The Shared Game Timer is a board game timer (a.k.a. turn timer) that can help keep board games from running too long. The idea is simple—track how long each player is taking. Simply knowing that one's time is tracked is often enough to keep players from falling into Analysis Paralysis.
The timer shows the total time a player has taken in the game as well as the current turn, and optional audio reminders are given for slow turns. It also shows the fractions of play time that each player has taken.
There are many of this kind of board game timers out there, but the Shared Game Timer has quite a few unique features. So keep reading!
Most other game timers work only on a single phone, forcing players around a table to either reach across the board to end their turn, or the phone is handed from person to person, or worse, some unfortunate player is 'in charge of the timer'.
With the Shared Game Timer, each player has their own phone with a view of the timer and ability to do things like end their turn, pass their round etc. All phones are updated whenever something changes (usually within a second).
Too many phones cluttering the table? No problem. Players can share phones.
There are four different timer modes: Count Up, Count Down No Timers and Sand Timer.
Count Up simply tracks the time that each player has taken.
Count Down gives each player a Time Bank with time to use for thinking, and they should endeavor to never run out. You can customize how big the time bank is at start, and then add both a Fischer-style increment and a Bronstein-style delay per turn or round. You can also give players Penalty Time when they run out, at a price.
The No Timer mode removes all timers for a 'stress free' game.
The Sand Timer mode presents a single sand timer of adjustable length that any player may start, stop or reset. In this mode, there are no player turns or rounds.
If a game has admin tasks, e.g. auctions, when it isn't really anyone's turn, you can activate Admin Time, which is a separate timer that tracks how much time is spent on, well, admin. (Or endless rule-clarifications.)
Games can be set to have rounds. Once a round ends, it automatically activates Admin Time giving you time to change player order, clean up, etc.
Rounds can end in a few different ways, configured during game creation.
- When everyone passes. In this mode, a player may either end their turn or pass. Once passed, they will be skipped in player order until a new round begins.
- Any player, or the last player in turn order, may choose to end the round.
- After a fixed number of turns. The number of turns per round can vary across rounds.
When one player finish their turn, the next player in turn order starts their turn. The turn order can be changed mid-game via a simple drag-and-drop interface.
If using rounds, passed players are skipped automatically. You can also update the turn order when a round ends, clockwise, counter-clockwise to set to the order in which players passed the round.
If your game doesn't have a fixed turn order, or it changes frequently, you can instead use a 'Free-Form Turn Order' mode, where you can activate any player at any time.
There is also support for 'Snake Turn Order', meaning the player order reverses after the last player, giving turn order of P1, P2, P3, P3, P2, P1.
You may interrupt whatever turn (or admin time) you are in with special extra-inserted turns in which some or all players take simultaneous actions.
Each participating player has an 'End Turn' button which will stop their clock. Once all players are done, the app resumes whatever turn was interrupted by the simultaneous turn.
You can pause the game, say when the pizza arrives or the sun rises and you realize you must continue the game another day. Unlike Admin Time, this time isn't tracked or accounted for in the final game total.
Did you accidentally press the wrong button? Simply undo. Whoever's turn it was before resumes as if you had never touched that button.
There are two ways to adjust the timers.
The first is useful when you forget to end your turn, and so the next player has been playing on your time! With the SGT, you fix this with a click of a button and saying how much time should be moved from your turn to the next player.
The second way to adjust the timers is to add or remove time from the total time shown for each player, or if you use the Count-Down mode, change how much time each player starts with in their Time Bank. This can be used to give players a handicap, or to 'recover' from running out of time.
Remote Controls, Presentation Mode, Speech Synthesis
You can control the timer using various Remote Controls, allowing you to put the phones away and enjoy your game with no phones cluttering your table.
One device should remain visible so players can see whose turn it is. The Presentation Mode makes this device visible at a distance, so you can move it off-table, perhaps to a nearby window or shelf.
Finally, activate the Speech Synthesizer and the device will call out the name of players when it is their turn, further removing the need to look at any screen.
For more details on all of this, see the Remote Control page.
Analysis Paralysis Alert
You can choose to have a 'tick tock' sound play after a specified amount of time to kick players out of Analysis Paralysis.
Multiple alerts may be configured for different times. If you use the Voice Synthesizer, then the turn time (in minutes) is spoken out loud instead of the 'tick tock'.
If you use the timer on a phone, you can tell it to keep the screen on so you don't have to unlock your phone all the time.
Online Gaming and the Overlays
The timer works great for online gaming like Tabletopia or Tabletop Simulator. Simplest is to run the timer on your phone while playing the game on your computer.
There are also two Overlays that puts the timer interface on top of your game allowing you to control the timer without taking your eyes off the action.
The simplest is the Tiny UI Overlay. Run the timer in a tiny browser pinned on top of all other windows.
If your game is in the browser (e.g. Tabletopia) then the Chrome Extension Overlay puts the timer interface directly into the browser game.
See the Online Gaming page for more info on the overlays.
You can track various token counters (for example Victory Points ⭐, Money 💰, Brick 🧱, Trees 🌲 etc) using the timer. This is meant primarily for online games where handling tokens with the mouse can be tedious. As such, it is fully integrated into the Chrome Extension.
All transactions are shown in a log, so you can keep track of who has done what and when.
You can enter formulas like 3*6-9 and the Shared Game Timer will do the calculations for you. It will even store the formula which can be seen when hovering over the log entry, making it easy to notice when someone
cheats makes a mistake.
When a game is finished, you can choose to fill out a scoresheet. You can quickly add scoring categories that are then available for all players to fill in, and the timer sums up the final score.
Digitizing the end-game scoring takes away from the tactile feel of a board game, so again, this feature is more intended for online gaming, but you are free to use it any way you like. 🙂
Log Plays to Board Game Geek/Stats
When a game is finished, you can easily log the play to Board Game Geek or Board Game Stats. Players and minute count is automatically set, and adding extra information is quick and easy.
Resetting a game is a quick way to restart the timer with the same players and game settings, but resetting the timers (and token counters if used). It will also increment the play count if you log the play to Board Game Geek.
When you finish a game, you are taken to the scoresheet view (where you may also log the play to Board Game Geek). From here you may also click 'Replay' which will create a new timer, copying the timer settings, scoresheet setup and player colors.
You can customize what happens when you swipe up/down/left/right or long press the screen. Possible actions are End Turn, Pass, Undo, Pause, go into Admin Time or open the Player Reorder dialog.
You can also make the timer either enter admin time or pause the game when you turn the phone face-down, and then restart the timer when you turn the phone face-up again.
All you need is a device with a browser (i.e. any phone or computer will work.) There is no need to install anything, making it super-easy to get started.
You can install the app if you want to use the timer in full-screen. It is done directly from the browser. You can then launch the app like you'd start any other app on your phone. Android users may also install it from the Play Store.
To join a game that someone has created, just go to the game link with your browser to sign in as a player. An anonymous account is created automatically, tied to your device.
If you want to use multiple devices but have them all be the same player, then you must sign in so the app can know that it is 'the same person'.
Have friends who don't want to trouble themselves with signing in on their own device? Simply give them a name and add them as a hot-seat player. They will of course have to share somebody else's device, or perhaps use a bluetooth remote.
Playing games far away with no wifi? No worries. The app works offline, but you will need to add everyone as hot-seat players.
IoT and Mood Lighting
Set the color of your room lighting to the current player color! Or why not the LED lighting of your gaming table? This is a fun, if slightly gimmicky, way to show whose turn it is.
There are easy integrations for Govee and Philips Hue devices. Other devices may work by using either the Bluetooth or MQTT interface. The MQTT interface makes it easy to create custom integration with your Home Assistant setup for even more interesting IoT integrations! Email me and I will help you get it set up.