the noses out of the phones.

How do we pick a portable game? First, it needs to have a small footprint. After taking away the box and rulebooks, the remaining pieces need to fit neatly into a small space. This is especially important in the camper, where space is at a premium. Second, it needs to to play on almost any surface. We may find ourselves on a picnic table, but we’re also likely to be sitting on a beach blanket or around a neat sheet near the Washington Monument. Minatures and counter cubes are not right for that environment. Finally, it needs replay value. Games that can be played repeatedly and still be entertaining are key.

Here are some of our favorite traveling games:

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Tsuro

From the box: “Create your own journey with Tsuro, the Game of the Path. Place a tile and slide your stone along the path created, but take care. Other player’s paths can lead you in the wrong direction – or off the board entirely. Find your way wisely to succed. Stay the path – your journey begins here.”

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Kingdomino

From the box: “Players take on the role of Lords seeking new lands to expand their kingdom. As with ‘Dominoes’, these new lands must match the landscape tiles that have already been played. You need to create large areas of the same landscape type. But these will only score points if there is at least one crown on a tile. Points for each landscape type are calculated at the end of the game by multiplying these two together: so the number of squares times the number of crowns. Before this however, you’ll need to pay attention to your choice of tile, which decides the order of play for the following round. Taking a good tile now means you’ll play later next time. Each round presents the players with new important decisions as to which tile they should take.”

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Patchwork

From the box: “Two players compete to make the best quilt! In the past, it was a way to make use of leftover pieces of cloth to create clothing and quilts. Today, patchwork is a form of art, in which the designers use precious fabrics to create beautiful textiles. To create a beautiful quilt, however, requires effort and time, but the available patches just do not want to fit together. So choose your patches carefully and keep a healthy supply of buttons to not only finish your quilt, but to make it better and more beautiful than your opponent‘s.”

Dan says: “Patchwork is a nice little tile-laying game for two players.  In it you’re buying  and placing patches of various Tetris-like shapes onto your square tableau.  The play is ‘timed’ against a spiral board where your pawns move toward the center.  Each ‘patch’ has a potential button and ‘time’/movement cost, so picking which of 3 available patches to buy has to measure the cost against the gain, including its fit in your tableau and the buttons it can earn you.  Quick to pick up with lots of replay value, this game is a great 2-player game.”

Amazon: Patchwork