by Matt Leacock, 1 December 2014
About an hour’s drive south of San Francisco, in the heart of Silicon Valley, you’ll find our house in Sunnyvale. This is where Pandemic, Roll Through the Ages, Forbidden Island, and Forbidden Desert were hatched. It also set the stage for the two Pandemic Parties that we held last week.
Donna and I decided to hold two Pandemic Parties so we could accommodate more people. (We can handle about five simultaneous games if we borrow some extra tables and chairs, get a bit cozy on the dinner table, and repurpose some barstools.) We also like to turn the garage into a crafting and pogo-sticking station for the younger kids in case they need a change of pace.
For party prep, we tried to find ways to weave the game into the decorations. Guests could snack on the Cures for Black Death, Goldiepox, Scarlet Fever, and Affluenza (color-coded malted milk balls named after favorite names of the four differently-colored diseases that appear in Pandemic). The kids helped out with cookie decoration and they loved coming up with all sorts of fantastical viruses to depict. They also helped make signs directing people to the Donation Station (a computer set up and pointed to the Pandemic Parties donation form) as well as name tags and door prize tickets. At our second party, we played about a half-dozen games of Pandemic: The Cure, the Pandemic base game, and a new expansion that Tom Lehmann and I just finished. We also got in some other gateway games including Settlers, Ticket to Ride, and Machi Koro as well as some party games, old and new, including Pit, The Bucket King, Dancing Eggs, Telestrations, and Body Party.
The idea for the Pandemic Parties came from our good friend Jocelyn Becker. She had raised money for Doctors Without Borders in the past and thought that getting people together to play Pandemic would be a great, thematic way to hold a fundraising party. I loved the idea and we quickly got to work. One of Jocelyn’s colleagues helped us shoot a video for us (thanks Taylor!), Z-man Games helped create our logotype, and we quickly put together a website and Facebook page. I think we had the whole thing up and running in about a week.
We’re happy to share that we’re already 12% of the way toward our goal and the Global Pandemic Party events (on December 6th and 7th) haven’t even happened yet. Jocelyn, Ken, Donna, and I would like to sincerely thank everyone who has donated so far and encourage others to hold a party of their own. It’s a great excuse to get together with friends and raise some money for an organization that’s in the thick of the fight against Ebola in West Africa and other hotspots around the globe.
Check out more photos from the event.
Interested in hosting a party?
No time to host?
How can you expect to win if you don’t play?
- Pandemic: The Cure x6
- Pandemic: State of Emergency
- Machi Koro
- Ticket to Ride
- Cube Quest
- Body Party
- The Bucket King
- Dancing Eggs
- Love Letter
Most Popular Food:
- Viral Cookies
by Ruth Leacock and Stacie Haneline, 24 November 2014
Traps and mice, pigs in a box, dice, and cards holding the fate of the world. Welcome to the magic of game playing at Spielbound, where there’s a whole lot of fun going on.
Spielbound Board Game Café is a national first: a non-profit cafe with a mission to educate, engage, and create community through board games. Spiel is pronounced “shpeel” and means “fun, play and games.” Patrons of all ages fill the three-month-old establishment. Trouncing all assumptions of entering an intense geek hangout, the atmosphere is light. Steamed cocoa, coffee, and wine accompany rounds of play.
For Spielbound’s CEO, Kaleb Michaud, it’s about “Digital pushback, getting people together for face-to-face interaction, away from computers and TV screens.” A veteran at holding game events and tournaments, Michaud, 40, moved from California to Omaha in 2007. When he’s not leading a non-profit arthritis research company, he’s teaching at University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC).
Michaud plans to involve UNMC doctors and caregivers in their upcoming December 14th Global Pandemic Party to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders. "It's a great cause and the PERFECT game to raise awareness about Ebola and Doctors Without Borders," says Andrew Williams, Spielbound’s general manager.
The public will be invited – folks like Renee and Tracy who are at an animated table playing Mousetrap. “It’s hard to pull people together. Going to Spielbound is our girls’ afternoon out. I get a beer, she gets caffeine, and [their daughter] got to choose the game, and we all get conversation.”
Spielbound Volunteers demonstrate a new board game each day. Scott, playing Betrayal at House on the Hill with family, appreciates the 1,200 games customers can choose from. “Games are expensive to buy sight unseen. Here I can try them out.”
I observe serious, quiet gamers playing Space Mission and Ghin Black Market and recall a comment Ross made earlier. “Games provide introverts with a structured way to be with people.” He should know; Ross is an introvert. He and his colleagues at an insurance company are planning a Spielbound outing. Games provide a built in ice breaker.
Megan and her young daughter are playing Pass the Pigs. A young couple with a sleeping infant take another turn at Ticket to Ride. Brenden is one of two guys playing Empire Legends. He’s smiling broadly. He’s a board game enthusiast, new to Omaha, yet totally in his element. He describes the staff as “super helpful.”
“Board games themselves are helpful,” says Michaud. “They do more than entertain. Studies have shown board games to be more protective against Alzheimer’s than reading, diet, or exercise. The hypothesis is game playing uses several parts of the brain at once to pull together hand-eye coordination, analytical strategy and social interaction.” He’d like to hear from anyone interested in using their games as part of a retirement community center’s activities.
The next time you’re nostalgic for the interactive board games of youth, you can pop in and create new memories. They’ve got the games – and the games even have all the pieces.
And be sure to swing by for their Pandemic Party on December 14th!
How can you expect to win if you don't play?
Join us in a …
Join us on December 6th & 7th, 2014 for a Global Pandemic Party. We're looking to raise $100,000 for Doctors Without Borders to fight Ebola in West Africa.
Photo by Ben Krantz
Their shop is in the Old Oakland district of downtown surrounded by one of the largest concentrations of original 'post quake' buildings in the area. These elegant buildings were built after Oakland was destroyed in 1906 in the same earthquake that led to the San Francisco fire. EndGame is in the Swan's Market building, built between 1917 and 1940.
EndGame lives up to all this gentility with an elegantly appointed store brimming over with gaming goodness. Their range is admirable - children's games, card games, role-playing, tabletop miniatures and board games - but their depth is where they really shine. In the kids' game section they have obscure - and beautiful! - games from HABA. In board games they often have really unusual, small print run gems. This is a great way to bring back browsing!
EndGame's neighborhood is great, too. The Trappist is an old style pub with a big selection of beers on tap. Miss Ollie's knocks it out of the park with Caribbean food. And the convention center is just across the street (make a note to drop in if you find yourself there on business!).
Our host for the Pandemic Party at Endgame is Chris Hanrahan, co-owner of EndGame. Chris started playing games in 3rd grade with Dungeons & Dragons. He's now on his fourth decade of playing all sorts of games and has no intention of stopping anytime soon!
Chris sees EndGame as a 'clean well lit place to both shop for and play games.' Despite the pressures of being in a city center, the shop has managed to carve out a generous space for playing. They have something going on seven days a week. And they've recently Kickstarted a cafe to keep the players well fueled.
Chris Hanrahan (left), Levar Burton, Enterprise officer and colorful reader (middle), and Chris Ruggiero, co-designer of Race to Adventure! and co-owner of EndGame(right). There's a great story about this. Ask Chris about it at the Pandemic Party.
EndGame's play space is a great proving ground for game designers. Eric Vogel worked out the kinks for Zeppelin Attack there. Teale Fristoe hammered out his upcoming Shadow Throne there. Even one of Chris' co-owners gets in on the act! Chris Ruggiero co-designed Evil Hat's Race to Adventure!
EndGame's generosity doesn't stop with the gaming community. They host the Oakland Mayor's toy drive every year. And host many hunger related events throughout the year including game tournaments where the entry fee is a food donation.
And Chris is a Pandemic fan! Call him old fashioned but he prefers plain, base Pandemic. On the subject of the ebola outbreak, Chris says, "I personally am not concerned for myself, as we have the infrastructure to handle it. My concern is for areas of the world that don't. I hope this helps them."
Doctors Without Borders is all about beefing up the infrastructure in the hardest hit regions in Africa. They currently employ 263 international and around 3,084 locally hired staff in the region. The organization operates six Ebola case management centers (CMCs), providing approximately 600 beds in isolation. Since the beginning of the outbreak, they have sent more than 700 international staff to the region and admitted more than 5,200 patients, among whom around 3,200 were confirmed as having Ebola. More than 1,200 patients have survived.
And all that infrastructure takes money. Chris and EndGame have really thrown their shoulder into their Pandemic Party. They have contacted a few people in the city and some folks they know in the press to get the word out. And they have a ton of their customers excited and ready to come down to play!
Join those excited folks for a Pandemic Party at EndGame on December 7th
... and don't forget to donate on our donation page!
How can you expect to win if you don't play?
Regulars of all ages and walks of life
Game Kastle will be hosting the Santa Clara, California leg of the Global Pandemic Party.
The Kastle is a game store nestled in the heart of Silicon Valley. The store features a huge selection of tabletop games – board games, CCG, role-playing, miniatures – if you want it, it is likely that Game Kastle has got it.
The shop is very much true to its setting, looking like a startup carved out of a warehouse. Which is good because Game Kastle is big on community. That takes lots of space, something that is at a premium in Silicon Valley.
Game Kastle has regulars of all ages and walks of life from all over the San Francisco Bay Area playing in their large, free to use play space just about any time the shop is open! The store hosts everything from the traditional Friday Night Magic, to weekly D&D Leagues, to monthly 40K Tournaments.
They reportedly host the biggest Pokemon League on the West Coast which draws players from as young as 5 to as old as 65. The store also runs epic tournaments and events from World Championships to Flea Markets.
Game Kastle recently played host to the Bay Area's first Protospiel/Unpub event. This is a chance for local game designers to get together, test each other's latest designs, and learn from industry veterans. Matt Leacock and Rob Daviau held the first playtest of their upcoming Pandemic Legacy game at this event!
The folks at Game Kastle have a Cheers philosophy, "Where everybody knows your game!" They like to get to know their customers and learn about the games they like to play so that, at the end of the day, they can make sure that every game is going to the right home.
Ray Wisneski with some innocent villagers
Our host for the Global Pandemic Party is Ray Wisneski, one of the co-owners of Game Kastle who has been with the shop for more than 10 years. When we asked Ray to tell us how it all began, he replied, "I first got into gaming when one of my hockey team mates brought a D&D book to practice. I was instantly enthralled by the concept of the game and the artwork captured my imagination. We became fast friends and would make weekly trips riding our bikes to the local game store in downtown Campbell, California (The Game Table). Mind you, this was 34 years ago, so game stores were scarce. It was such a treasure to explore that store! Every time I walked in I was amazed by the books, the games and the miniatures they carried.” One look at Game Kastle and you know that inspiration never left Ray!
When asked whether or not he was a Pandemic fan, Ray was enthusiastic. "Of course! Isn't everyone? It has become a classic/staple and is one of my favorite games to show groups of friends who have never been exposed to the types of games we sell in our store. The simple fact that it is a co-op game I think really intrigues people and breaks the mold of most games Americans are typically exposed to. And let's not forget the fact that the stakes are epic. You aren't out to save yourself, or just a loved one, you are trying to save the world! The game mechanics are brilliant and unforgiving... and that's on the normal game play level. Have yet to beat the game in difficult mode."
Game Kastle is no stranger to charity events, they try to run an annual Warmachine event where players donate cans of food in exchange for "in game bonuses." The proceeds go to the Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara.
Ray also helps out with school fundraisers by providing baskets full of gaming goodness to be auctioned off. Ray qualified, "But nothing as epic as this one!"
Why is Game Kastle participating in the Global Pandemic Party? Ray says it best: "I am concerned because there are nations in Africa who do not have the resources to respond quickly to the virus. We cannot help fight something if we live in fear and ignorance of it, we need to be able to reach out to those areas who need the most help and provide them with the care and supplies they truly need. Doctors Without Borders is providing those resources and all they need from us is financial aid."
Join us for an epic Pandemic Party at Game Kastle on December 6th
How can you expect to win if you don't play?
Game Kastle (Santa Clara)