So Frankly...

So Frankly...

Thursday, August 1, 2013

3 Creative Ways to Use Salsa Bowls in Games

A couple of months ago my wife and I were walking through a discount craft store when I grabbed some white, plastic (and frankly pretty ugly) salsa bowls.  There were two in a pack for $1.80.  "For gaming?", she asked.  I nodded.

I am so glad she just smiles.

She had no idea what I wanted them for, but I had a reason.  In fact, I had three.  Here are the three reasons why a separate set of cheap salsa bowls make a great gaming accessory:

Holding game pieces during a game.  Take a look at the photo below.  Everything is neatly organized into piles.  However, it's very easy to have one of those little pieces wander off during the game.  With bowls, they all stay together.  Furthermore, if you need to pass the pieces around, or move them out of the way, that's easily accomplished. It also makes cleaning up after the game easier, since pieces can be dumped from the bowl straight into a bag.  You know, one of the bags that we all store little pieces in, right?  This is particularly true when you go to inventory the game before putting it away.  Yeah, we'll talk about that soon.

Warrior Knights has a lot of pieces!  Some of them, like the cardboard
counters to the left, are just begging to be organized into some type of
container.  Salsa bowl, anyone? (Photo by Bert Pike.)

Covering hidden information.  In games with hidden information, salsa bowls may be used to keep things from prying eyes.  Most people play Acquire with a house rule that makes which stock I own public information, and the amount of money I have private.  (The rules actually leave it entirely up to the players.)  I could hide my money, or a portion of it, under the salsa bowl so that no one knows exactly how much I have.  In Acquire, the only thing worse that not having the money to buy stocks is everyone knowing you don't have the money to buy stocks.

Sorting things while punching games.  Granted, many of the games that I have reviewed take little preparation after opening the box.  However, a game like Wings of Glory does.  Counters for this game, like those in the photo of Warrior Knights above, come on die cut sheets.  They need to be punched out before the game can even be set up for the first play.  If you're going to just dump these pieces in the box, you don't need to be worried (though I might point out that you will be worrying after you start losing pieces).  If you are going to bag the pieces though, it makes sense to sort them as you punch.  I punch my pieces into the salsa bowls, which keeps them together, and then dumped them into one of the aforementioned bags: one bag for each type.

Now, the bowls don't need to be salsa bowls, per se. They need to be opaque, so they can actually hide information.  I would also suggest they should be different than anything that might hold food, since a mix-up could be kind of nasty, not to mention permanent.  Unbreakable is also nice.

Like so many accessories, bowls will never make a game better.  However, they may make a gaming experience better.  Sometimes, that's the difference between a great gaming session and a mediocre session - the difference between playing once and playing again.

It's Your Move,