Gameplay in the Classroom

Prototype Meters for gameplay in the classroom.

Happy Summer, readers of!

I hope that all of the teachers in the audience are recharging their batteries for next school year. But, if we're honest, many teachers are spending at least part of their summer making enhancements to their curricula. I'm no exception.

This summer I'm spending several weeks designing, writing, and building a game for my classroom. Why do this from scratch? I have several reasons that I want to share.

The beauty of incorporating gameplay into a classroom is that there is no one "right" way to do it, so long as a teacher has an educative rationale. Maybe you'll use a game purchased at a discount through Spielbound to help students keep their math proficiency sharp. Maybe you need a historical game to really help students do some deep thinking about the expansion of railroads during the Industrial Revolution or help them think about city planning. If a pre-existing game fits your objectives, go for it! Unfortunately, there aren't always games that fit all objectives and this is where I am taking matters into my own hands. This helps me target the exact ideas that I need to make good use of my curricular time, and also gives me the freedom to write the game with the needs of my own students in mind.

I have a few objectives in my science classroom that I'm trying to help students meet and exceed. The topic is global climate change, a set of required Nebraska State Standards for my science class. Students need to understand the wide body of evidence and ethical dilemmas surrounding the study of this scientific fact. I also want to use this as an opportunity to practice rich thinking in cooperation with their peers. Students can use those interactions to develop breadth and depth in their construction of understanding. Those are big goals, to be sure, but calculated risks are what drive really rich learning. I've already put about ten days in. So where did I start?

'The Big Payback': A new game design challenge from Spielmasons!

The Big Payback.

The Spielmasons are hosting a unique game design challenge open to anyone with an interest in designing a game. The challenge is called "The Big Payback" and here are the design specifications:

  1. The game must be titled "The Big Payback" and it must have a theme that fits the title.
  2. The game and all of its components must fit in this beautiful, aptly named, wooden box.

The box dimensions are 12" long by  8" wide  by  3.5" tall.

If you are interested in being part of the challenge, design a game based on the above specifications and bring it to a Spielmasons meeting during the month of July. Spielmasons welcomes all contestants (and anyone interested in testing the games) to be part of the testing for all challenge entries. The winner of the design challenge gets the "The Big Payback" box for their game!

Feel free to visit a Spielmasons meeting to learn more about the challenge and game design in general. All Spielmasons meetings are open to anyone with an interest in game design or to anyone who wants to test games in the process of being designed.  No experience necessary!

Spielmasons meet every other Wednesday evening from 8PM to 11PM at Spielbound. &Our next meeting is Wednesday, May 20th.

Trivia Night Comes to Spielbound!

Here are some of the trivia games available at Spielbound.

Q: What game, created in 1979, brings families together over dice, cards, and big slices of pie?

The answer, of course, is Trivial Pursuit! Spielbound is excited to introduce a new step in our mission to connect people with games. Starting on Wednesday, April 15th, groups of players will face off for trivia supremacy. Every Wednesday night, Spielbound staffer Greg Harries will host you through an eight-round trivia game. We’ll offer a $40 Spielbound Board Game Cafe gift card for the winner, and free day passes for second place. The gift card can be redeemed for drinks, snacks, day passes, or even memberships and board games!

We looked into a number of options for trivia games, and landed on Trivia Mafia, a group out of the Twin Cities that has trivia nights at over 30 different locations in MN—this will be their first Omaha site! They offer an eight-round quiz that is one of the most energetic, funny, and clever nights of trivia you'll ever experience. It will feature categories such as audio rounds, biography rounds, lightning rounds, and visual rounds, and players of all skill levels and topics will have something to contribute.


Delorean not included: a review of Temporum


Rio Grande Games Rules Read Comments
Players: 2 - 5
Playing Time: 35 Minutes

A review by Scott Fish

Temporum is the latest entry from the legendary Donald X Vaccarino, a man whose games I have a... complicated... relationship with. Some of his games I have loved and have recommended to anyone who'll listen (Dominion and Kingdom Builder). But there are also games (Gauntlet of Fools, Pina Pirata) where I was upset for wasting my time on them. So when I was handed this game, I was cautiously optimistic. Which will this game be: boom or bust? Let's take a closer look.

Temporum is a 2–5 player game about time travel; you will spend your turns travelling to 4 different eras to change the future and secure your power in the present. The zones in each era are set up in pyramid fashion: the first tier has only one zone, but the fourth zone has four zones you can visit. The catch is you can only visit a zone if the timeline connects to it. Each time you change history in the past, you alter the future timeline and may move players in a future time to a totally different zone! You win when you have moved all of your crowns (influence) from the first era to the last era. Gameplay takes 25–45 minutes on average.

Recommended for:

Entry level to moderate experience players who are looking for a fast, lightweight game but also has solid game mechanics and tight finishes each time they play. Hardcore gamers or people who are looking for a cool time travel theme need to keep looking.

Getting started with games in the classroom

Happy New Year Friends of Spielbound!

I'm excited for what 2015 holds for Spielbound and I hope that you've been enjoying the engagement that our game library provides.  I've been personally enjoying the relaxed environment at the cafe and library.

One of the central goals of Spielbound is to help teachers find ways to enhance student learning and engagement with board games.  In order to do that we want to find ways to help teachers see pathways for using games in schools.  So how can we help with the professional development of teachers whose schedules are already packed?  Go to the movies, of course!

On March 9th at 7 PM Spielbound and Filmstreams invite you to a special, one-time screening of the documentary World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievements.  The event is open to all, but area educators and their families are especially encouraged to attend.  The film highlights the efforts of rural Virginia teacher John Hunter to use the non-violence principles of Mahatma Ghandi to help his students understand peaceful discourse.  His World Peace Game helps students to see the value of collaboration and communication in resolving conflicts.  This inspiring story will be followed by a Question and Answer session with a special panel.

Review: Samurai Spirit


Funforge Rules Read Comments
Players: 1 - 7
Playing Time: 30 Minutes

A review by Scott Fish

Samurai Spirit is the latest game by Antoine Bauza, the creator of such fantastic games as 7 Wonders, Hanabi, Takenoko, Tokaido, and Ghost Stories. It is a 1-7 player cooperative game which puts seven brave samurai against a seemingly endless horde of bandits in order to defend a small village of farmers.

If that plot sounds familiar, then I applaud your taste in movies; the theme of the game is very much influenced by the 1956 classic Shichinin no Samurai (Seven Samurai) by Akira Kurosawa (Or for you western movie buffs, the 1960 Americanized remake, The Magnificent Seven). Mr. Bauza went so far as to write an homage to the movie in the rule book and named all of the Samurai in the game after the Samurai in the film.

A full game of seven players should take about 45 minutes, but a 2–3 player game can be done as quickly as 20 minutes. There is also a solo variant where one person controls two samurai with a few tweaks to the rules.

Recommended for: Groups of 4-7 players who are looking for a quick, light cooperative game, people who enjoy the "Seven Samurai" theme, people who do not mind losing often to forces out of their control (like in traditional solitaire, Chainsaw Warrior, or DungeonQuest).

The Year in Review

Keeping moving ahead and always trying to improve can be great for creating successes, but I am also a firm believer in taking pause to review where we've come - the end of the year and other anniversaries are good for this.

2014 in Review

In the first quarter (Q1) we were finalizing details of our lease and Kickstarter launch including interviews with folks who had run several successful Kickstarter projects and non-profit community centers of their own. The most important decision we made was to tie the signing of the lease to the Kickstarter itself. If the public didn't support our idea enough to fund it, then we wouldn't move forward. *Spoiler alert* We're so glad you did support us! :-)

In Q2 we launched this Kickstarter project with great trepidation and excitement. The wonderful support from Omaha Code School for using their space for public game nights, the press, and word of mouth helped us be successful in raising much-needed startup funds! It was the first time that I got to be the public face and meet with the public about the project we had been working on for a couple of years. We signed the lease before the end of the Kickstarter and quickly moved forward with construction/remodeling.

Hundreds of hours were put in by our amazing volunteersHundreds of hours of hard work from our amazing volunteers went into to cleaning and prepping our space in the summer of 2014.

Pandemic Party!

Pandemic Party Seal

This Sunday, December 14th, Spielbound will be hosting our first Pandemic Party from 12-6pm. This is not only a great chance to come and play one of the greatest and highest-rated cooperative games around, but also an opportunity to learn more about and support Doctor's Without Borders, an international medical humanitarian organization dedicated to providing healthcare and medical training to those in war-torn countries.

Chess tournament!

This Sunday, December 7 the Omaha City Chess Championship will be held at Spielbound Board Game Cafe. Competition will be divided into 2 sections: Championship and Unrated. The championship will be rated by the United State Chess Federation (USCF) and will feature cash prizes. The championship entry fee is $25. USCF membership is required to play in the Championship, but no membership is needed for the Unrated. If, however, any current Spielbound members register for the tournament, they will get a $5 discount off the entry fee. The Unrated entry fee is $20.

Spielmasons is hosting a cooking themed game design contest!

Spielmasons Cooking Theme

Spielmasons is hosting a cooking themed game design contest!

This contest is free to anyone interested in submitting a design. To be a contestant, submit a design to the Spielmasons prior to the end of December 2014.

Contest entries will be tested during the month of January 2015 with a winner announced at a February Spielmasons meeting.