This blog has primarily focused on video games, while dabbling in my other pursuits such as Magic and X-Wing. Recently, perhaps through X-Wing, I’ve become quite interested in exploring the glamorous world of board games.
I call board games a “middle man” in the title for a couple reasons. First, as previously stated, I feel board games fill a middle ground between my interest in video games and deeper tabletop games like Warhammer or DnD. They are self contained like a video game, but played on a tabletop like Warhammer, but without the need for a 300 page rulebook and gobs of cash (for the most part…).
Second, I feel board games can be a conduit between friends and family that do not traditionally dabble in video games, or are put off with whatever outdated stigma they have preconceived about tabletop wargames. Board games provide a middle ground upon which the more dedicated gaming contingent can coexist (and reel in!) those who have yet to give it a chance.
So today, I want to explore this idea and how I plan to enter the world of board games and building a collection.
How It All Started
In the past, I’d only played the traditional board games most everyone is familiar with — Monopoly, Scrabble, etc. I had not been particularly enamored with these games, and thus my interest in looking for more niche or complex board games never grew.
More recently, I know that board games have been making a resurgence in popularity. I had heard of Settlers of Catan and the like, and saw that these more intricate games were sold in places like Target and Barnes and Noble alongside Apples to Apples and Boggle.
As blogged previously, I have recently taken a huge interest in Fantasy Flight Games’ great tabletop game X-Wing. Spurred by my vast history with Games Workshops’ Warhammer Fantasy and 40k games, I wanted something cheaper and easier to pick up and play. I’ve now played X-Wing consistently every week and really enjoy the game.
Now, I play X-Wing at a local shop that has a strong focus on board games. Being around the games and seeing the box art and others playing them did catch my eye. Further, I knew Fantasy Flight was a board game maker, and I had great respect for X-Wing’s easy ruleset and accessibility coupled with depth.
With this background color, I was then introduced to what has become a great entry point — Pandemic. A friend bought the original base game and brought it over to play. We had four players and at once I was engrossed in the cooperative strategic decision making. I had finally found something that hit a lot of what I was looking for and had missed out on in dismissing board games.
What I Like
After playing Pandemic I realized that the distilled hour of strategy really hit all the right notes with me. I hadn’t even realized there were cooperative board games, and that everyone could work together to essentially work out a giant puzzle disguised as a thematic series of events.
On the other hand, I do enjoy an engrossing narrative, especially one shared with a group of friends. Luckily, I’ve been researching deeper into the available array of board games and there are more than enough options to cover both areas.
Looking at reviews, I have discovered there are numerous buckets and styles of games that can fill out a collection. Just as the various genre pillars exist in video games, board games also fit certain molds. Video games have their first person shooters or real time strategy while board games can have their deckbuilding or worker placement varieties.
I’ve decided that I want to collect a wide variety of game-types, but will start with games in both of the aforementioned categories. On top of that, I feel like I need to get some solid 2-player games (both co-op and competitive) to play with my significant other but also some larger group games that are quick and easy to get into. Suggestions are certainly welcome as I enter this new world of gaming delight.
Where I’ve Looked
With my new found desire to collect some games, I’ve tried to locate where the best resources in scouting out good buys exist on the great landscape of the Internet.
I’ve mainly been watching some YouTube videos of Top 10 lists and the like, trying to get a feel for what games look interesting, but to also narrow the universe a bit to the best entry titles. The most helpful of these typically show the actual gameplay instead of just the box art.
Building on that, I typically hop over to Board Game Geek to check out what I find on YouTube. BGG appears to be the best resource available to investigate and discuss board games. The categorization, user reviews, and ranking system has really helped narrow my focus and pick out a couple games.
As another one of my classic go-to’s, I’ve checked out trusty ol Reddit to learn more of the in and outs of the industry and to get some direct recommendations. The resources of a strong subreddit should never be underestimated, and I’ve already been informed of several impending sales on various sites to check out in building a collection.
I’ve also been scouting the local stores to see who has what. As mentioned, my local game shop has a wide variety of the top board games available, and even has demos. I will definitely try to shop there first.
I’ve also taken a look at Half Price Books and their various board game stock. Without a deep knowledge of what the best titles are, I haven’t had much luck in finding anything just yet. In addition, I’m a bit wary of buying anything that has previously been open lest pieces are missing from the box.
Lastly, it turns out there are SEVERAL local board game bars in my area. What a great concept. Each one has over 400 different games to try and demo. This will be a great resource to get people interested, as well as test new games I am looking to invest in.
In sum, I’ve found yet another way to spend money on gaming. I guess it was only a matter of time before I finally dove in to board games as a natural extension of what I’ve already been interested in. I hope as a “middle man,” board games can also help me get in some strategic thinking while spending time with folks I don’t typically game with.
If anyone has any tips or suggestions for games that should definitely be in a beginners growing collection, please comment below! I will definitely be posting reviews or results of board game hunting in the near future.