Snow plays havoc with Game Days. We plan out everything — whose house we’ll be at, what game we’re playing, who’s able to make it and then whammo, a Nor’Easter comes roaring in and dumps a half foot of snow over our plans.
In the old days, that would have meant the end of game night but now we have Xbox 360 and Xbox Live.
Rolling the Virtual Dice
The Blackrazors are primarily an role-playing game group, but we do break out the board games on occasion (and more than a few of us start to get twitchy if we don’t). Thanks to Xbox Live, we can now play these games online — there are digital versions of Carcassone, Catan, and Ticket to Ride, all of which are games my group’s enjoyed.
Carcassone is far and away my favorite online board game; it’s a faithful port of the real-world version and it has an intuitive, easy to use interface. Settlers isn’t as successful; it works, but it’s clunky. Also, Settlers has a huge amount of history in our group — it’s one of our favorite go-to games, and we’ve found that a lot of our informal trading cues don’t translate well to the online game.
We haven’t tried Ticket to Ride yet, but I’m eager to give it a spin. I enjoyed it when we played the real-world edition, and imagine it would translate fairly well online. I’d also like to try Lost Cities online (a card game in which you fund various expeditions to lost ruins), but that one’s only two player, which doesn’t lend itself well to a 4-5 player online game night.
Bring on the Zombies
Board games are nice, but so’s blasting zombies. Our big multiplayer game right now is Left 4 Dead, which four or five of us have picked up. We’ve had great fun playing through the first campaign, and I look forward to shotgunning our way through the next three. I can easily see this game keeping us entertained through January, and maybe longer if downloadable content comes down the pipe.
Our other big online game remains Halo 3. We default to it because everyone has it, and thus, it’s easy to get a small crew together to go and blow stuff up. Typically that involves a little co-op, a little multiplayer deathmatching and even (on rare occasions) some Xbox Live Deathmatching.
D&D 4E: Missing in Action
If D&D 4E had lived up to its promises, we could have added it to the mix as well. There are enough of us who liked 4E that I think we might have run the occasional online game using Wizards virtual gaming table. Alas, said gaming table has not yet materialized, and honestly, I’m skeptical it ever will. It’s too bad, because it’s exactly the sort of thing the hobby, and D&D in particular, could really have used.
Granted, there are other online gaming tables out there, but having an official one, branded and supported by Wizards of the Coast, would have been great.