Friday, 13 December 2013

Thinking about the No-Joe Show

Next week is the Christmas GNN, but unfortunately Joe can’t make it that day. I started wondering if there was a way of him joining in the fun, even though he wasn’t physically there. In the event that he can’t rustle up a games night of his own, I started wondering if there are any games that he can play by phone or text.

The first, and most sensible answer I came up with was the online version of Brass. It works fine on a mobile phone, no worries. And I’m sure that there are other similar apps that offer you a chance to play your favourite board game remotely.

But then I started thinking, what about an actual physical board game? Are there any that he could join in with? We could even have an empty chair and a glass of cranberry juice to mark his presence.

Auction games would be impossible, so Ra and Medici are both out. Similarly, any games where you have to share cards, like 7 Wonders or Kakerlakenpoker, can’t be done.

After some thought, I decided that Incan Gold is playable over the phone. As long as we tell him what’s going on, he can keep track of the game quite easily, I reckon.

Stone Age, too, is a possibility. It’s more complicated: he’d need to set it up himself and pick out the cards and huts as they’re revealed by us, but otherwise it may be possible to play this over the phone. And I’m sure we can rely on him to be honest about his dice rolls, as we will be honest about ours.

Castles of Burgundy could also be done, but that’s because it mostly feels like everyone’s playing a solo game anyway. He could just play on his own, and then text in his results. Not terribly interactive. But then, CoB doesn’t have a great deal of player interaction anyway.

The Resistance might be possible with a little preparation. We’d have to know the number of players well beforehand and then put a spy/resistance card in an envelope and give it to him earlier that day. Preferably at a park bench, while wearing trench coats and black leather gloves. Then, when we come to play the game, he opens the envelope, the rest of us draw the remaining cards, and we play with Joe on speaker phone! It’d be fun!

And I’d love to know if it could be possible to do the same with RotW. It’d have to be by text, since two and a half hours on speaker phone would wipe out most phone’s batteries. As long as Joe doesn’t mind passing on every auction then, once we’d got the board set up in both houses, it may be possible. Or is that just a crazy dream?

Of course, there are probably apps and websites that do all this for you. But it would be nice to have him physically there, if not in person, at least in meeple.


  1. Ha ha! Thanks Andrew - I like the idea of the resistance, particularly via Skype - you guys could stick the card up to the camera and I'd be away. Until I got sent on a mission of course - that would be harder to deal with...

    Werewolves I could moderate via Skype e - it would a bit like some weird '90s cd-rom game.
    I could probably have a role in Space Alert too.

    But let's not jump the gun, I may yet find a way - the will is most certainly there.

  2. Ah, I forgot about the missions. Hmmm. How about if you were definitely a member of the resistance.Then there'd be no need for you to go on a mission, and you could still join in the witty banter.

  3. Let's hope you can make it Joe. But if you can't I like the park bench idea...

  4. Hey, I've got an idea for a way we could use a Google doc to run the missions. Let me know if it'll be needed...

    But I'm up for playing Brass on my phone too!

    Or, if we set up a laptop against the wall with a camera pointing back towards the table we could stick cards into the keys and Joe could shout out "play the third one from the left" etc and so on! That'll work with most card games...

  5. Here you go - Joe could join in over the phone and we use this spreadsheet for voting:
    Joe just keeps the player one line visible, while we pass a laptop around the table entering our 1s and 0s. Then we move on to the total and further on to the second mission... Any takers?

  6. Yes, that works. And it's ingenious, but it just occurred to me, if he's a spy and he's on the phone, how will he know who they other spy is?

  7. He'll be on Skype, so as long as we're all facing the camera and the video doesn't glitch in any way and he can make out our eyes it'll be the same as for the rest of us...

  8. The other game that would work well is new (old) favourite Take it Easy, all I'd need is one board and set of tiles. But we don't yet have enough sets for everyone to play - I'm working on that, but won't have achieved it by Tuesday.

  9. Actually I've got a better idea. Choose games to play that only I have, then hook up the skype, and you all sit around the monitor while I set up the board (or boards, I can run multiple games), and you just tell me what moves to make!

    But really, I'm going to try and be there...

  10. You know, technically speaking, you don't need another set of Take It Easy. As long as people know which numbers go in which direction, they could draw it on a piece of paper with the board already drawn in it.

    And of course, we want you to be there, Joe. If I seem keen on the idea, it's not because I'm glad you won't show up, but because it's an interesting logistical problem.