Card Games

My Top 10 Favorite Card Games in 2021

Recently, I created a list of my top ten favorite board games in 2021, and I thought, why not one for card games in 2021? In general, I enjoy board games more than card games, but these ten I enjoy every time they make it to the table.

Here is my list:

#10: Coup

Coup is a bluffing and risk-taking game. Your objective is to manipulate others and take control of the court.

Each player has two cards that represent the influence of particular character types; for example, assassins or a dukes. Each character type has an advantage named at the bottom of the card, such as allowing you to draw three coins.

You can use the abilities on the cards in your hand, or pretend to have a card with a different ability. Other players may catch you if you are bluffing and force you to lose influence. If the other player is wrong, however, he or she is the one who will lose influence.

Once you reach 7 coins, you can launch an unblockable coup, forcing another player to lose influence.

Since each card in your hand represents influence, when you lose influence, you lose a card. You never draw another another card, so once you lose two cards, you are eliminated.

Even though I am not particularly skilled at bluffing, I enjoy playing this with family members who are good at it. I generally play it safe at the beginning, but some people start bluffing from the start.

It’s a simple game that is perfect as a warm-up for a lengthier board game, or for when you only have a short time to play.

#9: Sushi Go!/Sushi Go! Party

Sushi Go! is a drafting game. Each player starts with a hand, chooses a card, and passes their hand to the next player. All players then flip their chosen card and those cards take effect.

Some basic cards just score the points denoted on the card. Others require two or three in a matching set to score the point. Some are kept until the end of the round, and some until the end of the game, before scoring.

I like this game because of its cute theme and easy gameplay. After one game, players can easily become accustomed to the scoring system. It’s a great game to bust out when there is not much time to play.

The variant, Sushi Go! Party, provides an even greater variety of cards to make the game less repetitive. I fully recommend Sushi Go! Party if you can get it instead of Sushi Go!, but even the original simpler version will give you a good time.

#8: Bohnanza

Bohnanza is a game where the objective is to plant and harvest beans to gain coins.

In the beginning, each player receives five cards. The order of the cards matters in this game, so you cannot organize the cards in your hand.

On your turn, the first action you must take is to plant bean cards from your hand. The first card you must play on one of your fields. The second is optional, but can only be placed if it matches one of the beans you already have in your fields.

The cards you place must be the first (and second if you decide to place two) card on the right side of your hand.

Next on your turn, you turn over two bean cards from the top of the deck. You can then decide if you want to keep and immediately plant those two cards, or get rid of them. The only way to get rid of them is by trading with the other players. If no one is willing to trade, you must plant those beans. The active player can also trade cards in their hand along with the two beans from the deck.

A player can also give bean cards for free. This may happen because they want to get rid of cards they would otherwise have to place in their fields.

The third part of your turn is planting the turned-over cards from the deck if you haven’t traded them, and/or planting the traded cards. If you plant a bean that doesn’t match either of your stacks of beans in your fields, you must harvest your largest bean crop and then plant the bean.

You can harvest beans at any time, whether during your turn or someone else’s. When you do, you look at the beanometer at the bottom of the card that says how much different amounts of beans are worth. Then you gain coins matching the amount listed on the bottom for the number of beans you have.

The game ends when the draw pile is emptied and shuffled for a third time.

There is a variation that includes several more types of beans: the cocoa been, wax been, and coffee bean.

#7: Point Salad

The game is super simple. On your turn you can take one point card or two veggie cards. The point cards dictate what veggies you need to earn points. The veggies allow you to actually earn those points.

There is another optional action that you can do once per turn. That is to flip over a point card in order to gain the veggie on its back. (Cards are doublesided.)

There are over a hundred ways to earn points, and more experienced players can earn vast amounts of points by employing effective strategies.

That’s it. Easy to learn, harder to master.

#6: Dixit

I believe Dixit qualifies as a card game rather than a board game because the small board is only used for scoring purposes.

Dixit is a party game in which players take turns with the storyteller role. The storyteller looks at the cards in their hand, picks one, and without showing it to anyone else, uses a word or phrase that they hope will lead some players, but not all players, to guess it. For example, “Mirror, mirror.”

The goal for the other players is to guess the storyteller’s card.

Each other player uses the word or phrase to choose a card from their own hand, trying to trick the other players into falling for their card instead. For example, let’s say the storyteller’s card is of a woman who looks like an evil queen, and the storyteller is thinking of the classic Snow White.

Another player chooses a card with a literal mirror on it. A third, remembering that the queen asked for Snow White’s heart, uses a card with a picture of a heart on a platter. And so on.

These cards are mixed up randomly, and then players vote secretly using upside down numbered tokens on which one they think is the storyteller’s.

As explained before, the goal for the storyteller is to have some, but not all, of the players guess the storyteller’s card. The goal for everyone else is to choose the storyteller’s card.

If no one chooses the storyteller, or everyone chooses the storyteller, the storyteller gets zero points. This means the hint was either too vague or too obvious.

Players who are not the storyteller can gain bonus points if they trick someone else into voting for their card.

When my family plays, we have a rule that no one can comment after the storyteller chooses his or her word or phrase. This is to prevent players from accidentally giving further clues, such as by saying what the word or phrase reminds them of.

This is one of my favorite card games. It is a bit more complex than most party games, which I appreciate. I love the art on the cards, especially with the expansions. I think it is hilarious how two of my sisters use obscure anime references that they both understand to get ahead in the game.

Other relatives use references to sports, which they know that some players will get, but that my sisters and I will be clueless about.

One caution is that it is not good in groups where most people know each other really well, but there are some newcomers. The newcomers will feel left out and discouraged by how well the other people play off of each other.

Dixit has artwork that is stunning and intriguing, which lends itself well to giving ambiguous hints. I like all of Dixit’s expansions, and while they do not change the rules, they provide more cards with new artwork and styles.

#5: Saboteur

In Saboteur, you play a dwarf mining for treasure in caverns. The game is three rounds long. Each game, there is at least one, but usually two saboteurs.

The goal of the regular miners is to make a trail seven cards long to the treasure, which can be in one of three places. (Generally, they use maps to ascertain the location as soon as possible.)

The goal of the saboteur is to prevent the other miners from reaching the treasure. This can be done by placing dead ends, turns, and other unhelpful pieces. Saboteurs can also sabotage the tools of the other miners, breaking lanterns, pickaxes, and wheelbarrows.

When a dwarf has a broken tool, he or she cannot place anymore tunnel pieces until they are healed.

The dwarf that puts the finishing card on the tunnel gets to choose from the treasure first. For the Saboteur to win, the other miners must be unable to place more cards or obviously be unable to finish the tunnel to the gold. After winning, the Saboteur automatically gets three gold because it is harder to win as the Saboteur.

This game is so much fun, we have played several consecutive games in a row on some days. It doesn’t feel like simply a warm-up for a more complex board game – it’s more like the main event. This is one game that is simple enough to learn quickly and yet does not get boring.

#4: Dominion

Dominion is a deck-building game. In it, you play as a monarch attempting to gain influence and expand your kingdom. You start out with a small deck and use treasure to buy cards to add to your deck.

The real goal is to gain victory points by buying victory cards, but these otherwise powerless cards clutter your deck and make it harder to take actions during your turn.

The base game has some variety in which cards you can create the store with, but the expansions greatly modify gameplay and what your decks will consist of.

One of my favorite cards is the Witch, which curses other players by giving them -1 victory point cards to clutter their deck.

This is a phenomenal introductory deck-building game that has dozens of variations. I would recommend any of the expansions to add on to the game, because all of the expansions I have played have changed the course of the game and made it very interesting.

#3: The Bears and the Bees

In the Bears and the Bees, all cards are hexagon shape like honeycombs. When placing a card, you must match two sides with the adjacent cards. If you match three sides with the adjoining cards, you get to place an additional card. Sides that look like honey are wild.

all of their cards scores the best, getting zero points. You are supposed to get the lowest number of points to win. The first person to put down all of their cards scores the best, getting zero points. The other players score points according to what cards are remaining in their hands. That ends the round. The game is played over three rounds.

There are several special cards:

Bear: Has to be played with one side touching honey. After it is placed, no other cards can be played touching it.

Flower: Makes all other players draw a card.

Worker bee: Make one player draw a card.

Drone bee: Has three sides that are honey.

Even though I am not great at this game, I found it creative and very enjoyable.

#2: The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine

The Crew: The Quest for Planet Nine is a cooperative, trick-taking game made up of 50 missions. You can binge these missions and do them all one after another, or you can complete them on different days and start off where you left off. Technically you can do them out of order, but I don’t know why you would do that because they each increase slightly in difficulty if you do them in order.

The Crew is unique because not only is it a trick-taking game, you also have to win certain tricks and are only allowed very limited communication with your crewmates (fellow players).

#1: Cover Your Kingdom

Cover Your Kingdom is a set collection party game. Each player chooses a kingdom to rule, and you will try to convince creatures such as Pigxies, Uniquehorns, or Sighclops, to reside there. You do this by matching two creatures from your hand and placing them down to make a clan, or by trying to steal clans from your rivals by using cards that match their clan type in your hand.

Each separate clan you make is placed in either the Mountains or the Valley. Each new clan is placed over the preceding clan in its respective region, alternating horizontal and vertical. Rivals can only steal the clan on the top, so it is important to cover high-scoring clans. The more often a clan is stolen, the higher worth it is because it will accumulate more cards.

You win by having the most points at the end of the game. It is ruthless–it is fun. It is my favorite card game because it is not only easy to teach, it also causes much laughter and drama.

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Board Games

My Top 10 Favorite Board Games in 2021

Since I became a board gamer, I have played dozens of board games with my family and friends. It is a hobby that has changed the way I interact with family and friends in a positive way, creating many treasured memories. I decided to share my own top ten board games list just like I did in 2020. These top ten games are ones I would love to get to the table whenever possible. They are amazing and I would fully recommend them.

Here it is:

#10: King of Tokyo

King of Tokyo is a dice-rolling game where you play as a monster, robot, or alien and fight to control the city of Tokyo. Anyone who loves comics will enjoy this comic-book style brawling game.

Each turn, you roll dice and can re-roll a couple times to optimize your roll according to your strategy. You either roll numbers for points, hearts for healing, claws for attack, or energy for buying special powers. For the numbers, you have to roll three of the same to get any points. Special powers include growing an extra head to get an extra die and many others.

The player who occupies Tokyo gains extra points each round, but cannot heal while in Tokyo. However, their attacks hit everyone outside of Tokyo. Eventually, the player in Tokyo usually has to cede Tokyo in order to heal.

There are two ways to win. One way is getting to 20 points. The other way is to kill off all of your competition. Almost every time I have played, the game ended when only one player was left standing.

I love the comic-book vibes and the colorful theme of this game, but the gameplay is also very fun and competitive. A good game all around!

#9: Lords of Waterdeep

Lords of Waterdeep is a worker-placement game. In this game, you play as one of the Lords of Waterdeep, each of which has a secret objective. No one but you should know who your Lord of Waterdeep is.

You gain points by completing quests, and can sabotage your opponents or get ahead of the game with Intrigue cards. You can also build shops that give you bonuses when other players shop at them.

To complete quests, you must use cubes which represent people and influence. Completing quests usually is the most important way to gain points and win the game.

I like this game best with its expansions, which create an added element by offering a corruption track. You can take profitable actions if you are willing to gain corruption, but it can have disastrous consequences at the end of the game if you don’t find a way to remove the corruption.

#8: Castle Panic

Castle Panic is a cooperative board game where players work together to protect their kingdom from monster hordes. Even though players win or lose together, only one player can be the best monster hunter, and that person becomes the overall winner. This creates a friendly spirit of competition in this otherwise cooperative game.

This is one game that is fun even though the players frequently lose. This is either because there is particularly competitive person at the table or because the amount of monsters is just overwhelming. The game presents a real challenge and winning feels like a real victory.

Even though this is one of my favorite games, my family doesn’t play it often because they don’t like it as much as I do.

An honorable mention here would be My First Castle Panic, a simpler version of the game that I play with my 5-year-old and 3-year-old sisters. It is just challenging enough to be interesting even for older members of the family

#7: Wingspan

Wingspan is a competitive game where the goal is to collect diverse species of birds on your wildlife reserve. The artwork in this game is stunning to say the least. It a very well-designed game thematically.

This is another game where you can take on a variety of strategies based on your preferences. You can try to broaden the species of birds on your reserve, accumulate eggs on your cards, and try to achieve your secret goals. Of course, it is best to do all of these things, but often one of these becomes the focus of your game. There are also objectives for each round you can complete to gain extra points.

This game is beautiful, enjoyable, and rewarding to play.

#6: Gloomhaven

Gloomhaven is a cooperative, dungeon-crawling game. However, it is shorter than most dungeon-crawlers, so my family is able to get it to the table more often. Gloomhaven also relies on cards instead of dice-rolling for combat, which is unique for dungeon-crawlers.

Each turn, you choose two cards from your hand that constitute your actions for that turn. The deck of cards you have to choose from gets smaller over the course of the game, so there is a limit to the amount of time you can spend in the dungeon before running out of actions. This adds to the tension of the game but does not take away from the enjoyment.

In this game, you play through many scenarios and have choices about which missions to undertake. It is like a stream-lined version of Descent with an interesting story line and several gameplay differences, which is why it’s my #6.

#5: Mechs vs. Minions

Mechs vs. Minions is another cooperative game that plays campaign-style. In it, you play one of four possible Yordle characters whose primary objective is to keep minions from overrunning the base and creating an assortment of problems.

One of the most creative aspects of this game is that you pretty much program your movement with cards. Each turn you add a card to your programmed movement. When you get hit by a minion, you have to add a damage card to your programmed cards, which can really mess you up.

When this programmed movement goes right, it can allow you to skewer or trample a lot of nasty minions. When it goes wrong, it’s hilarious.

For example, I once did a 90 degree turn to the left, then turned back 90 degrees to the right. Following that, I shot randomly while striking nothing, spun around, and ran into the side of the board. All while hordes of minions were approaching.This game is enjoyed by me, my sisters, and my dad.

Honestly, the programmed movement is my favorite part of the game and why this game made #5.

#4: Dead of Winter

Dead of Winter is a zombie game, and I hate zombies.

Why do I still love the game? Well, it’s a tense cooperative game with an awesome thematic design that even I can appreciate. The scenarios presented by the game pose actual moral dilemmas that make decisions difficult. That is why it is called a Crossroads Game.

Furthermore, like Castle Panic, everyone either survives or dies together, but even if you survive, the real winners are the ones who complete their secret objective. Last of all, there is occasionally a hidden traitor, whose goal includes causing the others to lose the game.

Sometimes, just making it through the round and managing to feed everyone is the best you can do.

Each player controls a faction of survivors that can scavenge, contribute to the stockpile, clean up camp, and complete other actions to progress the game. What actions you can take is based partially on the luck of a dice roll, which makes sense because even survival is based partially on luck.

As you might guess from the title, Dead of Winter is set in the middle of winter. Thus, in addition to infections from zombies, players risk frostbite in they venture from camp.

Overall, this game is well-designed, tense game of survival.

#3: Mansions of Madness

Mansions of Madness is an adventure and exploration fantasy game that can be very challenging. It is completely cooperative and operates using an app in addition to the board, cards, and miniatures. My family uses a tablet for the app, which has creepy music and many interactive features.

Mansions of Madness is all about mystery, horror, and choices. Who will you accuse of murder? Time is running out, do you explore more or move forward? Will you risk insanity or death?

The mental puzzles you have to go through at times are rigorous. And the pressure to hurry at times is strong, amplified by the eerie music and the fast pace of the plot.

I love this thematic game and find it challenging but rewarding.

#2: RWBY: Combat Ready

In RWBY: Combat Ready, players can each choose a character from the anime RWBY: Ruby, Weiss, Blake, Yang, or Penny. Each of these characters have unique fighting styles and decks.

In the base game, you can play against one of three villains: Roman, Cinder, or Adam. In addition, you will be fighting against groups such as Roman’s Henchman, the White Fang, or the Grimm.

At the beginning of each duel with the villain, one player starts at the beginning of the Hero Fury Track. The villains starts at the beginning of the villain track. Supporting players can choose to assist or combo with the main player, using different abilities on their cards accordingly. Or they can take out one of the lesser villains such as a henchman or Grimm.

The game is a series of high-stakes, challenging duels in a cooperative, beautifully designed game.

#1: Terraforming Mars

My absolute favorite game ever is Terraforming Mars. Part of that is the theme – it’s such a cool idea. Preparing Mars for settlement by gradually making it possible for life to inhabit the red planet – genius! The board and cards are well-designed, and some of them are even humorous.

You can take actions such as civilizing the board with cities and greeneries and using space event cards, action cards, and general cards. The strategy you take on depends partially on your corporation – for example, you might focus on making investments in titanium or megacredits, the currency of the game.

The reason I love this game so much is that even when I lose, I feel that I have achieved so much that it doesn’t even matter – it’s still a ton of fun.

Out of the expansions, I can only recommend Prelude. I have the other expansions, but I cannot say they improve the game at all. They simply make things more complex.

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Life

10 Things to do During a Pandemic

red and white UNKs restaurant

Before Covid-19, I had some preconceptions about what a pandemic would be like. Frightening, restricting, dangerous. Like one of those dystopian novels I read for fun, perhaps like the plague in Legend by Marie Lu.

Never in a million years would I have suspected living during a pandemic would be boring.

Sure, those who have contracted Covid-19 and their friends and family are fully aware of how terrible a pandemic is.

But for the rest of us – those who have to isolate, or limit social interaction, or have had all their plans cancelled – bored might be the perfect word.

If you are not bored and you and your loved ones are healthy, good for you. But if you are bored – this is the article for you.

Below are my suggestions to make the most of life during a pandemic.

#1 Exercise, Exercise, Exercise

person wearing orange and gray Nike shoes walking on gray concrete stairs

If you’re anything like me, quarantine life has made you lax when it comes to exercise.

Without the routine of heading to the local YMCA to train at my Tang Soo Do studio, I quickly became unfit. Even when restrictions were lifted somewhat and I was able to return to the studio on occasion, I had trouble getting into a regular routine of exercise.

Recently I’ve made a new resolution to do better with exercise – and I know how I’ll do it.

The pandemic has made things like going to the gym a colossal pain for some and nearly impossible for others, so I’ll focus on the things that can be done without equipment.

Walking, for instance. It has never been my thing, but with how beautiful campus is in the summer and fall, it’s almost irresistible.

I also plan to get into a daily routine similar to my warm-ups for Tang Soo Do. Push-ups, jumping jacks, crunches. Dying cockroach.

Yeah, you read that right. There is an exercise called dying cockroach, where you lay on your back and flail your arms and legs in frenzied motions for a long time. It’s brutal.

There are also plenty of stairs in the dorm where I am residing, so I may just spend half an hour sometime walking up and down them. That would be a workout!

Hopefully some of these ideas will work for you as well.

#2 Be artsy!

paint brushes next to drawing book and water color palette

For this section, I am going to assume you have little to no experience in art. If you already are an artist, you already know you can spend time during a pandemic doing artsy stuff and likely are doing that anyway.

Here are several media to consider:

Colored pencils

One thing you can do with these is try an adult coloring book. It’s relaxing and fun and there’s not as much pressure to create from your imagination since you just have to fill in the line. Yet there is creativity in the colors you choose and skill in how well the design is colored in.

My great grandma had the creative idea of turning her coloring book creations into cards for her loved ones. It was sweet, and sending off such colorful cards may help to alleviate loneliness for yourself and your friends during this time.

If you decide to go freestyle, use good colored pencils and at least decent paper in case you decide to preserve some of your creations.

Watercolor Paint

For watercolor paint, I use Artist Loft brand. I know, it’s cheap – but I have found it sufficient for my projects. Not the pan set, the tubes. I hate those hardened little cakes of paint.

Beginner’s tip – if you use the tubes, you only need a tiny drop of paint mixed with plenty of water. Don’t waste paint. It’s called watercolor for a reason.

Another tip – if you use low-quality paper, you’ll get a low-quality result even if you are a quite talented artist. You can tell a high-quality paper not by the price tag, but by the thickness. I recommend at least 140 lb. paper (if you’re not sure what that means, it’s okay – watercolor paper lists this right on the front so you can tell if you got the right one.)

A final tip – choose your brushes carefully. They don’t have to be expensive but you have to be sure there aren’t any stray bristles and that you take good care of them. I won’t even link to brushes I recommend because I always buy mine in a physical store so I can examine them. Never store them bristle down! If you’re washing them, don’t leave them upside down in water. That’s okay for a short time, but if you leave them for too long, it will damage them.

Acrylic Paint

The best acrylic paint is not too watery and not chunky either – it goes onto paper smoothly.

I recommend going with a great brand such as Martha Stewart or the professional option of Golden acrylics. It’s an investment, but you’ll find that they last a while if you are conservative and only use what you need.

Martha Stewart brand acrylic paint has great quality. I’ve used it before teaching in the classroom at the art store where I work.

I started using Golden acrylics recently and they are brilliant, with vibrant colors and smooth texture.

I just use watercolor paper for acrylics, too. For brushes, I buy these in a physical store as well and look for tell-tale signs they are not any good such as stray bristles.

Oil Paint

I am not as experienced in oil paint, but I can give some beginner’s advice because I’ve already made all the beginner’s mistakes with my first painting…oops…

First of all, do not get Artist Loft brand. They suck when it comes to oil paints. I kept the paints in a box for a couple of months before trying to use them and then all the oily stuff oozed out all over the tubes and made them sticky and gross.

Try a good brand, like Winsor & Newton instead.

For brushes, I won’t recommend any. I would have to see them in person to tell their quality, touch them and examine them. However, keep in mind that they will need to be washed in paint thinner, not water. Water doesn’t mix with oil-based paint and will not take it out of the brush.

I actually just used canvas for my oil painting, but you can get oil paint paper. I don’t know enough to be helpful in recommending what surface to paint on for oil, but I will say that canvas was sufficient for my purposes.

Markers

I began with markers using Copics. Those are professional markers and they are expensive. However, they blend remarkably well and are refillable. I would recommend a pack of grays, skin tones, and primaries to start if you use these. I prefer Copic Sketch over Copic Ciao because the Sketch markers can hold more ink.

Fair warning – they are addicting.

Use the multiliner that comes with their gray pack or buy a separate pack of multiliners of that brand to be sure your pen lines don’t bleed when marker is applied.

A Quick Note….

I have found that using high quality media, while more expensive, has better results. The professionals use high quality equipment for a reason – it makes it easier, not harder, to create masterpieces.

Some of the links above lead to cheap alternatives to high quality media that I have found sufficient for my own amateur artwork. Others lead to more expensive varieties I would nevertheless recommend even for beginners to achieve higher quality results.

I work in an art store, so I have background in helping customers find products that will fit their artistic needs. As a result, I am aware of the best brands and the brands that are cheaper but can produce phenomenal results.

#3 Journaling or Writing Emails

black click pen on notebook

Journaling is an amazing way to spend the time if you are in quarantine or restricted in activities due to Covid-19. Chronicle your experience of living during a pandemic to show off to your future grandchildren.

Keep a daily record of reflections and insights you think of randomly in the middle of night or during your daily routine.

Writing emails or letters is another way to connect with friends let people know you are thinking of them. Make sure if it’s a letter that your friends and relatives aren’t going to be upset about the small possibility of spreading Covid-19 that way. Chances are, they won’t be worried about it, but it’s better to ask in times like these.

#4 Make a time capsule

selective focus photo of brown and blue hourglass on stones

A time capsule would be a good way to remind our future selves what the Covid-19 Crisis was like, or to show our children or grandchildren.

First, buy a durable container. Metal is best if you want it to last for a long time, but undoubtedly plastic would last too even if it has a higher chance of cracking under the weight of dirt.

Second, carefully choose items that represent the times, such as reusable masks and pictures. Be sure that these are things you don’t mind parting with, because digging the box up again would be a pain and counter-intuitive.

Third, pick a place in the yard and bury the capsule. 3 or 4 feet deep would probably be sufficient, but if it’s less than that it could be dug up by mistake.

Fourth, mark the spot with something that will last like a large painted rock. On the marker, write the date the capsule was buried as well as the date it should be dug up.

#5 Sew masks

stack of white yellow green and blue textiles

Sewing masks is not as hard as it may seem. I made two before I was gifted several and no longer had the need for more, and they have served me well.

I recommend getting on Youtube for some helpful how-to videos.

#6 Watch something new

Avatar: The Last Airbender' Live-Action Series Set at Netflix - Variety
Characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender

If you don’t know, the reason why I posted a picture from Avatar: The Last Airbender is because it is now airing on Netflix. I have seen it make Netflix’s top ten several times in the past few weeks, and for good reason! If you like it, follow it up with The Legend of Korra.

If you usually watch all the shows in a particular genre, try a different genre. If you typically don’t watch anime, try anime! If you are squeamish about horror, try something with slight elements of horror. If you usually avoid the sad stuff, try something sad like A Silent Voice, which my sisters recommended to me. Get outside your comfort zone!

#7 Learn!

fountain pen on spiral book

Learn something new! During the pandemic, when I was bored I downloaded the Khan Academy app, the Duolingo app, and the TED Talks app. I’ve used Duolingo and TED talks the most out of the three.

With Khan Academy, you can learn any school subject or lesson that you may have forgotten or that you are not familiar with. You don’t have to make an account, but if you do, it’s free and it tracks your progress.

With Duolingo, you can learn another language. I am currently learning Latin and Spanish little by little.

With the TED Talk app, you can listen to talks about a variety of educational subjects, as well as ones that are just funny. I watched this one recently, which explains the concept behind a video game that teaches about loneliness. I also watched this hilarious one where a comedian describes what happened when he replied to spam emails.

While I wouldn’t say I learned much from the spam email one, it is true that TED Talks in general provide great educational content.

#8 Socialize…long distance

person sitting front of laptop

Socializing long distance can take many forms. It could be an email or letter. It could be a Zoom or Skype call.

James Wilson, a founder of the podcast Tabletop Gaming Guild, offered me a new idea about how to connect with my friends.

Tabletop Simulator and Board Game Arena. If you’re a gamer or just getting into board gaming, these are places where you can play games with friends.

Tabletop Simulator is more expensive at $19.99 for a subscription, but offers a variety of games, including Wingspan, Blood Rage and Scythe.

Board Game Arena is completely FREE. You can play games such as Stone Age, 7 Wonders, Terra Mystica, Takenoko, Saboteur, and so much more!

Full disclaimer – I haven’t tried either yet, but I wanted to pass on the suggestion. I’m at college, so I am lucky enough to be able to see many of my friends in person. In the event my friends and I are sent home due to the risk of Covid-19, I will definitely start online gaming with my friends.

#9 Read!

man reading book on beach near lake during daytime

I’m big on reading. If you’re a reader too, I recommend trying out some of my favorites:

  1. Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
    • A YA Fantasy about a rich criminal mastermind who happens to be 12 years old. This mastermind, Artemis Fowl, is determined to get his hands on fairy gold. The fairies he deals with are not the ones from typical bedtime stories – they have advanced technology and live underground.
    • For more information, check out my full review.
    • Btw, it’s nothing like the movie, which was terrible. I also made a review of the movie.
  2. Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
    • This is a touching novel mostly about a dying father writing to his young son, and his many reflections. It is about love, betrayal, faith, and family, and it’s fascinating. The language and metaphors are beautiful and creative.
  3. Still Life by Louise Penny
    • This is a murder mystery. I typically dislike murder mysteries, but this one I adored.
    • It’s about an old woman who dies in what appears to be a hunting accident, but Inspector Gamache suspects it may be murder. The beginning is a little slow, but every part of it is an essential piece of the puzzle and contributes to the power of the work.
    • For more information, check out my full review.

#10 Start a website!

MacBook Pro on table beside white iMac and Magic Mouse

Starting a website is not as hard as it looks.

You could take the route I did and pay for the domain, then use WordPress to organize your site. It’s not hard because WordPress is so intuitive. WordPress allows for both pages and posts, so if you want to create a blog, it’s never been easier!

Or you can use Wix.com or Weebly.com to create your website for free. There is less freedom this way though. For example, Weebly.com requires “weebly” to be in the site name.

I can tell you that Weebly is pretty good because I’ve used it for college classes. Back when I was an education major, I made my digital portfolio using Weebly.

Wix has been recommended to me on numerous occasions by close friends, so I thought I would include it as well, although I haven’t had experience with it myself.

No matter which route you take, Youtube will be your best friend! Look up how-to videos to make the most of your website-building experience.

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Life

10 Things I Never Expected to Need in my Dorm Room

The transition from high school to college is rarely an easy one. With the Covid-19 crisis in full swing, it will be especially difficult for freshman this year. That’s why I compiled this list of things I never expected to need in my dorm room – so you can be prepared for whatever dorm life throws at you.

This list will also help you avoid some of the mistakes I made. Going into my senior year at Grove City College, I will be sure to pack the following items to make this semester a good one.

#1: Thank You cards and stamps

dog biting Thank You mail paper

One thing I didn’t expect to need was thank you cards, but when I needed to write some thank yous to scholarship donors, they weren’t there. I had left mine at home.

You may also need thank you cards to show appreciation for teachers who write recommendation letters or for interviews. You may even want to give one to a friend who helped you study, or a family member who provided support.

If you don’t have stamps, your thank you cards won’t get far. Unless you’re sending the letters to someone on campus. Stamps are such a small thing and such an easy thing to forget. Don’t be the one who has to track down the local post office to buy more stamps.

#2 Wipes

green and blue labeled pack

Wipes are a must, especially during a pandemic. I found out the hard way that I should have had some on hand in my dorm.

During fall break, we were permitted to leave our refrigerator plugged in. Both my roommate and I checked before we left that our refrigerator was still plugged in, and it was.

Whoever was in charge of checking our room must have unplugged it for whatever reason.

When I came back to my dorm after break, I opened my refrigerator to put away some food and was met with a horrific stench. Mold climbed the walls of the fridge. A pool of water sat stagnant at the bottom.

Disgusted, my first instinct was to visit the college store to figure out if they had wipes. The only wipes they had were for removing makeup.

I used soap. Lots and Lots of soap.

After that, I made sure the room was well-stocked with wipes for mold-related emergencies.

#3 First Aid supplies

red and white x logo

So at Grove City College, there are these obnoxious desk chairs that are slanted at the bottom. As a result, the chair will shift suddenly to a different angle if you lean forward or back. I cannot tell you how many times I have bashed my knees off the desk because I accidentally leaned forward.

That’s what I get for trying to grab a pencil, or picking up a mug. Bloody knees.

That’s where a first aid kit comes in handy. First thing is to make sure you have bandages of various sizes. Waterproof bandages too, in case you want to go swimming without exposing open wounds.

Pack enough bandages in case your roommate needs them too, and your friends, and your friends’ friends. I’ve given mine away on numerous occasions. Pack a couple in your backpack so you have them if you’re away from the dorm too.

If you use hydrogen peroxide, bring a bottle of that too, along with q-tips to dab it on in case the cut isn’t big enough to need to pour it on.

I used plenty of it, but my roommate’s friend used a decent amount of it too when she ripped the skin off her knees falling on a treadmill.

Make sure you get cream to treat burns, triple-antibiotic cream, and sunscreen.

Pack over-the-counter medicines such as Advil or Tylenol, allergy medicine if you have allergies, Pepto Bismol for stomach problems, cough drops, etc.

(Don’t forget any personal medicines you have to take, and keep them in their original prescription containers. Many colleges require them to be in their original container with medical information included.)

Add to that list a thermometer to check if you have a fever.

#4 Paper plates and cups

File:Paper plates - isolated.png - Wikimedia Commons

Maybe you’re super into buying what’s environmentally-friendly. That’s fine, but when finals hit, at least for me, that went out the window. I no longer had time to constantly clean dishes. I was always studying.

For times in the semester that are so busy that even completing basic tasks is too time consuming, I recommend having a set of paper plates, napkins, and cups.

#5 Lamp

brown and white table lamp with light

Usually college dorms come with their own lighting, making a lamp unnecessary. I would list this under things that are not essential but are desirable.

The reason is that roommates often operate on different schedules. For example, my roommate stays up several hours later than I do each night.

Rather than keeping the room lights on or turning them off, my roommate uses a lamp near her bed that is dim enough that I can sleep. Yet she can study by it.

#6 List of common phone numbers

white printer paper beside silver laptop computer

Most people don’t have phone numbers memorized anymore. I know of people who don’t even know their own phone number and will check their phone to figure it out when necessary.

A list (on paper) of important contacts is definitely useful.

I lose my phone constantly, and having a list of contacts helps if you need to use someone else’s phone.

#7 Gift Wrap

person holding white gift card

Friends have birthdays. Christmas draws near. Someone gets married.

All of these are great reasons to have gift wrap. Because it may not be available in your college store, or you may have to pay a ridiculous price for it.

#8 Watch

watch at 10:34

Watches are great for testing environments. It’s best to have a watch with no special functions so teachers are okay with you wearing one during a test. If you’re like me, you want to know how much time has passed during testing.

Having a simple watch is the best way to tell time during a test, since looking up at the clock looks suspicious since you are looking up during a test repeatedly. The clock also may be in a position where you can’t see it from your location.

#9 Sewing Kit

scissors and knitting kits on box

I had to use a mini sewing kit on numerous occasions. One was when I had to fix an embarrassing hole in the armpit of my Newman Club t-shirt. I also had to mend a pair of pants, and various other articles of clothing.

I think this is especially important now because of the requirement at many colleges of wearing masks. Masks often need repaired after repeated use.

#10 Tide Pen

Tide to Go Stain Remover Pen | Stain Removers | Laundry Supplies ...

Tide pens are indispensable. I’ve used two up completely and plan on buying more this semester. They take out almost all stains with very little effort.

If you get one, try to carry it with you in your backpack, because you never know when you might need it.

Good luck with the fall semester! If you have any more suggestions for must-have but little thought of items needed in a dorm room, feel free to leave a comment.

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