Monthly Archives: April 2020

Playing Card Tower Activity


            This activity would split the class into equal groups with the objective of building three card towers However, only half of the group can talk. Without any time to strategize, they must be able to work together while racing against other groups to reach the ceiling first. Once finished the class would have a debrief where they talk about how they believe the activity related to leadership and what aspects they specifically contributed too.  


  • As students come into the room have them sit on two separate tables.
    • On both tables there will 3 packs of playing cards.
    • When ready, tell the students that their goal is to use the materials on the table to build three playing card towers that are each 4 layers tall.
      • However, before they begin, pick half of the students on each side.
        • These students are not allowed to speak during the activity.
      • Each side will have 10 minutes to reach their goal.
    • Once the time limit has expired, bring the class back together to have a discussion on leadership and have them reflect on the aspects of leadership that was exhibited during this activity.
      • This should take 10-15 min.

Learning Outcomes:

            This activity focuses on three areas of leadership that are closely tied in Heiftez’ Leading with Open Hearts paper. The first is common purpose, in the sense that members of each group have to come together, despite not knowing each other, in order to build the three card towers. Furthermore, this activity focuses on collaboration by having only half the group to be able to talk. Similar to the adaptive challenges Heiftez talks about, students will be challenged by a limitation with which they will have to find a way to be able to work together and handle any issues to complete the task. Finally, this activity will focus on the individual’s congruence. By suddenly having to work with random people, and being placed with communication restrictions, individuals will find their instincts and beliefs tested and it is up to them on how they respond when dealing with others. 

Additional Materials:  

  • 6 boxes of Playing Cards

BuzzFeed Assessment: What is your Cooperative Gaming Role?

What is leadership and how is it displayed? It is said that leadership can take on many forms and while I agree with that statement, it begs the question: How does one quantify it? If asked whether or not one has what it takes to be a great leader, how would one respond? And what evidence would one use to exemplify it? As society’s next generation of leaders, we are called upon to answer these questions. My experiences as a Resident Assistant, and leader of a student organization, have led me to my own answer to these questions. While it is true that there are many ways to display leadership, leadership is not solely quantified by how it has impacted you, but by how it has impacted the community. Leadership is not about a title, but rather the impact and influence one has in the community. Thus, one of the best examples of leadership within a community can be found in team based role-playing games. Games such as Dungeons and Dragons, League of Legends, and Smite, all require their players to form a team with unique roles in pursuit of a common objective. Just as leadership is defined by one’s impact on the community, so too is a player’s leadership in their impact on the team. In an effort to assist thirteen individuals with discovering their own form of leadership in games, I have created a BuzzFeed Quiz which pairs the players with their ideal role in team-based games.

While there are various roles a player can take on a team, the quiz focuses on the four core roles. The Tank, the strong-hearted defender of the team. The Support, the tactical backbone of the team. The Aggressor, the strong-willed sword of the team. And the Ranged Fighter, the sharp-eyed spear of the team. Each of these roles are significantly important. The Aggressor and Tank are the team’s sword and shield. Their duty as the vanguard is to lead the team down the path that advances their goal. The Support and Ranged Fighter, on the other hand, act as the team’s eyes and ears. Observant and strategic, their duty as the rearguard is to support and lead the team towards the correct path.

Of the thirteen individuals that were surveyed, almost half of them were given the Support role, and all participants agreed with their designation. As leaders, this could suggest that these six individuals utilize a leadership style that focuses on supporting others. Moreover, it suggests that these individuals may be empathetic and possess the ability to accurately understand what others need. Interestingly, five of these six individuals have career aspirations that involve a service for others such as, psychologist, doctor and attorney. The second most popular role was the Ranged Fighter. A role whose leadership style suggests a more tactful and indirect approach to achieving an objective. One individual who was given the Aggressor role said, “I do not know why I got aggressor…probably because I believe Dishonored isn’t a stealth game.” Being given the Aggressor role, suggest that these individuals utilize a leadership style that focuses on pushing towards greater heights. For example, those individuals who were given this designation have career aspirations such as a paper engineer and an entrepreneur. A surprising result of this quiz, however, was that not a single person received the Tank designation.

How do our leadership skills set us apart from our peers? If asked whether or not one has what it takes to be a great leader, how would one respond? And what evidence would one use to exemplify it? Leadership goes beyond a title or an authority figure. Leadership is determined by the impact an individual creates. Accordingly, a community is filled with various styles of leaders. Likewise, each of the four roles have a specific strength that they provide, and if a single one was missing, it would lead to the failure of the team. Fittingly, the BuzzFeed quiz is relevant beyond gaming, as it can assist in determining one’s leadership style in society.

GOTW – Mysterium – Belkowitz

During the fourth week of EDL290T, our class played Mysterium. Mysterium is a game where players work cooperatively to determine how someone was murdered. One player plays the role of a ghost and does not speak. The other players attempt to solve the mystery. The ghost is able to see a board that has each player on it. The board tells the ghost information such as what weapon was used, or which location is involved. The other players cannot see this board. Every round, the ghost gives cards to the players. The ghost is supposed to give cards that hint toward what a player needs to guess. Players work together to determine what the ghost is trying to tell them. That is the hardest part of the game. It is sometimes very difficult to figure out what the ghost wants the players to do. Sometimes the cards are very unclear, which makes it difficult to figure out what the ghost is trying to communicate. Players have to work together and communicate to accomplish a common goal. Players all want to figure out the information about the murder. Teamwork is a very important leadership skill, and it comes into play in this game. It is very important that the players all work together. I think this would be a fun family game. Family members would have to work together to solve the mystery, and I think having one player as a silent player would make the game fun for a family. This is a very interesting game, and it was fun to play.

Representation in Games

We are fortunate to live in an incredibly diverse world with opportunities for people of various faiths, creeds, and orientations to interact and learn from each other. As technology has progressed, so too has our ability to flourish and interact with society’s treasure trove. Nevertheless, considering the wide-spread appreciation of games, it is shocking to see the lack of representation, or even the advancement of stereotypes in them. While it is true that in recent years we have witnessed progress in efforts of inclusion, there is still an overwhelming proportion of games whose protagonist fit the basic mold of the white, cis-gendered, heterosexual male. Moreover, when we find characters who do not fit this mold, they fall into the trap of tokenism, and leave a meaningless experience with them. If not, reinforce the stereotype altogether. For example, it is no coincidence that Muslims, particularly Arabs, are routinely depicted as the enemy, members of the LGBTQ+ are routinely depicted sexual deviants, and African Americans are routinely depicted as either athletes or gangsters. Games act as an extension of society’s understanding of one another. Hence, representation has an importance beyond simple cosmetics, as it delves into the psyche and mindset of the player. To obtain a better understanding of the concept of representation, I interviewed 10 people from various and differing social identities.

In choosing a character for a given game, some had said it was as simple as choosing a color, while for others, they envisioned themselves in these protagonists. Rachel, a black cis-gender female, says that she chooses the character that most aligns with her. Whether that be physical appearance or qualities that she aspires to be. Rachel continued stating, “If my character was thin or attractive, then these are qualities that I want to see in myself.” Britney and Elizabeth, two white, gender fluid females, echoed a similar sentiment. Britney expressed a goal of choosing a character that represents who she aspires to be seen as: “I might gravitate towards some more androgynous characters, or if there is a gay/lesbian character I would pick them so I can feel like I am being seen and validated. While Elizabeth desired a character that represents who she aspires to become: “Sometimes a guy character when I’m feeling more masculine so I can muster more confidence in myself for not conforming to the hyper sexualized female characters that I have no resemblance with.” For both Rachel, Britney and Elizabeth, their reasonings were clear. They chose characters based around their identity and qualities that they aspire to emulate. In doing so, that character has become more than just about playing a game, but rather a symbol of the possibilities they see in themselves.

For others, however, choosing a character mattered less about what the character looked like, and more about the character’s background and psyche. Bram and Harry, two white, cis-gendered males both agreed that they didn’t pay much attention to the cosmetics, but they wanted a game that humanizes the protagonists with both positive and negative representations. They wanted them to be relatable and not the tired ploy of hero versus villain. Bram continued by stating that one particular quality that he gravitates towards in a protagonist are those who are shy and friendly but are willing to overcome challenges for the sake of a greater purpose as these are qualities that he sees in himself. While physical appearance is not as important to them, Bram and Harry find their connection by relating to the protagonist’s beliefs and actions.

When asked about the impact of positive representation of social identities in games, those that I interviewed had mixed responses. Dion, a black cis-gender male, believes that positive representation in the media is important because games are something we do as an outlet. For many people such as Dion and Britney, games represent a space where they can tap into their future aspirations and visually see the person who they want to be. For Bryan, a white cis-gender male, representation in games acts as a mirror to our own world: “I think there is a story to tell when the only games most people can think of with a person of color on the front label are sports games or Grand Theft Auto. If we are to believe that games mirror society’s ideals, then what does that say about us?” Bryan brought up an interesting point. Why do we see certain communities pigeonholed into certain roles?

Bill, an Asian cis-gendered male, believes that representation is important, but believes that there should be a focus on mixing both positive and negative representation. Humans are not perfect. They make mistakes and unethical choices, nevertheless, humans also learn and grow. Explaining his response for negative representation, Bill say, “Compliments tend to make me uncomfortable, and if you show negatives there’s more room for self-reflection. If a game is supposed to reflect society’s vision, then it should not hide the negatives and force the player to reflect on them through an engaging story.”   

Games act as an extension of society’s understanding of one another. Their purpose serves beyond enjoyment, but as a tool for social engineering. Specifically, to influence the social standings of those who do not fit the mold and to mend any unjust, bigoted, or racially biased understandings. Accurate and positive representation in games affords the opportunity to act as a symbol of representation for minority youths, which in turn, allows those youths the encouragement to aspire, and achieve, greater successes. Moreover, positive representation in the hands of a historically underrepresented, or marginalized, community can create the ideal that one’s identity should not subtract from one’s capabilities.

Campus Gaming Event: RECON Comedy Show

While we are all taking steps to maintain our health, as a graduating senior, I want to reflect on my time at Miami and the wealth of opportunities to explore that I was afforded while there. One of those opportunities was an event called RECON, which was hosted by the League of Geeks and took place on the weekend from Friday, Feb. 21st to Sunday Feb. 23rd. It was a weekend-long event filled with games, prizes, shows, and cosplay. Despite RECON being a yearly event, this semester was my first time attending. I had always wanted to go to these events, but due to not having anyone who was interested this type of event, I always put the wish aside. However, this year, I am happy that I went. While I was there for only a short time, I participated in various video games, board games, arts and crafts, and watch the numerous cosplayers dressed as characters from my favorite shows. It was truly a sight to see. Everywhere I looked I saw people of all shapes and sizes laughing, taking pictures, and playing games as I waited for the main event. A comedy show involving three “geeky” comedians, Larry XL, Mikey Mason, Violet Gray. As I entered Wilks Theatre, I was unsure of how interested I would be in the show. While I do have interest in the realm of “geek”, I can be considered uncultured in that respect. I am happy to report however, these three comedians were excellent.

It was clear after listening to the MC of the night, Larry XL, that he is clever yet wacky. With the audience’s non-stop laughter, Larry XL told the story of his hilarious adventures at home, while traveling, and even during RECON itself. Nevertheless, he also stood on that stage with a message. A message that hit close to home as an African American male myself. Larry spoke of his youth, and his experience as a “black geek” and how it shaped him to be who he is today. More importantly, however, he spoke of his journey of discovery to find his own happiness and self-confidence in an atmosphere that can drain it. In and outside the black community, it is not uncommon to be expected to be an athlete, to focus on sports, and to avoid things that make you seem “soft.” Societal pressure to be who everyone expects you to be is harsh, and Larry spoke about the pressures he faced as a black youth who liked Dungeons and Dragons and cosplay. For someone such as me, who does not fit the mainstream views of expectation, Larry’s message was encouraging. To be happy in one’s self.

Larry, however, was not the only one who came with a message. Violet Gray brought her unique comedy chops to the table with her own style. Violet’s demeanor was a vast contrast from the other comedians as she came to the stage dressed in all black and a mood that can only be described as deadpan. I must admit I was interested in this quirky approach, and Violet did not disappoint. While her demeanor was stoic, her words were wild and took the audience by storm. From calling out members of the audience to sexual innuendos, Violet Gray left no stone unturned but did so for a reason.  As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, Violet had her own message to share. Still in a stoic deadpan state, Violet shared her journey navigating through her life of self-consciousness and self-awareness.

Our third comedian, Mikey Mason, quickened the temp of the room through song and dance. Utilizing another peculiar style, Mikey Mason had the room laughing in thunderous roars with his upbeat songs about his girlfriend, Battle-Star Galactica, and his own interpretation of the identity of “white trash.” As a self-described “progressive redneck oddity,” Just as Larry and Violet, Mikey had his own message to share. Mikey’s songs were more than just self-deprecating jokes, they told his journey in a manner that empowers himself and others. In just that one song the atmosphere of the audience had changed. He had them captivated, and soon they were all singing his catchy tune.

For my first comedy show, these comedians, along with RECON, have definitely made it an interesting and fun experience. More importantly, however, it brought a much needed informative clarity to our student body. While each of these comedians’ styles of comedy were vastly different. Their message was the same. Self-confidence and happiness come from accepting who you are and accepting others for who they are.

GOTW – Betrayal at House on the Hill – Belkowitz

Hello! For Week 3 of EDL290T, our class played Betrayal at House on the Hill. To quickly compare it to another game, I would say it is similar to the board game Clue. The game begins with players cooperatively working together. On their turn, players are able to move around the house. As players move, they open up more rooms and expand the house. At a random point in the game, a player unlocks an omen. The player then betrays the rest of the players and attempts to defeat them. Each player has their own statistics, which is how their amount of life is determined. All other players have to work together to defeat the player who betrayed them all. There are many different scenarios for this game, which complicates the game. One of the most difficult parts of the game can be trying to defeat the person who betrayed the others, but the most difficult part can also be trying to defeat all players as the betrayer. The difficulty really varies based on what scenario is happening. Some scenarios are much easier for some roles than others. I think there is leadership involved in the game. For the game that my group played, we worked together to defeat the traitor. We looked at each other’s statistics to develop strategies so we could defeat the betrayer. This worked well for us. For leadership, it is important to recognize that many people have different strengths. It is important to use everyone’s strengths to achieve a common goal. Because of that, I think this would be a good game to play with colleagues or coworkers. This game would give people an opportunity to practice working together and thinking about other people’s strengths and limitations. I enjoyed this game, and I recommend it to anyone who has not played it!

Top 100 Games of All Time (10-1)

Top 10! Wow. A lot of things on the list so far could easily flow up-or-down 20 spots based on my feelings today. The top 10, for the most part, are solid. Especially the higher you go up the list. I own all but one of them and the only reason I don’t own it is the main place I play it has a copy…though it is on my list to buy first. On Facebook I do a semesterly “most wanted games” list to share with people which games I am most interested in acquiring at that particular time…the game I don’t own stays in the top 10 and will eventually be purchased.

The other thing about this list…My #1 will surprise no one. However, I would guess a lot of games on this part of the list may be surprises to some people as I would guess, if you asked a thousand regular tabletop games to list their 10 favorite games there are at least a few of these that would not show up on any one’s list. I could be wrong but…there are some here (and especially one) that are, to some, off the wall choices.

Before I get to the list, however…I want to update the list of new games I’ve played since I started creating the list with comments on those games.

Machi Koro Legacy – This was easily the quickest, shortest legacy game I’ve played. We played the 10 games in 3 sessions (3, 3, & 4 games) with a total playtime of five hours and 14 minutes. I’ve played Risk Legacy, Pandemic Legacy Season 1, Charterstone (twice), Seafall, and am currently in Gloomhaven and Betrayal Legacy games. While I enjoyed the people I played MK Legacy with…I would actually rank this one last as far as my ranking of legacy games.

The Shining – I got it because I’m a huge Stephen King fan but I’ll admit-I didn’t expect much. I do enjoy Prospero Hall so knew there was a chance it was good. I was pleasantly surprised. This hidden traitor game won’t take the place of the larger, bigger ones (BSG, Dead of Winter, Shadows over Camelot) but is fun, quick (30-45 minutes), and SIMPLE. This is one of the better games to teach hidden traitor games. Simple but fun.

Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons – Theme had me knowing I wanted the game. One key mechanic made me think I would enjoy it. This is a cooperative game (which I’m not a huge fan of) that doesn’t allow quarterbacking (which is my biggest problem with co-ops.) This is a cooperative programming game…however, you have limited information for discussion and get more info when it is time to program so plans get thrown out and you can’t have one person running the table. Really fun game.

How to Rob a Bank – Third straight mention of a Prospero Hall game and I played them all in the same day. This is a 1 vs all robbery game…think smaller, one floor Burgle Bros. Fun game but I’d play Burgle Bros 10/10 times between the two. That doesn’t mean this isn’t a good game (it is) or that I wouldn’t play this again (I gladly will.)

Wavelength – This is a party game that was a play-and-win for RECON donated by Meeple People Comedy. It was a party game. A lot of people love it and it is the hotness in party games right now. But I rarely choose to play a party game given the choice and this will fall in that category. It would be a good one to own for people to play if they come over…but not one I would ever suggest.

Dungeon Academy – This is a roll-and-draw (though you don’t really ROLL the dice) dungeon crawl. It was good but not one I would choose over the others I have played.

The Lord of the Rings: The Card Game – We purchased this for a friend and finally got to play it. Was a ton of fun (and kind of made me want to try Marvel Champions. Really enjoyed this game and will gladly play more.

A game of Wonder Woman: Challenge of the Amazons. Image from

10. Zooloretto
Z-Man Games
Designer: Michael Schacht
Owned: Yes
Times Played: 14

Why it is on the list:  I get to build my own zoo? And try to choose what goes in said zoo? I can have monkeys and cheetahs and all the animals of my choosing? Sold. This super cute, amazingly simple game is a ton of fun. Most of the time the game is very laid back and fun but with the opportunity to have a bit of take that.

Who may like it:  Do you like the zoo? Do you like cute animals? This is definitely the game for you!

A zoo being constructed in Zooloretto. Image from

9. Lords of Vegas
Mayfair Games
Designer: James Ernest, Mike Selinker
Owned: No. Eventually.
Time Played: 15

Why it is on the list: This game has been exciting every time I’ve played whether I lost by a lot or came close to winning. (I have actually won 3 of the plays.) There is a lot to do in this game and just like with Vegas a lot of luck needed but this game has fun area control mechanics where you can challenge the owner of certain casinos and depending on a dice roll take over…or lose it all. There is a lot of fun mechanics to this game.

Who may like it:  Do you like gambling, casinos, or simply area control? This may be the game for you. Simple to learn but a bit more complex to be good.

8. Great Western Trail
Stronghold Games
Designer: Alexander Pfister
Owned: Yes
Times Played: 6

Why it is on the list: Want to be a rootin’ tootin’ cowboy trying to be the most successful in the Old West? This is a lot in this game and now I never want to play without the expansion (though I would) this is a great game with a lot of options and a fun theme. Makes me want to try Maracaibo as well.

Who may like it:  Fans of westerns.

7. Xia: Legends of a Drift System
Far Off Games
Designer: Cody Miller
Owned: Yes
Times Played: 11

Why it is on the list: For a while I said “I’m not sure which I like more…Twilight Imperium or Xia.” The more I played, the more I realized it was Xia hands down. Not that they are the same game at all. They are both space epics where you need the most points to win…that is where the comparisons end. This is a much more variable exploration game with tons of paths to victory and different play styles that let you experiment with how you want to proceed for possible victory. Do you want to play a pick-up-and deliver game? Explore as much as possible? Do you like combat? Do you like to do different missions? This game has so many options for things you can do and ways you can play the game. It is also the game that proved a roll-and-move game can be a great game.

Who may like it:  If you like space and exploration-this is easily the game for you.

A game of Xia in progress. I was busy exploring the universe and shaping it to my liking.

6. Batman: Gotham City Chronicles
Designer: Frederic Henry
Owned: Yes
Times Played: 16

Why it is on the list: This 1-versus-all miniatures game lets you play as Batman, his ally’s or his rogues gallery in a series of missions. With support such as an upcoming create-a-mission editor and excellent mechanics based on the Conan “river” system this game is an awesome scenario based game. I enjoy being the overlord but also have fun when I’m one of the heroes and working to take the villains down. It is worth noting: most scenarios are hard for the heroes to win…especially as the overlord is typically the more experienced player.

Who may like it:  This is Batman in a box. You feel like you are the characters in Batman working on different situations as they happen in Batman. You like Batman and don’t mind some complexity? This is the game for you.

Nightwing is good in Batman: Gotham City Chronicles. REALLY good.

5. Ticket to Ride
Days of Wonder
Designer: Alan R. Moon
Owned: Yes-to US, 1910, and Europe, at least
Times Played: 24

Why it is on the list: I love this game. The 24 listed don’t include the hundreds I’ve played on my iPad or PC. This is a great game and one of the new classics and one of what I think are the two best gateway games to get into modern gaming (the other being Carcassonne.) This is a very simple game but a lot of fun and one I enjoy getting the opportunity to play.

Who may like it:  Do you like trains? Route-building? This is the game for you.

4. Scythe
Stonemaier Games
Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
Owned: Yes
Times Played: 31

Why it is on the list: This area influence game is amazing. I know at least one person (hi Chris!) that thinks this and Terraforming Mars and…well…a lot of the top ranked games in BGG are overrated but this is an awesome game. Variable Player Powers. Different options to win. A campaign. AMAZING components. BEAUTIFUL aesthetics. AWESOME mechanics. This is a great game. Truly a work of art as far as a board game goes-all around fantastic.

Who may like it:  Fans of the cold war…as this is NOT a war game, despite the mechs. While there will be skirmishes this isn’t a war game. People who want an immersive experience in their game.

3. WWE Raw Deal
Comic Images
Designer: Mike Foley, Barron Vangor Toth
Owned: Yes. Not everything but a lot of it, yes.
Times Played: Hundreds, but most were before I had BG Stats to keep track

Why it is on the list: A friend convinced me we HAD to get this new CCG he found back in 2000. I tried to refuse as I know that CCGs are money pits…but we decided to buy a deck each (Chris Jericho for me, The Rock for him) and just play. And, well…it didn’t stop. I have literally 10s of thousands of cards and would still play this daily if I had people to play with. I want to buy all the things I don’t have for this long out-of-print CCG as well.

Who may like it:  Wrestling fans who want an awesome experience.

2. DC Comics Deck Building Game
Cryptozoic Games
Designer: Matt Hyra, Ben Stoll, Nathaniel Yamaguchi
Owned: Yes
Times Played: 309

Why it is on the list: DC Comics is my choice over Marvel any day…but that wouldn’t lead to this being SO FAR above Legendary on the list. I love the system. I love the variants of game play. (Would you like to play Rebirth or Confrontations or Crisis or standard or…). I love the characters. I love the mechanics. This is a game I just love playing at all times. There have been times I’ve played this more than any other in a given time period and I’ve never gotten tired of it.

Who may like it:  Fans of DC Comics and fans of deck builders with simple but elegant mechanics. Fans of variety.

1. Battlestar Galactica
Fantasy Flight Games
Designer: Corey Konieczka
Owned: Yes
Times Played: 32

Why it is on the list: I love a game where you can tell stories after. I have many of the games of BSG I remember well and I can tell stories of “this happened this time I played BSG.” The experience playing this game is always fantastic. This was the last game I ran at SGC this semester knowing that we were about to close down and have no student gatherings. The theme is fantastic. No other game comes close to how well this is done with the hidden traitor. It is, for me, basically a perfect game. As you’ve seen from other games I love epic games…and this game is the most epic.

Who may like it:  That said I’ll admit a sometimes 4-5 hour epic where from the start of the game you are miserable and know you are going to lose experience…where it only gets more draining from there…isn’t for everyone. However, for me this is everything I want in a game.

Things are going to go very poorly for this assault raptor. Image taken from

So! That is it! As of Spring 2020 my top 100 games of all time list! I’d love to hear your comments and maybe what your top 10 are!

Villainous Review

One of my favorite games is Villainous. I am a huge Disney fan and I typically play the game every other week. Most of the time, I play as Ursula because she’s one of my dream Broadway roles, but with the release of the latest expansion, I most recently played as Mother Gothel. In Villainous, each player plays as one of many notable Disney villains. You can pick from classics like the Evil Queen, notable newcomers like Doctor Facilier, or hideaway oldies like Ratigan. If you have all of the expansions, all players should be able to find at least 2 villains they enjoy. Each villain has their own end goal and deck of cards, but the game is played relatively the same between all players. There are some unique differences between certain villains (ie Ursula cannot access all of her locations at once and Mother Gothel always has Rapunzel on her board), but they are not designed to make the game harder for those villains. Each player has their own board and cannot place their own figure or use their own set of cards on another player’s board, but they may use an action to draw a card from a player’s Fate deck in an attempt to thwart their efforts. For the most part, players need to draw certain cards from their own deck that allow them to advance in their goals. For some players, they need to defeat certain heros to win, others need to get certain items, and the rest may need to get a certain amount of power (what the game uses as a currency). Gameplay is fairly simple. A player moves to a location on their board and may do the actions listed on their space. These actions may involve gaining power, playing a card, fating another player or defeating a hero. A normal game lasts about 30-45 minutes, depending on the villain each person plays as. 

I enjoy playing Villainous and would probably play anytime anyone asked me to. However, I’ve noticed that sometimes the expansion villains aren’t necessarily balanced against other expansion villains or those from the base pack. In a game with Mother Gothel, Cruella De Vil and Scar, Scar won relatively quickly against the other two. Both Mother Gothel and Cruella are from the same expansion pack, and the two seemed to be relatively at the same spot at the time the game ended. Another game with different villains (of which I cannot remember) had nearly the same problem. This makes me think that the villains in the expansion packs are well balanced against the other villains in that expansion, but perhaps were not tested for balance against the rest of the villains in the game. Technically, you can play a game with just 3 players (the number of how many villains come in each expansion), but you can also play with up to 6 players with the average being 4 or 5. You can still have fun playing as any of the villains regardless of the other villains people are playing as, but it can be a bit annoying to see that somebody wins when you were nowhere near winning, even though you were following the exact steps you needed to take to win. Technically, you can continue to fate players you may feel are moving a lot quicker than you, but aggravating a player tends to get you fated as well. Although the game develops cannot really fix the villains they have already released, I think that they should start making sure the new villains are balanced against villains currently in play. I think too that people have more fun when a game is closer rather than knowing at a certain point that you will win or lose.

Luck, Chance, and Skill. Is there a best “mechanic”?

Although many games incorporate different elements of luck, chance, and skill, there are certain percentages of these “mechanics” that make a game a lot more fun and interesting. Depending on the kind of gamer you are, or even the kind of mood you’re in, you may want to play a game that relies more on luck and less on skill, or a game that is all skill and leaves nothing to chance. I really want to say that I enjoy games that have all varieties of these mechanics, but I’d be lying to myself. 

For me, a game that solely relies on luck is incredibly boring and can become frustrating when you have zero control over what your next move is. In luck heavy games, players cannot plan ahead. This may help act as a “feel good” mechanic for newer game players, as they won’t feel a disadvantage going up against veteran players. However, luck heavy games often shy away strategic players because there’s no strategy available for them to form. Given the recent events of life, I would recommend people to avoid luck heavy games, as it is good to feel like you have some kind of sense of control in our current environment. Many card games involve heavy luck mechanics. Each player is randomly dealt a hand from a deck of cards and has to deal with the consequences of that hand. For a moment, let’s talk about War. Each player is randomly dealt out the whole deck (minus jokers) and cannot even look at their hand. Players flip over their cards and whoever has the highest cards starts raking in the rest of the deck. Eventually, you end up with one player that has all the high cards except a couple, and it becomes a long unending game of the high cards getting passed from player to player until one person finally gets the entire deck. Obviously there aren’t competitive War clubs because it’s a game that’s just meant to pass the time, and that’s what all luck games should be marketed as. In luck heavy games, players don’t really get anything meaningly out of it, besides a player wide feeling of regret for starting the game. 

Chance heavy games greatly increase the level of enjoyment from luck games. Chance is a game mechanic in which certain things can happen in a game based on what has previously happened in the game. Take a deck of cards, for example. When you pull out the Ace of Spades and do not put it back in, you know that there is less likelihood that the next card you pull is an Ace, but there is a higher likelihood you will draw a Heart. Any game that has a draw without a replacement deck also has chance mechanics. Sushi Go is a great example of the chance mechanic. On the very first turn of each round, you do not know what cards are in the other players’ decks. Based on your deck alone, you have to make a decison of what you want to play, and you have to leave the rest of your moves up to what other players choose to play. Although each player individually gets the choose what they want to play, they also have to leave it up to chance to decide which cards are dealt out from the deck and which cards other players choose to play into their own scoreboard. Because a lot of Sushi Go scoring is based off the number of the amount of each card you get, players have to hope that other players aren’t going for the same types of cards as them. Chance heavy games like Sushi Go can also offer players the chance to also form a little bit of strategy, but not too much that new players feel they’re at a disadvantage. In these current times, everyone can find comfort in playing chance heavy games. 

Skill heavy games can be very intimidating to newer players. Skill heavy games require players to have a knowledge of how the game works as a whole and be able to create a multiple turn long plan as to what the player’s next move is. As somebody who has been playing games for a couple of years, I enjoy skill heavy games, but it is at its maximum enjoyment when playing against players at a similar skill level. You will never catch me playing any kind of competitive deck builder. Deck builders, like all games, are easiest to learn when taught by somebody who really knows the game. Unfortunately, in deck builders knowing the cards and how to engine build in that game is a huge advantage. It can take new players multiple games to figure out how to build a successful engine and repetitively losing the same game is really discouraging. One of the most popular deck builders is Dominion. There are a lot of different cards to choose from and a lot of different components to the game. In my very first game, the person teaching me chose cards that he knew worked well together and I did not. Yes, the cards were explained to me and for the most part I understood the basics of how I needed to build, but I was still barely keeping up and I ended up losing horribly to him. In any skill heavy game, this is the norm for many newer board game enthusiasts and they may shy away from these types of games because they don’t want to constantly be the underdog. Because skill heavy games typically take up longer amounts of time, this would be a great hobby to introduce to the family during quarantine. If you are a veteran player, however, I would recommend possibly scaling down your skill level for the first games just to encourage newer players to continue playing.

All in all, yes, all of these different “mechanics” can be enjoyed by different players. I think that as players “age” in their board game career, they tend to start from luck and chance heavy games and soon learn to appreciate more skill heavy games. Regardless of my personal feelings about these mechanics, games are meant to be enjoyed by all players and should be built that way, regardless of luck, chance, or skill levels.