Quarantined board games

Last week, as I was checking #Blapril2020 posts, I came across one about Online boardgames on MMO Juggler‘s blog.

We sometimes enjoy some board games with a group of friends that live nearby. They are not especially computer savy, but I decided to check with them about the possibility of trying something like that. We got with a series of limitations, so I had to try and find some specific game and software that was suitable for this group.

  • Spanish translated or easy enough to play without understanding the text.
  • Suitable for a 10 years old kid.
  • No need for webcams on the PC’s (as not everybody had one).
  • No need to install software on all computers.

In order to comply with the third and fourth points, I decided that the easiest way would be to use AnyDesk (or any other VNC software) to share my computer with them. Then we will take turns on the mouse/keyboard. That would also reduce the number of games available. We could not play any game where you will keep secret cards or objects, because everybody could see everything: It’s hard to bluff in poker if everybody can see your cards.

After trying different options, I opted for the easiest one. I had Carcassonne from some Epic games free offer, and we’ve all played it before, on physical, so I installed it, played a few rounds against the AI in order to check the controls and set a date with everybody to play.

Carcassonne board

The setting was: 6 people distributed on 3 different homes, so 3 computers (mine playing the game and the other 2 remotely controlling my mouse/keyboard) and 3 phones on a video call. We decided to play as teams (one team per home) instead of individuals, but it could have worked either way. Having the video call from the phones was a substitute for the webcams. Being people not used to play online, being able to see each other’s faces (and not only voices) was important to help them feel together.

In retrospect, I think that using the official Carcassonne instead of an adaptation to some boardgame software was a good idea. Even if I didn’t own the expansions for the official game, making the game a bit less interesting. The easier controls, the game handling what moves were illegal, and keeping the score was good. These days, everybody is used to click, double click or drag and drop, it’s intuitive. But having to remember a lot of keys for different actions would have been in the path of enjoying the game, and that was the goal. To enjoy an evening “together”.

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