6 of My Favorite Board Games

So we all have special interests, right? Those things that capture us and enchant us, they draw us in and they even make us seem obsessed to other people. Right, exactly, those special interests. I know that when I have a special interest, I want to talk about it. Which is usually fine, but is sometimes problematic, like when you’re eight and all you want to talk about it the Holocaust. That freaks people out a bit. But even if our special interests aren’t a weird, topic, people eventually get kind of tired of us talking about it. Which, thank goodness, is what the internet is for!

I’m here to talk to you about one of my current special interest- board gaming. As a kid I loved games like Sorry, Clue, and Risk (not Monopoly. Never Monopoly), but, like most adults, I stopped playing. But thanks to the internet, I learned that board games had moved on from the Classic games that I knew, to more Modern Board games. Games like these are become more popular, in fact, you may have heard of games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, or Pandemic. These are the types of games that pulled me in.

I love that these games are like competitive puzzles, and that you can play them over and over without them feeling old. They also involve a social component, and while this is something that I struggle with, Game Nights aren’t socially stressful at all!

So I’d like to share with you a few of my favorites, partially because I like exposing everyone that I meet to board games, partially because I think you might enjoy them, and partially because if you get tired of listening to me talk, I won’t know.

1. Patchwork– This is a fairly new acquisition, but I’m smitten. Patchwork is a two player game, in which both players are racing to build a quilt out of Tetris shaped pieces. I will make it known right now that I am terrible at this game. More often or not, I actually end up with a negative end score, but as bad at it as I am, I keep coming back to it. There’s so much strategy, do you make money, or do you cover more squares? should you shoot for bonus points or try to complete your quilt?, that I feel the need to play it over and over again. Let’s just say, the day we got it, we played 3 times in a row, and leave it at that.

2. Codenames– This is a great party game, which is generally defined as a cheap easy game that plays a lot of people, and Codenames fits all of these. It’s easy to find cheaply at places like Target, it can be learned in under  5 minutes, and it allows up to 10 players. And as a bonus, it comes in themed versions like Marvel and Disney! This game is played in themes, like Pictionary or Charades, and involves guessing words from limited clues, also like Pictionary and Charades. I enjoy playing it in groups, because as the games go on, people go from being a little stressed, to being incredibly enthusiastic. This is a great game to play with anyone, gamer or not.

3. Betrayal at House on the Hill– Betrayal is a really interesting game because it has two parts. In the beginning it is a cooperative game, meaning all of the players are on the same side, and are working together. But in the second half of the game, one play betrays the other, and it because the betrayer against everyone else. I’ve been informed that when I’m the betrayer, I’m ruthless, down to having an evil laugh, but who are you going to believe, them or me? This game is highly replayable, because it doesn’t have a static board, the player build the board out of tiles as the game goes on. It also has dozens of scenarios for the betrayer, so it never gets old. For any fans of Baldur’s Gate, there is a themed Betrayal at Baldur’s Gate too!

4. 7 Wonders Duel– You may eventually start to notice that I talk a lot about two play games, and this is mostly because my gaming group only gets together once or so a month, so I spend most of my gaming time playing with my wife. It used to be hard to find good two player games, but things are changing! This game is a spin off of a very popular game called 7 Wonders, which involves you building up your civilizations by building wonders like The Pyramids and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, advancing your scientific knowledge, and building your military. It’s a lot of fun, but I have to say that the two person version is actually better. It’s more streamlined, it is a lot easier to understand, and it’s not nearly as sprawling (7 Wonders can take up a whole table). This is another game that I lost a lot in the beginning, but I’m finally starting to understand the strategy. It’s a pretty solid game, even for people who don’t game much, is pretty rare!

5. Jaipur– This is another two player game (see, I told you!), that is definitely simpler than 7 Wonders Duel. The theme is that you’re a merchant on the Silk Road, trying to sell spices and jewels and silk to make money. It’s a set collecting game, like Uno, so say you’re collecting silk, you want to get as many as you can, because you’ll get more money and more bonuses selling 5 silk than 2. It’s a very straightforward game, it doesn’t take a lot of attention or thought, yet, the more you play, the more you realize there’s little bits of strategy here and there. Our scores having slow increased from the 40’s to the 80’s as we’ve gotten more plays in, which is really satisfying. Also, there are camels.

6. Niya– I got this in my Christmas stocking, and we’ve already played it 4 times! It’s another two player, very simple game, think of it like two steps up from Connect Four. The reason I’m including this is because it’s portable enough to keep in your bag, it has a super small play area, so you can play it at restaurants while you wait for you food, it plays in under 10 minutes, and is so easy to teach that you could find a random stranger and play with them. Also, this game is gorgeous, based on traditional Japanese art, so it’s fun to look at, and fun to play!

So here we are! Did you get tired of listening to me? I certain hope you made it this far, and also that your interests may have been piqued in regards to board games! I’ve linked all the games that I talked about, and if you have any questions, I’m more than willing to talk about it. In fact, I’d welcome it!

Do you like playing board games? How about when you were a kid? Talk to me about your experiences and your favorites, I love talking about this stuff!

5 of My Essential Apps

Technology is amazing, and it’s so hard to believe that in the last twenty years, we’ve got from cell phones the size of bricks, to tiny computers you can hold in your hands. Out of the millions of apps out there, there are a great deal that I’ve found incredibly use for not only Autism, but Mental Health as well.

They’re not all Autism specific, but even so, I’d like to share some of the ones I find essential.

1. Habitica- I’ve mentioned here more than once that I struggle with Executive Dysfunction. And on top of that, I’m not the best at transitioning between activities. Habitica helps with both of these tremendously. It’s like a To-Do list on steroids, and it fills in the gaps in my brain. All you have to do is enter tasks you need to complete, whether it be daily, week, or monthly, and it helps you track them, and will even send you reminders. And to encourage you, it takes the theme of a Role Playing Game, so the more tasks you complete, the higher your level, the more powerful your weapons, and the cooler your pets! I definitely get more done using this app.

2. Emergency Chat App- This app is designed spefically for Autistic people. It fills an incredible need- communication when you’re non or semi-verbal. One of my biggest fears about going places by myself is that I’ll get overwhelmed and lose my words. This app calms my nerves. When opened, it pops up a message, telling the reader that I’m not currently able to speak, and that I’m very sensitive, so I shouldn’t be touched. It then provides a text chat service, where the other person and I can text back and forth. Although I rarely need it, the fact that it’s there makes me feel safer.

3. Community Apps- One of the best things about my Autism diagnosis is that it came with a huge and wonderful community. As someone who would be considered a life-long lurker, it took me a while to dip my toes in, but now I’m liking and posting and commenting all over the place! I love having access to my people wherever I go, and to be honest, sometimes the apps are better than the websites (I’m looking at you Instagram!) The ones I rely on most are Tumblr, Instagram, WordPress, and Reddit. They all have amazing Autistic communities, whether you have a question, have something to share, or just want to feel understood.

4. Distraction Apps– Sometimes all I need is a distraction, and my number one favorite distraction is board games. They force me to focus on one thing, and let me tune out the many things in this world that overwhelm me. Now, I prefer to play games sitting around a table with real people, but lets me honest, that’s not always possible. Luckily, as board gaming gets more popular, the app versions of many games are getting better. All of my favorites have single player options, where you play against an AI, and even better, some let you play with friends. My favorite distraction-worthy board game apps are OnirimAscensionTsuro, and Lattice. I especially like that I can play Lattice with my wife over a period of days. The heated battle of tile laying is definitely a distraction!

5. Spotify– Music is great, because it can serve a number of purposes. It can block out unpleasant noises, it can transport you to a different place and time, it can be a source of entertainment, and it can calm your mood. I’m including it here for the first and the last reasons. Oftentimes music and my headphones are the only way I can tolerate crowded spaces. And once I’ve survived said crowds, music also helps to calm me back down. Now I know that all phone give you access to your music library, but I chose Spotify because it provides you with community made playlists. So you can just search ‘calm’ or ‘anxiety’ and up pop playlists that work for other people, so there’s a good chance it might work for you. And as a personal note, if you use Spotify a lot- the premium version is totally worth it. I promise they haven’t paid me to say that.

Well there we are, my essential apps! At the time of this posting, all the apps I’ve mentioned are free, and available in the ITunes store. For Android users, you’ve got access to most of them, and from a quick search it seems like there are comparable options.

Are there any apps that you can’t live without? Let me know while I’ve still got some memory left on my phone!

 

6 Word Stories pt. 17

So as you might have guessed, the saga to figure what’s causing me so much trouble with my hip continues. My doctor is confident that it’s some sort of nerve issue, but we can’t seem to figure out what’s wrong. I have an appointment with a nerve surgeon next week, and while I’m not excited about the idea of surgery, if it will help the pain, I’m open to it.

  • More doctors, less answer. In pain.
  • Reading is my break from life.
  • Friends who get it are irreplaceable.
  • Does anyone find positive feedback overwhelming?
  • Singing Christmas Carols is so stimmy!
  • Board games make great special interests.
  • I find celebrating my birthday uncomfortable.

My birthday is coming up next week (check back on Monday for a Very Special Birthday Post!), and I’m never sure how to feel about it. I’m generally uncomfortable with celebrating it, because I don’t like being the center of attention, but since it’s the big 3-0, I decided to have some fun with some close friends. I’m trying to stay open, but I’ll let you know how it goes next week!