Hi! I’m Chuck Burkins, the treasurer of the Green Mountain Gamers, one of the original founders of GMG, and the guy who usually runs the Summer Game Day! Here’s my COVID-19 gaming story:

Do you know that moment at the game day where you open the box of a game you’ve never played before, and try to figure out whether you want to go through the work of figuring out how to play it? I hate that moment, even when I’ve got a friend trying to help me puzzle out the rules. We often find, after we’ve been playing for an hour that we have a major rule wrong, and when that rule is set right the game balance we’ve been missing returns.

What does that have to do with gaming during COVID-19? A fair amount. A friend and I missed our gaming sessions at the New Haven Library Game Night, and he introduced me to Board Game Arena. Now BGA is great for playing games you know; but it’s brilliant for learning new games! Why? It enforces the rules. This is critical for me when learning a new thing. My normal way of learning a game is to read the rules and then try various things. When you’ve got someone who knows the game at the table, all is well, because when I do something illegal, he or she slaps my hand. But when no one at the table has played before, you’re reduced to constantly looking through the rules because something just seems like it should or shouldn’t be allowed. Since BGA enforces the rules, the learning process goes something like this: Read the rules; Talk to my opponent while we’re doing the things in the game about why some of the things are allowed, discuss what’s being disallowed, often digressing into how the user interface is working. But essentially BGA is taking the place of that rarest of things, the game runner who’s not actually playing the game but is actually paying attention. I find that a “learning game” takes much less time on BGA.

So during my time not being able to go to board gaming events, I’ve been learning new games. Making the proverbial lemonade from the Covid lemons.

Games I’ve discovered on Board Game Arena so far? Polis: Fight for Hegemony, Marco Polo, Jaipur, Hanabi, Downforce, Clans of Caledonia. In addition, I’ve played and enjoyed games I was already familiar with like Penny Press, Terra Mystica, Race for the Galaxy, and Incan Gold.

A premium membership is $4/month but only one person in a gaming group has to pay, and you don’t even need that premium membership to play most of their games.

So I’d recommend taking a look on boardgamearena.com and seeing if maybe there’s a game there that you’ve always wanted to learn to play. I hope we’ll all be around a table again soon!