Board Game Manuals

Feature: Rules Explanations

Without doubt the worst bit of board games is the bit in which you have to explain the rules. If you’re like me you’re often gripped with terror at the thought of having to explain mechanical processes and make those processes sound fun to people who have agreed to put aside an evening to come play a game with you. To me, this is a huge responsibility; when people agree to put aside their pre-conceptions and give gaming a go I feel honoured. But I feel equally overwhelmed, overwhelmed with the fear that I might be about to waste somebody’s evening. It could be that the game is the wrong game, but equally it could be because of a stodgy rules explanation. Stodgy rules explanations have the power to destroy a game before it’s even played. They have the power to suck the energy out of a room. A bad rules explanation will make even the simplest game seem bewilderingly complex and impenetrable; it will make gaming feel like an elitist culture, one your non-gaming friends will feel very much outside of.Read More »

International Games Week

Part of the modern board game narrative is focused on the growing appeal of board games, on how more and more people are playing board games and on how board game sales are soaring year-on-year. Board game cafés get a lot of the attention, and rightly so: in the past few years board game cafés have sprung up everywhere and are thriving. We talk so much about the social appeal of modern board games it makes sense that people are talking about board game cafés.Read More »

Board Game Mechanics: The Space Alert Screensaver

Board game mechanics is a series which looks at some of the innovative mechanics in modern board games. These are simple rules which add unexpected dimensions to games, which elevate games and turns them into something special. They’re rules which cause you to wonder at the mind behind them. They’re usually simple and elegant and thematic and evocative. Often they’re very funny.

This week, Board Game Mechanics looks at the Space Alert screen saver. Welcome to the future: it’s rubbish.Read More »

Board Game Mechanics: Forest Plum

Board Game Mechanics is a Shady Baron feature which looks at some of modern gaming’s greatest mechanics. These are the rules that, when you explain them to a group, cause a collective gasp or burst of laughter. They’re the rules and mechanics which we believe, here at Shady Baron, encapsulate everything that’s great about modern games. They’re the rules that hook new and non-gamers, that show non-gamers that board games don’t have to be stuffy or complex or boring. In short, they’re the rules that can tip somebody from being a non-gamer into a gamer.

Generally, to feature here, a mechanic must be simple, elegant and thematic. So no complicated dice rolls and modifiers, no correlating charts and poring over statistics. Here, we’re talking about rules you implement in seconds but which add a wonderful and unexpected dimension to board games. Often they’re very funny.

This week we’re talking about Forest Plum, Dead of Winter’s resident Mall Santa.Read More »