Category Archives: The Mansky Caper

Calliope Games You Can Play Remotely

With the holiday season being… for lack of a more original word, unprecedented, it’s not exactly easy to gather around a table and play games with the family the way you usually would. And that can be disappointing! I know it is for me; I have a handful of new game suggestions that I want to share with my father who loves lightweight games, but we have no plans to see each other in person for a bit. It’s okay to feel that sting. But the great thing about gamers is we know how to solve a puzzle. 

Calliope’s entire mission has been about gathering folks around a table to create lasting memories. So what do we do when we can’t gather around a table? In the illustrious words of Ross Gellar, we PIVOT! Between Zoom, FaceTime, Tabletop Simulator, Tabletopia, apps etc., it’s really become easier than ever to play games remotely. And we want to share with you the best Calliope games to play remotely with your family to create some brand-new memories.

Tsuro: The Game of the Path

Tsuro has an award-winning app from Thunderbox Entertainment that plays up to 8 people and is available on Android, Apple, Steam and more. It gives you the full Tsuro experience, and can be played all at once or turn by turn (perfect for when you need a quick break from mashing potatoes for the very first time).

If you have just one person Skype-ing in, you can actually play Tsuro with the physical copy! Prop that one player’s tiles up so only their camera can see them, and make sure they have a clear view of the board. They’ll tell you which tile they want and in which orientation. I’ve played this way several times, and the laughter induced from the, “no not your left, my left!” interactions add a whole other level of fun.

Roll for It!

Roll for It! also has an excellent app from Thunderbox Entertainment that allows you to play the Red or Purple edition, and has a bunch of different dice that you can’t get in the physical version. You shake your phone to roll the dice, and the game plays exactly the same as the physical version.

Don’t want to play on an app? You could play with just one copy of the game and an impartial roller such as a dice tower, and let the players tell you where they want their dice allocated. Insistent on rolling your own dice and happen to have your own copy? Find the matching cards you’re trying to roll for, and roll your own dice! This game probably has the most versatility for playing remotely, so if you have another suggestion, let us know!

Hive Mind

Hive Mind is Calliope’s contribution to trivia and party games! Designed by Richard Garfield (of Magic the Gathering and King of Tokyo fame), in this game you’re not trying to find the best, funniest, or most correct answer, you’re trying to come up with the answer that the most people playing will also have given. So if the question is “Name 3 flavors of popsicle,” it doesn’t matter that “blue” isn’t a flavor, it’s a color; as long as you know other people playing will also give the answer “blue,” you’re going to get points. Hive Mind is our easiest game to play over Zoom with just one person having a physical copy, and it also plays the most players, with up to 12 people playing. Have more than 12 people? Play in teams! Or grab extra meeples from a different game and add more players. The more, the merrier!

Dicey Peaks/The Mansky Caper

As we learned this summer during our 12-hour streaming marathon raising money for Food Lifeline, both Dicey Peaks and The Mansky Caper are very easily playable remotely as long as one person has a copy of the game, and a camera good enough for people to clearly see the board. The person with the game will also act as everyone’s hands, moving dice, pawns, and tokens wherever the players decide; but all of the gameplay decisions are made entirely by the players. As far as The Manksy Caper is concerned, it’s almost like Big Al himself is pulling the strings!

Allegory/Mass Transit/Enchanted Plumes

These three games are the newest in the Calliope lineup, in fact they’re currently being funded on Kickstarter! Until December 11th, you can play all three of these games for free on Tabletop Simulator and they each play up to 6 players. Looking for a cooperative or even solo game? Give Mass Transit a try! Know some people who love poker and bidding, and want to show them the art of set collection? Time to try Allegory. Want to see some truly beautiful card art within a potentially cutthroat game? Check out Enchanted Plumes

The truly wonderful thing about having these games on a digital platform is being able to play with people you’d never be able to get at a table at the same time. We’ve had the chance to play with designers and friends to create some fantastic moments that never would have been possible otherwise. We highly encourage you to do the same.

Happy Holidays from our family to yours! And if you get the chance to play some of these games in any capacity, make sure to tag us. We love seeing those memories getting made. 

Gamers Engaged With Food Lifeline

On Sunday August 9th, 2020, Calliope Games is participating in an incredible event with Gamers Engaged, the giving arm of Card Kingdom and Mox Boarding House, where we will be streaming and playing games from 10am-10pm PST to raise money for Food Lifeline.

Food Lifeline provides the equivalent of 134,000 meals every day, and every dollar we raise provides 5 meals. Our team goal was to raise $1,000, and thanks to your generosity we have already smashed that goal!! Along with an incredible donation was a challenge: “$1000 as a goal is too low. Aim high! We love each other!” So we’ve DOUBLED our goal! Now we want to raise $2,000, or 10,000 meals for Food Lifeline.

All throughout the day we will be playing your favorite Calliope games in a multitude of ways; from Zoom calls to good ol’ fashioned round-the-table gameplay. We are also thrilled to announce that Ruel Gaviola (whom you may remember from the Accommodations for Colorblind Players article) will be playing ShipShape with his family as our special guest. There also may be a super secret playthrough of an upcoming Calliope game that hasn’t even hit Kickstarter yet! If you want to know when it’s live, make sure you’re following us on social media, or sign up for the Kickstarter Preview newsletter in our sidebar –>

And just to sweeten the pot, every person who follows us on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), signs up for that Kickstarter newsletter, or donates, is entered in a raffle to win some con-exclusive Calliope swag! We want to give our thanks to you all for joining us for this incredible event. We literally cannot do it without you.

We hope you’ll join us on Sunday, and that you’ll watch, comment, share, enjoy, and if your wallets can afford it, that you give back and make a donation. Remember, $1 provides 5 meals, so truly every little bit helps.

Stay Safe. Stay Kind. Play Games.

-Team Calliope

Making Board Games Accessible for Color Blind Players

It is estimated that over 300 million people worldwide live with some form of color blindness. There are various forms, from the most common deuteranomaly and protanomaly (commonly known as red-green color blindness) to tritanomaly, which makes blue shades less distinguishable. As we all are aware, color makes up a huge part of board game mechanics. If we want color blind players to enjoy playing games, it’s up to designers and publishers to make sure they are accessible.

I had a chat with Ruel Gaviola about his personal experiences playing board games while color blind, and it was a truly lovely and enlightening conversation. I thought my experience working colorblind accommodations into my classroom gave me a pretty strong foundation, which it did, but there is nothing quite like personal experience, and I was once again reminded of just how important it is to seek out that expertise.

We didn’t just talk about accommodations both common and uncommon, but also about favorite games, favorite gaming moments, and games that surprised him by being a lot more accessible than expected. Here are some fundamental insights:

Some basic accommodations that most games already use:

-Match each color with a symbol

This one is pretty straightforward: if you divide something by color, each color will have a corresponding symbol. As this is arguably the most popular accommodation, you can see this in tons of games, including Ticket to RideLanterns, and Calliope games such as Everyone Loves a Parade and Ancestree. For games light on theming, or games that incorporate this accommodation directly into their game mechanics, it’s barely noticeable for those who don’t need it, but highly appreciated by those who do. It is a simple but highly beneficial adjustment that ensures no matter how similar your colors are, all players will be able to tell the difference between sets. 

-Make the meeples/pieces different shapes

Similar to the color/symbol accommodation, if you have physical components that are different colors and need to be distinguishable, make them different shapes! You can see this in Tsuro Phoenix Rising with the three lantern colors: each color has a different design both in the drawings and the pieces that go on the board. The Mansky Caper has player standees that have distinct artwork and strike different poses, allowing players to locate their piece with more ease than colored pawns of the same shape.

-Don’t require color distinction in the first place 

This of course won’t work with every game out there, but for certain types of games, particularly party or word-heavy games like Hive Mind, or games that don’t require color grouping/distinguishing like Double Double Dominoes, the easiest accommodation is to make it so one simply isn’t necessary! For ShipShape, the different pieces you can collect (contraband, cannons, treasure) all have different symbols to indicate them, and while they are different colors, that’s simply because cannons are black, treasure is gold etc. You’re not trying to collect a certain amount of red cannons versus green cannons. 

These considerations carry a bonus: they are useful not just for players who are colorblind, but also for players of varying ages, language skills, and learning styles. Everyone benefits from having multiple methods of component distinction. For instance, I play games with my partner all the time, and we are VERY different players. He is a visual learner and immediately looks for pictures and symbols, while I read quickly so I look for words. We both do well with Spymaster because each type of card (Surveillance, Blueprint, Espionage, Dossier) have a corresponding color and symbol (which work for him), and the full card type written on them (which works for me). So what is an effective accommodation for colorblind players is actually a successful type of accommodation for multiple types of players. As game designers and creators, we want to make sure we have the highest amount of accessibility possible. There’s no downside to making these changes.

During my chat with Ruel, he gave three recommendations that were succinct and measurable:

1. Start Early. 

If you’re designing a new board game, it is 1000 times easier to work colorblind adjustments into the design than it is to put them in later. This is especially important when it comes to theming: if you know your game’s theme is going to result in a lot of similar colors, then you’re already aware you will need to do something to incorporate symbols or shapes to help distinguish those colors, and you can make those shapes theme-appropriate as well. 

2. Get Playtesters who are Colorblind.

Even if you’ve worked colorblind considerations into your game, sometimes you miss something, especially if you are not personally colorblind, or have only thought about one specific type of colorblindness. There are apps, websites, and lenses you can use to simulate it, but at the end of the day the people with the most experience are the people who live their lives this way. 

3. Think of it as a Challenge.

This was my favorite piece of advice Ruel had. He told me a story about chatting with a game designer friend of his and saying he basically dared him to put as much colorblind inclusion into the game as possible. Extra points if they feel truly integrated. He said the friend leapt at the challenge. It’s such a great idea! Designers love puzzles, and they love making their minds work! When he told me that, my heart swelled. What a smart idea.

There’s a lot of work to be done as a game designer. But thinking of creating colorblind accessibility as just another task to check off, same as “how does a play win?” and “how do different player numbers affect gameplay?” means that it’s not an extra task. It’s not something to be thought of as, “great if we get to it but if we don’t, that’s fine”. It’s important that we consider accessibility as something vital to gameplay. In order for everyone to feel welcome at the table, we must make everyone feel comfortable at the table.


Ruel Gaviola is a writer, podcaster, live streamer, and voiceover narrator for all things board game related. His name rhymes with Superman’s Kryptonian name. You can check out his blog and his board game geek profile.

The September Newsletter of Awesomeness is out!

The summer is winding down and we are moving inexorably towards fall.

But have no fear!  Fall means “New Games!”  The Mansky Caper is on a boat and heading towards our warehouse and your game table.  Learn more in our latest Newsletter of Awesomeness by clicking The Mansky Caper box below.

Click here to read the September Newsletter of Awesomeness!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We also have a game giveaway for September going on as well.  Win a copy of Running With The Bulls by entering the Rafflecopter contest now!  You can read about it in the newsletter or go directly to enter by clicking the pic below.

Want to win? Then click the pic to enter!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have not already signed up for our newsletter, you can do so at: https://madmimi.com/signups/185420/join

Thanks for reading and good luck!

 

Saying Goodbye to Gen Con; Saying Hello to PAX Unplugged

Thank you to everyone that stopped by the Calliope Games Booth at Gen Con 2018. We loved meeting with you and showing you a new game or two. Gen Con, Origins Game Fair, and PAX Unplugged are the three big chances we have to spend some time with our friends and we appreciate your willingness to spend some of your time with us. Here are some fun pics from this year’s Gen Con!

Just some of the funtastic Team Calliope!

Rob Daviau demos ShipShape, an upcoming Titan Series title.

Seth Johnson demos SpyMaster, an upcoming Titan Series title.

Big Al Mansky stops by and has a “Funky” time!

Players mastering menus in Menu Masters.

Stealing from the rich and giving to ourselves in Thieves!

Demoing Hive Mind, a honey of a game!

A busy day in the Calliope Games booth. Wish you were here!

 

Calliope Games will be at PAX Unplugged in Philadelphia, PA November 30-December 2, 2018. Why not make plans to join us?

See you there!

JOIN THE MANSKY CAPER IN 2018! ROBBING BIG AL’S MANSION IS A BLAST!

HAPPY NEW YEAR! And Happy #ManskyMonday!  This week’s newsletter takes a look at Matt Franklin, the artist on The Mansky Caper.  We take a look at how he creates one of the characters in the game, Abraca-Deborah!

To see how this sketch becomes final artwork (and check out the Mansky Caper Newsletter), click on Abraca-Deborah!

This week, we get to meet Nine-Lives Nicky, the Gadgeteer of the crew.

Click the play button below to watch the video!

The Mansky Caper Kickstarter campaign goes live on January 11, 2018!  Don’t miss out on a great game at a fantastic price!

The Mansky Caper! Cronies, Cash, and KaBOOM!

#ManskyMonday fell on Christmas Day and our family took the day off.  But you can learn more about The Mansky Caper and Lucky Lucy on this very special Boxing Day edition of #ManskyMonday!

Click Lucky Lucy to read the December 26 Mansky Newsletter!

Click below to meed Lucky Lucy and watch the video!

The Mansky Caper goes live on Kickstarter on January 11, 2018!  Be there!  It’ll be an offer you can resist!