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Up Your Game: Integrating Technology with Tabletop Gaming. Part Two: Lightening Your Load

by ‎04-27-2017 12:40 PM - edited ‎04-28-2017 02:55 PM

Captain Ace Fodder tightly grasps the rail as First Mate Morgana shouts the orders to the rest of the crew.   “Easy does it!  We’re almost to port.” 


It had been a long journey, and not an easy one.  He already lost seven crew members to his lucrative cargo, and The Tabatha Tart was already operating on a skeleton crew.   He hopes that the buyer will be generous with his payment.  He makes a mental note to include the lost crewmen when collecting his reward.


Suddenly, a large crash can be heard from below, and the ship makes a sudden lurch and begins to groan.  After a moment of silence, screams can be heard, followed by a large crack, as a leathery wing suddenly bursts through the hull of the ship. 


“Roll for Initiative”


Welcome to Up Your Game: Integrating Technology with Tabletop Gaming.  This is the second of a multi-part series that will highlight products, software, and other ideas that may enhance your tabletop gaming experiences.  If you missed it, you can catch up on Part One: Setting Your Stage here. Today’s topic:  Lightening Your Load.


While games are a lot of fun, sometimes the logistics of taking your favorite games with you can prove to be a difficult task.  It can be cumbersome to lug around books of rules, dictionaries, and decks of cards, and there are a number of pieces of tech, software, and apps, that can help lighten that burden (as well as make referencing material a whole lot faster).  Here are a few ways to make your game nights a little less stressful.



Tablets & 2-in-1 PCs:


Connect with PDFs of rules and character sheets, and quickly gain access to dictionaries for word games with one of these top-rated tablets or 2-in-1 PCs.  Many of your favorite Tabletop RPGs, such as Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, Gurps, and Deadlands, have PDF versions of rulebooks and/or character sheets available for download online.  Download all of your reference material to one of these devices, and you will be able to carry one small tablet or pc with you instead of your entire bookshelf.









Reference, Management, Organizational, and Creation Apps:


Dictionary Apps:

Are you in love with Scrabble, Bananagrams, and Upwords?  Do you find yourself accusing your mother-in-law of making words up?  Check your spelling and see if Ma’s secretly a genius by laying down "SQUIFFY" on the Triple Word Score using one of these dictionary apps. (iOS, Android, Amazon Appstore)

-Oxford Dictionary of English (Windows, Android, iOS)
-Dictionary- Mirriam-Webster (iOS, Apple Watch, Android)


Trading Card Game Deck Managers:

Life-long Magic: The Gathering fans have long been known for having boxes and binders full of card.  The same can be said for fans of the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game.  Trying to keep track of your cards can be a daunting task, but, thankfully, things have gotten easier, thanks to these top-ranking card management apps.  Some even feature rule books, life counters, and current market values for cards!


Magic:  The Gathering Deck Managers:
               -Decked Builder (iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac OSX)
               -MTG Tracker & Life Counter (Android)
               -iMtG (iOS)


Yu-Gi-Oh! Deck Managers:
               -Ygopro (Android) & Ygolite (iOS)
               -Yugipedia (Android, iOS)
               -YgoDeck (Android)



Traditional Tabletop RPG Management and Utility:


Tabletop RPG players, rejoice!  There is no longer a need to reference your rulebooks or organize your spell deck cards thanks to these handy apps.


Pathfinder Apps:
               -Spellbook for Pathfinder (Android, iOS)
               -Masterwork Tools: Pathfinder RPG (Android)
               -Squire- RPG Combat Assistant (Android)


Dungeons & Dragons Apps:
               -Kobold Fight Club (web app)
               -5th Edition Spellbook (Android)
               -Game Master 5th Edition (iOS)


Create Dungeons and Maps:
               -Dungeon Painter & Dungeon Painter Studio (available for download through Steam)
               -Gozzy’s Cartographic Emporium (web app)
               -Hex Map and Hex Map Pro (iOS)


Dice Rolling Apps:
               -Pip (iOS)
               -DiceShaker D&D (Android)
               -Dice Bag (iOS)
               -Easy Dice (Android)



Game Companions:


Did you know that many of your favorite games already have companion apps and downloads available?  Companion content ranges from audio files and music to full mini-games and DLC adventures.  Here are a few of my personal favorites.

Mansions of Madness:

Fantasy Flight Games has really struck it out of the park when integrating technology with the H.P. Lovecraft inspired hit, Mansions of Madness Second Edition.  Full companion apps are available through Steam, iOS, and Android.    The apps help lay out the board, provide animated and voiced cut scenes and story moments, background music and sound, and fully functional puzzles and mini-games that need to be completed to continue your adventure.  Will you be able to open the puzzle box to gain the key to escape, prior to the mansion being obliterated by a Dark One?  There’s only one way to find out….


Mice and Mystics:

Mice and Mystics is an RPG-in-a-box co-op game by Plaid Hat Games.  Plaid Hat Games has released additional DLC adventures to add to your campaign.  Some of them are holiday themed, while others add to the main story line.  Mice and Mystics also has optional downloads available, featuring audio content of the Story Moments to the core game.  The Story Moments are read by Rich Sommer, perhaps best known for his work with Mad Men, and all proceeds generated from the downloads are donated to the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund. 


Betrayal at House on the Hill:

Praised by some as being the best gateway game to introduce the idea of RPGs to friends, Wizards of the Coast and Avalon Hill’s Betrayal at House on the Hill has huge replayability, as the game set-up, along with the game objectives, are different every time you play it.  Fans of the game have created apps for both iOS and Android to help keep track of stats, and have even created Soundboards to use while you play the game.



Music and Sound for your Campaign:


Many Game Masters enjoy incorporating sounds to help get their players into the game’s world.  Ranging from Battle Anthems to nature sounds, these sources will help you set your stage and organize your sound selections.

               -A Soft Murmur (web app and Android app for ambient sounds)

               -Syrinscape (music and ambient sounds available for Windows, Mac OSX, Android, and iOS)
               -BattleBards (music, ambient sounds, and NPC dialogue with full Soundboards and Mixers via a web app, Mac OSX, and Windows)



Save your Content:


We just covered a lot of different ways to condense what you might have carried with you, prior to integrating technology with your tabletop gaming.  All of these files could take up a lot of space on your device, and it would be great to be able to share what you’ve created with your gaming group.  You can accomplish both of these things and help ensure continuity of data by saving your work to a Network-Attached Storage device or Personal Cloud.  


You can check out Best Buy’s NAS and Personal Cloud options, here.


You can read the story of Melissa-BBY’s discovery of Network-Attached Storage and Personal Clouds, here.


Did you know that Best Buy now carries a small selection of board games?  You can check them out here!


Are you a fan of tabletop gaming?  Do you have ideas of products, services, and applications that have enhanced your tabletop experience?  What are some of your favorite games to play?  Is there technology that you wish existed, but currently doesn’t?  Please feel free to share your thoughts, ideas, and comments down below!  I look forward to hearing from you!


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