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Stay In, Stay Gaming: Recommendations from The Treehouse

If you're fed up with the games in your cupboard and in need of some inspiration, here are some recommendations to get you started.

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Sales of board games and jigsaws have more than doubled since the start of the coronavirus lockdown, as households explore ways to keep themselves entertained indoors together. Although The Treehouse is currently closed as a venue, we're keeping busy carrying on with our usual mission to help people connect and have fun via games, which is arguably more important than ever at the moment.

If you're fed up with the games in your cupboard and in need of some inspiration, here are some recommendations to get you started.

A game for low player counts: Hive

Many of us are currently a little short of in-the-flesh players for a lot of the more traditional board games, which often lose their shine at low player counts. If you have one other person to play with though, there's never been a better time to develop some skills at a two-player strategy game. If chess is a bit much (and it certainly is for us!), we'd recommend Hive as a great alternative. It's appealing, quick to get started with and you can play it anywhere with a flat surface, from the kitchen table to a rug in the garden. It also has enough depth to keep you coming back and see yourself improving with experience.

A game to play via video link: Just One

If you have people to play with but they're elsewhere, we've been discovering that there's a lot of fun to be had playing games via video link. Just One is a highly-addictive, co-operative party game that's easy to adapt to a video call as long as everyone has some paper and a pen. Players take turns to be the guesser, and pick a numbered word off a card without looking, that all the other players can see. Everyone else then writes down a single word which will help the guesser work out the word on the card. The catch is that players can't communicate what they're writing, and if you write the same thing as someone else then both clues are eliminated, so you need to try and make your hint unique without being too obscure. For more suggestions about great options to play via video link, check out our blog post here.

A great board game app: Ticket to Ride

If you want to play something more like an actual board game with people in other places, then there are lots of ways to play virtually, either against a computer, against strangers or against people you know. For those newer to the hobby, the Ticket to Ride app is a good place to start, although there is an associated cost of £7 per player to buy the app. For those who want to play something more complex, then Tabletop Simulator via Steam has an incredible range of board games available to play around a virtual table, and if you're already a video gamer then the interface will feel very natural. You can even flip the table if the mood takes you! Check out our blog post here to find out more.

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A game to play without falling out: Pandemic

We've heard a rumour that one thing that puts some people off breaking out a board game is the possibility of everyone falling out. This is definitely to be avoided while we're all cooped up together, but if this is you, we might just have the solution. Cooperative board games are games in which players are all on the same team working to beat the game, and they can be a great way to get around issues with competitiveness. Pandemic is a modern classic of the genre, which casts players as a team of specialists working together to save the world by finding cures to four deadly viruses. If that sounds a bit too topical for the moment, we'd also highly recommend Hanabi, which is all about overcoming communication barriers to prepare for a firework display.

A game to play with stuff you have in your house: Cards

With so many board games on offer at The Treehouse, it's not often we turn to a standard deck of playing cards, but in our pre-café days we had a whole lot of fun playing cards and now is a great time to find new ways to have fun with things you already have. Our favourite game reviewers have put together a series of videos about interesting card games here, but if you want something more traditional, some of our favourites are Knockout Whist for some gentle family fun, Cheat for something more boisterous, or Slam if there are just two of you and you want to let off some steam!

If you're thinking about investing in a new game or two to keep you busy during lockdown, we'd recommend starting your search at your local independent board games shop Patriot Games, who have a great selection available and will deliver to your door if you're local to Sheffield. If they don't have what you're looking for then try this super-handy price comparison site, which includes a lot of independent retailers as well as Amazon, who often aren't the cheapest when it comes to hobby board games.

If you would like to support The Treehouse while they're closed, you can make a small contribution or buy gift vouchers and memberships to be used once they're back up and running.

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