One of our favorite things to do is playing games with friends and family – board games, card games, party games, road trip games, trivia games, role-playing games, you name it.
But with hitting the road and COVID tacked on top, getting together with a room full of besties is 100% off the table. And we miss it.
Which is why, given that we’ve had decent cell signal for a couple weeks and have been prohibited from staying in the more remote places we had reserved, we’ve become active with online tabletop games, ones we can play with our friends anywhere we have bandwidth.
Those friends include you. See the last section for how to make that happen.
Full Steam Ahead
Steam is an online gaming platform inside which you build your own virtual game shelf. Then you play those games with your other Steam friends who own the same ones.
Of course kids these days grew up this way, their shelves being virtual ones instead of the boxed versions we so prized for decades. And these same kids (ours included) have been building their Steam reputations and game collections for years.
Us old fogeys are just now catching on.
And we’re discovering how far the tech has come, and how rewarding it is to sit around a virtual table with voice chat enabled and just play with the people you love.
Bonus: When the online game handles all of the tokens and dice and cards and accounting for you, each game has less tedium, leaving more attention available for requisite trash-talking.
Our Steam games so far: Catan Universe, Among Us, Instanbul, Sentinels of the Multiverse.
- Catan Universe is the Steam version of Settlers of Catan, its collection of tabletop classics faithfully made digital.
- Catan – Seafarer is an expansion of the base game that we find superior to the original both in game dynamics and fun factor.
- Among Us is that hot social deduction game all the kids are talking about. Really. It had half a billion (with a “b”) players last month. It’s like werewolf, in space, and both sillier and deadlier.
- Istanbul is a competitive resource management marketplace game, complex enough to be interesting but not overwhelming.
- Sentinels of the Multiverse is a cooperative card game where our team of superheroes tries to beat a nasty supervillain in an even nastier environment. It’s tough and calls for lots of teamwork. The heroes usually lose!
Entering the Arena
Magic is the best game ever created. The end.
Since 1994 when a dear friend taught me the game, I’ve been a player, collector, and evangelist. And after all those years collecting, finally selling my paper cards more than paid for the tiny rolling house we now live in – a trade I made without regret, all because of Arena.
A couple years ago, Magic’s designers created an online version: Arena, which re-creates the paper version with astounding fidelity, and tracks all of the game’s complexities and bookkeeping so you can concentrate on strategy.
If you play Magic and haven’t yet tried this online analog, you’re missing out.
I play this game often. It puts me in my happy place.
The Game of Kings
We’re the ones with a chessboard set up at the campsite.
A chessboard is one of the inspirations for our wedding rings.
Playing this game together goes back a ways.
And if you haven’t seem Queen’s Gambit yet on Netflix, give it a try. Its 1960s scenes of discovering the larger world of chess books and magazines and tournaments hit me straight in the feels.
So yeah, chess. I play on chess.com. Especially blitz and bullet, for the adrenaline fix, not the deep strategy.
And if you encourage Rachel, dollars to donuts she’ll create an account there too.
Play with Us
Here on the road our primary goal is to become connected to where we are, to experience the place and its people and see if it’s for us forever. And also to be on extended vacation and do all the things tourists do. But now, many of those interactions and experiences are off limits.
And while they are, connecting with everyone else is a grand alternative.
Let us know if you’re on any of these platforms, so we can add you to our friends lists there.
Offer up suggestions for new Steam games we might enjoy together.
Regale us with grand tales of your online gaming exploits.
Because for right now we’re calling recess – and that’s play time.