We use a lot of Tags here at Pint-Sized Games, which probably seem kind of impenetrable at first. For us, they’re a kind of shorthand to indicate where a game fits in the three dimensional Venn diagram that is our gaming collection.
Of course, you have to understand a shorthand for it to be useful rather than cryptic and so we’re hoping that this page will help you understand the chaos that is our thinking a little so that you can get the most out of our posts and this blog.
Basically Tags fall in to two categories, descriptors and ratings.
You’ll probably be shocked to hear that descriptors describe aspects of a game. When we’re talking about a game’s theme, mechanics, designer(s), publishers, the number of players it can accommodate, and so on, we’ll use descriptor Tags. Descriptors are things that are objectively true about a game, or as close to objectively true as such things can be. Please don’t hate on us if you think we’ve misused the term for a mechanic, or the term “mechanics.”
Some features we try and describe which might be viewed as a bit more subjective are:
This is probably the most subjective of our Descriptors given the fact that play time varies a lot depending on how quickly you can set up and break down a game, whether you need to introduce or teach it, how well the players know games of that type, and how long people players like to spend in their think tank.
It’s worth bearing in mind that this Tag is about how long it takes us to play a game, and we usually don’t write a post until we’ve played a game at least a dozen times, usually getting incrementally faster each time. It may be worth viewing this through the lens of optimal play time. The Tags are basically how many minutes we expect a game to take.
- Under 20
- 20 – 60
- 60 – 90
Our local runs specials on Wednesday nights to clear their lines before the weekend, so pints are often around half price and it gets pretty packed. As a result, the amount of table space that the game requires to play is an important consideration for us.
You can play this game sitting at the bar or on the space on top of a mantelpiece. Think games that play with a deck of cards and a discard pile, or a small space to roll dice. We take no responsibility if you can’t keep your dice on the table.
- Cross Table
You can play this game in the space between two people when you’re sitting across from each other. These games usually have components you need to place on the table but they’re minimal, you can probably get away with playing one of these if you’re sitting at a share table.
- Small Table
You can play this game on one of those tiny square tables that shitty cafes try to cram four seats around (even though they only fit two). It’s probably too big for a shared table but you should be able to play it on a table that you have to yourself, no matter how meagre that table is.
- Large Table
You’ll probably need a table that legitimately seats four people to play this game. As such, we only tend to take these games out with us if we’re pretty sure the venue we’re heading to won’t be crowded, they see a lot more mileage when we have people over at home.
We’re responsible drinkers, which means when we head out for beers we plan on getting home via public transport or ride sharing. We also like to take a range of games to play. As such, the weight and bulkiness of a game is a pretty important consideration for us. Of course, we don’t take most of the games we play down to the pub in their retail packaging, they get packed down into deck boxes, drawstring bags, and smaller containers. As such, you should possibly consider this a rating of the game at it’s most portable.
This game fits in a small box, bag or tube about the size of a deck of cards (or a deck box). It can be transported around in a handbag or jacket pocket and you’ll probably get half a dozen such games in a satchel or backpack.
This game can be transported around in a small box or bag, around the size of your average paperback Novel. It’s bigger than a deck of cards but smaller than a ream of paper.
- Small Box
This game is about the size of a small retail box, something like 15cms by 25cms. It fits in a box that’s bigger than a novel, up to around the size of a ream of paper.
- Large Box
This is a large retail box, something like 30cms square. Usually these games live at home for us, but occasionally we’ll take them out to a dedicated games night.
These Tags rank aspects of the game’s components, play style or experience. They’re largely subjective and they replace the one to ten, one to five, two thumb, scale of betterment, or whatever numbers you might expect to see in a review. It’s worth bearing in mind that what we’re rating isn’t necessarily how much we like the game, more where we think it fits in a collection, how we feel about a game should hopefully come across in the body of the review.
Some of the features we try and rank are:
When we’re ranking games with this Tag we’re thinking about where they fit in an afternoon of gaming. When we rank games here we’re not only considering how long they take to play but also the amount of attention, mental energy, in short whether they’re the kind of game that we want a break after playing or if they serve as a break from heavier games.
A filler is a short game that you’d squeeze in between larger games, or while people order food, eat, or go to the bathroom.
This is a shorter game that you’d play at the start of a games day while you’re waiting for people to arrive, or later in the night once your group has thinned out a bit. We’ll often play two or three of these as a warm up before launching in to a Feature.
A feature is a bigger, longer, more demanding game that, for us, takes up most of an afternoon or evening’s gaming. Sometimes we’ll get two features into a games day, often with some Shorts or Fillers in between, but it’s pretty rare that we’ll manage to play three.
An Event is the reason you’d get together for an afternoon or evening playing games. You might play some small games or fillers before or after but when you propose the invite it’ll be along the lines of “do you want to get together to play . . .” An example of this, for us, is a Time Stories module, but others might feel the same about Twilight Imperium, Warhammer 40k and the like.
We drink a lot of hefty craft beers, and we drink fast. It’s no surprise then that our mental facilities are occasionally a bit impaired when we’re playing games, or that how taxing a game is to play is a consideration when we’re packing our bag.
If we’re playing this game, and we’re playing to win, we’re playing sober. (Of course, sometimes being in the company of your friends is victory enough.)
- One Pint
A single drink relaxes us, it takes the edge off, and I remember an automotive journalist once said that one drink knocked two tenths of a second off his lap times. We’re not a particularly competitive bunch, but I’m pretty confident I play this game at a high level whilst drinking a pint.
- Two Pint
We feel pretty confident that we’d give anyone a run for their money playing this game after two pints. IE: when it wouldn’t be safe for us to drive.
- Three Pints
We feel pretty confident in our ability to win this game after three pints. Then again, we feel pretty confident in my ability to do just about anything after three pints.
If you’ve read the entry on game complexity then this rating is going to seem kind of repetitive. Nevertheless, if we’re going out, and we’re meeting people who might be new to our games, we definitely think about how difficult they are to teach, or put differently, how difficult they are to learn.
This one’s a doozy. There’s probably a lot to remember, or a lot of interaction, such that I’d want to keep an eye out when playing with someone new to remind them of everything that’s going on in the game. I probably won’t teach you this game unless we’re both sober.
- One Pint
Lots of people will tell you that one pint makes them more relaxed, funnier, and more attractive. We’re not so sure that it assists our communication skills, nevertheless, we’re pretty confident we could teach you this game whilst drinking a pint.
- Two Pint
We feel pretty confident teaching this game after two pints. IE: when it wouldn’t be safe for us to drive.
- Three Pints
We feel pretty confident in my ability to teach this game after three pints. Then again, we feel pretty confident in our ability to do just about anything after three pints.
Pub Proof Difficulty
We love our games. We love to play them at the pub, but we also like to keep them in fairly good condition. As such, games that we intend to take outside the house normally go through a process of pub proofing, or hardening, so that they can better withstand the rigors of a pub environment. This rating is measures how difficult it is to harden a game.
- Out of the box
Open the box and you’re done, no effort required. Also applies to games where the cards need to be sleeved but there’s not many of them, say, a couple of dozen.
- Minor Effort
This game requires a bit of effort to pub proof, but it’s pretty minimal. You might have to sleeve cards, replace cardboard tokens with plastic ones, and so on. You probably have the bits you need to harden this game around the house and could do so whilst watching a single episode of your programming of choice.
- Significant Effort
There’s a fair bit of effort that goes in to making this game durable and you probably don’t have the supplies you’ll need just lying around the house. You might need: unusually sized sleeves or a lot of them, specific tokens or ones that are difficult to obtain, irregular coin cases, or an unusually sized box or bag to pack the game in to.
There’s not a lot you can do to make this game more durable. Better to spend the time getting right with that and move on.
Pub proof rating
As we’ve already mentioned, we go to a bit of effort to make sure that our games are a durable as possible before we take them for away games, that said, there’s often only so much that you can do. This Tag rates how durable a game is once it’s been through the pub proofing process (try saying that five times fast).
- Completely Pub Proof
As close to indestructible as games get. Expect this game to be proof against the environmental hazards of a pub (like sticky or wet tables) as well as accidental mishaps.
- Mostly Pub Proof
This game is safe against the general environmental mishaps of the pub and will probably survive the severest accident as long as you’re quick about responding. Sleeved cards normally fall into this category so I imagine a lot of games will end up here.
- A Little Pub Proof
It’s possible to pub proof the components of this game that most often end up in harm’s way, like cards and tokens, but there’s still parts of the game that are intrinsically vulnerable. A lot of games that have a cardboard board end up here.
- Not Pub Proof
Cardboard Ho! This game has a bunch of cardboard components and they’re weird shapes or sizes so that it’s not practical to sleeve them, laminate them, or otherwise protect them. Take this game to the pub and you have to get right with the fact that it could fall prey to a toppled pint or a clumsy waitress.