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Guides

Boardgame Lingo

What is a Kallax?

You may not know its name but if you’ve visited a gaming bar, friends flat or IKEA you know it’s cube-shaped face, is it really the best board game shelf solution created, not a chance, *but* is it the cheapest, most effective and readily available – 100% yes.

What is a Mulligan?

No matter how finely tuned the card game, the second you begin shuffling and drawing hands, the gods of gaming can decide to strike you down with a set of identical cards or worse, trash. To avoid this fate, most games will allow you the chance to discard this cursed first hand and try again so you have a fairer shot at winning.

Why would you Tap a card in gaming?

Nothing to do with contactless payments, to Tap is the way you interact with a card to show it’s used in some way. This could be as simple as touching the card like in traditional card games or in Magic the Gathering, it’s the act of turning a card sideways. 

Tapping helps show all players what’s been used or is available.

What does Spiel des Jahres mean on a board game box?

You’ll see this mentioned on a host of great board games, like the Oscars are to film, this German “Game of the Year” award is the highest praise. If something has won the Spiel Des Jahres, you can be pretty confident it’s a great game.

Why do people keep mentioning Board Game Geek?

They aren’t calling you a nerd, Board Game Geek has become the biggest site for board games boasting over 300k visitors a day, you can find reviews, images and message forums covering everything and anything game related. Their ever-changing top lists are a great place to see what’s currently ranked the best title among the most dedicated players.

What does CCG have to do with cards?

CCG is short for Collectible Card Game, these are designed with the function of destroying your wallet, cards will keep being released and you buy additional packs hoping to get the rare ones that complete a set, decimate your rivals or can make you rich.
Pokémon is the granddaddy of them all.

What does LCG have to do with card games?

Living Card Game is actually a phrase owned by Fantasy Flight Games, but like “Google that” it’s become adopted by the board game masses. LCG’s are great in that they remove random cards and instead packs are released in batches. Like any subscription service if you keep picking up the new packs you can tap into a world of gameplay possibilities, once you stop buying new sets, or the game finishes, things become more limited.

What is DnD?

DnD is the all-conquering Dungeons and Dragons, a game where you create a character and interact with a fantasy world through dice rolls. This is all controlled by a Dungeon Master who will be crafting the story from books, guides or just from their own imagination.

What’s an RPG?

Role-Playing Games is a broad term for any game that sees you create a character and play out a role, so you’ll be acting and behaving in that way. If people are sitting with sheets of A4 paper, rolling dice and acting, you can be pretty sure it’s an RPG they are playing. Different games tweak the system of rolling dice and role-play, so if Fantasy isn’t your thing you can be a hacker in Cyberpunk or a force wielding Jedi in Star Wars Force And Destiny. 

What are Meeple?

A shortened version for “My People” coined by Alison Hansel during a play session of Carcassonne. Meeple are player pieces that can represent countless things in board games.

What is King Making?

While you might not win every game, you may be in a position to pick the winner. Kingmaking is the moment you make a choice that determines who will win the game, so that may be leaving a card for them to collect next turn, choosing to leave a space free or a more blatant act of war like turning on an ally.

What is Quarterbacking in a game?

Co-op games task you to work together but in some, there’s a higher risk of one person taking over, think back seat driving, quarterbacking is a term for when someone is taking too much of a lead and calling all the shots. “Cool so on your turn you do this” some games are more at risk of this than others but unless the quarterback is saving you from failing the game, you do you.

What is Drafting in games?

While we’d be the experts on all things draught when it comes to beer, in board games drafting will see you taking something and passing the rest on. No matter the game you’ll be weighing up, what you need, what you can grab and potentially how much you can annoy your friends taking their choice first instead.

What is a Tableau?

Tableau is mixing the French for picture and the English for table, Tableau in board games refers to the collection of items you’ve assembled in front of you in the hope of victory, usually these games see you playing together but apart then comparing scores at the end.

What does Engine have to do with tabletop gaming?

Your Engine is referring to the way you’re competing in the game. You will start small and build from there, in the same way its namesake works, some will be ruthlessly efficient and others a little slower and plod along. The trick is to pick components in the game that work well together.

What is Dex/Dexterity in board gaming?

Dex is short for Dexterity and in a roleplaying game relates to how well you will perform a task with your hands. Dexterity games will test these skills, so every time you try to throw rubbish in the bin from distance, that’s a Dex check

What is a Deck in games?

If you’ve got a pile of cards face-down that you are taking from, you’ve got yourself a deck. How that deck works changes depending on the game, so you may add to it as a game goes on or enter & finish with the same set.

What is Analysis Paralysis?

If you’ve ever stared blankly at a take-away menu, wondering what to choose, that’s Analysis Paralysis. In gaming, this would be when you’re faced with a bunch of different possibilities & you’re unsure which to pick. If it helps with the food dilemma, I’d always pick 67!

Why would I burn in a board game?

To burn* in a board game is to sacrifice something (usually a card) in exchange for something else happening. While burning helps with the now, it can sometimes hurt you in the long term as whatever is burnt will likely be lost forever.

*Unless advised by the game instructions never set fire to game components.

Categories
Articles

How do I open a gaming bar?

Up until March 2020 it seemed like I’d get asked a lot about opening a gaming bar. While opening somewhere for people to gather may not seem like the most sensible idea at the moment, here’s my attempt to answer the most common questions with lessons learnt the hard way over the last 10 years.

Do you need a special licence to demo games?

No…Not really but you’ll have noticed those terms and conditions that flash up at the start of games detailing how the retail copy is not for public use? So how do you get copies that are suitable? (Why did it always mention the strangely specific Oil Rigs!?)

Your best bet is to approach each company and let them know what you’re doing and prepare to be flexible. As the gaming hospitality industry continues to grow, it is more likely that someone may expect a cut of that gaming fee. 

Do you make a lot of money running a gaming bar?

No…There’s a reason 4 pubs are closing every day in the UK. It’s not because the owners got rich and retired. But, like building a village in Animal Crossing or running a theme park in Rollercoaster Tycoon, there’s more to it than just making money.

How much does it cost to open a gaming bar?

A lot. “I only need about 10k to open somewhere?” The quick answer to this is no chance, there’s been a few campaigns and plans pitched suggesting just a few thousand is needed to get something open. While you might get open for that, the key challenge is being able to stay open.

Times have changed and tenants do have a lot more leeway negotiating a lease. In general, you’ll need to pay three months rent upfront, the same again as a deposit and cover the legal fees. 

It is helpful to keep in mind that small things can make a dent. For example, speed pourers are only around £2 each, but even with our tiny bar, 30 of them are needed, meaning £60 is gone.

The first order is always the most painful as you will have needed to stock the bar with a whole lot of different things. If you look at a bar shelf and add each bottle up as £15 each, you can imagine just how much money you’ll need to stock a bar in the first place.

Other guaranteed bills will be:

  • Building Insurance – Protecting if the windows get smashed starting around £300
  • Public Liability Insurance – Covers you if someone falls over and is required by law
  • Premises Licence – Alcohol Licence which you need to sell drink, if a place doesn’t already have one, this will need to be applied for, they aren’t too expensive but it’s a yearly expense.
  • Business Rates – Council Tax but for business, you can check how much this would cost for by putting the postcode in here.
  • Utilities – Water, Electric, Internet, Waste Collection
  • Other crucial ones you can forget are the many one-off charges, the first time you stock up will be by far the most expensive as there are so many things you need to have but may not buy very often.

How much money does a gaming bar need to take to survive?

An easy way for you to judge how much you may need to take a look at the rent cost and multiply that figure by 5, that’s a good starting point for what you’ll need to sell. You can use this to help build your forecast and work backwards.

Do I need experience to open a bar?

No but it’s useful! If you haven’t jumped behind a bar before, a few hours a week serving drinks while you get your master plan together will help you test whether you really can handle it. People will ask you stupid things, some people will attempt to scam you, so getting the chance to experience all this before to start your endeavour will benefit you in the long run. It’s smarter to earn while you learn.

Can you play games all day?

Yes if you can afford staff! However, working on the floor yourself gives you a much greater advantage of learning what your customers want first hand: What are they playing? What do they order? What you had in mind starting out and what people want once you open, maybe two very different things.

Normally the three-year plan* is year 1 the business runs you, 2nd year you run the business and by year 3 it should run itself. That’s when hopefully you can kick back and work on triple prestige status on COD. *I’m in year 10 and still find reasons to have to work so don’t hold me to that…

Where do I start if I want to open a gaming bar?

Ask questions! Go and speak to people who run similar-sized businesses in the place you want to open, most people are quite friendly and would give you an honest answer. Some important questions to ask include, how long have they been there? What lessons have they learned? Try to learn about any mistakes or lessons they can pass on to help you avoid the same issues.

Prepare for lots of people to offer to save you money after the fact

I lost count of the number of times I’ve paid out for something only for someone to stroll in the next day and say they could have offered or provided the same thing for less. Sometimes people will just offer to help after the fact to feel good but you’d be amazed how many friends of friends or relatives you might have with the skills you’re looking for who will understand you’re starting out and need every penny.
Do you best to research things and once it’s done there’s no point getting down if you’ve put the coffee counter in the wrong place, make it work and change it later.

Tell people what you do! 

“Why did that website cover you?” Because back at the start, I was based all the way down in Cornwall, there wasn’t much chance of the press hopping on a train to pay a visit or stumbling across what we do. Reaching out through social media/email/phones to chat about what makes the thing you offer unique is half the battle won. Start with places you are a fan of.  For example, if you listen to a podcast, it’s more impactful to send a message that already acknowledges what they do and how it might fit what you offer.

How cheap is beer?

It normally surprises people that the cost of drink is around the same price, if not more, than a supermarket. Plenty of places raid the supermarkets at Christmas when spirits are cheap. An average branded pint (Think Brewdog/Goose Island etc) is going to cost you £1.90 on draught so when you draw up your forecasts, try and find a supplier to get accurate prices which are probably more than you think. The benefit of real suppliers (not filling your boot at Tesco) is that proper suppliers can help with incentives like fridges and ice machines provided you agree to only buy from them.

How big a venue do I need?

“They were always busy, how are they closed?” The bigger you are, the more costs you have with staff, rates and it’s harder to keep track of costs. While you may have a venue that is seemingly packed full of people, sometimes very few of these people are spending money. Also, while you may make decent amounts of money while it’s busy, you have to consider that there will always be quieter periods.

Can I call it Loading?

If you want to open your own Loading, you can get in touch about that drop an email to Bigboss@loading.bar and lets talk.

Do it!

I spent a total of 2 years working around the idea of Loading, finding suitable premises and preparing it for opening. Rarely, is there a right or wrong time to do it, so if you’ve read these points and think there’s nothing you haven’t already considered, go forth!

That’s about it, if you have any other questions feel free to fire an email and if by some luck my advice leads to you having a chain of gaming spaces that take over the world just remember to send me a card with some thank you money. 😀

Categories
Guides

How to play D&D online

Desperately trying to figure out how? Well, we’re here to answer the question once and for all – even though explaining how to play DnD online isn’t easy.

Since most guides clock in at 3000+ words, you’re probably only seconds away from being distracted by another tab. So, how can we get you from this article to playing Dungeons & Dragons as quickly as possible?

Out the window goes the buyer’s guide for webcams and headsets – you probably already have a phone or computer, or you wouldn’t be able to read this. There’s plenty of online campaign-building platforms to select from depending on your online campaign needs, but we won’t focus on these here. We’re very proud of our super short guide letting you know the best way you can experience DnD online as a starter in just five short words…

What’s the best way to play DnD online as a beginner? 

Get Divinity: Original Sin 2

You don’t need to gather a party of friends to play Divinity: Original Sin 2. It sure is fun with others, but the experience is still strong when you’re playing by yourself.

Let’s get something clear: Divinity: Original Sin 2 is not a licenced Dungeons & Dragons game. It’s not set in the D&D universe, and even though you will see similarities in every aspect of the game, there will be some differences, too. But, arguably, these differences help translate the world of D&D into a digital product. Plus, Wizards of the Coast trusted DOS2’s developer Larian with Baldur’s Gate 3. That’s gotta mean something.

When has Reddit ever been wrong…

So, just how closely do the two link up? Back when Larian demonstrated the Game Master Mode to media before launch, they cut a deal which allowed them to show the mode off with The Lost Mine of Phandelver, the same campaign that graces the DnD starter set. We know when you say “Game Master”, Larian, you mean “Dungeon Master”. We’re onto you.

If you are coming at this from a total novice perspective, Divinity: Original Sin 2 is the perfect starting point. Its already done the hard part of crafting a gripping story. You can play the story mode by yourself, play it with others (including a couch co-op), use the Game Master Mode to create your own campaigns or join stories crafted by others. It’s your choice if you’d rather safely explore the pre-written, or push the boundaries of the Game Master Mode. You can safely bring in any role-playing newbies and know the game will tackle the hard parts of teaching you the ropes and the tropes of an RPG.

Here’s what makes DOS2 pretty great: it costs about £20, but you can often find it on sale. If you live with a fellow RPG enthusiast, you can both enjoy a 60 hour campaign together for the measly price of £10 each – roughly two pints in a pub. If you want to play with friends online, you will have to convince them to shell out £20 each, but you don’t necessarily have to gather four friends, as you can each control more than one character.

“Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be about D&D?”

Alright then, if you like D&D so much, let me paint you a picture. You’re an online user, browsing the web in the search of the best online D&D tips. Now, you have to face a choice: would you like to run the game, or to play?

Playing DnD online?

Roll20 will become your Holy Grail, with a handy search tool that lets you seek out games that are suitable for starters. The only caveat here is some will ask for a fee to cover the game running time, which is still a pretty sweet deal given that they’re crafting a campaign & guiding you through it.

One word of warning, the built-in voice and video functions aren’t the most stable so expect whoever is running the game to be linking you to a different chat option. On the plus side Zoom, Google Hangout or Microsoft Teams all let you join from a link without having to set things up.

Like any game, it will live and die based on the people playing so don’t be too put off if your initial campaign isn’t the best.

Running Dnd online?

The simplest and the best advice we can give you for testing your DnD campaign running skills is to have a group call with your players and go from there.

Sure, virtual 3D dice sure look great, as do virtual environments, plugins, avatars, digital character sheets and more, but communication truly is key. If what you are looking to do is develop as a group of beginners, it is the most important tool for online play.

While it’s not the most exciting advice, pick up a Dungeons & Dragons Starter set, crafted by the experts at Wizards of the Coast who’ve been doing this since 1974. It’s built to give you all you need to play the game. It’s even slightly cheaper than a copy of Divinity: Original Sin 2.  

Pick up your copy then split the character sheets amongst your group. All you need is a way to make notes. A set of dice is definitely nice to have, but Google has you covered for any dice-roling needs.

It really is as simple as the Starter Set and a group call. One of the benefits of this minimal set up is there’s a whole lot less that can go wrong and players have less to fiddle with so *hopefully* will remain more engaged in your storytelling.

See what works for you and which parts of the game running you want to enhance. If the players find it tough to imagine locations, Roll20 and tilemaps might be right for you. If they really enjoy the character building element of the game, run your first full session with the newly updated Character Builder app.

Let’s face it: if you’re over the age of 18, the hassle of getting four (or more) people on the same call at the same time can be the biggest threat to any Dungeons & Dragons campaign. If you want to see if DnD is right for you, it’s best to keep it simple in the beginning. The starter set is great, as there’s nothing big to learn or read before playing, and for the DM everything is nicely scripted and easily understandable.

If everyone in your party is as eager to learn as you, hit up the more detailed guides. If you’ve caught the bug watching streams, seeing Dungeon & Dragons in movies and TV, just settling down and playing with as few barriers to entry as possible is what RPGs are all about.

And trust me on the Divinity Original Sin 2 part!

Jimmy Dance, self-appointed expert.
Categories
Games

Spüüklevich

In 2018 we hosted our E3 watch party and bar conference, like the big triple-A counterparts we wanted to have a game available at the end for people to play. For that game idea, we got in touch with our friends IGNUK to bring their drinking game into the real world. After weeks of ‘high stakes negotiations and last-minute bids’, we secured the “rights” to make the official coasters and dish them out in the bars while stocks lasted.

How To Play Spüüklevich:

  1. Place a pint glass on a table.
  2. Place coaster so it hangs over the edge of the table.
  3. Flip the coaster towards the pint glass.
  4. If coaster lands unassisted on top of the pint glass, everyone taking part must chant “Spüüklevich” (Pronounced Spoo-Kull-Vitch) three times.
  5. Repeat.
If you want to print your own tournament grade coaster