Monday, July 14, 2008


So I made a tweet last night about the fact that I had found the greatest website in the history of man, and that I was holding out. Well I decided since I found the greatest website ever, I should probably share it... although I must warn you, this website is so awesome, it could potentially kill you, that is how much awesome it has.

As most everyone is aware, about a month or 2 ago I got addicted to board gaming. This is no small addiction, my board game collection in the last few months has exploded, I have spent an unhealthy amount of time researching, reading and studying both new and old board games, and I have been trying to convince everyone I know to play any game with me at any time. I have become not only a hardcore user, but also a pusher... it's sad really.

Well up until this point I have been limited to being able to play games to when I could find people willing, or when I could talk Shalisa in to it. Well no more.

I have discovered a website - that could possibly be the crown jewel of our civilization. This is possibly the height of what the internet was meant to be!

This website has almost any euro board game that you can imagine on it. Want to play Caylus in 5 minutes? There is probably 2-3 Caylus games forming up right now. Want to play Carcassonne later tonight, not only do they have it, but they have every expansion there is for it that you can mix and match to that you want to play. Interested in that new game Stone Age, but not sure you want to lay out the cash before you buy it, hey guess what, you could start a Stone Age game right now if you wanted. Think Princes of Florence is the greatest thing since sliced bread and you haven't been able to play in a while, start a game up! And all of these games, ALL OF THEM, are played against real people throughout the world. This isn't against some "bot" or AI program, you are playing against other people all over the world.

This all sounds great, but you are thinking to yourself - I am sure this is grand Ryan, but these boardgames run like $50 a piece, and this website literally has HUNDREDS of these games, I am sure their monthly subscription to be able to play is more than I want to spend. And yeah, their monthly fee is a bit expensive, I mean I think a full year subscription to the website is, oh wait, what is that, it's FREE?!?! Well sure, but I bet you have to fill out a bunch of forms, and they send you spam and... wait, you can even sign in as an anonymous guest without even registering and still play every game FOR FREE. This is too good to be true!

But alas you think to yourself - I am running a PC and I am sure this is only available on a Mac. Or you are on a Mac and thinking, alas, this is probably only available on a PC. Or you are running Linux, and you know you are screwed because nothing ever is made for Linux... but wait, whats that... There's MORE? That's right, the whole thing is written in Java, so you could be on a Mac, a PC, Linux, heck even your Wii if it had a Java client (not sure if it does, but it wouldn't be hard to put one on there) and you could visit this website, download the client, and be playing in 5 minutes!

Seriously tho, there are a few things to be aware of. I can honestly say that this website is freaking amazing and everything has gone super easy and great, but like anything there are a few minor things to be aware of.

When I tried to load it up on my Mac in Firefox 3, I couldn't get the web client to play the games to load. It would load the java applet, but just sit with a black screen. I am not sure if this had to do with the Java runtime on my Mac, Firefox 3, or just the fact that my Macbook sometimes has issues.. But honestly, you probably don't want to use the web client to play the games anyway, just go to their website and find the link to download the client for you OS type (Mac, PC, Linux, etc) and install that. The first time you run the client it will take about 5 minutes downloading some updates and stuff, but after that you can either sign in (if you have bothered to register your username) or you can just type in a username (as long as it isn't a registered one) and no password and click join to join up as a "guest" under that username (so potentially someone later could use that name and then it wouldn't be unique to you, the ONLY thing registering does is reserve your username... so if you get really in to it you may want to register so you can find people and people can find you).

Also note, the site is in the .de domain. That means it's German, and yes, the whole site is in German. The link I posted above is for the English version of their site, and for the most part it is completely useable. There are a few items (especially once you get the client loaded and running) where you will see German words here or there, but honestly the whole user interface is so easy to use and intuitive that it really isn't a huge issue. The only time the language barrier has been an issue is when I am playing a game, and everyone in the game is free to chat with one another in the chat window below, and I realize it is me and 3 other Germans... and I have no clue what they are saying! But honestly, most everyone on the site not only speaks German, but also English (and there are plenty of Russians, Chinese, Japanese... it's global baby!) as well, and while the site's default language is German, most everyone uses English as a common language in the games anyway.

Finally, the user interface in the games is SPECTACULAR - with one caveat being that some (but far from all) of the game names are in German... so it can be confusing as to what game is what (Although really, who can't figure out Die Siedler von Catan). I have been playing a bit of Carcassonne lately (I am pretty comfortable with how the game works, so playing it there is simplistic enough that I can worry about figuring out how the client and software works instead of figuring out how the "game" works). I have heard complaints from people on line that a few of the games have "quirky" (not bad, just different) interfaces, but honestly the few games I have tried to play the client interface has been great. Also note, this isn't some cheesy "text and a hand drawn in paint graphic" type interface, most of the games I have played so far are like top notch reproductions of game boards and game pieces. In fact I would argue the detail on the Carcossonne tiles on BSW is BETTER than the tiles in real life. The picture on the right is from a game of Pillars of the Earth, the picture on the left is a game of Caylus.

And even then, with the German language on some of the commands and the German game names and stuff, if you have ANY questions, ANY at all... or are nervous about playing everything you could ever want to know about BSW is covered in the EXCELLENT BrettspielWelt English Guide. It will probably take you 10 minutes to read the guide, another 10 to get everything downloaded and setup, and from there you are good to go.

Finally, if you really don't "get it" and are having troubles, you can always ask me and I would be happy to help you, I am by no means an expert, but I have managed to play a few games over the last few days and am pretty comfortable with it. So enjoy! (Also note, sadly Memoir '44 is one of the few games that doesn't have a presence on BSW).


.justin said...

are you surprised that mem'44 isn't on the GERMAN site?

bad vibes, me thinks...

while that does sound entertaining, i don't think i'll ever wind up there. call me old school, but i like the personal connection of game night. and game lunches. and game-ing time with my wife.

but seriously, good find.

Anonymous said...

Here a reply from another BSW-player.
There are different chat-channels for people to join.
Fairnesschannel to complain about people if they leave the game early
Englisht talk for english people.
And then there are even different towns like korea town, english town, walt disney city etc.
And then there are the SPV channels which means something like SpielPartnerVersuch. A channel where you can look for other players, this channel is common, in english, french, italian, korean, japanese etc.
The possibilities are endless and there are over 70 games that can be played!

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