Dubai: Self-isolation has brought us back to much simpler times. We were constantly on the go. Really wound up by work, distracted and stressed out by traffic. Blinded by the lights, music, and food. We were so “switched on”. So, it’s been a while since we’ve all come together to do what was inherent in us as children – play.
Whether you are an old-school board game lover or an online meet-up and play games kinda person, here is your list of all kinds of games you can play during your self-isolation in the UAE.
8 multiplayer online games you can play with your friends
These days, because everyone’s got a smart phone, tablet or laptop, gaming online with your friends is a great way to stay in touch. The best way to experience these games is to have another tab open, in which you are all on an online call, either through Zoom, Google Hangouts or Microsot Teams.
This game is hilarious. I played it last night during an online birthday party. Skribbl.io is a free multiplayer drawing and guessing game. Draw and guess words with your friends or if you are feeling brave you can join groups of people around the world. You will have colour options that you can choose from and a 45 second timer to draw your word. The ones guessing in the game, will have the number of letters of the words being drawn. The faster you guess the word, the higher your score point will be. Just a note that this game works better over your desktop, rather than on mobile.
A lot of my friends are obsessed with this game. They’ve played together almost every night during self-isolation. Scratch that. They’ve been playing this game way before we were self-isolated. That’s how fun it is. It’s basically sort of a “Hunger games” type game/universe. PUBG is Player Unknown's Battle grounds, an online multiplayer battle royale game. In the game, up to one hundred players parachute onto an island to look for weapons and equipment to kill others while avoiding getting killed themselves. There are “safe areas” in the game but they keep on decreasing in size as time goes by, directing surviving players into tighter areas to force them to encounter. The last player or team standing wins the round.
Call of Duty: Warzone
I won’t pretend to be an expert at any anything Call of Duty related, but I know that it’s been around for years. People used to play this game back when I was in high school (i.e. around 12 years ago) and it is still going strong. This game is legendary. Call of Duty Warzone is a massive free-to-play combat arena, where players will compete against other players to survive until the end.
Online dupes of ‘Cards against Humanity’
So the actual card game isn’t available online officially, but a lot of other platforms have adopted the game as an online version. If you want an app, check out Evil Apples vs. Humanity. It’s available to download in the UAE. It's free to download and play, and works with multiple players by sharing the link over WhatsApp, SMS, Twitter, or Facebook.
Another option to use on your desktop is Playingcards.io and from there you play the game “Remote Insensitivity”. Once you are online, you get a link to share with your friends. Once everyone is logged in, each person picks 10 ‘answer cards’ so you can start playing the game. Cards Against Humanity is just a fill in the blanks game that has exploded in popularity over the last decade.
Mario Kart Tour
Race your friends as a large group on Mario Kart Tour, which is available to download as an app. The app is free to play in the standard version, but there are in app purchases for the premium version. The catch is, you need a Nintendo account to play and you have to make sure all your friends have one too, then you share your team link and get your friends to register. It’s a pretty straight forward race game. Each person has to try and ‘outkart’ everyone else. It’s not the same as playing it on a proper gaming console, but easy enough to race against up-to seven of your friends.
Last time I played this game was at a dinner party. The maximum number of players for Fibbage is 8 people. The game, as you might be able to tell from the name, is about lies and how to spot them. It's one of those bluffing-style games, where players are presented with obscure trivia facts that are missing one key detail. The objective is to fill in the blank with a lie that's so good, it fools others into thinking it’s the truth. It’s hard to explain but once you play you will laugh so hard. Fibbage isn’t free, but you get the quality that you pay for. It’s best to play it on a desktop. At the moment Fibbage’s company, Jack Box, is having a flash sale, so it’s 50 per cent off the usual price until April 11, 2020. With the sale it will cost $4.99.
I’ve spent the last few weeks trying to order a puzzle online, and most of them are out of stock or will be delivered after a month. Instead, I decided to make a puzzle online with my friends. Puzzles shouldn’t always be a solo activity, you can now pick a puzzle and work on it together with a group of friends. If you don’t want a bunch of people to work on one puzzle together, you can choose to turn it into a competition and see who finishes their own puzzle the fastest.
This is a pretty straightforward game. It is a fun category-based trivia and you can play it over the app for free. All you have to do is download it and start a room, invite your friends (they also must have the app) and you can play against each other to answer questions. The one with the most correct answers wins.
10 board games to battle boredom during coronavirus isolation
If you’re still trying to figure out how to entertain the kids (and a few adults as well) during self-isolation, nothing truly beats a good old-fashioned board game to while the hours away and keep that competitive spirit alive.
Monopoly (Dubai Edition)
Move over Mayfair, we have the Burj Al Arab taking up the pole position on this board. Spots you can virtually own include Shaikh Zayed Road, La Mer, CityWalk, Atlantis Aquaventure, Dubai Miracle Garden and Dubai Frame. And if you really fancy the high life, then Dubai Opera and Souk Madinat are also for the taking, along with Atlantis The Palm Hotel and Resort and the Burj Khalifa.
Monopoly can be played with as few as two people and as many as eight. The objective of the game is to become the richest person and own as much property and land as possible. Each player is handed Monopoly money at the start of the game before rolling the dice. If the property you land on while playing is up for grabs, you can choose to buy it and collect rent every time another players land on it. Along the board, opportunities to pick up Chance and Community cards also crop up that are purely luck based. Players may gain or lose money when they pick them up.
King of Tokyo
Play mutant monsters, gigantic robots or strange aliens, all of whom are destroying Tokyo and whacking each other in order to become the King of Tokyo. At the start of each turn, you roll six dice, which show the following six symbols: 1, 2, or 3 Victory Points, Energy, Heal and Attack. Over three successive throws, choose whether to keep or discard each die in order to win victory points, gain energy, restore health, or attack other players. Top this off with special cards purchased with energy that have a permanent or temporary effect, such as growing a second head which grants you an additional die, body armour, nova death ray, and more.... In order to win the game, one must either destroy Tokyo by accumulating 20 victory points or be the only surviving monster once the fighting has ended.
The classic whodunit never has a dull moment and can be fun for all ages. Pretend to be Sherlock Holmes as you and the other players (best to have minimum three) race to decipher who, where and how as a crime committed in a mansion. The answers are hidden in an envelope at the start of the game, while you roll the dice and move to different rooms in the mansion, while asking other players questions while trying to deduce the plot. Once a player feels confident they have collected all the facts of the case, they can venture a guess. But if they are wrong, they must sit out and effectively lose the game.
The classic game can even be enjoyed with two players pitted across from each other in word play. Each player receives seven letter tiles that they use to create words to place on the board. Words have to be connected to others on the board, while trying to strategically place your tiles on grids that earn you bonus points. All letter tiles have points assigned to them. The winner is one who finishes their tiles with the maximum score. The points on your leftover tiles must be subtracted from your final score.
Long before the coronavirus brought upheaval into our lives, there was Pandemic, a board game that plays out on a similar premise: the world is battling a pandemic and you are a part of research team that travels around the world to battle the contagion. During each turn, a player can treat infected people, travel to cities, discover a cure or build a research station. A deck of cards provides the players with abilities, but sprinkled throughout this deck are Epidemic! cards that accelerate and intensify the diseases’ activity. A second, separate deck of cards controls the spread of the infections.
Exploding Kittens is a kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette. Players take turns drawing cards until someone draws an exploding kitten and loses the game. The deck is made up of cards that let you avoid exploding by peeking at cards before you draw, forcing your opponent to draw multiple cards, or shuffling the deck. The game gets more and more intense with each card you draw because fewer cards left in the deck means a greater chance of drawing the kitten and exploding in a fiery ball of feline hyperbole.
Ticket to Ride
Players collect cards of various types of train cars they then use to claim railway routes in North America. The longer the routes, the more points they earn. Additional points come to those who fulfil Destination Tickets goal cards that connect distant cities; and to the player who builds the longest continuous route. “The rules are simple enough to write on a train ticket! Each turn you either draw more cards, claim a route, or get additional Destination Tickets,” says Ticket to Ride author, Alan R. Moon. “The tension comes from being forced to balance greed, adding more cards to your hand, and fear losing a critical route to a competitor.”
Got kids at home? Bonk is a fast-rolling ricochet game that’s ideally played with four players. Your goal is to roll steel balls down your slide in order to knock the wooden ball in the central arena into your opponent’s goal. Players compete in teams of two, with each team trying to protect one goal between them. Perfect for some family fun indoors during the self-isolation with the kids.
The Klask game board is shaped like a ball field with two holes functioning as goals at each end of the field. In the middle, three white magnetic pieces serve as obstacles — do not attract them to your own gaming piece, which is a black magnet. You control it by holding a large magnet under the board. The purpose of the game is to push the small, red ball around on the field with your magnet/gaming piece, shoot the ball past the obstacles and your opponent and into the goal.
The geek inside us won’t let this one pass. Perfect for the trivia buffs who are missing out on their weekly pub quizzes, players have various categories to pick from: geography to entertainment. Players move around the board answering questions. When a player lands on a category, they earn the corresponding coloured wedge if they answer a question correctly. The first player to collect all six coloured wedges and answer a final question correctly wins.
4 DIY Game ideas
With self-isolation triggering the creative juices in many, people are also taking to designing their own board games with their limited resources.
While on Dubai-based Facebook user posted an image of their makeshift Monopoly-esque board game that prompted players to do quick workouts in a bid to also get people moving, another shared their makeshift chessboard made out of their child’s Lego cubes.
There are several sites dedicated to DIY games, but some easy tips include creating your very own.
‘Guess Who’ board if you have access to printer. Print out pictures of family and friends and get the kids to guess who is being describes in five clues or less. If you want to take it wide, grab friends and family to join over Zoom or Google Hangouts and take it virtual.
Another easy one to put together is your standard ‘Memory Game’. Print out some of the free templates available online, cut them out and have the kids put their minds to the test. If you want to add more fun, add gifts for the winners – a free pass on washing the dishes perhaps.
If you want to think out of the box, create your own board game scenario. Escape the Pandemic would be a fitting one. Make up your rules and get the kids involved in creating the board and designing it. Dice and gaming rooks can be borrowed from another game if needed. Go on, get creative.
3 active ‘traditional’ games you can play at home
This section is for those who want to get really creative. Desperate times call for desperate measures. How to
Turn your dining table into a Ping-Pong game
You will need a few investments for this, but they are relatively affordable, since you won’t be buying an entire table. Get yourself two ping pong rackets and a ball. If you guy can buy the net as well that would be perfect otherwise, create your own out of clear plastic cling wrap and two pencils. Set it up on your dining table and start challenging members of your family to games.
Turn your hallway into a bowling alley
Bowling balls and pins aren’t exactly available just anywhere. You can use water bottles as your pins and a heavy round object as the bowling ball. This might require some creativity and digging to find exactly what you need. Pro-bowling alleys will have 10 pins, so try and recreate it as close as you can.
Play golf in your living room
If you are a golf enthusiast, then this will be an easy one. Use your clubs and your golf balls. Feel free to putt on the carpet in the hallway with a glass cup. There’s nothing wrong with going as basic as that.