We all have played some board game in our life, they are everywhere, even if it was only checkers, or monopoly. When I was a young child I loved board games, it was a chance to show off my ability to do math, and having three younger brother I usually won. But growing up, not having known about the wide world of third party game, that is to say game not made by Hasbro or Milton-Bradley. For most of my childhood I merely tolerated board games. I would play them if there was nothing else to do, or if I was invited to by a friend I really liked. But the games themselves, I understood, were not fun, it was all about the people you were playing with. Even then the chances were good that the game would end with either a draw for times’ sake or with someone’s feeling being hurt. So, like most people I grew to dislike board games even if I were playing with people I liked.
It wasn’t really until I was an adult that I discovered the wonderful world of the not competitive game. That is not to say that there aren’t winners, just that you don’t have to win at the cost of the other players. This is the main problem with games like Monopoly and Risk, The goal is to literally take everything the your friends have, rather than to simply compete for the most points. Taking this concept even further are games like Castle Panic! and Pandemic, where the player are actually working together to beat the game, which is even more fun. Just like with role-playing games, the object of cooperative board games is to work together to play out a scenario that is fun and interesting. What could be more fun?
Still, some of my favorite games are ones that I played when I was a kid, like Payday. This game at face value seems a lot like monopoly, accept that you are not taking you friend money. The board is laid out like a month on a calendar, and as you go through the month you encounter various opportunities to make extra money as well as gathering bills, at the end of each month everyone get a salary and settles up with their debts and the person with the most money at the end of, usually, three months wins. A great game, and because it is fairly old you can get it cheap, even cheaper if you spot it at a thrift store, which is where I got my copy.
I was really reintroduced back into gaming through my fiancée, she loves Board games and I love her, ergo I love board games, but It wasn’t until I learned of the existence a particular game that the love became genuine, the name of that game? The Settlers of Catan. Remember as I describe this game that it really is great, and if you have grown to trust my opinion at all, throughout the course of this blog, trust me when I say that even if it doesn’t sound amazing, you should try this game if you ever get the opportunity. So The Settlers of Catan revolves around the Island of Catan which is made up of Hexagonal tiles arranged either randomly or according to various scenarios that come with the game , and are available online. Each tile represent a plot of land that produces a specific resources, the frequency that these plots produce the given resource is determined by a number which is assigned separately at the beginning of the game and a dice which is rolled at the beginning of each player turn. You get to collect the resources whenever the number of a plot is rolled, as long as you have a settlement built adjacent to the corresponding tile. The resources can be used to build settlements, or to upgrade settlement to a city, the more cities and settlements you have the more resources you get. Each settlement is worth one point, and each city one, the person to each a per-agreed upon amount, usually 10-13, wins. This game is great, and like Payday, you are not taking anything for your friends, it is a race to the finish, and while there are winners and losers, it feels less malicious.
Most of my favorite games follow this model; Alahambra, Cranium, Ticket to Ride. The replay factor of a given board game is dramatically increased when you don’t piss off everyone that will play with you, so these games are great for all but the most competitive people. But those people can turn growing grass into a competition, so whatever. So to anyone who has ever written off board games as frustrating and boring. If you have good friend that you enjoy spending time with, I highly recommend you look into some of the games I have mentioned. They will change your mind I promise. Also check out this Youtube Channel, they host a show called Tabletop, where Wil Wheaton (thats right, Wesley Crusher) shows you his favorite games and how to play them, all of the recommendations have been great plus the videos are funny as an added bonus.
And that’s my take on board games.