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!

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.

 

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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Harry Potter Hogwarts Battle

From the box: “Play as your favorite characters and defend the wizarding world from evil forces. Enhance your abilities as you build your deck with over 140 cards. Seven successive game adventures offer increasing difficulty as you battle Villains and unlock new abilities, secrets and challenges. Also included are four HOGWARTS house dice, game board, over 50 chip pieces, and sorting cards to keep everything organized.”

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Hey, Wanna Play?

Let’s face it, board games don’t have the best rep. Many folks think back to childhood, only to remember awkwardness or – even worse – frustration, anger, and flipped tables. Monopoly seems to be a regular complaint. But modern board games are different! How do you convince your friends to come and enjoy a terrific night out?

Theme

One excellent way to bring in a new gamer is to tie in a current interest. Does your friend like sewing or quilting? How about Patchwork – a two-player game where players pay for Tetris-like quilt pieces with buttons, then use them to create the best 7×7 square.  

Forbidden Island

Maybe your friend is an adventure seeker; try Forbidden Island – a cooperative game where players race to collect four archeological treasures before the cursed island sinks beneath them. This board game can be pulse pounding as you turn the cards that determine which parts of the island sink each turn.

And who doesn’t like Sushi? Sushi Go Party is a card passing game where each player tries to create the best menu. The rules are so simple, they’re printed on each card. It has an added benefit of some of the most adorable Japanese style artwork we’ve ever seen on a game.

These days, there is a board game for just about anything. Stock market? Check. Zombies? Check. Gem traders? Amusement ParksVirus Outbreaks? Mystery? The Wizard of Oz? Trivia? Space Aliens? Making fun of gaming nerds? Check and double-check. In addition, many popular games offer ‘themed’ versions – Cthulhu Fluxx, Star Wars Catan, or Alien Clue. Somewhere there’s a board game that will interest your friend.

Simple Rules, with Humor

New gamers are often confused and overwhelmed by the sheer number of pieces and complexity of modern games. So keep it as simple as possible.

5 Minute Dungeon

For example, 5 Minute Dungeon has five decks of cards (one for each player) and five monsters to defeat. Defeat the monsters by matching up symbols on your cards with the symbols on the monster card. The hardest part about this cooperative game is that it’s on a five minute timer. But at least you can assure your friend that each round only takes five minutes!

Apples to Apples, the racier Love 2 Hate, and the extremely racy Cards Against Humanity all work on the same simple premise – one person lays down a card and everyone else picks a card that matches (or doesn’t, which can be even more fun). I say potato, you say vodka. Everybody laughs and we move to the next round.

Codenames is a set of 25 words, of which your team’s spymaster is trying to get you to guess nine. But the spymaster can only give a single word as a clue. There used to be an old game show called Password that worked similarly. Simple rules, but this game is challenging, engrossing, and rewarding.

Let Them Play

So you managed to get your friend to come out and play. Now what? Let them play. It’s very easy for an experienced board gamer to see possible outcomes of any given decision. Remember the fun you had figuring out a game for the first time? Bottle that and let your friend figure it out for themselves. There is no greater buzzkill than having someone else play your moves for you. No matter how silly the decision, let your friend make it!

Don’t Play to Win

I used to think there were two kinds of gamers out there – those who play to win and those who play to enjoy. Now I know that the same person can play both ways. So play to enjoy. Your friend is just learning. Chat about their choices, poke some gentle fun at game-changing moves, but don’t decimate them. You can even play open-handed (with cards visible on the table) to help the learning experience. Be cool and play for fun the first time; the next game will be the one that “counts.”

Keep Them Coming

Finally, listen to your friend. Every game is not for every player. If they don’t like a particular game, find out why and suggest something else. Be willing to play the games that they like, rather than your favorite all the time. Who knows? Eventually they may appreciate more complexity and realism in a game and ask for something more complex. You’ll never know if you don’t start small.

Bring a friend to the next Decks, Dice, and Meeples event; we’ll help you pick out a game or two that might suit.

 

5 Minute Dungeon

From the box: “Will you make it out alive? Test your wits in a battle to the end with 5-Minute Dungeon! In this chaotic real-time card game, players use quick thinking to combat monsters, overcome obstacles and escape dungeons – all within 5 minutes! With the clock ticking, it’s up to you and your team to battle together in pursuit of victory or perish alone.”

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Sushi Go Party

From the box: “Sushi Go Party!, an expanded version of the best-selling card game Sushi Go!, is a party platter of mega maki, super sashimi, and endless edamame. You still earn points by picking winning sushi combos, but now you can customise each game by choosing à la carte from a menu of more than twenty delectable dishes. What’s more, up to eight players can join in on the sushi-feast. Let the good times roll!”

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Splendor

From the box: “As a wealthy Renaissance merchant, acquire mines and transportation, hire artisans and woo the nobility. Create the most fantastic jewelry to become the best-known merchant of them all! Acquire precious stones to trade them for development cards. Use development cards to acquire more gem stones. Use your gems and gold to create the most fantastic jewelry, and appeal to the nobles to gain the prestige you need to win.” Continue reading “Splendor”

Red Dragon Inn

From the box: “You and your adventuring companions have spent all day slogging through the Dungeon, killing monsters and taking their stuff. Now you’re back in town, healed up, cleaned up, and ready to party at the Red Dragon Inn. Drink, gamble, and roughhouse with your friends. But don’t forget to keep an eye on your Gold. If you run out, you’ll have to spend the night in the stables. Oh. and try not to get too beaten up or too drunk. If you black out, your friends will continue the party without you. after they loot your body for Gold of course!  The last conscious adventurer with Gold wins the game!  Take on the role of one of four heroic fantasy adventurers — Dierdre, Fiona, Gerki, or Zot — and enjoy an evening at the Red Dragon Inn!”

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