Tag Archives: Tabletop

Obama Llama Game Review

Obama LlamaParty games have long been anathema for me. I’m just not really a huge fan of Uno or Trivial Pursuit or other games of that ilk. I guess that my idea of a party game is a rousing session of Dungeons & Dragons, but that certainly isn’t the cup of tea of some of my family and friends. So, I’m glad that I learned about Big Potato on Twitter. At Gen Con, I was introduced to Obama Llama.

Obama Llama is the combination of a memory game, a rhyming game, and charades–which sounds busy, but actually works effectively into a cohesive experience. The game is all about getting your team to guess the rhymes written on a card. If they guess, your team gets points; for every three points, your team gets to flip over two memory cards, looking for a rhyming pair. The team with the most rhyming pairs at the end is the winner.

The game includes three types of clue cards: Describe It cards work like the old game show Password, where you have to get your team to guess the rhyme without using any of the given words; Act It cards have the name of a celebrity on the back, and the team has to figure out the thing that rhymes with the celeb’s name; and Solve It cards, where you just read the sentence on the card and your team has to guess the rhyme. You’ve only has 30 seconds to guess, so the game moves quickly and can be played in about half an hour.

Here is an example of the rhymes you’ll have to try to guess (from the back of the box):

Clue: Mysterious snow monster enjoying Italian noodles.

Answer: A yeti eating spaghetti!

I fully get why a game should have teams and scoring, but honestly, the first night I played Obama Llama was with my wife, my 7-year-old son, and my mother, and we just took turns trying to get everyone else to guess the rhymes and laughing our heads off.

This game brings the chuckles in droves. The thought of Fay Wray using eBay or Tigger having a girlfriend who is a gold digger are instantly funny to me. I’m a big fan of absurdist humor, so this is right up my alley.

Honestly, if the game has any flaws, it’s that the cards really depend on pop culture. I played a session with my mother-in-law who sometimes had a hard time keeping all the newer actors and characters straight. This isn’t a bad thing, necessarily, but it might be wise to consider the group you’re playing with before you bring this one out–a more pop culture-savvy crowd will appreciate this game more.

As far as presentation goes, the box is compact and has plenty of space to neatly house all the components (which is always a sign of quality for me). The cards are easy to shuffle, but feel sturdy enough for lots of use. It even comes with a pencil!

Big Potato has created a game that is fun, funny, and quick. Obama Llama is a keeper for sure. I can’t wait to pull it off the shelf again.

Obama Llama (and other Big Potato games) can be found at Target in the US. A review copy was provided to The Cool Ship by the publisher.

 

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Video Games are Losing Their Appeal (To Me)

its-dangerous-to-go-alone-take-thisI’ve been playing video games for a long time. I got my first video game system (the Nintendo Entertainment System) when I was around five years old or so. But, lately, video games are losing their luster for me. I find myself not having fun playing them any more.

It started a few months ago. I was playing Halo 4 (one of my favorite games from last year), and I realized I wasn’t having any fun doing it. So, I popped in Borderlands 2; I also didn’t have any fun.

I began wondering what was making these games less fun for me, and I realized it was because I wasn’t having any social interactions.

I’m a work-at-home dad. I freelance edit and take care of my kids during the day while my wife works a “real” job.  Most of my social interactions come from my kids (Ages 1 and 4) and chatting on the Internet. So, for me, games are less of an unwinding escape and more of a chance for me to by myself some more. And that isn’t fun to me.

I’ve stated many times recently that if I could get some regular tabletop gaming done, I would probably give up video gaming all together. Well, that’s a bit of hyperbole (I don’t think I’ll ever totally stop video gaming), but the sentiment is mostly true. I played a four-hour game of X-Wing Miniatures (with a game of Munchkin before that) and had a lot of fun. And the difference was, of course, social interaction! My friends were there. We could chat, rib each other, and generally share in victory and defeat.

I’ve also been playing and running games over Google Hangouts with the Roll20 App, and it’s been great. Again, social interaction makes all the difference. And since I’m playing mostly with friends, I get to stay away from the negative social interactions in Halo Matchmaking.

There are still video games that interest me. I really like old-school style platformers (I started playing Castlevania: Symphony of the Night and really want to try Rogue Legacy), but for the most part, I really just want to play games with my friends.

I played Halo: Anniversary with my wife the other night. I had a lot of fun. Maybe what I need to do then, is focus on video games that have “couch multiplayer.”  Whatever it is, I think I crave interaction with adults, and that’s making multiplayer online gaming boring to me.

Who wants to come over for a game night?

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Playing Tabletop on the Internet with Roll20

roll20 Last night, I ran a Pathfinder game using the Roll20.net virtual tabletop. While I don’t think it quite compares to having everyone present in the same room, I think it went pretty well overall. Since Roll20 has opened up so many possibilities for me to game with people, I thought I would talk about some of the pros and cons of playing tabletop games on the internet.

1.) The tools are versatile enough to use with a wide variety of games.

Want to play a tabletop wargame? An RPG? Wanna just play some board games? Roll20 can handle it. It has a built in dice-rolling system, and you can import maps/terrain/boards to cover just about any kind of game you want to play. During play, I had no problems importing maps on the fly. My only complaint is that moving the PCs tokens (the virtual tabletop equivalent of miniatures) from map to map was a ponderous task that slowed the game down. Being able to mass select tokens would really help in that regard.

2.) Like any Internet-based video chat, there can be problems.

That annoying pinging sound from microphone feedback can happen quite a bit during a game, and that can really make the experience difficult for everyone. Cross chatter can also be a problem. As well as mic problems, video problems, internet connection problems… basically anything that can normally mess up your technology could be a potential problem while playing an internet-based tabletop game. It’s not Roll20’s fault, but it is something that has to be overcome.

3.) It brings people together:

I played a game with people from five states and two time zones. Most of us are people that wanted to play Tabletop games but couldn’t find groups. Some of us were beginners, some of us were veteran gamers, but we all were able to play thanks to Roll20 and the Internet.

This is really what I imagined doing when I first discovered the Internet back in Jr. High and was playing MUDs and primitive MMOs. Finally, I can play a game on the Internet where my only limit is my imagination. Sure, somethings from the rulebooks have to be streamlined, but that’s okay. I can’t wait to play again.

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