With isolation and limited ability to go outside the home, I find myself in a position (along with the rest of you) of nervousness and boredom. One can only watch so much Netflix before you develop bedsores and a stiff neck! So, I’ve set myself a challenge to play at least one board game a day during this time and if possible pair it with a good beer, wine, or cocktail. Why not! Feel free to play along. Today marks one full week of quarantine gaming for myself and my wife Sarajo. Just so my readers know, I’m not actually in quarantine yet–I’m a pediatrician and am still going into work on my regular work days. So while I’m not technically stuck at home, I am in a high-stress work environment these days and really need game playing as an outlet when I get home.
For those who haven’t read the Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher, I would recommend them highly as fun series to read during your social isolation. The series focuses on Harry Dresden, a wizard for hire in modern day Chicago, working in a world where the supernatural exists but most humans refuse to acknowledge it. The series has a good dose of humor to it and is told first person from Harry’s point of view. I will say that the story is great in the first two books, but the writing is a little clunky at times–this improves dramatically as the series goes on and Butcher gets more comfortable with his writing style. There was a brief attempt at a TV series back in the day on Sci-Fi channel, but this only made it for about half a season.
A while back I discovered that Evil Hat Games was Kickstarting a cooperative card game based on the series, made with Jim Butcher’s blessing, and went ahead and joined in the fun. My version included the first several small expansion packs. Last year they came out with a few more packs that I also picked up.
The game has a small board with two rows of places to place cards. Each game you play will have you use a small deck of cards containing mysteries to solve, enemies to defeat, obstacles, and advantages. Each of these story decks corresponds to one of the Dresden Files novels, though you don’t need to have read these to enjoy the game (as Sj will attest). The cards are randomly placed in the two rows so each game will be easier/harder depending on where the good and bad cards are located.
Each player has a small deck of cards based on one of the characters of the game and draws a starting hand, and will rarely draw more cards as the game progresses–mostly you are stuck with what you drew at the start of the game! Each character has a special Stunt that can be used once per game, and a Talent that can give bonuses or special effects at certain times. The players have a shared pool of Fate Points that are used to power attacks, mystery solving, overcoming obstacles, etc. When these run low, you can sell cards in your hand for their Fate Point value to renew the pool…but lose the ability to use that card later. The goal is to solve more mysteries than evil characters are left on the board at the end of the game. The game ends when no characters can do anything else, or when you overdraw yourself and accidentally use more Fate than is in the pool. That is possible since some of the cards have a cost like 3 (2) which will cost 3 points but also roll 2 of the Fate Dice–this can be blank, or a + or – and cost more or less! This adds a little push-your-luck to the otherwise static cards.
This is a cooperative game, and is fairly difficult since the points and card are pretty tight. Sj and I have about a 50% win rate on our plays (and that is playing on the regular mode–not hard!) It plays fairly quickly, usually 30-40 minutes, so is a good one for a weeknight.
Our game today was based on the book Changes, getting late into the series. There were only two mysteries to solve and plenty of baddies to beat. We came pretty close to winning, but barely missed it. At the end of the game, you have a chance to spend leftover Fate Points in the Showdown–where you get a chance to roll some Fate Dice to complete partially solved mysteries or beat partially injured bad guys. We didn’t quite succeed due to Sj’s poor dice rolling.
Paired with this particular game I created a cocktail for Sj that I call Fuego! This is Harry’s signature spell where he throws a fireblast at villains. For this I created my own simple syrup using galangal root (ginger would work), and lemongrass. 1 cup sugar, 1 cup water, chopped herbs–bring to boil, let cool, strain out chunks.
1.5 oz Sipsmith Lemon Drizzle Gin
0.5 oz Lemongrass Galangal simple syrup
0.5 oz Koval Ginger Liqueur
Splash habenero bitters (also homade).
I served myself a new Anniversary double hazy IPA from Blackstack Brewing in St. Paul called Thirst Encounters of the Third Kind. There was plenty going on with this beer and it poured like fresh orange juice! One of the best from these guys I’ve had. I realize it looks like all I drink are hazy IPAs like some dudebro, but I’ll get some more styles into this series as I run out them! I know this beer would have paired better with a science fiction or space game–but I really don’t have any of those! Accepting donations…
So one full week of a game a day during Q-Time. Hopefully all of you are staying busy! Play more games, and keep your distance!