Picking Up Some Casual Games

Written by Karla M.

Board games season at the library has begun! At one time, the words “board game” and “library” did not feel entirely complementary to me; however, the introduction of board games as a way to engage with our community has given me a new appreciation for game play and creating connections. As part of the Board Game Gathering programming team, but new to playing board games in a social setting, the first few months have introduced me to some visually exciting group games that I want to share with folks new to the community board game scene:

The first game I have really enjoyed learning and teaching is the game Hanabi, named for the Japanese word for "fireworks.” Hanabi is a cooperative game in which players try to create the perfect fireworks show by placing the coloured cards on the table in the right order. It requires cooperation and communication, as players are able to see everyone else’s cards in the game but unable to look at their own. This means you must work as a team to give each other hints to ensure the right cards get played. Once you get in a rhythm of play, Hanabi is an easy game with minimal pieces to take on-the-go. You also have the possibility of expansions if you want to complicate things!

Next up is Love Letter! Love Letter is a simple but engaging card game of risk, deduction, and a bit of luck. Your goal in the game is to get your love letter to the princess, exposing the competition along the way in order to be the one to gain her affection. Rounds in this game go by quickly, making it an easy game to try and also a simple one to learn. I enjoy that there is some element of skill to the game play but also a lot of mystery and risk involved, making it feel less intimidating for casual players like me to try (and even occasionally win!)

The final game that has been a fun addition to my repertoire is Azul. In the game Azul, players take turns selecting coloured tiles to add to their player board. As the round goes on, players score points based on how they've placed their tiles to decorate the palace. Extra points are scored for specific patterns and completing sets; wasted supplies harm your overall score. While this is a more competitive game, and admittedly a more complicated game to learn than some of the others, it is absolutely worth the time it takes to put the pieces together. It also helps that the aesthetics of this game are incredible, and if you appreciate a good pattern or find completing tasks from multiple angles satisfying then this game might be for you.

Board games can be expensive, so for someone who has just begun their journey into the realm of games, gatherings like the ones the library offers are an opportunity to explore and challenge myself… at no cost! Board Game Gathering takes place on Sunday afternoons, and you are invited to join. Come visit the library to try a new game or bring a favourite to share with new friends. No registration required.