What do you do when you feel beaten down by a game?

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I kept playing through the same sequence in Ori and the Blind Forest the other night. There were times where I would make significant progress; there were times were I would explode in a ball of light instantly. No matter what though, I couldn’t make it through this particular sequence.

So I did the thing that I had long fought against doing, I lowered the game’s difficulty from normal to easy. Filled with stupid shame, I battered my platforming skills against Mount Horu once more. But changing the difficulty only made the enemies easier! The platforming was still stinking hard! I felt mad. I felt angry. I felt ashamed for lowering the difficulty. Someone with my level of video game experience, at this stage in my life, shouldn’t have issues like this.

In my discouragement, I realized that I was super tired. I could feel the wave of emotions wash over me from the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. So much uncertainty… no one sure of what is going to happen next. I tweeted out asking:

What do you do when you feel beaten down by a game?

No answers. But I know the answer to this question: You Quit. You put the controller down. You try again another day.

I played Ori some more the next night. I breezed through the section that had been giving me trouble. My skills were intact! Weird to have a video game discourage me enough to confront my emotions. Thankful for the reminder that sometimes we need to quit, rest, and tackle things again another day. I will beat this game. We will get through this crazy virus situation, toilet paper shortages and all.

At the Table – Pandemic

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Pandemic is a cooperative board game that requires players to take on different roles/coordinate their moves in an effect to treat infections/find cures for four different viruses. At the end of each player turn, cards are drawn which cause the viruses to spread even further. Will solid teamwork win the day?

Pandemic Cover

Years ago, Tab and I had a bad experience with Pandemic. For an entire game, we were told what to do:

“Use your special move to do this.”

“You should move here to stop the yellow virus from spreading.”

Instead of being allowed to wrap our head around the game’s unique mechanics, we were compelled to be good soldiers and follow orders. This experience made Tab and I never want to play Pandemic again… and so we didn’t. We avoided the game like the plague.

Side Note: Our experience, I later found out, was not unique. In the board game world it even has a term: “Quarterbacking”. Quarterbacking occurs in cooperative board games when one player dominates the group by telling everyone else how to play.

Pandemic
Behold, the board! And the many virus cubes of evil.

Last year, one of my big pushes was to introduce cooperative board gaming to our family. I wanted less of us all working against each other and more of us working together to overcome the board. So we played a bunch of cooperative games such as:

  • Castle Panic
  • Forbidden Island
  • Jaws
  • The Mind
  • The Game Card Game
Jaws
From our recent family playthrough of Jaws.

For Christmas, I decided to ask for Pandemic. I thought maybe playing the game with just Tab and Wyatt might redeem Pandemic in the Hall house. I was right! We had a great time stumbling across the board, as we tried to figure out exactly how everything worked. By the time the world was imploding with viruses, we lost the game. But even in our defeat, we are all eager to play Pandemic again.

Final Thoughts: Castle Panic is our favorite family cooperative game right now. We love the way it plays. However, Pandemic isn’t too shabby. Funny how one bad experience soured the game for us. I am happy to have brought Pandemic back to the table for another go.

Christmas Loot – New Board Games

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Our family is a family of first borns. We are all highly competitive with each other. This past year, I made a concentrated effort to introduce cooperative board games to our family game time. We’ve dove into:

  • Castle Panic
  • Forbidden Island

Both games are built around the idea of playing together, combining tactical decisions/special character moves in order to win. We’ve enjoyed these cooperative experiences, working as a team to beat the board.

For Christmas, I was gifted:

  • Pandemic
  • Jaws
  • The Game

I can’t wait to bring these games to the table. I’ll let ya’ll know how they each play. I’m curious to see if we stay alive going up against Jaws; also curious to see if we, Tabitha and I, can overcome the bad first impression we had of Pandemic (had someone quarterback us through a game).

How about you? Did you get any board games for Christmas?