Board Games That Your Senior Parents Will Love

Board games are a great way to spend time with your senior parents. The best board games allow you to enjoy quality time and strengthen bonds with those who mean the most to you! We’re big believers in board games being a great way to connect to other people, and that includes the people who raised us.

Growing older can be challenging, and as seniors age, they may feel like their life is passing them by. But you can help them feel differently by spending some time with them and teaching them a few games they can play with you or on their own.

In our family, board games were actually introduced to us by our parents. Maybe some of their favorites can also be board games that your senior parents will also love!

Why are Board Games Good for Seniors?

It might take older adults a little more effort before they “get” a game, but activities like board games are actually good for them.

We all know staying physically and emotionally well is important, but staying mentally sharp is just as necessary. Especially if your parents are retired like ours are. They should still have something to challenge and stretch their mind. It will help prevent forgetfulness and memory loss.

Plus, board games also help with social interaction. The best board games foster conversations and strengthen relationships among players. For older adults, it can help relieve feelings of loneliness which they can sometimes feel as they grow older.

Tips for Playing Board Games With Your Parents

We’ll be honest with you: it can be challenging to get some people into board games, especially if they’ve never really been into it before. We’ve heard all sorts of reasons:

  • Games are for kids.
  • It’s a waste of time.
  • Those games are too complicated for me, or, I’m too old to understand.
  • Do I get anything out of playing that game?

(And these aren’t just from older adults, either!)

Here’s a tip: try to catch them while in a good mood and when they’re not doing anything too engrossing or important. Tell them you just want to spend time with them! If they assume you’re after something (since you’re making lambing), crack a joke and launch into a sales pitch for the game you want to play with them. It never hurts to try!

Also, if your parents are new to board games, please don’t pick a game like Scythe 😅 save that for the future! Ideally, the games you start with should be short and sweet! A game with a playing time of about 20 minutes is a great opener. It will help your elderly parent stay focused on what they’re doing instead of losing interest after too long.

A game with simpler mechanics will also be easier to teach. This is for both of you! You could feel frustrated after repeating a rule to them for the tenth time. But they also feel frustration and embarrassment if they can’t seem to grasp something that’s “simple” to you.

Our Favorite Board Games to Play with Our Parents

Before anything else: this is a very subjective list. It’s in no way a complete, exhaustive list of the best board games for seniors! But these are games we’ve played with our parents to great effect, or ones that they enjoy playing on their own, too.

These are roughly ordered from easier to more complicated, but YMMV!

Gemblo

It’s hard to get simpler than a competitive Tetris game like Gemblo. Everyone picks a color and receives a few Tetris-style pieces. The goal of the game is to fit all the pieces of your own color onto the board. The one with the least leftovers wins the game! But just like Tetris, it can get quite hairy soon enough!

Coloretto

Coloretto 10th Anniversary Edition: #2 in our best board games for seniors list (Photo by yoppy)
The Coloretto 10th Anniversary Edition is pretty but the standard version works perfectly too (Photo by yoppy)

This is such a treat to play! Coloretto is a simple game with a light footprint. The game is easy to explain and fast-paced–once you understand it, you can play another round easily. It’s a great introduction into the set collection mechanic, as well!

Tsuro

Don't get pushed out of the map in Tsuro (Photo by Louis Oliveira)
Don’t get pushed out of the map in Tsuro (Photo by Louis Oliveira)

Tsuro can be your parents’ gateway game. It’s a beautiful and simple game that can go by very quickly. This tile-laying game is on of the best board games for seniors since it’s easy to teach and works for almost any number of players: perfect for the whole family to enjoy. Puzzle lovers will love this game of connecting lines, and while it can start out slow, things can get a little tense when the board gets more crowded.

Mint Works

Mint Works is one of our favorite board games for parents (Photo by Angela)
One of our favorite board games for parents is Mint Works (Photo by Angela)

This is one of our favorite small, lightweight games to have around. Mint Works is simple and straightforward, and a great introduction to the worker placement game mechanic. And who doesn’t love mints? In this game, players use mint tokens to build up their factory with plans and get the most points.

Potion Explosion

Potion Explosion is for lovers of Candy Crush
Potion Explosion is for lovers of Candy Crush

If your parents love Candy Crush, Bejeweled, and other matching games on their phone–they’re going to love Potion Explosion. It’s super easy to teach, and the feel of the marbles and the gameplay is so satisfying. It’s always an instant win for many newbies to board games.

Love Letter

One of our favorite board games to play with our parents is Love Letter (Photo by Angela)
One of our favorite board games to play with our parents is Love Letter (Photo by Angela)

Love Letter is one of the most popular sixteen-card games available. There are so many different flavors that it’s easy to pick one that speaks to your fandom (and hopefully your parents’ interests, too!). It’s a great bluffing and deduction game for everyone. But do note that there can be a bit of a curve for new players because of the cards and abilities they need to keep track of. Larger families would need a different edition like Love Letter Premium.

Splendor

Splendor is a great game for all ages, even seniors (Photo by David Goehring)
Splendor is a great game for all ages, even seniors (Photo by David Goehring)

Everybody loves Splendor. The feel of those chips in your hand is pretty iconic ;) but thankfully, it’s a simple enough game that is easy to teach to new players. Players are merchants who compete to amass the most prestige points through buying gems, mines, and other things on the board.

Hive

You might want to introduce them to Hive, a beautiful two-player game. It’s one of the best board games for seniors who are into chess! There’s pretty much no setup, and the goal is to surround the other player’s queen. It’s addictive and engrossing and a great refresh of a classic game.

Hardback

Hardback is a modern take on Scrabble and is a great throwback board game for seniors (Photo by Angela)
Hardback is a modern take on Scrabble and is a great throwback board game for seniors (Photo by Angela)

Another great refresh of a classic game, Hardback is like a souped-up Scrabble game mixed with a deck-builder. You create words from the letters in your hand, and buy more useful letters to fill your deck and make better words in the future. It can get fairly strategic and complicated, but it’s easy to start them off with a simpler mode before unleashing the full game.

Folded Wishes

Home-grown Folded Wishes is a great game to introduce to your parents (Photo by Angela)
Home-grown Folded Wishes is a great game to introduce to your parents (Photo by Angela)

Admittedly, Folded Wishes is one of the more complicated games on this list. But this is a real treat to play with–perhaps after going through some of the simpler games above! It’s a beautiful pattern building and tile-laying game based on beautiful origami that our parents enjoyed in one afternoon at a coffee shop! Plus, it’s home-grown: made by our very own Ronald Villaver!

And we’ve got one more special mention for our list of best board games for seniors:

Azul

Everyone’s into redecorating their homes these days, that this just has to be in this list. Are you or your parents into the Home Buddies craze too? Azul should definitely be in your list. The tile components are pretty, feel great in your hand, and the gameplay is simple (but can be quite tense and competitive!).

And of course, you might want to also check out our five top gateway games for more ideas, too!

Board Games are For All Ages

There are some great games out there that your parents may fall in love with. It only takes a little time, effort, and creativity to find the perfect game for their interests.

The most important thing is that you make sure they enjoy themselves and have a great time!

Do you have some suggestions for great board games that anyone’s senior parents might love? Share it with us in the comments below, or over at our Facebook Page or Instagram!

Sleeping Gods review – the perfect high seas adventure

Very soon, a game we backed in 2019 will be coming out on retail: the exploration-oriented solo/cooperative campaign board game Sleeping Gods from Red Raven Games, designed by Ryan Laukat. We received our Kickstarter copy two weeks ago and have been playing it a lot since then! In this Sleeping Gods review, we’ll go through a brief summary of the game mechanics, components, and our separate points of view on the game.

Getting ready to continue our second campaign in the middle of this Sleeping Gods review
Getting ready to continue our second campaign in the middle of this Sleeping Gods review

In Sleeping Gods, you can travel the Wandering Sea as Captain Sofi Odessa, on board the steamship Manticore. You and up to three friends battle monsters, find treasure, and look for a way to get back home to 1920s New York. Traveling through an atlas of the world and going through the rich stories in a storybook, it’s a narrative exploration game, with lots of replayability and richness.

We are big fans of Ryan Laukat, and have really enjoyed discovering his different games over the years and seeing how his art and his game design have developed and matured over time.

Such big fans, that even though we were in a Kickstarter fatigue phase at the time, we backed Sleeping Gods almost immediately. Almost, because we needed to bring up the budget for it ;)

Sleeping Gods play through summary

One of the good things included in the Sleeping Gods base game is a great Quick Start guide and walkthrough, which eases you into the game and mechanics through a storyline you read through and play alongside with.

The Quick Start booklet is a fun, interesting way to ease into the game as a new player
The Quick Start booklet is a fun, interesting way to ease into the game as a new player. Reminds us of old-school walkthroughs for video RPGs!

But in a nutshell, each player’s turn is split into three parts:

Part 1: Ship Action

Like a worker placement game, the active player gets to choose a room in the Manticore to work in: are they going to fish for resources on the Deck, get healed up in the Sick Bay, rest up in the Galley, etc.

Think about it as the necessary “admin work” of running a ship.

The Sleeping Gods ship board lets you choose a ship action at the start of your turn
The Sleeping Gods ship board lets you choose a ship action at the start of your turn. But if a ship room is fully damaged (with two damage tokens, as in the Bridge above), you can’t use that room!

Through the ship action, players can get two important commodities (among other things): command tokens and ability cards. Command tokens lets you order your crew about, and ability cards helps you do better at tasks.

Part 2: Event

The active player then takes the topmost card from an event deck, which results in something that happens to the ship and the crew that you need to address. Events can be mild (annoying to beneficial events), perilous, and deadly (oh no!), but the game starts you out with mild events first (thankfully).

Most of the time, you can resolve these events with some tests from you and your crew. In a test, you simply pick up a card from the ability deck, which also serves as a kind of randomizer or dice roll for success. Each card has a “fate number” on the top left; if you get a total higher than what the test requires, you win.

Sleeping Gods ability cards: each card has a "fate number", a skill type connected to it, and possibly extra bonuses when equipped
Sleeping Gods ability cards: each card has a “fate number” (4, 1, and 3), a skill type connected to it (i.e. Savvy, above), and possibly extra bonuses when equipped, such as Triage, Bandage, and Inspire.

While you can do a straight up test, singling out one or more of your crew to participate in a test raises your chance of succeeding. Some of your crew are great at Strength tests, while some can be more Cunning or Perceptive, so assigning them to focus on a test can add to the “fate” number you have received.

PERCEPTION 5 test example in Sleeping Gods
For a “PERCEPTION 5” test, the active player must reach a total of 5 fate to succeed.

For example, in the above photo, if the active player drew a 3 on the ability deck and didn’t have any crew participate, they would have failed. However, if Mac is participating, and she has a PERCEPTION skill as well as a PERCEPTION ability card equipped, that would bring their total to 5. Audrey, only having one PERCEPTION skill, wouldn’t have made the cut–and she’s exhausted as well, so she can’t participate.

Unfortunately, such focused activity results in your participating crew to be Fatigued (hence needing to rest in the Galley, for example).

Part 3: Player Actions

These player actions flesh out your actual exploration of this world. Players can choose to do two of the following actions (repeats allowed):

  1. using the Manticore to travel to another region in the Wandering Sea;
  2. exploring a nearby point of interest, such as a town, a volcano, a glimmering thing under the ocean;
  3. head into a port, if there is one nearby, to rest, heal up, repair, and do other things;
  4. go to market, if there is one nearby; and
  5. just build up camaraderie and command by taking an extra command token.

That’s it! Pretty simple, isn’t it?

Combat!

Just like in all fantasy worlds, there are monsters to vanquish in the high seas. While exploring, you might come across some not-very-nice denizens of the Wandering Sea. They need a little forceful negotiation, one would say.

Combat can be among any number of monsters coming from a numbered monster deck, as instructed by the storybook.

Defeating monsters is not just about whether you can hit them or if your damage is enough, but also making sure that you’re hitting the right part of the monster. If you hit all the critical parts on him, he is defeated. You’ll need to work cooperatively with the rest of your party to maximize your turns and synergy.

Can you defeat the Mythan Brute in Sleeping Gods?
Can you defeat the Mythan Brute in Sleeping Gods?

The Mythan Brute above has three critical points: the head, body, and legs, symbolized by a heart. Hit every part with a heart, and you defeat them.

But what if you can’t bring him down in one hit? Do you stick to the hearts because it brings you closer to defeating him, or do you play it safe and hack away at his arm, so that he won’t damage you as much when he inevitably counterattacks?

The Narrative

When you explore the settlements and different places in the Wandering Sea, you’ll be reading out of a storybook. Similar to Above & Below or Near & Far, two other Ryan Laukat games, you’ll come across tests, combat, riddles, and decision points that you’ll have to choose from between advancing further in the story.

Will you help a poor old man? What about the village, will you save them or defeat the monsters instead? Will you chastise your disgruntled crew member or leave them be?

Through these choices, and whether you succeed or fail, you can collect Quest cards and Adventure cards. The former can tell you where to go next; the latter can help you along the journey.

Quest and adventure cards in Sleeping Gods can show you the way and help you too.
Quest and adventure cards in Sleeping Gods can show you the way and help you too.

Whatever choice you make, many of them have far-reaching consequences. A man you help here might double-cross you later, a throwaway tip there might actually mean a lot more than you thought a few turns down the line.

Scoring

Of course it’s not just if you reach the end, but how rich your live has been getting there ;) Your final score depends on how many quests you’ve been on, the adventures you’ve had, and how much your crew and cargo has grown while under your command.

Our first major haul in Sleeping Gods!
Our first major haul in Sleeping Gods!

It also matters if you’ve been defeated in battle, or if you’re running Brutal mode (when you are defeated, it’s game over; normally, you can just carry on though with a game time penalty). It matters if you reach the end of your journey, wherever that has taken you.

Sleeping Gods components

What we received as part of our Kickstarter pledge is close to what the retail version will be. The only difference, as far as I am aware, are:

  • the plastic Manticore miniature ship is pre-painted in the Kickstarter version;
  • we received a set of metal coins for free (sold separately during retail);
  • the custom wooden resource tokens are an addon (also sold separately)

The rest should stay the same.

There were many extras during the Kickstarter campaign that we were not able to back, namely:

  • a soundtrack by Malorie Laukat
  • Mac’s Journal, a beautiful lore book (which she does carry around in-game!)
  • a neoprene battle mat
  • a metal Manticore mini

We may pick them up at a later date, if our budget allows. ;) but you won’t need them to enjoy the game. (Dan picked some ambiance music from Youtube instead.)

As for the rest of the Sleeping Gods components for this review, we’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Captain Sofi Odessa and her trusty steamship The Manticore. (Painted mini only available in the Kickstarter edition; retail will not be pre-painted.)
Captain Sofi Odessa and her trusty steamship The Manticore.
The good doctor Gregory Little hails from Los Angeles.
The good doctor Gregory Little hails from Los Angeles.
The Manticore journeys around the Wandering Sea, searching for a way home.
The Manticore journeys around the Wandering Sea, searching for a way home.
Our own personal journal to log our travels. The included journey log sheets are great, but of course I needed to make a notebook out of ours ;) Included maps are from great folks over at BoardGameGeek
Our own personal journal to log our travels. The included journey log sheets are great, but of course I needed to make a notebook out of ours ;) Included maps are from great folks over at BoardGameGeek (source).
A few resources cluttering our cargo hold. We need more food.
A few resources cluttering our cargo hold. We need more food.
Component boxes/organizers made by yours truly as well. With a lot of trial and error.
Component boxes/organizers made by yours truly as well. With a lot of trial and error.
These monsters came out of nowhere and beat up poor Rafael.
These monsters came out of nowhere and beat up poor Rafael.

What we could have wished for

If there is anything we could have wished for in terms of components, it’s to get more durable options, such as magnetic boxes for everything (not just the Quest/Adventure box), and even a campaign notebook instead of a pad of journey logs.

That said, having more premium components and storage would surely bring the price of this game up higher. While we think it would be worth the expense for this game, we also totally understand the need to keep it at a more affordable level. The components we received and expect from the retail version is already of great quality as-is.

Our personal journey log replaces our journey log sheet, and contains map notes for multiple campaigns, space for notes per game, a history of our scores, and a save game sheet we write in with a pencil.

And after all, upgrading your own game after purchasing is always possible, like the campaign notebook we made ourselves, and organizers are easy to DIY (or I’m pretty sure there will be some available commercially at some point).

Her POV

I am unabashedly a Ryan Laukat fan. I already had fairly high expectations from the game, and I was worried at the start if it would be as good as I hoped. Well… Sleeping Gods blew away my expectations. From the moment we’ve received the game, every session has been riveting for the both of us. The hours fly by, we forget to eat, we forget to sleep.

You know those whimsical and punch-you-in-the-gut moments when you’re playing an RPG video game or reading a book? They’re here. I cried at the first ending we encountered, while Dan was reading the ending. I cried at the second ending, this time with me reading it to him. I’m pretty sure I won’t cry at every ending, but it could be close.

You’re given a great glimpse of your crew’s backstory (very important!), and you build them up as the game progresses. But the beauty of the whole storyline is in the stories you make along the way. How your crew bonded together. Our shameful laughter over having that one scapegoat and receiver of all the bad luck (our Gary/Jerry/Larry, if you will) in the crew. How amazing nail-biting moments happen, how agonizing decisions must be made. While necessary, packing up the game was difficult: we wanted to play some more!

Saving our game in our DIY journey log notebook
Saving our game in our DIY journey log notebook

The mechanics are solid, and at first it was so cool trying to pinpoint which Ryan Laukat game the mechanic first surfaced. But sooner rather than later, the mechanic became so well integrated in the game that we never really thought of them anymore. We just played.

His POV

Just to get it out of the way: TL;DR I FREAKING LOVE THIS GAME! (cough) If you’re still interested in reading this biased Sleeping Gods review (which I will spend just gushing about this game), then strap in.

First off, just like most of Ryan Laukat’s games, the world is its main selling point. The way the mechanics work to accommodate the setting; the art (which is always gorgeous) that represents the world; and the well crafted narrative that helps build the world; they all combine into a living, breathing world.

I am more a fan of tabletop roleplaying games in general. But I often forgot that we were playing a board game at times. The board games I normally play may have a solid theme, but at the end of the day, I am in it for the game mechanics. But Sleeping Gods is so immersive that the mechanics almost take a back seat. They’re no pushover, but it’s just so perfectly balanced.

The mechanics are spot-on: resources can be scarce, and you'll try to hoard them when you can
The mechanics are spot-on: resources can be scarce, and you’ll try to hoard them when you can

Another thing that comes to mind when playing this game: it feels like those old Choose Your Own Adventure books that I used to consume when I was a kid. Develop it a little more, and you’ll have this game. This time, you are actually more involved in the story and not just simply reading through it.

I think this is the best game in Ryan Laukat’s portfolio. It feels like all the best things in his other games are perfectly distilled in this gem. Sleeping Gods is the perfect spiritual successor for the style of storytelling from Near and Far/Above and Below. It evokes the same curiosity that I had with the setting for The Ancient World.

Sleeping Gods review verdict

We were swept up into the stories in this world from the very first session we played. The mechanics were fluid and, once we had them down pat, didn’t get in the way of the narrative. The difficult choices we had to make were less about “winning” but about what the story compelled us to do.

Given all this, we feel that this is one of the best narrative board games out right now. It’s a beautiful blend of guided story-building and puzzle-crunching.

If you’re a board game and TRPG player like us, this is a must have. It blends the best parts of both mediums. If you’re more camp TRPG or camp board game, this game is still a great introduction to the other side of the spectrum of tabletop games.

There’s something here for everyone. You won’t regret your purchase if you do pick it up when it comes out on retail soon!

Also check out

If you liked Sleeping Gods, also check out the following games:

  • Arkham Horror: The Card Game, for a deck-building narrative game
  • T.I.M.E. Stories, for more storytelling adventures
  • Mansions of Madness, for a rich narrative campaign game

And then there were two

It’s been a hot minute! We know, it’s been a while since we’ve written on our blog. You know that feeling when you keep saying “no, really, I’ll do it next week” but it keeps going on and on? And you end up saying, “it’s been so long, what’s one more week” or “it’s been so long, it’s embarrassing” and many other reasons.

Yep, that’s us.

Still, we’ve got something worth writing home about.

We’ve finally opened our international shop!

Yes, that’s right, we’ve started sending our loot overseas.

When this year started, we planned to get the international shop open this year. And then the pandemic happened, and things became a lot more challenging.

Not just on the overseas shipping part, but everything. We’re not out of the woods yet–knock on wood–but we decided to push through with the shop launch anyway.

What this means for the Philippine shop

Does this mean that the Philippine shop is going away?

Not at all. Philippine orders should still be coursed through the Philippine shop. There are also some items that we cannot ship overseas, like our perfumes and the Seedcraft Pencils. These will remain in our Philippine shop only, and you won’t find them in the international one.

This involves a bit of juggling on our end, and careful managing of two separate inventories. But we’re optimistic things will work out just fine ;)

Across the borders

We’ve placed our bestsellers on the international shop, like our character notebooks and drinkware lines. We’ll continue to add our items to the international shop over the next few weeks, time permitting.

The best thing is that we’re offering free (almost) worldwide shipping for all purchases over $200! Further places like South America and Africa get free shipping for orders above $300.

We(Angela) are super big fans of free shipping thresholds and (ab)use them a lot, so we(Angela) were pretty stubborn about having something like this available. Group orders are the best.

Someday in the future we’d love to be able to warehouse our loot somewhere close to everyone, but until that time comes, we’ll be here lovingly packing your goodies by hand.

And fin

We’ll share a little more about recent developments next week. But for now, let us leave you with a few teasers on what’s been going on:

See you again next week (maybe??)!

Food Chain Island review – eat your way to the top

Button Shy Games is releasing Food Chain Island on May 26 on Kickstarter, a 17-card solo puzzle game! In this Food Chain Island review, we’ll go through a brief summary of the game mechanics, components, and our separate points of view on the game.

Disclaimer: We offer Button Shy Games’ games for local purchase in our online shop. While we promise to be honest in our assessment of the games we review, do take this into consideration as you go through our review.

We own a couple of Button Shy Games ourselves. The games they’ve published have always been fun, relaxing puzzles in a fantastically small package. They called for Print & Play reviewers, and we answered as fast as we could!

In Food Chain Island, you control the local wildlife in a small island in an unnamed ocean. You tell the animals what to eat, with the goal of having only one animal left at the end of the game. (That’s proooobably not very good for the island environment, but it’s a very small island, see? Only one recliner and margarita available.)

Food Chain Island play through summary

There are 17 cards in total in this solo game. There are 15 land animals, ranging from a Plant that Eats Nothing, to a Polar Bear that Eats the Lion, the Gator, and the Tiger. There’s also a Shark and a Whale to help nudge the land animals’ eating habits along.

In the basic game, you set out the land animal cards on a 4×4 grid in random sequence, face up. The two water animals are set aside where you can see and reach them easily.

On each of your turns, you move one of the land animals to “eat” another land animal. You do this by placing their card over the eaten animal’s card (therefore forming a stack under the eating animal).

In most cases, animals can only move one space orthogonally, so they can only eat those next to them.

The bat goes in for the kill…

Each card is also numbered according to their level in the food chain. They can eat animals up to three below them in the food chain.

Who can eat who?

In the image above, you can have the Gator (13) eat either the Lynx (10) or the Tiger (12). They can’t eat the Lion (14) because it’s higher in the food chain; the Rat (6) is also too far below the food chain. It’s not going to be enough to feed this hungry Gator!

In addition, when you move an animal to eat another animal, you also activate their ability listed in the bottom of their card. These special effects start out quite helpful in the early game. You’re still generally working through the lower end of the food chain, after all. But as you go up the food chain, it gets progressively more difficult.

Once you can no longer eat another animal based on your current grid, the game ends. If you’re left with just one animal, you’ve won the game! In most cases, this would be the Polar Bear; but there are card abilities that allow you to remove any card from the play area, so YMMV.

What do I do now? :(

Food Chain Island components

As we tested a Print & Play version of the game that was sent to us, we can’t really comment on the final game quality once it’s released after the Kickstarter. But we do have personal history with Button Shy Games’ Wallet line; and we can see the art on the P&P files we were sent. Because of this, we do have some assumptions of how the game will turn out.

The card art is beautiful. It’s whimsical and colorful, but also relaxing and charming. Each card is numbered to help with the eating rules, which is also reiterated helpfully on each card. (Shown here is a screenshot from the P&P file; we only had ivory cardstock on hand when we made our P&P, so the color is slightly tinted!)

The Wallet line which this game will be part of contains similar card games; all of them are housed in a beautiful plastic “wallet” that allows you to bring them around everywhere you go. Each card is also linen finished, beautiful and durable. I’m showing the Tussie Mussie and Sprawlopolis games below–the Food Chain Island game should be packaged similarly!

Her POV

I quite enjoyed this engrossing puzzle game! It was easy to grasp, and I slid into the game pretty effortlessly. I hardly had to read the rules, and it was pretty easy to teach it to someone else as well.

I settled in for a straightforward, cutesy game…and I couldn’t have been more surprised. During my first game, I was pleasantly surprised at how long it took me to go through the game. Maybe it says more about how I get bogged down by analysis paralysis; but there was just so many possibilities about which way to go in a game. I did not expect it from such a simple package.

I did find myself wanting a version of this game with square cards, though. There are definitely no issues with the standard poker size cards, but since we’re talking about grids, y’know…

I can also see this as a game that can be easily shared with the younger members of anyone’s family. The kid-friendly art is sure to be interesting to children; and you can definitely turn it into a short nature lesson ;)

Still, this is definitely a solo game worth your time!

His POV

This seemed like a very simplistic game–considering the easy set-up, cutesy animals, and its super easy rules. After all you’re only required to be the last animal standing by making your way down the food chain.

But after playing the game several times, I can definitely say that there is an interesting complexity with the game when combining the abilities of the animals and the caveat that the animals only have a particular diet that they prefer (specifically only a number of those below them).

Additionally, the mechanics of the game works well with its intended theme–I definitely enjoyed being a lazy polar bear who needs to rest after every meal.

Noms!

All in all, the game is like a fun puzzle with enough complexity to it that it makes you want to keep replaying the game over and over until you are able to successfully complete it. I will definitely recommend these to people who enjoy playing puzzles.

Food Chain Island review verdict

Disclaimer: We offer Button Shy Games’ games for local purchase in our online shop. While we promise to be honest in our assessment of the games we review, do take this into consideration as you go through our review.

Food Chain Island is one surprising package. An outwardly simple, straightforward game, it packs a complexity punch that is perfect for solo puzzle lovers. This turned out to be a strategically crafty game; animal actions that scale as you go up the food chain and eating limitations definitely upped the ante.

The simple mechanics, coupled with its cute, friendly art style make this even accessible for children. Parents who would want to turn this game into a teaching moment, rejoice! For younger kids, possibly some minor gameplay changes might be in order.

The small game footprint is a lovely plus. It’s easy to bring everywhere and get folks and kids to puzzle through the grid with you!

Button Shy Games’ Food Chain Island wallet game is definitely a worthy addition to anyone’s wallet! They’re launching this game on Kickstarter on May 26, and we’ll update this post as soon as they do. :)

A year of meeplings

It’s been one year since we started selling our D&D 5e Character Folios and Tomes! Our very first sale was on May 11, 2019. Can you believe it? Time flies by so fast, we almost forgot about our own birthday!1

Last year, we went up to Baguio with the rest of the Greasy Snitches to run Snitchfest: Valleypoint. We had a couple of terrain coasters, folios, and tomes. (Fun fact: these character notebooks are differently-sized than our current A5 notebooks–they’re 8.5″ x 5.5″! Do you have one of our very first editions?)

Take a look at that early logo!

It was a whirlwind weekend–selling our merch during registration, and helping out with the event. (It was Angela’s first Snitchfest!) We had a lot of fun, and it was the start of more wonderful experiences with everyone at gaming events and online! <3

State of the meeple

We learned many things this year. Neither of us come from a business background, so it was almost a deep end of the ocean situation for us. There were many things that we wanted to do last year. However, we didn’t have the time, the resources, or the know-how to start or get going.

And then COVID-19 happened.

We’d been planning to push our online shop more due to the event cancellations that kept coming in. Angela worked on the Sari-sari TRPG Market patterned after a few online marketplaces that were popping up because of event cancellations across the globe.

And then the Enhanced Community Quarantine came into effect. We put Hey Meepling on a fulfillment hiatus to reduce unnecessary delivery and shipping efforts2. We knew we were doing the right thing, but it was also scary having zero income for our small business. Daniel had full-time work, but Angela needed Hey Meepling income3.

It’s been a challenging six weeks. We’re lucky and blessed that we haven’t been more impacted by the pandemic, and this time is all about small wins.

What’s next

Time will tell how we’ll all get through this challenging time in our lives. The important thing is to focus on moving forward as we all adjust to this new normal.

One thing we can say with certainty is that we’re going to lean further into expanding our reach. Right now, we’re focusing on returning delivery service coverage to the Philippines. Metro Manila is easy, but provincial deliveries are still a challenge4.

But that’s not all. We’re working on extending our reach beyond our country’s borders, too. Yes, we’ll be opening for international orders soon! We’re looking forward to opening an international shop, but we may have to do it in a more limited fashion. Everything depends on how the next few weeks and months pan out!

We’re also looking into a couple new projects this coming year. We can’t share too much right now but, we’re excited and we hope you like the things we’re working on. We might ask for some beta testers of a couple new things further down the line; if this is interesting to you, do sign up for our newsletter where we’ll do a call for testers!

For now, we’re focusing on the next steps, taking things one day (or week) at a time.

Come celebrate with us

Regardless of what we’re going through right now, we’ve very grateful you’ve helped us this far. We’ve got a couple of things here, so buckle up!

The shop is open!

We’ve heard you loud and clear–so we’re opening up shop again!

You can once again browse our online shop and check out if you are in Metro Manila! We’ve done a little bit of spring cleaning; check out all the good things you can use to pimp your tabletop adventures. ;) We’ll update as soon as we are able to do provincial addresses.

Of course, not everything can go back to the way it was, not yet. Our new normal is making sure that we minimize unnecessary contact–so we’re doing a once-weekly shipping run. We’ll ship all confirmed orders every Wednesday afternoon, and have Tuesday evenings as cutoff for that week’s shipping run.

We’ve got limited stocks and supplies are low, so we’re working with our suppliers to see what we can do. In-stock items won’t have any delays — but our processing time for custom or made-to-order Character Tomes are affected. Made-to-order tomes are currently taking up to 10-20 business days to craft from our previous 3-5 days. We can still take orders, but it will take a while to get them made for you.

A mug for all those crits

There is something new brewing (heh) in our drinkware line: D&D Combat Mugs! Keep track of your health and death saves while giving your DM (across from you) easy access to check your initiative, AC, and passive perception and insight stats!

You can write directly on the glossy ceramic mugs with a dry-erase marker and wipe it clean after the game. How’s that for some classy sips while you’re gaming without resorting to disposable cups?

We’re targeting fulfillment for these mugs in July, but we’re taking pre orders now to help us plan demand. Get 20% off these combat mugs when you pre order, too!

Spring cleaning, anyone?

We’ve put up a clearance sale for version one of both in-stock Folios and Tomes! Get up to 40% off for items on clearance — and once they’re gone, they’re gone!

You’ll see the sale price right on the product page–no surprises here! Grab one of the few remaining first-version folios at ₱120; the tomes go at ₱300 for the hardcovers and ₱400 for the faux leather ones. That’s a steal!

Hurry up for an extra freebie

If you’re quick, you might also score an extra freebie. Our A6 notebooks are also on clearance, but we’ve set aside some as gifts! Get a free A6-sized notebook if you’re one of the first five confirmed purchases. You’ll get the extra swag automatically if you purchase at least ₱250, so hurry!

Another gift from us to you

Last, but most definitely not the least–what’s a birthday when there’s no giveaway? Get a chance to win one of our new D&D 5e Character Tomes! This brave blue tome is ready to accompany you to adventures in Faerûn and beyond. No need to wait for processing times–it’s ready to go home to you!

Up your chances to win by liking/sharing/tweeting/commenting on our social media posts about our birthday below–more details on each post. (Yes, doing it on all three platforms get you three chances!)

Check our Facebook post, Twitter tweet, and Instagram post to check out the giveaway and participate!

Thanks again for all the love and friendship you’ve all extended to us in our first year. Here’s to many more!

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 The quarantine might have something to do about that, too!
2 we’re only small fry, but we knew every little bit counts at such a crucial time
3 she’s accepting writing gigs in the meantime! Check out her portfolio!
4 and we’re interested if you know of any solutions–hit us up!

A good background story

Before the lockdowns started, a friend of ours ran Berlin – The Wicked City from Chaosium. She had been bugging us to play for a while, but schedules have (as usual) been difficult to synch.

That afternoon almost didn’t push through, but we ended up playing all through the afternoon, into the night, into the wee hours of the morning. We finished the first scenario in one sitting.

(Ah, the long-gone times of real-life tabletop RPG games!)

Berlin – The Wicked City is a sourcebook for Call of Cthulhu, containing three scenarios in addition to being an overview of 1920s Berlin to help a Storyteller craft a CoC campaign filled with notable personalities, key locations, and rich culture.

I’m a scaredy cat. I can’t watch horror shows1, I can’t read horror books2. Dan had played the introductory scenario of Masks of Nyarlathotep for me under the Pulp Cthulhu adaptation, but it was decidedly horror-lite.

I was stressed for a good amount of time during the game. There were more than a couple times that I was seriously considering excusing myself from the game because it giving me a serious case of the heebie-jeebies. The only reason I didn’t was the thought of walking the short block home–alone–in the middle of the night3.

The saving grace was the almost-cheesy, almost-melodramatic back story I selected that I used “just for fun”. We’re starting the next scenario soon (since the quarantine isn’t easing up), and while I’m dreading playing Call of Cthulhu in a small condominium unit in the dead of night, I’m actually looking forward to it. All because of my cheesy, melodramatic back story that amazingly enabled me to feel fully integrated into the story than I otherwise would have.

Our game

We played the first scenario, The Devil Eats Flies. I had no idea what it was about. We just sat down in my friend’s living room and she told us what sorts of people currently populated the city.

I lit on becoming a woman refugee taking on odd jobs to survive. She was hiding her true identity as a Russian monarchist who was a servant under one of the lesser noble families before everything went to chaos.

Dan urged me to go big or go home–be a servant of the Romanovs directly! Why not? Background flavour was background flavour. So, hell, why not? I became one of the handmaidens of the imperial family who stayed behind as they fled Alexander Palace.

I was trying to scrape enough together, but also day-dreaming of finding my lady, the Grand Duchess Anastasia, amid rumours that she had escaped. Not that I could find anything with my barely-living wage juggling three jobs as a secretary at the University, a waitress at a popular diner, and taking on odd tasks at the police station.

(Of course I’m not going to sell my body. I am a lady’s maid, my good sir! For shame!)

Little did I know. Check out what the scenario is about, from the publisher itself:

In The Devil Eats Flies Germany teeters on the brink of economic ruin and political chaos. The ghost of a madman stalks the city, turning its own citizenry against itself. To stop a demonic spirit and save a Russian princess in exile, the investigators must strike a bargain with other sinister forces and ask themselves: who else are we prepared to see die in order to save the city?

What are the chances? Our Storyteller never made a sound as I planned my poor little Russian immigrant’s sad background.

You know that game where you end up mimicking your character’s actions, kneeling down on the floor as you’re entreating someone to believe you?

Yeah, that finally happened to me after over a year of playing tabletop roleplaying games. I didn’t even realize it until after the game.

That probably says more about the types of games I usually play in, but I generally prefer games where there is minimal emotional bleed. It’s not that I don’t like being challenged emotionally–I’m a girl who cries readily at movies and books. But I’m also conflict-averse and more often than not, emotional conflict in games tend to be between players. I’m a PvE sort of person.

This Berlin game gave me my PvE conflict wishes, heightened by all the emotional connections the storyline had with me.

A super brief review

Sure, the highly charged and horror-peppered story probably added to how visceral the game felt for me, though it comes from a different quarter than what one might expect. If you’ve played this scenario, I’m not even squicked at the inherent level of gore in the story. It was everything else. The creepiness of the people. The paranoia, the confusion, not knowing what to do and not wanting my character to go back to her tiny apartment alone (there’s one thing we have in common!).

I’m not typically a puzzle-solver in the tabletop RPG games we play, and this is no exception. So I can’t speak about how ingenious the plot puzzle was, but it certainly felt really clever. We did not play pulp this time around, so we were rather squishy folk, but we survived. Not unscathed, but alive. Of a sort.

We’re playing again soon, and I’ve petitioned a daytime game when it gets to the squicky parts XD

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 though I’m cool with zombie media and general gore
2 but I love Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga–while never having read the rest of his books. Go figure
3 Dan probably wouldn’t let me do that alone, but neither did I want to be the wet blanket

Let your RPG characters live with this local artistic initiative [Feature]

Let your RPG characters live with this local artistic initiative

You know that TRPG character you created and play with every week, so much that you have this vision of what they look like? You’ve thought of exactly how they look, how they sound, how they behave. They have amazing backstories you’ve meticulously penned down (in one of our character folios, we hope — we’ve got something special for you if you do, later below in the article!).

Only your party members haven’t seen how amazing (or troubled!) your character is! If you’ve been thinking of finally getting some art done for them, there are tons of artists opening their commission slots nowadays.

The nifty thing is, you can get all that done, but also help people out during this pandemic by participating in Art for Frontliners!

We heard about Art for Frontliners a few weeks ago and was immediately struck with how clever and beautiful it was as an initiative. They are a group of artists who want to help our local frontliners and fellow Filipinos fight COVID-19 in their own little way.

From as low as ₱350, interested people can choose a particular artist from the Art for Frontliners artist pool to make an amazing piece of art just for them — but instead of paying the artist for the piece, buyers send their “payment” directly to a local cause that either helps our frontliners or countrymen in need. People get their art, and charities get their donations, and frontliners get some much-needed help in these trying times.

I felt like I wanted to participate, but my art is pretty much currently limited to simple shapes and doodles, so I have to leave the art-ing to professionals. But we wanted to do our bit to help spread the word around by sharing the initiative and talking about it here in Hey, Meepling.

(If you’re interested in joining their initiative as an artist, just message the page and get in touch with them! They’re super approachable and friendly.)

The initiative had its seeds in Twitter. The founders started seeing the #ArtForMedPH hashtag used on the social media platform, and with other like-minded artists, decided to boost the signal by creating a proper Facebook group and getting the word out! They raised over ₱10,000 in one day after their launch on April 3, and by April 17 they had raised ₱50,000 donations! How’s that for helping out?

(We also listed some other initiatives at last week’s blog post if you want to help out more during these challenging times! If you know of more–let us know and we’ll add to the list!)

Get your art and help others, too

Art for Frontliners have new artists coming on to pledge their time regularly, so while some artists’ commission slots might be full, there are definitely others whose art style one might be interested in. We’ll have a list of their current artists below so you can browse, but there are more coming in as the days go by, so feel free to check out their full roster!

There are three tiers for artwork available through the initiative: ₱350, ₱500, and ₱1,000 tier levels, and interested people can choose what kind of style and level they would like to receive and donate that amount to one of the charities at HelpFromHome.ph. Send the proof of payment, reference photos, and your artist of choice to them, and sit back and wait for your chosen artist to craft your dream artwork.

Contacting them via the Facebook page is super easy to do, or you can also email them at artforfrontlinersph@gmail.com if email’s more your thing.

We’ll list down their current artists below so you can do a quick glance and also stalk take a look at the rest of that artist’s work!

We’ve also noted if the artist specializes in concept/fantasy art, or does fan art/portraiture.

Go forth and donate! (And get great art!)

(If you’re curious about the Hey Meepling freebie – just keep going!)

The artists of Art for Frontliners

Hi I’m Julia! Some call me by my art name, Nami. I’m very much inspired by the art
style of Studio Ghibli. I mostly draw nature and dainty things. (Instagram, DeviantArt)
I love to explore and express myself in all forms of art but most especially through digital
painting✨ <3 (Instagram, Website)
Hello, I’m Cyd and I like to draw, eat, and nap. I am basically a cat. (Instagram)
Hi I go by the name haneul in art and I’m a concept artist ü (Website, DeviantArt)
I am Akimiel and sometimes I draw. (Facebook Page)
Hi I’m Cen, I like to draw the universe and fantasies inside my head. (Instagram)
Hi I’m Luce and I like to draw things I love hihi (Instagram)
I do mostly pet portraits and donate the proceeds to Animal Welfare Organizations of my choice. (Website)
I love to illustrate aesthetically pleasing concept art ❤️✨ (Instagram)
Self-taught | Illustrator | 07.13.1997 (Instagram)
I’m usually a laid back guy who often gets mistaken as lazy. I like to let my mind wander in a chill atmosphere, to be able to see the world in a different perspective. (Instagram)

And finally, for staying all throughout that…you get a cookie! Well, not exactly. But…

Here, get a character art sticker template

While we were talking about how cool getting art done for your characters, we realized that’s all well and good, but we don’t exactly have a way to put it onto our folios.

Well, until now!

We’re putting out a small digital freebie — a template where you can copy+paste your character’s art onto, print it out (on sticker paper, or regular paper and just have some glue ready), and paste it right onto your folio or tome! Instant character art perfect for your beautiful folio and tome!

FINALLY. That portrait portion of the character sheet has always been a little sad-looking :(

Chuck your email down below to get the zipped templates! They are in PSD format, but should work for any graphics program that can open PSDs. We’ve got templates for both the 2019 or 2020 version of our character notebooks!


And remember — stay safe, stay online, and support local. :)

Staying safe and supporting others

It’s been three weeks since Metro Manila has been put on lockdown, and Philippines is looking at quarantine extensions for everyone’s safety. Hey Meepling has been on hiatus since the start of the Enhanced Community Quarantine, but we hope that everyone is doing well so far.

We’ll share more about Hey Meepling moving forward in these trying times, and we’ll share our plans at a later date. For now, have you checked out the Sari-sari TRPG Market?

It’s a small initiative together with a couple local TRPG merchants and artists: we put up an “online tiangge” (market/bazaar) at the start of the quarantine, so everyone can easily browse through TRPG goodies as if you were at an event with their booths, without leaving the comfort and safety of your homes.

While some of the participating merchants have since decided to take on a shipping hiatus (including us!), many of the participating crafters, artists, and small business owners are continuing to ply their trades online. If you’ve been on the fence about getting that artwork for a beloved character done, polish up a game for publishing, or even just start to collaborate with someone on a beautiful custom item–now is a great time to while away your hours on this wonderful hobby of ours!

If you need more tips and ideas on how to fully indulge your D&D and TRPG fix, there are tons of resources online. From Wizards of The Coast giving away a ton of things for remote play, to folks banding together and helping people get set up playing Roll20–there is so much support and resources going around right now if you’re curious about tabletop roleplaying games and want to give it a shot.

If boardgames are more your style than tabletop RPGs, there are also a bunch of free Print n Play games available for you to try — whip out those crafting materials and get to work ;) And don’t forget you can try out Boardgame Arena and Tabletop Simulator — find some local folks to play with at Tabletop Simulator PH!

Save the healers

There are also a couple of online initiatives that are worth a look to help our frontliners continue to do the amazing, brave, and selfless work they do. Take a look at the following initiatives and satisfy both your own wants and our frontliners’ and neighbours’ needs.

#ArtForMedPH

The artists behind #ArtForMedPH are offering commissioned art in exchange for donations directly to local frontliners, through the causes highlighted at Help From Home, a local initiative that highlights the local causes that can use our help at this time of need. A range of prices and styles for commissioned art is available for all kinds of tastes.

Adventuring from Home bundle

Dungeon Masters Guild has released two timely bundles especially for this pandemic. Their Adventuring from Home bundle is priced at $20 and proceeds are donated to Doctors Without Borders. Choose one or the other, whether you’re homebrew all the way, or the adventuring life is more your style.

The homebrew bundle contains multiple exciting adventures (DDR, anyone?), tons of subclasses and options, as well as more monsters and NPCs and festivals to delight everyone.

The Adventurers League bundle, on the other hand, includes 18 amazing adventures (including two from our very own Paul Gabat and Mon Macutay), as well as the Tortle Package for all you tortle lovers out there.

Larong Atin games

Larong Atin showcases a wonderful collection of local tabletop games made by local game designers. With the help of Neutral Grounds, they are donating 40% of all proceeds to help fund the production of local COVID-19 testing kits!

Take a look at their amazing collection of games:

  • Quotes and Verses
  • Darna at ang Nawawalang Bato
  • Combatron the Card Game
  • Combatron the Card Game 2
  • Bagani the Card Game
  • Lastikman Tagu-Taguan
  • Pawikan Patrol
  • Folded Wishes
  • Dobble Philippine Edition

Check their Facebook post for more details!

Action to Aid

Adventurers Anonymous Manila is holding an online event! From April 23 to 29, dungeon masters are opening up slots with the help of the local Roll20 community for a slew of online Dungeons & Dragons Adventurers’ League games! The earliest games start at 1pm.

Interested players can sign up for games for a fee of ₱150, which goes to purchasing protective equipment for our local frontliners!

Check out their Facebook post for more details!


Do you know of other fundraising activities and initiatives in our community? Share it in the comments below so we can all jump in and help out!

No matter how you choose to spend your hours during this community quarantine, we hope you are all doing well and keeping busy.

Stay safe, stay online, and support local.

Orchard review – a swift nine-card puzzle

Shortly after we wrote our review for Black Sonata, I found out about Side Room Games’ plan to open another Kickstarter, this time for BoardGameGeek favourite Orchard, a nine-card solitaire game with only cards, dice, and two cubes. Owing to how we feel about Black Sonata, we decided to check this Print & Play game out. In this Orchard review, we’ll go through the basic mechanics of the game, the PNP resources’ quality, and each of our POVs on how it plays.

Disclaimer: Hey, Meepling is currently offering Orchard for pre-order locally in the Philippines at the Kickstarter price while the Kickstarter is active. While we pride ourselves with making honest reviews regardless of affiliation, do keep this in mind while you read our thoughts on this game.

Orchard, by Mark Tuck, has a pretty solid history already, even though having only been released in 2018: it won multiple categories (including Best Overall Game) in the 2018 BoardGameGeek 9-Card Nanogame Print & Play Design Contest. It was also the BoardGameGeek Golden Geek Winner for Best Print & Play Game of 2018. I’d always enjoyed the experience of making and playing PNPs and this was pretty much enough endorsement for me to want to try it out.

This tile-laying game has the player grow and manage the titular Orchard, trying to maximize their harvest. A multiplayer option is also available, that requires another copy of the game.

Orchard play through summary

In the regular, solitaire game, the player shuffles their nine cards1 and picks the first card as their starting “orchard”, and two more to form their hand. A set of fifteen dice form a pool for their harvest of apples, plums, and pears (five of each fruit).

Players then choose a card from their hand to play on top of their current orchard. Playing a card requires that the new card overlap their current orchard either horizontally or vertically, with the underlying fruit matching the fruit placed on top of it. If the top fruit does not match the bottom fruit, a “rotten cube” may be placed, at a maximum of two times per game. Cards cannot be placed on top of rotten fruit.

If the player successfully places a fruit on top of a matching fruit, they are able to harvest from that plant. The first time they overlap, a die with the “1” side facing up is placed on the plant, signifying that they can harvest from that plant. The second time, the die is turned to the “3” side facing up, signifying an increased yield for that plant.

Orchard Print & Play quality

The PNP is pretty straightforward, and the assets are well-done. There is a single-page rules sheet and two pages that contain the 18 cards for the game, designed to be printed back-to-back (for a total of 9 cards and 18 card faces). An optional card back sheet is also provided in case you’d rather print the 18 cards as separate cards.

Printing is straightforward, and the backs and fronts matched up well, though due to the nature of how the cards are laid out, it was difficult to see the cutting lines once you’ve cut the cards in one direction. There are faint lines in the card art that should help, but it was difficult to find once the guiding line was gone. My cards therefore have slight differences in sizes, but these don’t affect gameplay as much since shuffling is only done once at game start (and there are only a few cards to shuffle, anyway).

Players should provide their own dice, of which one will need 15 six-sided dice: 5 apples, 5 plums, and 5 pears. Ideally you have differing colors for them for each, but I didn’t have with my own copy, and it wasn’t too difficult. Two markers are also needed for rotten fruits, but I used a peso coin when I played, haha. What rotten fruit??

Her POV

I’m really liking this game for what it is. It’s simple, it’s light, and it’s quick, but engrossing in just the right amount. It’s the type of game that, after one round, is super easy to go just one more. At first, I wondered if it was going to be too simplistic, but I think it has the right balance of simplicity and puzzle-y goodness. I also like the “mechanic” of upping the dice value–it feels pretty satisfying after scoring!

Owing to my d6s being in my TRPG “box”, I’ve ended up adding my PNP cards into the vault as well. You know, for those instances when people take so long to get the game started…;)

I can’t wait for this amazing little game to be professionally produced!

His POV

It has been a while since a game frustrated me the way that Orchard has, since this game required me to be efficient in the placement of my “trees” for maximum yield. The need to set my score higher than my last2 pushes me to keep playing, and since the game plays so quickly, I get to play at least five more games till my needs are partially satisfied.

So, yes, I really like this game, despite the leading intro. I can’t wait to play the fully produced game once it comes out!

Orchard review verdict

Disclaimer: Hey, Meepling is currently offering Orchard for pre-order locally in the Philippines at the Kickstarter price while the Kickstarter is active. While we pride ourselves with making honest reviews regardless of affiliation, do keep this in mind while you read our thoughts on this game.

Orchard has a lot going for it in the solitaire game category–a light footprint and quick play that’s satisfying and engrossing at the same time.

The PNP is well done and easy to set up, but the Kickstarter is proving to be super exciting, with unlocked custom rotten fruit tokens, engraved dice, and possibly plastic cards for that ultra durability bonus. Check out the Kickstarter, or if you’re in the Philippines, we’re offering local pre-orders too!

Check out these playthroughs and reviews too:

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 As it is possible to print the game as 18 cards instead of the nine back-to-back cards, players still play with nine cards, just setting the other nine aside for a second game. Which you will want to play. For sure.
2 and Angela’s

Board game etiquette – don’t be THAT guy

A year ago, I discovered the local board game scene. I met a couple of new friends and I was reinvigorated with this wonderful hobby of ours. I found out about all the local board game cafes and wanted to try them all.

A few months in, my friends and I heard about Ludo Boardgame Cafe in Makati closing 1. Puzzles followed after a fire sale. Moonleaf + Bunnies Cafe in Binondo and Laro Board Game Cafe in QC sold off their cafes. While their reasons for closing and selling may be unclear, these events happening in such close succession begs a thoughtful pause.

A month ago, the local tabletop RPG community (and by extension all board gamers as well), was rocked with the revelation that a local cafe put in place a policy where tabletop roleplaying games were not allowed in their branches anymore due to an incident that happened in another branch. There were no specifics, but in many other establishments across the metro, groups have been asked to leave.

The importance of open spaces

While many groups may not need these open spaces due to having their own private space, these are still important for our hobbies to thrive.

Having a neutral location to play games in are important, as not all groups would have access to a private space available to game in. Even if there was, a neutral location is also good for safety purposes: not all gamers would be comfortable inviting a stranger to play in their homes, nor would everyone be comfortable just showing up at a private residence to play with near strangers and acquaintances. If we wish to expand our community, public, neutral spaces are important.

Gaming in open spaces also serve to normalize boardgames and tabletop RPGs in our country, as these hobbies, while gaining traction, are still a niche activity and very often misunderstood in our society. How many times have you had to explain how X game is different from Monopoly, or have people tell you that you need to grow up and stop playing “make believe”? It may be slow going, but every once in a while, we hear stories about random strangers telling people they heard this group playing in a cafe and how imaginative and entertaining they are, or people approaching us due to their curiosity with a game we’re playing and developing a genuine interest and understanding with it.

Board game cafes, in particular, have a significant impact in normalizing our hobby, providing not just a venue for public games but also, generally, a variety of gateway games that are designed to bring people slowly into the hobby. I remember the first time stepping into a board game cafe in Singapore and being simply amazed at the vast array of games–so many games!–that I had not known was available. “So this is a thing, huh,” I thought, and realized how so many other people are in this “secret” hobby of mine.

Safeguarding our communities

Thankfully, it’s not difficult to be supportive gamers and take care of our community and open spaces. A lot of the things we can do aren’t very difficult, and help not just to keep these public spaces open and accepting to us gamers, but also our fellow players and the ones that will come after us.

We have three tips for being The Good Gamer:

1. Pick the right place and time.

This is especially important if you’re playing at a venue not catered specifically for tabletop games. That quiet cafe with the comfy chairs right next to your school may be perfect for your social deduction game, but how disruptive are you to other patrons who are trying to study for their exams tomorrow? Perhaps bring a quieter game where emotions aren’t going to run so high, and leave the hidden traitor games for later.

That fast-food place with the large tables for your sprawling euro is a fabulous find, but those people in the thick of dinner service, standing about looking for a seat to grab a much-needed bite, is bound to give your group the stink-eye. Perhaps use that 24-hour chain for a late-night gaming spree when there are empty tables galore, and let those establishment maximize their earnings during peak hours.

2. Support your gaming establishment.

Piggybacking on the above — be good customers and patrons wherever you are gaming. Especially in this financial climate, money is hard to come by, not just for you but for many businesses as well. Over the years, many board game cafes have closed their doors, either permanently or partially, leaving us with only good memories of our own discoveries of this hobby and the games we love to play. The inability to continue to operate seems a paltry return for the experiences we gained within their doors.

This isn’t just limited to board game cafes. Think about it, we spend hours within a cafe for a game or two, taking up space. The servers, the managers, they all need to meet a certain number to break even, to earn a profit. If they see your group taking up six chairs for six hours with one drink between all of you, they’re not going to be super excited to see you again next day.

So let’s help them out. Buy a meal, snack, a drink, for every couple of hours you spend enjoying the air-conditioning. For board game cafes, think about it as an investment: if they turn a profit, they have more capital to purchase more games which you can play, too.

3. Play fair both in-game and in real life

We all want to be invited back to our respective gaming groups. Losing our regular games is not an option. We want to have pride in our win. Playing fair in the game is important so we can say we beat everyone else fair and square. We play fair because it is the right thing to do.

That mentality needs to extend to real life, as well. If the establishment doesn’t allow outside food, don’t sneak in your baon and eat it on the sly. If they say they require a meal purchase to play games, don’t attempt to hide behind your group’s multiple orders when they come to collect the bill and say there’s an order missing for your group2. If your group has a birthday celebrant and you want to bring in a cake for them, ask nicely first–and if they say you can’t, don’t push it.

That goes even for when establishments ask you to leave while you’re playing a game. Try to find out the reason and try to explain if it’s a misconception on their part (i.e., if they think you are gambling when you’re just playing a board game3), but do it nicely. If they insist, don’t get belligerent; more often than not, they don’t have a choice in the matter and they’re just doing as best as they are able. Don’t make a scene and make things uncomfortable for the staff and other patrons; people are inclined to remember crazy scenes and they’ll always think gamers are a rude crowd. Let’s not destroy this hobby for ourselves and others!

This last tip might even be the only one you need to remember: play fair, be thoughtful, think of other people’s welfare.

Do you have any other board game etiquette tips to share on how to be a supportive gamer?

Footnotes

Footnotes
1 RIP – Dan
2 you even stand to get your group’s ire if they’re forced to pay for your food!
3 this has happened to us in several occasions – Dan