What games did I play this weekend?

This weekend was a gamefest for me. Not only did I get to play several board games, I got to try out another grail game. But what did all these board games have in common?

No boards.

That’s right. Every game I played this weekend didn’t have the traditional board that comprises a board game. Maybe a tabletop game would be a better name. Whatever you call them, these games each had their own mechanics and systems and custom packaging.

Saturday’s board game was called Betrayal at House on the Hill. If you think the name’s a mouthful, you might not be surprised by the two manuals the game comes with outlining several scenarios. The premise is a group of people brought to a haunted house in the dead of night. Forced to explore this mysterious manor, the visitors eventually discover a traitor among them and the game takes a turn.

But how does a game of property exploration exist without a game board?

Tiles. Chipboard tiles representing various rooms, stairways, and foyers are laid out as the players explore the house, giving the impression of searching the dark with a flashlight. As the game progresses, a game board is actually  built, but never completely, and rarely the same as a previous playthrough. Definitely a twist on the classic game board. Of course, the game box needs to have different elements. Deeper to hold the extra pieces, with a unique cavity for holding the tiles. An ordinary die cut gameboard usually just sits on top, like an extra lid.

Sunday, I followed up my board-less theme with a dice game. Firefly: Shiny Dice capitalizes on the cult hit Firefly–one of my favorites. Much like the show, the plot of the game revolves around forming a crew of outlaws to fight even more underhanded villains–all aboard a spaceship.

firefly_shiny_dice_gamegames_firefly shiny dice contents

This would be a pretty standard affair for a board game, but Shiny Dice does it with–shocker–dice. Dice, cards, and a playmat that is basically just a screen-printed mousepad make up the contents. While the rules seemed overly complex, it finally hit its stride. I can see it being difficult to make a press-your-luck dice game that plays longer and with depth, but there’s a lot to remember.

For a game that is mostly just small components, I would have appreciated nicer packaging (especially for the price point). Even forgiving the plain cardboard interior, it’s sad to open up a game and see three sets of cards combined and in disarray, with dice all akimbo. SBS dividers would have been appreciated.

Finally, my gaming group and I finished up with another fairly new title: Diamonsters. From the makers of Machi Koro comes a game of gem-munching monsters and a bidding system that is simple to learn. The game doesn’t have a ton of depth and, as one of my pals noted, plays a lot like the classic card game War. But it is nice to play a quick, fun game once in awhile as a palate cleanser. My only complaint about this game is the box. Don’t get me wrong, the artwork  is beautiful and the box is a masterpiece. A sturdy two piece setup box with soft-touch lamination.

diamonsters custom game box telescope_box_diamonsters diamonster_two_piece_rigid_setup_box

However, it’s a real pain to get open. It’s like hermetically-sealed or something. As I struggled to separate the top from the bottom, the packaging expert in me was screaming Would it kill you to put some thumb notches in this thing?!

The point of all this: I kind of missed the game board. Betrayal was a blast and very unique, but it still built a game board. There’s just something about that turned edge chipboard that makes a game a game in my opinion. Game designers are tasked with reinventing the wheel in a lot of ways, but sometimes you can’t beat a classic.

Keep Sunrise Packaging in mind for all your custom board game needs and don’t forget to keep up with your fellow gamers with the hashtag #WhatDidYouPlayMondays!