Fire up the telescope and get your lab coat ready because here at Dicebox, we’ve come over all scientific. Maybe we’ve been watching too many sci-fi movies (we’re kidding, there’s no such thing) but recently, our web wizards have been feeling inspired by all things STEM. That’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Maths.
July is an exciting month for budding scientists. The international calendar is jam-packed with activities marking some of the most memorable and influential discoveries and events throughout history. This month will see world chess day and world brain day – not to mention U.F.O. day for the believers amongst you (the truth is out there…). However, the one we’re probably most excited about is Moon Day – and yes, we have been practising our no-gravity walking around the office. Although some of our team did get confused over what sort of moonwalk we were talking about…
Fun fact, July seems to be an exciting time of year for looking to the sky and beyond. Back in 1851, the first photograph of a solar eclipse got taken by Busch and Berkowski at the Royal Observatory in Russia (then Prussia). Fast forward to July 1984, and soviet cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to walk in space and conducted three hours of experiments outside the space station Salyut Seven. Before that, 1950 saw the first successful rocket launch from Cape Canaveral – and just under twenty years later, the whole world held its collective breath as they watched Neil Armstrong descend the ladder to the lunar surface.
20th July will see the anniversary of the Apollo 11 expedition. Since 1969 only 24 people can claim the privilege of saying they’ve made the journey from Earth to the moon, and of those, twelve have walked the surface. Of course, it isn’t only those who make the journey themselves who have a hand in pushing the boundaries of exploration. Take people like mathematician Katherine Johnson who carried out the calculations that made Armstrong’s journey and return possible, for instance. Not only was Johnson integral to many successful NASA missions and an incredible thinker, but she was also a pioneer for both women and African Americans, inspiring many into STEM careers over the years.
If you want to learn more, you can find a host of interesting facts and activities on the NASA website, including a calendar of talks on NASA TV covering everything from spacewalking to the history of the NASA programme. You can even take a virtual tour around the international space station.
With all this talk of exploration and discovery going on here in the office, we thought this would be an apt time to help you ‘discover’ some new games – see what we did there? This week you’ll find our suggestions for some great new games that will launch your game nights into orbit and help get your inner scientists yelling ‘Eureka!’
The sky is definitely not the limit…
Deep space may be the stuff of dreams for most people, but nothing can stop us from letting our imaginations run away with us. Whether you fancy yourself as more of a Picard than an Armstrong, Dicebox has something to suit you.
Channel your inner admiral with Space Base ($60.00) and help build a successful fleet of ships to conquer the furthest flung reaches of the universe. An excellent strategy game for small groups with a quick playing time of around an hour.
Players receive rewards or bonuses on every turn as their influence grows, with the ultimate aim of becoming U.E.S Admiral of the Fleet never far from your grasp. One for fans of sci-fi and space exploration shows.
Another excellent choice for strategic play fans is Terraforming Mars ($119.00) which boasts stunning artwork and a rich, detailed system. Man has made it to Mars and must find ways to survive and prosper. Players compete to meet goals in the three global parameters – temperature, ocean, and oxygen and this game will work well for those who want something more immersive. We might not have set foot on Mars in real life yet, but this game certainly allows you to imagine what it might be like if we ever did visit the red planet.
Young stargazers will enjoy Masterpieces Dominos Jr. Ranger Night Sky ($12.00) – a twist on the usual dominos set up with cards depicting space-themed images. Inspiring and educational, this game offers a fun way to introduce the kids to subjects like astrology, geology, and meteorology. Suitable for three years old up, this a great gift option with an affordable price tag.
Challenge your mind
If you’re looking for an alternative to chess, we’d recommend giving Shobu ($47.00) a try. With its familiar feel, this strategy game for two players is reminiscent of traditional offerings like chess and go, but with a distinct style and rules. The simple wooden board design and river stone playing pieces also make it an attractive addition to your gaming table.
If traditional chess is your game, the Fallout Chess set ($102.00) offers an alternative design to the usual playing pieces in this collectible edition. We love a twist on a classic!
Want to inspire a potential scientist or inventor at your gaming table? The New Science ($72.00) allows players to take on the role of some of the greatest minds in the scientific revolution of 17th century Europe. Astronomy, mathematics, physics, biology, and chemistry take centre stage in this race for prestige and fame. You never know you could find yourself competing against the next Albert Einstein. Alternatively, Newton ($85.00) follows a similar storyline and theme but works better for older players.
Or Maybe You Prefer to Stick Closer to Earth?
Naturally, we realise that space exploration isn’t for everyone. Some of us may prefer to keep our feet firmly on the ground. Or at least, as close to it as possible. Of course, one part of our planet is almost as mysterious and far from reach as the moon itself. The deepest depths of the oceans remain some of our final frontiers.
Pilot your submarine and dive to the depths in Oceanos ($60.00). Players can customize their own vehicles to create different outcomes and strategies, unearthing treasures and undiscovered species in a bid to conquer the sea. This set collection and the draft-style game will suit small groups and families. There are several ways to upgrade your submarine, all of which impact the outcome of the game. Just watch out for the Kraken!
Last but certainly not least, in our selection is Captain Sonar ($72.00). Another underwater-themed adventure, this offers a little more tension and high-stakes action. You’ll be playing as one of the crew members engaged in a battle between submarines and can take your turn as captain, first mate, or an engineer – with each integral to the mission’s success. Captain Sonar is an excellent choice for people who want a cooperative game with lots of teamwork.
To Dream the Impossible Dream
While we admit most of these games may be a little more about fun and imagination than they are science, there’s certainly some truth in the fact that the games we play do inspire us. They make us think about the possible and impossible; and how we can challenge ourselves or push the limits of what we can create. There’s a reason that people look to the skies. Who knows, perhaps the RPG players and strategists of today will become the scientific pioneers of tomorrow? There’s no time like the present to get started and, as Apollo 11 lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin once said –
‘When you believe that all things are possible and you are willing to work hard to accomplish your goals, you can achieve the next “impossible” dream.‘
Until next time, happy gaming!