Thursday, 2 April 2020

One Old NoBoGers Experience Getting Set Up With BoardGameArena for a NoBoG Virtual Tuesday.

I’m a long-time boardgamer who loves being at a table with other gamers, moving wooden pieces around on gaudily-printed cardboard mats.  The lockdown has stopped all this, but hasn’t stopped me gaming!  I’ve never been much of an online player; the last PC games I finished were Castle Wolfenstein and Prince of Persia 1 (yes, the originals, when they came out).  So I thought I’d share my experience of getting set up to play a game this week at Virtual NoBoG, in case it helps anyone else who’s also missing our gaming gatherings.   This post describes Board Game Arena (BGA for short), there are several other ways to play at NoBoG which will be covered in other posts.
On Tuesday at NoBoG I played Puerto Rica on BGA:

Board Game Arena is a free-to-join&play online boardgame site where all you need is a browser: it works with PC / Mac, iOS and Android tablets, smartphones, Wii U, Playstation, Xbox One, ....  You don’t need to install anything on your PC.  When you open the site you’ll see this:
Scroll down……and further down..… all the way to the bottom of the page, and you’ll find where to join.  Chose a player name (it will tell you if you’ve picked one that’s already taken).   This is the name that others will see when you play.  Once you’ve got a player name, enter your email and make up a password, and it will send you an email for confirmation.  You don’t need to wait for this email to arrive, you can start in straight away.

You can chose some games that you know to add to your profile, or you can skip to the game tutorial step….

Here you can get a game tutorial.  I suggest you give it a try, to get the feel of how the controls work.  You could skip this, but it’s quite useful and very friendly to newcomers.

Once you are done with the tutorial you get to the main site.  Since you are new to the site it will point you to a few of the home page controls (it’s only 4 steps, and is useful info):

Welcome to online boardgaming.  By now you should have received the email they sent you;

Click on the link in the email.   If it asks, confirm you’re not a robot, and you’re in!

Now you’re all ready to join Virtual NoBoG on a Monday or Tuesday (via Discord) and get into a game.  Bork’s excellent & easy-to-read post on on getting started with Virtual NoBoG has covered Discord for beginners and beyond, and there are NoBoGlins out there who will help you get set up if you’re having problems, just post on the Facebook page to ask.

To get back on BGA the login button is on the top right:

At NoBoG Tuesday in the Virtual Brewhouse various gaming options were discussed.  Me, Stu, Sam and Tim decided to play Puerto Rico by Andreas Seyfarth.
In this game  players take the roles of colonial governors on the island of Puerto Rico, getting victory points by shipping goods and constructing buildings on Caribbean islands.  Each player uses a separate small board with spaces for city buildings, plantations, and resources. Shared between the players are ships, a trading house, and a supply of resources and doubloons.

First we had to “friend” each other on BGA, via the Community page:

Stu has played Puerto Rico online a lot, so he did the teach session.  I had played the real game, Sam and Tim hadn’t.  The teach was OK, although doing it online took a bit longer than in real life.

The interface to the game is pretty intuitive and doesn’t take long to get the hang of.  If needed you can start a game for the teach, play a learning round or two, then if everyone agrees to “abandon game” there are no lost reputation points and you can start afresh.  We played a no-pressure, long time-per-turn game, but if you like speed boardgames that can also be done.   We continued to talk on Discord so could ask Stu questions and have some table chat as the game played.  It worked well and was fun.

Here’s the final board, a win for Stu with a close game, just 5pts between 1st and 4th:

With all the games on BGA you can watch videos and get online tutorials, and there are plenty of game review and teaching channels on YouTube.  On a NoBoG night don’t worry if you don’t know a game that others are suggesting, tell people and they will be happy to have a chat about whether this game is something you might enjoy, and will do a teaching session first.

You can also find NoBoG on BGA: the group is called "Norwich Board Gamers".  You don't have to join the group, but it will make it easier for other NoBoGlins to find you and invite you into a game.

One note about premium membership of BGA.  There are many games you can set up and play free, and you can play at tables of all of the games on BGA without premium membership, but many of the more complex eurogames require premium membership if you want to start your own table and invite your friends to play.  Here’s the message you get:
Plenty of NoBoGlins have BGA premium, so they will be setting up the games.  If you want to go premium you can join for just one month (£3.90) or for a year (£22.80).  BGA is not pushy about this at all, but premium does give you some cool extras like game stats, ability to chose your colour, and hotseat play (all playing on the same PC).

The BGA site is seeing heavy traffic at the moment, and the admins are doing a great job of increasing capacity daily, but there are limits so it may be frustrating to get logged on sometimes (USA evenings mainly).  Don’t give up too quickly, you’ll most likely get through in 5 mins and they’ve sorted it out so that once you’re playing a game it usually runs OK (if it seems to freeze in-game just refresh the browser - F5 on a PC - and it should catch up).  It’s a site run by gamers for gamers and they’re doing a great job of keeping people playing.

I hope this helps you get into the new Virtual NoBoG.  I look forward to seeing you there!

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