Chiang Mai ‘Gaming 101’
Chiang Mai’s gaming community is vibrant, diverse and inclusive — and continually growing! Built around the city’s numerous dedicated game cafes, university-affiliated board game clubs, active Facebook groups, and one of the finest bricks-and-mortar gaming stores in South-East Asia (in the form of Golden Goblin Games at San Sai), the gaming scene here in Thailand’s north is the epitome of unity in diversity, punctuated as it is by a host of easy-going scheduled meet-ups and informal gaming gatherings frequented by a healthy mix of local Thais, foreign expatriates and visiting tourists. Another characteristic of gaming is Chiang Mai is the wide array of game types to be found, ranging from family classic and cooperative games to bluffing and deception and role-playing games.
With their straightforward rules, colourful components, short playing time, and high level interactivity and abstraction, family games provide an ideal starting point for those relatively new to gaming. Carcassonne — the kingdom-building, tile-placement game which enables players to place followers (including knights, monks, bandits, and farmers) on an ever-expanding landscape in order to score the most points — is widely considered a modern classic of the genre. The Japanese-themed Takenoko — in which players take on the role of caring for the Nipponese Emperor’s giant panda by growing bamboo for the gentle beast’s consumption — is another great family game, as is the ‘family edition’ of the 17th century European farming game, Agricola.
Cooperative games — in which players utilise teamwork and problem-solving skills to ‘compete’ against the game itself — have become increasingly popular in recent years. In Pandemic, players take on the roles of medical specialists who must work together to eradicate four disease outbreaks which threaten to overwhelm the world. In the ‘terror adventure’ game Eldritch Horror players team up to investigate sinister mysteries around the globe and — all going well — prevent the cosmically evil Ancient Ones from destroying humanity.
Hidden information is integral to the ever-popular bluffing and deception games in which players are encouraged to deceive in order to win. From the cheeky Sheriff of Nottingham — in which players do their utmost to smuggle contraband into Nottingham in order to fuel the rebellion led by Robin Hood — to the rather more disquieting
Ultimate Werewolf — a war of attrition set in a werewolf-infiltrated rural village — these games provide plenty of opportunities to channel some of your best bad acting.
And speaking of bad acting, the quintessential tabletop role-playing game, Dungeons & Dragons, is now celebrating its fortieth anniversary and available in a re-vamped fifth edition (5e) consisting of a basic starter set or bundle of more advanced manuals complemented by an extensive digital toolset to help synchronise your tabletop with your tablet.