Cards or Die: I definitely absolutely wrote my blog...

I was sure it was in my bag but now I've emptied my bag out and it definitely isn't there. Maybe the dog ate it... again....

Aiming to do a fortnightly blog is usually fine, but some weeks life just gets in the way... here's what's been occupying me for the last couple of weeks.

I don't usually open with my most exciting news because then, why would you read on? But, I can not contain my excitement about this.... Last weekend I learnt that there is such a thing as a 6 hole, hole punch. Then (the excitement mounts) I bought one! So this week more time than I care to mention has been spent punching holes in things and adding them to my filofax. I am now the most well organised person in the entire world. 

The six hole hole punch, my new offensive pencil and my weekly planner

The six hole hole punch, my new offensive pencil and my weekly planner

One of the things that is taking up some of my time lately is the addition of days off to my schedule. I often struggle with my mental health and the two things I struggle with most are eating properly and managing my time - I am trying to train my brain to accept that both of these activities are good uses of anybody's time. My days off over the past couple of weeks were filled with art - specifically the Yorkshire Sculpture International. Art soothes my soul and a good wander round the Sculpture Park in all that fresh air is a balm for my mental head stuff. Even the Damian Hirst Sculptures reminded me of games - Operation and the new one by Weird Giraffe Games, Big Easy Busking. I backed this on Kickstarter as I love Stellar Leap and Fire in the Library and it has obviously had an impact on me already.

Damien Hirst - The Hat Makes The Man Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Damien Hirst - The Hat Makes The Man Yorkshire Sculpture Park

I've been working hard on the other days, spreading the good news about board gaming and bringing people together with games. I'm hopeful that having days off will mean I'm more energetic and more productive on the days that I do work. What with days off AND a six hole, hole punch I could... dare I say it... take over the world. Don't worry the only terrifying element of my benevolent dictatorship will be the level of organisation, there'll be lots of fun activities too. 

Last Thursday was my regular last Thursday of the month at The Cardigan Arms. It was my first night in their function room upstairs which is huge with great big games sized tables. Unfortunately it was also the first day of summer in Leeds so we had less people than usual but people still had fun playing Deep Sea Adventure, Ticket to Ride London, Cobra Paw and Honshu among others.

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Fridays I have been delivering sessions at an Autism Specialist school in Leeds. Playing board games uses and develops so many useful skills - while we are focusing on social skills and communication, we are of course planning, strategising, dealing with changing goals and circumstances which force us to rethink our plans.

 

In the first session we played Chicken Time Warp just to allow me to get to know the group with something fun and not too challenging. The group found it very entertaining and the session flew by. With support, they coped well with the elimination of players. The game gives you two chances not to be out - the first time you pick a 'You Dead' card, you are frozen in time, but then if 'Time Slips Away' as well then you are not only dead but erased from existence -deader than a very dead thing that's been dead a long time. This allows for you to be rescued and they were keen to rescue each other which was lovely and boded well for the co-operative games I had planned. 

 

Week 2 was Forest of Fate, a co-operative choose your own adventure - we managed to navigate the Forest safely by using our special abilities at apt times. The game involved the players judging and agreeing on which skill would be most effective in each scenario, then agreeing which of them would risk themselves and face the challenge. We took turn reading the cards and the story. One of the kids telling another not to worry when he stumbled over a word he was reading with 'It's ok, we all make mistakes, take your time' reminded me why I loved teaching so much. 

This Friday we played Forbidden Island, another co-operative game where you have to collect treasure and escape the island. A difficulty some children (and adults) have with this game is that not everyone gets the glory of collecting the treasure - some of us have to do the less glamorous tasks like shoring up sinking parts of the island. Working co-operatively can be difficult but we made sure that everyone had an equal voice in the decisions and that those not getting the treasure felt just as valued in the process. In the end we won - just. Luckily someone had made the decision to save the Helicopter Lift cards that allowed us to escape the island seconds before it sank into the sea. 

Forbidden Island. Science benches make excellent gaming tables!

Forbidden Island. Science benches make excellent gaming tables!

First Wednesday has been the Cards or Die board games night at The Abbey Inn for the last couple of years. This Wednesday the weather was glorious so we were able to play games outdoors which was lovely until the midges descended and then we darted indoors. We had 28 people playing a whole variety of games like Qwordie the quiz and word game from Big Potato, Snaggit the new one from Yay games as well as Takenoko and Forest of Fate (again!). I was pleased that a couple of people came down on their own and joined in games with others. I'm always keen for people to feel welcome as I know how hard it can be to turn up somewhere on your own.

Summer at The Abbey Inn, Leeds.

Summer at The Abbey Inn, Leeds.

Thursday afternoon I took the board games to a senior citizens group in Leeds. I had around 30 people playing all sorts of games and everyone tried out something new. We played Are you dumber than a box of rocks? a quirky quiz game, Logo Game, Fletter Fuse a fast paced word making game, Boggle, Colour Brain, Snaggit and Speedy Words.

Photo from a senior citizens social group earlier in the year.

Photo from a senior citizens social group earlier in the year.

I love my job (which is what happens when you make your own job up), I love meeting different people with different stories and experiences and board games are the perfect way to spark those stories and bring people together. 

If you want to find out more about any of the games mentioned please get in touch or better still come and see us at one of our public events.   

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