Archive for March, 2010

Board Game Terminologies

Understanding board game jargons is not very complicated. So for most who have been playing board games for quite some time, this may sound like a remedial. But for those who consider themselves a beginner, the following terms can be very helpful. You don't need to memorize this. Once you learn about these terms, and have encountered them in the actual game, you will get the grip.

(Note: every board game has jargons of their own but these are the generalized terms that are basic and apply to almost all.)

Game Board—or commonly referred to as "board" is the surface (usually quadrilateral) where the game is played. On most games, the board used is unchanging or standardized but others use tiles or cards that enable the layout of the game to change as the game progresses or depending on the agreement of the players before the game starts.

Environment—is basically the game board or the board where the game is played. The term is used interchangeably with game board. Environment can also be a tabletop, a score sheet or something different. There are randomized environment like the one used on Settlers of Catan, abstract environment like the chess board, evolving environment like in Carcassonne and representative environment like in Euro boards among others.

Tokens (or pegs or pieces or counters or bits)—are the game pieces that represent the player on the game board. The number of tokens used by a player may vary depending on the game. In chess, 16 tokens or pieces are used at the beginning of the game, each with its own designations and capabilities within the limits of the game. Other games such as the classic Snakes and Ladders use only one token to represent the player; while others employ additional pieces as the game progresses. Some games have tokens that are not assigned to a particular player.

Jump—is to bypass another player's piece. Depending on the game, a jump may involve capturing the game piece of an opponent or simply, bypassing it.

Space—is a physical unit on the board enclosed by a certain border. It is also where a game piece is placed. On most games, tokens are placed in the areas delimited by a grid line (like Chess); while in other games, the tokens are placed on intersection of lines on the grid (Go).

Randomizers—are elements of the game that exist outside the board or the environment, which introduce luck into the game. The most common randomizers are dice and spinners. Cards and tiles are also considered as randomizers.

Markers—are another elements of the game that reside outside the board or the environment. Markers are used to keep track of important details in the game such as the score, quantity, trade and more.

No player elimination—is a characteristic of the game that aims to keep all the players until the end. This is a distinct characteristic of German-style board games. Specific mechanics like scoring at the end of the game or hidden scoring is designed to keep the players at the end of the game.

Hex—is used as a common term to denote the space on a hexagonal-based board game. This is most often used on board wargames although some abstract strategy games such as Abalone use hexagonal layout.

Benefits of Game Boards to Children

It is somewhat surprising how a set of simple game board, dice, a deck of cards and tokens can have big effects on the growth of a child. What is more surprising is that, game boards that are designed for entertainment actually aid children in their social and educational development. And although most game boards are not that academic and straightforward in terms of how they are played, they can be used as tools to teach specific skills.

As a bonus, board games create a venue to gather the family together and play. While there are other activities such as dining out, watching television and doing chores, that can bring the whole family in one place, board games have that special capacity which draws family members to become much closer. Since the aim is not to teach and the setup is very informal, playing board games together is neither intimidating nor difficult. The child becomes more confident and open to their parents.

Just by virtue of playing the game, children learn the value of patience, verbal communication and interaction with others, thus developing their social skills even further. By learning how to wait for their turns, board games can also help a child to develop focus and lengthen attention span.

Fair play can also be thought by simply playing any board game. The rules of the game can be used in real life as well. When a child learns how to follow the simple rules of the game and finds it logical and reasonable, following the rules of the world will become second nature.

We all know that children's board games are won by luck. But for them, they take winning and losing seriously. That is why when they win, they feel happy and proud; when they lose, they experience disappointment. Hence it is important for parents and guardians to help articulate these feelings in relation to real life situations. While managing happy emotions can be easy, dealing with disappointments should be done with outmost care. Nonetheless, the idea of losing and winning and the emotions that are felt along with these have positive effects on the child as he or she extends the lesson learned in those particular experiences.

Some board games teach basic math skills such as counting and arithmetic. Equate, the word version of scrabble, teaches kids to form and solve simple mathematical equations.

Chutes and Ladders, while simple as it may seem, teaches young kids how to count and how to wait turns.

Scrabble, Boggle, Typo, Upwords and Balderdash are some of the games that help kids expand their vocabulary.

Cueldo is a mystery game that encourages deductive method of thinking and problem solving.

Chess improves math skills, intuition, logical thinking, strategic planning and even IQ.

Zingo helps kids improve visual recognitions.

Monopoly helps enhance reasoning, strategic planning, management, investment, social skills and business skills.

German style games such as Tigris and Euphrates, Scotland Yard, World of Warcraft, Settlers or Catan, Puerto Rico, Risk and Diplomacy teach children about strategy, management and planning.

If you are going to ask me, game boards are a good investment if you want your kids to learn some of the most important lessons in life. They may not learn all these in one sitting but it is always a good to introduce kids with objects and activities that have been proven to be very useful.

Board Game Buying Advice

Board games have certain charisma that continuously attract different people of different ages from all walks of life. That is why, even though video games and online games are the latest trends today, board games haven't lost the touches yet. Here are the things you should consider when buying a board game:

The Age Factor and Game Categories
Age always has to factor in when buying any board game. Not only because it ensures that the game is suitable for the intended players, but also because it guarantees the safety of the players, particularly kids. There are board games designed for preschoolers, younger elementary kids, older elementary kids, teenagers and adults.

Preschoolers – Chutes and Ladders, Hi Ho! Cherry-O, Boggle Jr., Hullabaloo, Cariboo, Sorry!, Buckaroo, Scrambled Stated of America, Kids on Stage and Mastermind

Younger elementary kids – Hullabaloo, Cluedo, Blink, Pretty Pretty Princess, Zingo, Tri-Virsity, Apples of Apples

Older elementary kids – Settlers of Catan, The Game of Life, Risk, Sequence, Zigity, Cityscape, Tripoley, and Scene It

Teenagers – Monopoly, Chess, Earthopoly, Scrabble, Tigris and Euphrates, World of Warcraft, Nexus Ops, Elfenland, Ingneous, Scotland Yard, BattleLore, Apples to Apples, Balderdash and Time's Up

Adults – Battle of the Sexes, Guesstures, Loaded Questions, Scene It, Scattegories and Dirty Minds

These are just some of the games that are out in the market today. Board games are also categorized according to genre (German-style game, abstract-strategic game, trivia game, word game, etc.).

Read Reviews
Game reviews are totally unnecessary on classic games such as chess, checkers, monopoly and those games you are totally familiar with. The fact that they are very popular and have lasted for several generations means that these games are good. That's already given. You can go ahead and buy these games without consulting any game review sites. But if you are planning to buy a particular board game that you haven't played yet, you need to check reviews. Just like the up and coming movies, you need to see first that they are worth your time and money. Reviews are very helpful in determining whether the game you are about to buy fits your interest.

Price
Prices of board games depend on the title, but it usually ranges from $10 to $50. When considering the price, think of quality and playability. The rule is simple: the game is not worth investing on if it will only be played on a very short time. For example, a game that is designed for kids from 3 to 6 years old should not cost more than $20. Alternately, a game that can be played over and over again, for the years to come, is worth an extra buck.

Compare Prices
Not because a game is already cheap doesn't mean that it cannot get much cheaper. Shop around. You'll be surprised how much prices vary from store to store. Look for bargains. Often, stores slash prices of board games that are hard to sell or on certain times of the year.

Buy online
Buying online is perhaps the most convenient way to get a hand on your favorite board game. There are a lot websites that sell hundreds of board game titles. Auction sites like eBay and Yahoo! Auctions offer the same products but. Discount sites provide better alternatives to those who want to get extra savings.

Before Buying a Board Game

When choosing what type of board game to buy, you just have to base your choices on two things: age and game types.

Age
Age is always a factor when buying a board game. Not only it ensures the safety of the players, especially kids, it also ensures that the game is appropriate for the skill level of the players. Age recommendations found printed on the box of a board game are a good reference whenever you are choosing which one to buy. But in some cases, especially if you are buying for the family with varied skill levels and interests, limiting your choices to one genre is the better way to go.

Game Types

With thousands of game titles to choose from, choosing a game that is appropriate to you and your family can be… let's just say, overwhelming. To shorten your list or to give you an idea, here are some board games according to their types:

Classic. The best thing about classic games is that everybody knows them. When we say classic, we are talking about games that have survived through the years and still remain popular even though several new games have been released after them. Some of these are Chess, Monopoly, Othello, Sorry!, Pictionary, Candyland, Chutes and Ladders, Parcheesi, Battleship, Clue, Boggle, Scrabble, Checkers and Trivial Pursuit. Although some of these games have complicated rules, everyone seems to understand at least a little of how they are played.

Roll and move games. Basically, roll and move games revolve on the concept of luck. Chutes and Ladders, Mouse Trap, Candyland, Ludo, Space Hop, Don't Wake Daddy, Hey Pa! There's a Goat on the Roof, and Cooties are some of the games that belong to this category. Luck is introduced by a number of ways such as the use of die (or dice), cards and spinners. These are called randomizers as they try to create randomness that even out the playing field no matter how diverse the players' skills and ages are. Roll and move games are often associated with children's games.

Strategy games. Opposite to the roll and move games are the strategy games that rely solely on the strategy of the players in order to win. The most popular game that belongs to this category is Chess. Strategy games, however, can be multi-faceted. Meaning, while they involve substantial amount of strategy in the game, luck can also become a factor.

Multi-faceted games are games that combine different types of skills (aside from what is mentioned above). Tikal, Taj Mahal, Risk, Monopoly, Settlers of Catan and Scotland Yard are some of these.

Word games. Classic games such as Boggle and Scrabble belong to this category. Other word games include, Yahtzee, Typo, Apples to Apples, Scrabble and Scrabble Jr., Upwords and Balderdash. They combine both entertainment and learning that will surely appeal to all ages.

Board games can also be categorized as:

• party games (cranium, pictionary, taboo)
• two-player abstract strategy games (Go, checkers, Arimaa)
• multi-player elimination games (Axis and Allies, Monopoly, Hotels)
• multi-player non-elimination games (Puerto Rico, Figure It Out, Cluedo)
• children's games (Hi Ho! Cherry-O, roll and move games mentioned above)
• trivia games (Trivial Pursuit)
• wargames (Advance Squad Leaders, Risk)

Note: Some games belong to more than one category.

About Online Board Games

Online board games are those that are played via the Internet instead of the use of the traditional pieces and game board. They can be played either in single or multiple versions. One who plays in the single division has to face the computer as his opponent whereas the multiple version features other online players as the rivals. But how do they differ from the typical board games that people have known in ages?

The Difference Revealed

In the past years, people had to sit together before a game board to set into play. The boards were often placed on top of a table with friends and family members crowding around. As in the case of these online versions, there is no physical contact with the opponents because you don't actually see or even feel them. With these Internet games, you don't even have the chance of getting to know who your opponents are. It may only materialize whenever the game rooms make accessible what is known as the chat option and if the players are likewise willing enough to be familiarized with the rest.

A Different Kind of Challenge

What makes these online versions more complex than ever? Apart from the fact that you don't actually see the other players, most of the online games now are those that require a keen detail for the strategies to take. The online variants of Chess, Backgammon, Monopoly, Scrabble, and the likes are much challenging and intriguing unlike the common Snakes and Ladders.

Just take the Snakes and Ladders as an example. The game itself does not require deep thinking since the roll of the dice determines the player's fate. There is nothing much to anticipate because all that you have to do is to trust your luck. There is no suspense, no profound analysis to carry on, and no challenge especially in the case of the older players. What makes it appealing is the design of the game board. Indeed, it is still a popular choice among the children but not for the adults.

Free Games to Enjoy

There are a lot of board games over the Internet which are offered for free. Due to this offer, more than a handful of enthusiasts avail of the deal. The free games can be accessed anytime provided that you know of the particular websites that make them available. It is also great to note that several other aficionados are waiting for other players to join them.

As it goes, many websites allow the free downloading of some games. Meaning, you don't have to purchase it or register via your credit card. This offer comes with a restriction though and it is through the trial period. When your trial game has expired, it is your choice if you want to purchase it or you are simply going to find another site that can give you the same free trial option. The free trial version is a part of the website's marketing strategies since people are likely to give something a try prior to spending some cash on it.

Whichever game you want to play be it Monopoly, Clue, Chess, Word Factory, Checkmate, Mahjong, and many others, you can always find it by surfing the Internet. The advent of modern technology has made it possible for the players to have fun by means of the online board games!

Board games have been around since time immemorial. They have started from the very moment that man has learned how to express his thoughts. Evolution has made it obvious that man gradually progressed in terms of how he was able to communicate with the people around him. The same thing goes with the manner in which man was finally able to find an appropriate way to compete peacefully. Who will ever think that the earliest people also had their own ways to do away with boredom and keep themselves preoccupied and entertained? These games actually helped them survive the earliest times when they were yet deprived of several things such as those that spell amenities and conveniences.

A Part of a Society's Culture

Clearly, history tells us that every civilization has had its own share of peaceful yet entertaining games. In fact, archaeologists have already uncovered several relics that seemed to be boards with inscriptions on how the games were played. Even if the early dwellers were devoid of formal education, no one can say that they were illiterate. After all, they understood how to go about with their games. The mere fact that they were able to set rules for their games is more than enough to stop labeling them as empty-headed.

Tracing Back the Old Times

The Senet. So far, the oldest board game dates back to 3500 BC during the pre-dynastic times in Egypt. It is called as the "Senet" which means "the passing game". Relics of them have been unearthed both in the pre-dynastic epoch and also in the First Dynasty burial venues which goes back to about 3100 BC. As time passed by, the Senet became very popular as it extended its fame even up to the New Dynasty way back in 1567 up to 1085 BC. Moreover, the Egyptians believed that one who plays the game really well is shielded against the wrath of the gods. It had also been customary for them to be buried with the game board since it represented a certain type of help as the soul journeys into the afterlife.

The Go. This game originated in China which traces back to 548 BC. There are legends that point out Emperor Yao being the pioneer of the game. People believed that he designed the game for his very own son. Also, it is said that the game was rooted out of a kind of fortune telling device and that the tribal warlords in China used the game as a way of enhancing their attacking positions by using stones. By nature, the game was supposed to be the game of the aristocracy and later in the 5th century AD, its popularity reached Korea and Japan.

The Backgammon. This somehow bears traces of the genuine Senet game and was restructured by Ludus Duodecim Scriptorum to have 2 rows with 12 points each. In the 6th century AD, it changed its name into Alea which then turned into a very popular game during the Middle Ages. It also took the name of Tabula which means "board game".

These are just among the earliest board games that the experts have confirmed. Perhaps there may be more discoveries in the future. Nevertheless, it pays to take a close look at the ancient origins of what the modern society has now.