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Ruel’s Rundown: Three Games I’ve Enjoyed Recently

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Hi friends! I hope you’re staying safe and getting the chance to play board games these days. While our new reality has rendered public gaming meetups obsolete, I’ve been fortunate to continue gaming with my family and friends, thanks to the wonders of technology. 

I recently wrote about my experiences becoming a regular board game livestreamer with my family.  We’ve livestreamed over 100 different board games this year and in this new column I’ll be sharing a few of the games I’ve enjoyed recently. These may be old or new games, but I’ll include at least one game that has solo rules and one game that can be played over Zoom or Skype. 

Of course, many of us have turned to Board Game Arena, Tabletopia, and Tabletop Simulator for our gaming needs during the Quarantimes. For this column, though, I’m focusing on gaming of the cardboard-only variety. So, without further ado, here are three games I’ve enjoyed recently.

The Search for Planet X

If I had to pick a board game genre as my least favorite, it would be deduction, which is where The Search for Planet X falls. For whatever reason, my brain doesn’t work this way. Give me dice and I can give you a rough estimate of how likely I’ll roll a certain result. Or let me shuffle a deck of cards and I’ll give you the odds of a certain suit being drawn. But put me in the middle of a deduction game and I instantly morph into Inspector Clouseau, stumbling and bumbling around, trying to figure out what the heck is going on. 

And yet The Search for Planet X has been one of my favorite gaming experiences of this year, with one caveat: I much prefer it as a solo game, where I can take my time and hone my sleuthing skills without the pressure of other players. I know my limitations as a gamer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy something I’m so bad at.

In The Search for Planet X up to four players attempt to find the hidden planet. Each turn you’ll survey sections of the sky, using an app that will reveal information to you or the rest of the players. You can target certain sectors and even submit point-scoring theories about what’s in a sector. It’s a race to deduce the location of Planet X, but even if you don’t find it first, you can still win the game with correct theories. Sound like your type of space jam? Check out my article in Game Trade Magazine for a more detailed overview or watch how terrible I am playing it with the Renegade crew here

Thanks to Renegade Game Studios for a copy of the game. Order here: https://www.renegadegamestudios.com/search-for-planet-x 

Shobu

I love how Shobu feels like a game that’s been around for a long time, thanks to its bare-bones production (four wooden boards, 20 stone pieces per player, and a piece of rope), simple ruleset, and deceptively strategic play.

The object of the game is to push all of your opponent’s stones off any one board. There are four 5×5 game boards, each with five stones for each player, and a rope divides the boards so each player has two “home” boards. Each turn consists of two moves: first, perform your passive move, in which you move one of your stones on either of your home boards up to two spaces in any direction. You cannot push or jump over any other stone. Second, perform your aggressive move, in which you perform the exact same move on a different colored board AND you may push your opponent’s stone.

A game lasts about 20 minutes and, best of all, Shobu is open information so you can easily play this online via Zoom or Skype.

Thanks to Smirk & Laughter for the copy of the game. Order here: https://www.smirkandlaughter.com/product-page/shobu

MonsDRAWsity

This is the second drawing game from Eric Slauson that I’ve enjoyed and like his previous game, Tattoo Stories, the rules are simple and it’s an absolute blast to play.

In MonsDRAWsity, one active player is the Witness while the remaining players (the game is for 3-8 players) are the artists. The Witness draws an anomaly (aka monster) card and studies it for 20 seconds, then they have two minutes to describe what they saw from memory to the artists. During the two-minute drawing period, the Witness may answer questions, but can’t look at what the artists are drawing.

Artists then reveal their drawings simultaneously and the Witness secretly chooses the drawing they believe is the closest to what they remember seeing. Next, the Witness reveals the anomaly. All artists then vote on which drawing they believe is the closest (and they can’t vote for themselves). Whoever gets the most votes gets a point (friendly ties). Play moves on to the next player.

On a recent episode of The Five By podcast I talked about playing the party game Telestrations: Upside Drawn via the Internet. MonsDRAWsity falls into this new game genre I just made up: Party Games That Can Be Played Over The Internet During A Pandemic. You can easily play MonsDRAWsity via Zoom or Skype, as long as one player has a copy of the game. My family and I played the game on Twitch with our audience giving us the clues. You can check out the hilarious results over here

Thanks to Deep Water Games for the prototype of MonsDRAWsity. Tentative release date is late October 2020. Pre-order MonsDRAWsity + Cute Expansion here: https://oxeyemedia.com/collections/pre-orders/products/monsdrawsity-preorder

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