I’d love to have Lila fully available in languages other than Portuguese, but it’s quite text-heavy and requires a certain amount of research, what with the giving advice and all. So if you’re interested in helping speed things along, please get in touch! Email us at email@example.com, post here or through social media (links on side bar).
Lila’s Hearts is a free print&play card game for 2 to 6 players that teaches issues related to accessibility and disabilities. It takes 20 to 30 minutes to set up and play.
LILA is the acronym in Portuguese for Read Comprehend Remember Act. The first two steps happen during play and facilitate the latter in real life situations.
Although the theme of the game is disability (and currently only available in Portuguese), its structure can be used to reinforce other kinds of knowledge (CC license at the bottom of this post). For this you need to organize your content into 5 specific categories, 1 generic category and 5 types. Lila’s Hearts is organized like this:
- Specific categories
- Visual disability
- Hearing disability
- Physical disability
- Intellectual disability
- Autism spectrum
- Each of these is further sub-divided into 5 types:
- 1 Definition card
- 2 Information cards
- 4 Action cards
- 1 Person card
- 1 Movie card
- Generic category
- Content that applies to all of the above
- This is further sub-divided into 2 types:
- 5 Information cards
- 4 Action cards
Basically, six decks of nine cards each. It’s important to note that the Action cards are worth more points in the game, because actions speak louder than words. 🙂
Another key aspect of the game is tying the categories to goal cards. Goals give extra points provided that the player acquires the appropriate cards, which means the text on them has to be read carefully in order to buy the best option. For example, Lila’s Hearts goals are:
- 1 point for each card of [Visual/Hearing/Physical/Intellectual/Autism] category
- 3 points for the most cards of [Visual/Hearing/Physical/Intellectual/Autism] category
- 1 point for each card
- 3 points for the most variety of categories
- 2 points for having a Movie card
- 2 points for having an Information card
Setup for 2 to 6 players (if more players are needed, add extra hearts)
- Separate hearts by size and bonus
- Distribute 2 small hearts (not bonus) to each person
- Shuffle the 54 cards, draw 6 face up on the common buying area and make a drawing pile with the rest
- Shuffle the 14 goal cards and make another drawing pile
- Separate the action and info bonuses
- Shuffle the 6 starting cards and pick one to determine who begins the game. Proceed clockwise.
Victory: Whoever has more points at the end, wins. Points are obtained through cards and goals.
Categories: The cards are divided in Visual, Hearing, Intellectual, Physical, Autism and Generic.
Types: The cards are divided in Definition, Information, Person, Movie, and Action.
Wildcards: Generic category cards are wildcards. They count towards the goals and do not give bonuses.
Bonus Hearts: Normal hearts are returned to the common area after buying something. Bonus hearts stay with the player. They may be obtained when buying an Information or Action card that is marked with a bonus symbol.
Bonus Attempt: Shuffle the 6 Action Bonus or 3 Information Bonus cards and choose one randomly. Place the corresponding heart in the player area, if it comes out. (This can be replaced with throwing a die).
Ending: When someone reaches 8 points on the cards, the players who haven’t completed their turn yet play once more. Goals points are scored after the end. If the player has any wildcards, they decide which category gives them the better advantage in scoring.
In their turn the player can choose ONE ACTION below:
- Buy hearts:
- pick up 2 small hearts or 1 big heart if you haven’t reached the limit of 5 hearts of any kind.
- Place them in front of you.
- Buy card:
- buy 1 card for the number/size hearts indicated in it (note that 1 big heart is not equivalent to 2 small ones).
- Return the hearts to the common buying area, except the bonuses. Place the card face up in front of you. If the card has a bonus, attempt it and place any resulting hearts in front of you. Draw another card to fill the common buying area.
- Buy goal:
- draw a goal for 1 small heart or draw 2 goals and choose one of them for 1 big heart.
- Place the goal face up in front of you. Return the hearts to the common buying area, except the bonuses. If you drew two, shuffle the other goal back in the pile.
If you prefer to replace the bonus cards with dice throws:
- Action bonus:
- if you get a 1 or 2, win a small bonus heart
- if you get a 3, win a big bonus heart
- if you get a 4 or 5, nothing happens
- if you get a 6, lose a bonus heart, if you have one, or a normal heart if not. You decide the size.
- Information bonus:
- if you get a 1 or 2, win a small bonus heart
- if you get a 3, 4, 5 or 6, nothing happens.
12 small hearts
7 big hearts
12 small bonus hearts
7 big bonus hearts
14 goal cards
6 starting cards
6 action bonus cards
3 info bonus cards
Lila’s Hearts by A.C. Hermann, Bruna Descovi da Silva, Isadora Giongo Brandalise, Larissa Yasin Gonçalves Galuschka is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Icon used on cards by Paomedia
Before we dive into the list, some general items about games in the workplace:
- Consider the setup time and amount of space required (including whether people will have to reach across, read upside-down, etc).
- Check if anyone has accessibility needs that prevent playing the game. Meeple Like Us is a fantastic resource in that regard. In fact, stop now and go read one of their accessibility tear-downs to see what it entails.
- Make sure you know how to explain the rules. Practice explaining them to someone (hi, mom!). YouTube guides can be useful here.
- That said, no need to go into all the details before you start playing, particularly if you’re going to be playing with/facilitating for just one group. You can say “let’s start and I’ll answer questions as they come up”.
- Gently nudge players if they come down with a case of analysis paralysis.
- Depending on the game, you can add more players by having two people control one meeple.
- Buying the app or Steam version is a cheap way to learn a game’s ins and outs. Be aware that’ll take less time to play than in the physical version.
- Context is important: explain the purpose of playing that game at work and afterwards check what people got from the exercise (if anything).
Oh, and if you’re using cooperative games (about half the following list), it might be helpful to define them to your group: games where everyone is on the same team and playing against the game. Everyone wins or loses together.
The quick coop: Hanabi
Hanabi is a light cooperative card game which works really well at work. It’s quick to explain and play, it’s cheap to buy, it forces everyone to participate equally and communicate well, it’s challenging but not brutal on the players, and it literally doesn’t begin unless people help each other.
The game accomplishes this through a simple hidden information mechanic: players hold the cards facing outwards and only learn what themselves are holding if one of the other players gives them a clue.
(You may be thinking: don’t people help each other in all coops? Yes and no. Coops often allow players to work separately towards the same goal. It’s not necessarily a good strategy, mind you, but it’s possible.)
Stats: 2-5 players, 30 minutes
The psychedelic trip: Dixit
Dixit is an immensely popular party game, known for the strange, beautiful artwork. It’s a competitive game (one of the expansions has the option for teams to compete against each other). It encourages deduction and creativity: players take turns describing cards in not too obvious terms and guessing what the others meant.
There are several reports on the web on its use, not as a game, but as prompts for the team to talk during retrospectives (they also include better pictures of the cards).
Technically you don’t need the score track to play, just the cards and paper to write down votes and points (in other words, the more affordable expansions can be used).
Stats: 3 – 6 players (base game) or 12 players (Odyssey expansion), 30 minutes
The one that’s just like your job: Forbidden Island
Forbidden Island and others in this family (Pandemic, Forbidden Desert, Ghost Stories, Yggdrasil) is a cooperative game with variable player powers. Pandemic is the most famous one, however Forbidden Island has the advantage of being simpler and easier to win.
What these games have in common is that each player has a special power and that the game keeps throwing obstacles at the team faster and faster and faster.
Players need to figure out how to best use their powers and balance actions that bring them closer to victory (finding treasure) with actions that prevent an immediate loss (stop the island from sinking
under the weight of production bugs while the team is still on it).
Stats: 2-4 players, 30 minutes
The poster child for responding to change: Fluxx
Fluxx is a competitive card game in which players can alter rules and win conditions as they go, for example, how many cards are drawn, played, kept in hand, etc. To win the game, a player has to collect certain cards – which cards exactly is also subject to change.
It’s a game that rewards quick tactical thinking, as opposed to long-term strategy, and at the same time illustrates how frustrating it is to be close to the goal and have everything change, often several times during the game.
Stats: 2-6 players, 5-30 minutes (yeah, notice the variable time? Can’t predict changes!)
The love-child of Dixit and Clue: Mysterium
Mysterium is an asymmetrical cooperative game that also uses strange beautiful artwork. It requires imagination and lateral thinking to match clue cards to suspect, location and weapon cards (or motives in the latest expansion).
One player has a different role from everyone else – that of providing the clues – and one interesting side-effect of this asymmetry is that people tend to complain about the clues because they don’t understand the constraints that player is under. Switching roles is a good way to create empathy.
Although nominally for up to 7 players, we’ve experimented with 13, combining it with ideas from silent collaboration. This turned it into a good game to play with a deaf coworker at a time when the rest of the team was just learning sign language.
Stats: 2-7 players, 45 minutes.
The almost NSFW: Cards Against Agility
Cards Against Agility and Cards for Agility are two versions of Cards Against Humanity (CAH), which is itself a version of Apples to Apples. It’s a quick, fun print&play game, good for ice-breaking, and can be used to kick-start a retrospective or to discuss Agile concepts that the team isn’t familiar with.
CAH is infamous for being very offensive, and you may found some questionable cards in the Agile versions, but it’s easy to produce your own cards with cleaner humor. In fact, designing your own version can be a cool team exercise. We have one in Brazilian Portuguese available, with localized references (Brazil being sadly ignorant of Eurovision).
Stats: 4-10 players, 30 minutes
The videogame: Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes
Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes isn’t technically a boardgame, but it’s a fantastic game to use at work. It’s an asymmetrical cooperative game where one player needs to disarm a bomb (displayed on the computer) according to instructions that the rest of team reads from a manual.
It requires a great deal of communication and establishment of a common language every time the bomb modules change. We’ve used KTaNE in retrospectives to discuss various aspects of teamwork.
The game is also interesting because it needs different strategies to share information depending on the team: nobody’s ever played, some have played, everyone has played.
The PDF manual is available in several languages on the internet and the text-only sections are accessible to visually-impaired people using a screen reader.
Stats: 2-5 players, 5 minutes (as if. Nobody ever plays only one round.)
The guessing game: The Mystery of Dattakamo
The Mystery of Dattakamo is a game designed to be accessible to visually-impaired people. Using touch, a player decides what an abstract object is, and the others, also by touch, must guess what it is through a series of questions with a yes/no answer.
It encourages people to be creative and, although competitive, it ends up in a brainstorming session similar to games like Black Stories. It can easily be adapted to a cooperative version.
The same designer has a neat variation of tic-tac-toe called Arabian Pots that is based on sound and thus also accessible.
Stats: 3-12 players, 15 minutes
The shameless plug: BDD Warriors
BDD Warriors is a print&play competitive card game used as an introduction to Behaviour-Driven Development. It requires players to create scenarios using science fiction and fantasy settings and highlights that working as a group on single-domain scenarios leads to better results.
Stats: 2-6 players, 40 minutes