Just because you are holed up at home doesn’t mean you can’t get in a game with your friends! Here’s how.
With the UK and major parts of the United States on shelter in place orders we all have more time than we know what to do with, and no place to play our favorite games. FLGSs are closed, and GW itself is hunkering down for the duration. What is a tabletop gamer to do?
HOBBY! We all tell ourselves that we are going to finally face down that closet of unopened boxes, and kits still on sprues, but something tells me that when we all return to the world that was (see what I did there), a lot of that ignored hobby will still be ignored. What we all really want to do is play!
What we need to play is likeminded friends, with matching sets of games, and some type of video interface. For the tech side of things, you could Facetime, Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout, or a myriad of other choices. The key is to set up that virtual window into your friend’s house, set up your own, and leave them up. If you can stream them to your giant TV, then it’s even better, so you have a big window to look at to see what your buddy is up to instead of continually squinting at your phone.
Next, you need a “state machine game.” That means you need a game with discreet pieces and positions that can be replicated in multiple locations. State Machine games are easy to set up in numerous locations so that a player can make his moves, and tell the other what they were. Then the other player replicates them exactly them, and makes his own, continuing the game. You do this back and forth until you finish. The most famous example is chess. Grab yourselves some tasty beverages of your choice, sit back, and have a great game night – all from the comfort of your home.
Unfortunately, some of the mainline games like 40K and AoS are just too complex for this setup, requiring too many minis and allow free movement of models. So right away, things like the Grimdark and the Mortal Realms are out. Some games like Adeptus Titanicus have very exacting rules for arcs for both movement and firing. These also make it very difficult for this type of play. What you really want are games with relatively smaller numbers of units and gridded-out boards, so movement is precise. It turns out GW has a bunch of those.
Yup, minimal model count, fast gameplay, and small hex-maps. Warhammer Underworlds is a great fit for this type of gameplay. The most obvious choice is to use the two initial warbands that come in one of the starter sets, as they are the most common. But if you are willing to do substitutions and can remember which model is what, go for it.
Another great choice. Aeronautica has a small model count, again that nice hex-grid, and both players can easily let each other know what’s going on. The number of maneuvers isn’t too crazy, and you have those fancy bases to record altitude and speed for you. SCRAMBLE flyboys!
Necromunda is a bit more on the complicated side and has lots of levels of optional rules and different playstyles. You can do everything from single skirmishes to a full multi-gang campaign for groups of players looking for something to string multiple days of gaming together. But as its most basic, you can keep your gangers on the included square grid board, and only use the minimum rules needed to have some fun duking it out in the Underhive. Don’t worry about going stir-crazy and getting claustrophobic in your house as the days tick by – that’s just role-playing life in Hive Primus! Choose your House fellow gangers.
Blackstone Fortress is a different kind of beast. If you set up matching boards to track movement and are careful with the decks and rolls, it should work out for a group of friends to keep up and tell each other what you are doing and rolling. Keep the lights low for that extra bit of mood-setting as you explore the dark labyrinth. Alternatively, don’t forget that of all these games – only Blackstone Fortress has a true solo-play mode, so you can use those rules and see if your hero can survive… alone in the dark.
Last but not least, good ole Blood Bowl. I’m assuming Humans vs. Orks will be the most common match as they come in the starter set, but hey, you do what you want to do. If you’re going crazy and can’t get out to play some sports of your own, and want to game – here’s the next best thing. The game uses a grid-based pitch, so you should be good to go!
~Happy homebound playing everybody! Tell us what games you are getting in via video-chat. Any tips and tricks to pull it off?