7 Games You Can Play Via Video Conference
Normally this time of year I’d be writing a post about games you can play with family and friends at holiday gatherings. This year, however, being 2020, with the pandemic foremost in our minds and the CDC recommending we stay home for the holidays and not gather, I’m going to tell you about seven games you can play together – apart – via your favorite video conferencing app.
I’m going to start off with a game that requires no special set up. You just need one copy of the game and paper and pens for the players. Then I’ll tell you about a few roll-and-write games and a team-play game that require a little set up – primarily a smartphone pointing at a table where the game is set up. And finally I’ll cover a mystery game. Sound good? Then on to the games!
1. Just One
Just One is a cooperative party game in which you play together to discover as many mystery words as possible. Find the best clue to help your teammate. Be unique, as all identical clues will be cancelled!
A complete game is played over 13 cards. The goal is to get a score as close to 13 as possible. In case of a right answer, the players score 1 point. In case of wrong answer, they lose the current card as well as the top card of the deck – thus losing 2 points. If the guesser can’t figure it out and passes, the players only lose the current card, and therefore only 1 point.
3 to 7 players, ages 8 and up, can play Just One in about 20 minutes. We’ve played with more players.
Just One works extremely well via video conferencing: it requires no special setup. The player with the game – I’ll assume that’s you – simply asks the guesser to pick a number on the current card. Then while the guesser closes their eyes, show the card to the rest of the players. Everyone but the guesser writes their words on pieces of paper. When everyone’s ready, they compare and hide any that were duplicated. Then the guesser is called to open their eyes and make a guess. Easy peasey.
Qwixx is a quick-playing roll-and-write dice game of hard choices with absolutely no boring downtime between turns. Your goal is to cross off as many numbers in each of the four colored rows on your scoresheet as you can. The more Xs you make in a row, the more points you score for that color.
The catch is that you can only cross off a number if it’s to the right of all other Xs in that row, so there’s no going back – ever. For example, if you cross off the red 4 now, you’ll never be able to put an X on the red 2 or 3 later. To X or not to X is an ongoing, sometimes agonizing, decision in Qwixx.
Qwixx supports 2 to 5 players ages 8 and up and can be played in about 15 minutes.
Qwixx works extremely well via video conferencing. Each player will need a scoresheet. You’ll also need a smartphone connected to your video conference pointing at the table where you’ll roll the dice each round for yourself and the other players.
3. Welcome to…
Welcome to… is a super fun roll-and-write game that any number of players can play. Each turn, flip cards from three piles to display three different action sets. Each set shows a house number that you must assign to one of the houses in your community and an optional corresponding action you can take.
The house numbers on each street must ascend left to right, with one exception. The Bis Action lets you break that rule by duplicating a house number for a penalty. You can adjust the house number shown in a set by 2 with a Temp Agency Action. Players with the most Temp Agencies at the end of the game score bonus points. Pools and Parks also provide end-game points and the Real Estate Agency Action lets you increase the value of your fenced-off subdivisions. The Fence Action lets you place fences.
Everyone is racing to be the first to complete the three public goals. Game play is simultaneous, so lots of people can play at the same time! There are lots of ways to build your community and many paths to becoming the best suburban architect in Welcome To…!
Welcome to… supports an unlimited number of players, ages 10 and up, and plays in about 25 minutes. Six expansions are currently available. Each expansion provides new ways to play and includes three new city plans, that is, goal cards.
Welcome to… works extremely well via video conferencing with any number of players. You just need a smartphone pointed at the table where the three piles of cards and current goal cards are displayed. You’ll have to set up the game and flip the cards each round. Players each need a scoresheet or the scoresheet app (available for Android and iOS).
4. Ganz Schon Clever (That’s Pretty Clever)
Choose your dice well in the award-winning roll-and-write game, Ganz Schon Clever (That’s Pretty Clever). Then enter them into the matching colored area. If you can put together tricky chain-scoring opportunities, you can really rack up the points!
On your turn, you can choose up to three dice, one per roll. The dice you don’t use are as important as the dice you do. Because with each roll, every die with a lower number than the one you choose gets set aside for the other players, leaving you with fewer choices on your next roll. After you’ve made your rolls (up to three) and chosen your dice, the the other players can each choose one of the dice you set aside to score on their scoresheets. This keeps everyone in the game at all times!
That’s Pretty Clever supports 1 to 4 players, ages 8 and up, with a 30-minute playtime. There’s also a sequel: Doppelt So Clever (Twice as Clever).
To play via video conference, you’ll need to point a smartphone at the table where you’ll roll the dice each round for yourself and the other players. All players will need scoresheets.
5. Hex Roller
Hex Roller is a roll-and-write dice game from Renegade Game Studios in which players draft two of the dice rolled each round, then fill in spaces on a hexagonal grid, attempting to both complete regions and create lines of identical numbers in order to maximize their score.
The number on the die specifies what number you’ll write on your scoresheet. The quantity of that die number dictates how many hexes you can fill with that number in a trail starting at an instance of that number already on your scoresheet.
There are three bonuses you can use once during the game. One bonus lets you act as though one extra die was rolled of one of the numbers you pick that turn. Another bonus lets you use a third die number that round. The third bonus lets you place a 2 anywhere on your scoresheet – perhaps to complete a colored hexagon section. At game end, you can also score points for completing straights that start at 3 from the numbers you use throughout the game and for connecting like numbers printed on the scoresheet.
HexRoller supports 1 to 8 players, ages 10 and up, with a playtime of just 10 to 15 minutes.
To play via video conference, you’ll need a smartphone pointing at a table where you roll the dice each round. Players will, of course, need a copy of the scoresheet, too.
In Codenames, your mission is to discover the whereabouts of your fellow agents, by guessing their codenames. Players divide into two teams: red and blue. One player from each team is the Spymaster, giving one-word clues to the whereabouts of her team’s field agents. It’s up to the rest of her team to guess the correct locations shown on the Spymasters’ reference grid.
Random word tiles are placed in a 5×5 grid on the table where all the players can see them in the same grid arrangement. Each word represents the location of a field Agent, Bystander or the Assassin. The Spymasters have a matching 5×5 reference grid – showing squares colored red, blue, beige and black – indicating the location of each team’s Agents, as well as Bystanders (beige) and the instant-death Assassin (black).
Codenames supports an unlimited number of players, ages 14 and up. Just divide into two teams. Personally, I think younger people can play, too. Playtime is 15 to 30 minutes. Codenames is available in a variety of flavors and sizes.
To play via video conference, the Spymasters – clue givers – will need to acquire the free Codenames Gadget app available for Android and iOS devices so they can view the same reference grid. You’ll also need to point a smartphone at a table on which you’ve set up the grid of word tiles. The Spymasters will instruct you as to which color result tile (red, blue, beige or black) to place after each guess.
7. Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
Have you ever had the desire to walk the streets of Victorian London and solve crimes like Sherlock Holmes and Watson? In Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective games you can!
In each session of Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective, you’ll be presented with a case to solve. It’s up to you and your fellow players to determine how you want to go about solving the case. You can search the newspapers for clues, visit mansions and other places of nineteenth century London to gather evidence and interview suspects, then put together the facts – and your assumptions – to reach a solution.
Sherlock Holmes: Consulting Detective plays great via video conference. The person who owns the game – again I’ll assume that’s you – reads the mystery. Someone else should take notes. And everyone together should decide how to go about solving the case. Or if you can’t come to a consensus, you can take turns deciding where to go next to investigate.
To encourage people to play via video conference, Asmodee released the playing materials everyone should look at: newspapers, map of London and a London directory. This actually makes it easier to play by video conference than in person because everyone can read and look at the materials at the same time, instead of having to pass them around.
There are currently three Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective games to choose from. Each one includes several mysteries to solve. Playtime runs about an hour – depending on the mystery, how many places you investigate and how long your discussions and debates take.
There you have it: 7 games you can play via video conference. So you and your loved ones can play games together for the holidays while staying safe at home.
Copyright © 2020 by Tina G. McDuffie. All rights reserved.
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