Over the last 18 months or so, an uncountable number of events had to be cancelled or postponed due to safety restrictions. Everyone knows someone whose wedding or graduation or vacation was affected by the pandemic. Major holidays were disrupted.
As more people across the country are fully vaccinated and things start to open up, people are naturally starting to plan get-togethers with those they haven’t seen and share communal experiences denied to them over the last year.
For puzzle and game fans, the same is true, as folks all over are gearing up for this year’s International Tabletop Day.
As long-time readers of the blog know, International Tabletop Day is one of the highlights of the puzzle/game calendar, especially around here. We usually celebrate with an open game session with tons of games to try, snacks and game-themed treats, and more.
There was some controversy back in 2019 regarding when to actually celebrate Tabletop Day. It had been celebrated at the end of April for years, but then the official creators “moved” the date to June 1st, so there is a little bit of debate regarding when to celebrate this year’s game-fueled event.
But whether you’re celebrating on May 29th or June 1st (or any other date that suits you), we’ve got plenty of suggestions for how to enjoy the day, no matter what your circumstances!
If you’re gathering a small group of like-minded vaccinated chums for Tabletop Day fun, there’s plenty you can do:
- Host a short game tournament and crown the winner King/Queen/Non-Binary Ruler of Tabletop Day
- Have people dress up as favorite games or game characters
- Have secret game-related rules for people to follow, like not being allowed to say certain words or trying to accomplish certain tasks (stealing a candlestick, referencing Clue, for instance)
- Create specialized Bingo cards with games or rules or inside jokes to cross off as they happen, and have some small prize for people who get Bingo
- Refresh with old classics OR break out something new from your stash that you’ve been desperate to play for months
[Image from Stranger Things courtesy of The Verge.]
If you’re trying to keep things mellow but still enjoy the day, here are some suggestions for the game fans in your household:
- Play a communal storytelling game where the story goes around to each player and you have to build on what other players have said before. You can even add a twist to it with cards to play that add story elements, settings, and other weird obstacles to incorporate into the story at a moment’s notice.
- Use Candyland as a guide, but each of the different colored spaces represents cards to draw or tasks to complete or other neat personalized challenges or prizes!
- Try to kitbash together two games and make up new rules on the spot, and play your new hybrid game to see how it works! You’d be surprised how a few new twists can bring new life to old classics that have grown a little stale
- In the same vein, make up your own game by playing 1000 Blank White Cards! (The link suggests everyone submit 5 cards, but I prefer that everyone submit as many cards as they can think of!)
[Image courtesy of No Rolls Barred.]
Maybe you’re still hesitant to gather together to celebrate. No problem! There are some terrific virtual options for you, no matter how you connect online with friends and family:
- Writing games where you need to compare answers (like Scattergories or Hive Mind) are perfect for this sort of interaction, because all you need is some paper and something to write with!
- Trivia Night! There are tons of ways to do this, either by having someone write the trivia, or use pre-set trivia games or websites, or even log into an app like Kahoot and have everyone virtually compete in the same online quizzes.
- Play a social deduction game like Mafia or Werewolf by having one person run the game and assign players their rolls! This requires some coordination (and a willingness by players to shut their eyes and adhere to the rules), but it can be great fun if you pull it off!
- Sign up for virtual board game spaces like Board Game Arena to communally play virtual versions of your favorites. (Also, there are tons of online versions of games as varied as Telestrations, Wits & Wagers, Uno, Secret Hitler, and many many more if you’re willing to search for them! All you need is one person to share their screen and run the game for you, and you’re in!)
One game that quickly became a favorite in our virtual office game group is Dobbins or Bobbins, a DIY parlor game that is huge fun.
Essentially, you pick a topic — the usual one is racehorse names — and have everyone who is playing submit 5 fake racehorse names each ahead of game time. Then you find 5 real racehorse names, and you create 5 lists.
Each list has a fake name from each of the players, plus one of the real names. (The person running the game can also submit a fake name if you want to spice things up a bit.)
Then everyone gathers (in person or online), and you read one of the lists. The goal is for every player to pick the real racehorse name. You get three points for guessing the real racehorse, but you also get a point for every player who picks your fake racehorse name! (Also, you can play with the rule that, if no one guesses the real horse, the person running the game gets three points, making them the antagonist.)
So even if you don’t find the real racehorse, you can clean up on points if you trick the other players into picking your horse!
After five rounds, the player with the most points wins.
And you don’t have to limit the game to racehorses. Our group has played Dobbins or Bobbins with board game names, Christmas movie titles, professional wrestler names, and more!
(Yes, you do need one person to host/organize this one, but it’s great fun to watch everyone play. Also, tricking them with a fake name is very satisfying.)
Will you be celebrating International Tabletop Day, fellow puzzlers and PuzzleNationers? Let us know in the comments section below! We’d love to hear from you.
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