Virtual NoBoG

During these uncertain times of quarantine and social distancing, Norwich Board Gamers have moved playing of board games online.

Games are being arranged to play virtually on Mondays and Tuesdays 7.30pm ish.

A discord group has been setup to facilitate this, where people can chat over text, or voice chat to arrange games and see what everyone has to play. Anyone can join, and a group invite can be found at the following link -

Yes. Anyone can join. Part of the upside of going virtual is now, no matter where you are in the world, you can come play with us !

Wait, How Do I Do Any Of This ? I Want to Join In. Help !

Fear not would be virtual gamer. Here is a step by step guide of how to get started.

 1 - Install Discord

If you haven't already you will need to install discord. What is discord you might ask ? Discord is a very popular app that allows people to chat online via text and voice. If you're more of a corporate business type, then Discord is basically a reskin of the business communication tool Slack. In any case, Discord is a chat app designed around groups of people.

To install discord go to the following link and download the app. Discord is available both for desktop, Windows, Linux and Mac, as well as mobile, iOS and Android.

Once installed you'll also need to register yourself an account and follow the steps to do that to then login with the discord app.

2 - Join the NoBoG Discord Group

After you have installed discord, registered and logged in, you can then join the NoBoG discord group. To do that click on the following link

3 - Chatting in Discord

On windows desktop, once you've joined the NoBoG discord group, it's going to look at lot like this :

To make things clear, lets split that screen up into some colours for explanation purposes.

Screenshot 2

Area 1 - Yellow - Group List

In the top left corner coloured yellow we have area 1. This shows you your "home" button at the top and a list of groups that you've joined. In this case we have a single group - the NoBoG group. By clicking on these you will move focus between groups / home. Here we can change focus between home and the NoBoG group. At the moment we are focused on the NoBoG group, indicated by a white bar to the left of the icon.

Area 2 - Green - Channel List

To the left of the screen, coloured green, area 2, is a scrollable list of channels that are contained within the NoBoG group. If the NoBoG group is like a house, then the channels are like rooms within the house. By clicking on one of these you will move to that channel ( room ). Currently we are in the "general" channel indicated by it turning white. There are a lot of channels here which can be a bit confusing, but dont worry, they are there mainly to help organise lots of people. If in doubt hang out in the general channel.

Note that some channels will have a microphone icon next to them. This indicates the channel is a voice channel, where people can talk to each other with microphones. Also note that as these are not text channels you can be simultaneously in a voice channel AND a text channel at the same time.
Screenshot 3
In the above screenshot - screenshot 3, we can see we have joined a voice channel called Game #1 ( in the green area on the left ) but we are also in the text channel general. We can see the text messages in the main window from general, but we can also voice chat to anyone who is also in the Game #1 channel ( room ). Also you can see here as we've now joined a voice channel, a new bar has popped up - circled in red in Screenshot 3 - which is telling us we are "Voice Connected" to Game #1 /Norwich Board Gamers group. The icons to the right of this bar are for "Go Live" which allows you to stream your game to anyone in the room, and the very far right icon which has a telephone with an X on it which will disconnect you from the voice chat. When you wish to exit the Voice Channel you hit the telephone icon to Hang Up and exit that room. You can also exit a voice channel by simply moving to another voice channel.

Area 3 - Blue - Chat Log

In the middle of the screen coloured blue, area 3, is the main chat log. This shows you all the chat messages for the current channel. This will show who said what and when, and who has joined. You can join in on the chat by going to...

Area 6 - Cyan - Chat text

At the bottom of the screen is the input box for you to type into and send a message to the room. You can add gifs, links, images or the like as well as cutting and pasting images and text from clipboard.

Area 4 - Purple - People List

At the far right of the screen is a list of people currently in the group. They can be online or offline and may have a privilege rank indicated by the colour of their name.

Area 5 - Red - You

Bottom left of the screen will show who you are as well as icons allowing you to mute your microphone, turn off sound from discord and the cog icon which will pop up User Settings. User settings contains many things - but importantly for voice chat contains Voice & Video settings that will allow you to pick your input and output device and also perform a test on your microphone as well as changing whether you want to enable Voice Activity for voice chat or Push to Talk. In general you want to have Voice Activity for chat unless you are very paranoid about your microphone and don't mind continually hitting a button to talk - rather like an old school radio - Roger Roger, Over.

4 - Getting the Hang of Discord

Chat away in the general channel, and at some point if its an official Monday or Tuesday, a voice channel organisation of games may commence - probably in a channel that will be renamed Virtual Marcheesi or Virtual Brewhouse. Click on the channel to join and listen to everyone else in the room.

Once games are listed and available people will arrange into groups to play - and end up going to another channel just for their arranged games. At this point people will split off into many channels, one for each game, with their fellow players. Click on the channel of the game that has been setup for you to join.

Note that whilst having a microphone and voice chat isn't required it is highly recommended as it makes gaming with people much much easier and faster. Chatting via text can slow gameplay down considerably and with some services, some may find it difficult to monitor text chat and play a game at the same time. No one in the group bites, lots of people use voice chat, come and join in. And if you don't have a microphone... think about getting one ( preferably a headset with earphones to stop feedback from your own speakers being picked up by the mic ).

4a - Customisation

 Whilst not a necessary step - and something you can entirely skip, you can choose to change your avatar - the icon that appears next to your name - to something other than the default discord icon. To do that you need to click on User Settings ( the cog in the red area in screenshot 2 ). Once the user settings window is open, clicking on My Account over on the left will look something like this :

By then clicking on Edit you will be able to change your avatar by clicking on your avatar icon -

At this point select an image from your local machine, Save your profile and you are done !

5 - Playing Boardgames Online

There are many ways to play boardgames online including -
  • Tabletop Simulator on Steam ( costs money to buy, but many games are then free )
  • Tabletopia ( free for some games, costs money to play all games )
  • BoardGameArena ( browser based, free, but Premium allows access to everything and you can invite free members in to play )
  • Numerous dedicated boardgame apps, including Ticket to Ride, Agricola etc.
Which of these you need depends on what games you're going to play, and who you are going to play with. Ask around amongst those you are going to play with what service they are going to play on. If you want to cover all bases then make sure to install Steam and Register, and think about buying Tabletop Simulator as well as downloading Tabletopia and registering for that and BoardGameArena. Note that depending on your platform and OS some of these may not be available to you. For all availability, a desktop running windows is required.

For a step by step guide on how to play on BoardGameArena ( which is arguably the easiest entry to gaming online ), you can follow Tom's excellent post right here -  Playing games on Board Game Arena

For a step by step guide on how to play with Tabletop Simulator ( and find games ), you can read the post here - Playing games with Tabletop Simulator

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