PnP Games Madness

I’ve been on a kick lately. Printing and playing games, designed by random people on the Internet with just PDF resources and what I have on hand. These games are lower budget than your boxed systems, have less fancy mechanics (generally) and usually aren’t multi-player.

That is often okay for me. I have a really high tollerance to game fatigue, which many of the people I live and visit with do not. Often it’s enough to crack open one semi-complicated game, or two less complicated ones and have a short evening of fun for them. For me, I could play for hours and with some of my friends in town, I often do.

One of the print and play games I like is this social/economics board called “Austerity”

This style of games suits me nicely, because I can pick up a game, start playing it. “Pause” it while I do something else, and come back to it without having missed a beat. No turns to figure out and watch other people play through. Just me, some dice, maybe some meeple, a pen and some time.

Saving on Games Prints

Recently I decided that I wasn’t going to foot the bill for all the ink and paper usage for these things. My little home Brother MFP was not going to cut it. Besides, Kinkos is right down the road and can also laminate, give me a wide variety of paper types (including water proof!). They also save me the hassle of having to print them, and muck with them. Someone else does that. They’ll even call me if there is an issue with the look or the print.

While they may not be cheaper than DIY, it certainly isn’t expensive. I had Austerity (board and cards), Bargan Basement Baythsphere (of Beachside Bay), Utopia Engine, and Under Falling Skies printed, laminated, etc, for less than $20. They were ready the next day and looking great.

Not bad. Though I printed (and laminated) the low ink version of Utopia Engine by mistake…

While I’m not isolated in these times, it’s nice to know that I can do the equivelent of a nice Sunday crossword, but more my speed, when I have a bit of time to myself.

Going Foward

I think once I’ve played these games, I’ll go and get a couple more put together. I already have Supermarché and Four Against Darkness. Ada Lovelace: Consulting Mathematician looks like a great teaser and there have been really good reviews about Mr. Cabbagehead’s Garden. These should all be relatively easy to pick up and get going.


Too Many Board Games!

A bit of board game backstory, here: I’ve been loosing weight for more than a year, now. Part of what helps motivate me (amongst other things) is something we set up quite recently. Every week, I choose a sub 50 dollar “wellness win” to help motivate me with a non-food reward. Many of these wins have been almost entirely board games.

I own quite a few board games. It is a problem some would love to have. I enjoy many of them, and some I haven’t even been able to play, yet. Despite this, I keep looking for my next “fix”. Right now, it’s roll and writes and print and plays.

Supermarché, a print and play that I had my wife laminate for durability.

So, should I do with these games? I am planning on pulling out every game from our overstuffed closet and evaluating the need/love of a game, sorting it into piles. Essentially, I need to weed out the cremé of the crop, and sell/donate the rest. Honestly, though, I never thought I’d be in one of these guys shoes, so early into my adventures in the world of board gaming.

New Board Games Rules

  • The game must be a up to five player game. This allows for everyone in my immediate family to play at once
    • This rule is relaxed for print-and-play, solitare-style games
  • The game must have a general “complexity” score of 2.2 or less at BoardGameGeek
  • Games with expansions either need to have good storage mechanisms (Wingspan) or be small enough as to not have that issue
  • More “fiddly” games with lots of peices are to be purchased less in favor of more travel appropriate games (we often transport games to grandma’s house, I hate loosing parts)

With this initial set of rules, I will be able to weed out games that may be fun, but difficult to manage. Storage is at a premium, and we have plenty of games to pick from. The onus is on games that we really enjoy, versus learning new mechanics.



Playing the included quick start guide as we learn how the mechanics work.

Often, “crunchy” games are complicated because they are sort of like D&D. Lots of rules and functions and numbers to check and compare. Sometimes there are cards that help, or illustrate; Sometimes there are miniatures and place mats to organize and strategize over.

Wingspan is “crunchy”, but much more elegant. This game is all about building machines. With birds. Um… yeah.

So, each of the gorgeously hand-illustrated cards is like a cog in a well oiled machine (or, sometimes not so well oiled). In the beginning you may not even have birds to put in each of the sanctuary types, but as the game goes on, you hit a tipping point and suddenly birds are powering this egg-laying, card drawing, food producing machine that can cause larger games to run out of resources available.

Not only is it a fun, intricate game, it’s also a beautiful and informative game. Each card has the bird’s common name, scientific name, wingspan (ha!), region that it inhabits, average number of eggs it lays, nest type, and a quick factoid. All of this is included on the card that has a hand-painted picture of the bird, region it’s allowed to be played in, food it requires to play and (as in most cases) a power that it provides. This is all in addition to the cutesy little bird feeder that doubles as a dice tower, for rolling random food dice.

The game is also sort of competitive. You’re vying for most points, so you’re looking at birds, finding good fits, and fitting this all in with end of round goals, secret bonus goals and more. While points is the main method of competition, you can also push other players out (or just hinder them, really) by consuming resources they need or picking/tucking better birds to deprive them of high-scoring options.

If that wasn’t enough, the company also provides what appears to be a more competitive option for scoring, and a solitaire mode — you know, in case you’re quarantined alone.

Everything about this game oozes quality, attention to detail and downright adorableness.

If you haven’t played a good, deep board game in a while. Pick this one up.


Board Games Help Form Social Connections

…So we spoke with one another through chess, with the crux of the discussion roughly translating to: “Wow, you’re bad.”

Cian Maher

My wife, who is awesome and knows me very well, sent me an article on the apparent social benefit of playing board games (in person) with other people. It certainly seems to make a certain amount of sense. When you play games, even silent ones, you’re interacting and communicating in often deep or interesting ways.

Photo by Chait Goli on

I love board games. Not just because they’re fun. I like the art, I like playing with people and having a good time. I really get invested in some and feel happier when done. Some, like my family’s new obsession: Skull, are simpler games where the fun is mostly in your head. Some, like Wingspan, Ticket to Ride and Gloomhaven are extremely cerebral and have lots of fiddly little tools to play with, in addition to the person-to-person game. Games make me happy.

I used to play D&D with friends back in Maine. While those times are long gone, I haven’t forgotten them and even having longstanding memories of having fun. Were it not for games, I would have had a lot less friends in that part of my life.