The BGW Blog

Tabletop gaming news and reviews

I, like many of you, play a lot of games. Typically it’s with the same group of friends. There are certain games that we play over and over, and it’s fun to keep track of who wins, how often and so on. I could make tally marks in a notebook, but instead I use Scorebook for iPhone ($2.99) by Jared Sorge. This handy app lets you track win/loss records across games, add photos, notes and more. I’ve been using it for a few weeks and find it quite enjoyable. Best of all, I’ve got several giveaway codes for you, our readers! Read on to learn more about Scorebook and maybe grab a copy for yourself.

Looks

Scorebook is clean and legible. It’s right at home with the “flat” aesthetic that Apple introduced with iOS 8, so it’s comfortable on the iPhone. The images are nice and big, which I like, as are buttons and other tap targets. There’s nothing you don’t need here, so it’s really pleasant to look at and use. Speaking of…

Use

There are two major tasks in Scorebook: Adding games and recording results. Adding a game is super easy. When you first launch the app, you’ll see a “+” in the upper right-hand corner. Tap it to get to the New Game screen. From there, you’ll add a tile, an optional photo (the app looks very nice with photos, so I recommend adding them) and finally select how scoring will be handled. Your options are:

  • Tally number of wins
  • Note the high score
  • Note the low score
  • Track total victory points

I like this a lot, as it shows that developer Jared understands that simply recording “won” or “lost” wound be inadequate.

Once that’s done, hit Save and you’re ready to play. Hit the “+” again, tap the game you’re about to play and add players. Again, you’ll hit a nice, big button and enter each player’s first and last name, plus photo. If a player happens to be among your contacts, just hit Import from Contacts. Previously entered players are always available, which is perfect for my situation, where I’ve got a steady gaming group. After that, let the games begin and praise the glorious victor!

Additional options let you add your custom notes or note the location of a given play session. I have to admit, it’s fun to scroll through and remember back to previous play-throughs.

Conclusion

Scorebook is well done and fun. It looks great, especially as you begin adding photos. My only request is for a back up option. I’d hate to lose the data I’ve carefully collected. Still, Scorebook gets the official Board Games Weekly seal of approval. Now for the giveaway!

Below you’ll find seven promo codes that you can redeem in the App Store for a free copy of Scorebook for iPhone. They’re first come, first served, so when they’re gone, they’re gone. Have fun and happy gaming!

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Comedian and actor Paul Scheer and co-host of the amazingly hilarious How Did This Get Made? recently sat down with A.V. Club to host a podcast marathon. His first pick? The Dice Tower’s Essen episode. On the A.V. Club blog, he was asked about that selection:

“As adults, you forget about board games. We only remember Monopoly, and then there’s always party games and stuff like that. But there were like some real cool board games, so I went into this deep board-game wormhole and now I feel like I’m a board-game fan.”

I hear you, Paul. Keep listening and playing. While you’re at it, might I suggest a similar podcast you’ll probably like….

Every movement eventually spawns a counter movement. Think of disco and punk rock, or modern design and post-modern. Today, our increasingly digital lives has begun to prompt people to seek out face-to-face interaction, which some clever cafe owners are cashing in on. And, they’re using board games to make it happen.

Writing for The Atlantic, Hana Schank points to two “game cafes” that are doing a good business. Snakes & Lattes in Toronto has recently opened up a second location with a liquor license. Meanwhile, NYC’s The Brooklyn Strategist is so busy, it’s owner is converting the outdoor property into useable game space.

OK fine, stats from two stores don’t represent the heath of an entire industry. Well consider this: sales at hobby stores have risen for the fifth consecutive year, growing 20% just last year alone. Jon Freeman, the owner of The Brooklyn Strategist, believes that people are increasingly looking for a way to connect in person, especially after staring at a computer screen all day:

“Adults who spend all day sitting in front of a computer want to spend time with people. It’s really about people having like-minded, shared experiences. We’d lost access to that, and places like board-game cafes have opened up access.”

I can relate to that. Hana’s article is a good one, and I recommend reading it. When you’re done, turn off the computer and go out and play!

Francis Drake is a dice-rolling, press-your-luck game from Peter Hawes and Eagle Games. Its box is chock-a-block full of nice components, but that doesn’t mean an industrious gamer can’t improve upon them. Take a look at these incredible minis from Hobold’s Grotte.

Gustaw Petru has made 30 sailors and eight sacks for trade, all to be used in the game. Look at the texture on the hair, the ropes on the bags and the vibrant colors. These make me want to play this game very badly. Well done, Gustaw. Those minis are gorgeous.

Fantasy Flight Games has announced a new campaign book for Descent: Journeys in the Dark. Entitled Heirs of Blood, it’s the first campaign for Descent: Journey Into the Dark Second Edition. It’s broken into two acts and features thirty-two new encounters. Of course, you actions have consequences that will affect the entire campaign.

In addition, this campaign includes what FF calls an “unprecedented” three-enconter finale that “…brings Saradyn’s two claimants together in a magical showdown that will determine the fate of the kingdom.” I’m in!

Look for Heirs of Blood in the first quarter of 2015.

Is one International Tabletop Day per year not enough for you? Then get ready for Gather Your Party.

International Tabletop Day was founded by the good folks at Geek & Sundry to celebrate everyone’s favorite tabletop activity. No, not eating. Playing games! The first one took place on March 30, 2013 and was live-streamed Geek & Sundry’s YouTube channel. Now, the gang wants to keep the fun going all year long.

The Gather Your Party initiative encourages people to host gaming events following each new episode of Tabletop (season three premiered just a week ago) and play the featured game. The first episode featured Tokaido (our review here), and several “Tokaido events” popped up in the days since.

You can get started by watching Tabletop and then scheduling an event here. Have fun!

If you were at the Hampton Inn and Suites in Suisin City, California last weekend, you might have seen the folks from Bad Zero Games in one of the conference rooms. They’ve been at it for six months, in fact, gathering to play, make new friends and hopefully sell some games along the way.

Justin Wood is the man behind the idea, and he told The Daily Republic that he and his wife “love to host” these events. His kids help out, too. Once a month they set up the “store,” inviting folks to play, learn and buy a game.

What a clever idea! There’s little overhead and no big rental payments. For the cost of using a hotel conference room for a few hours — which visitors help cover via a five-dollar admission fee — Justin and his family have a little business going. I like it.

wil wheaton

Wil Wheaton, host of Geek & Sundry’s Tabletop and unofficial King of Nerds has published his list of five games you ought to play. Writing for Esquire, Will shares some of my personal favorites, like Takenoko and Lords of Waterdeep. What are Wil’s other three suggestions? You’ll have to head over to Esquire to find out. Read more.

 

Outrider is tabletop game that turns your kitchen table into a post-apocalyptic war zone.”

OK, you’ve got my attention.

This cool vehicular combat game is set in a  post-apocalyptic world. Movement is tactical with a program mechanic. That is, players simultaneously plot how their vehicles will move, and then they all go for it. It’s a mechanic that I like a lot, as it’s fun to cross your fingers and hope you got it right. There’s also a press-your-luck aspect that keeps the tension up.

What I really like is how scalable Outrider is. You can play a quick “last car standing” game with a friend, or go all out and use the included terrain tiles along with your own model cars, etc. to create a full-on, full-table experience.

I think this looks great and I’d love to give it a try. Congratulations, Outrider. You’re our Kickstarter of the week.

Gary Ray of game store Black Diamond Games recently took to his blog to bemoan the lack of popular games on his store’s shelves. “The hottest games of the year are worth nothing to us if we can’t put them on the shelves,” he says.

Here’s the issue that Gary’s been experiencing. He identifies some of the year’s top games, like X-Wing, Dice Masters and D&D 5th Edition, and reliable standbys like Betrayal at the House on the Hill and Carcassonne. He just can’t keep them on the shelves, and that’s a problem. Who’s to blame? “Nobody [and] everybody.”

“Publishers are either frustrated or elated by this increased demand. Some will call a sell out a victory, while others are seriously concerned with satisfying the market. If you’re at a bake sale and you sell all your cookies, that’s a clear win. You have the money and no need to take perishable cookies home.  If you’re the guy in charge of selling the cookies, you’re frustrated that you won’t be taking in any more cookie money. That’s where retailers are right now. No more cookie money.”

Additionally, publishers want game store owners to hold organized play events for their games. That’s a great idea, as it brings more people into the store, but frustrating when those same customers can’t turn around and pick up a copy of the game they just played. The one stalwart, he says, is Magic: The Gathering:

“Oh Magic, you savior of stores. We would run Magic events every day of the week, if we could. Wizards of the Coast almost always has supply. They provide wonderful organized play.”

It’s so successful, in fact, that Gary mentions what he calls “store blight,” meaning so many “craptastic Magic-only stores stinking up the market” offer little else to their communities.

It’s a frustrating position, and I hope it gets resolved. I’ve said this before and I’ll keep saying it: You can sit down and play games at Walmart or Target. Whenever possible, buy games from your local game store. That’s your local gaming community. Keep them in business.