I totally agree about boardgames and how fun they can be compared to videogames, I recently got back into boardgames last year, unfotunately I live in a small town and don't have friends that are like minded when it comes to playing them so when I do get the opportunity to play it is always awesome. Wil Wheaton has a show on Youtube called Tabletop that kind of shines a light on games that people might be interested in. It seems there is always elitism in whatever media is out there whether it be music, movies/tv, videogames or even boardgames, already annoying to see comments below about X game is cool while Y sucks type of attitude. Games like Monopoly, and other well known games, got people into tabletop gaming so that is actually a good thing for the industry and you shouldn't be too quick to put them in the boring/casual category.
I've been having a very hard time keeping up with video games while being in college. As many of you currently attending or...heaven forbid...college graduates (those poor souls) know, classes and the optional job or student organization sucks a lot of time out of your day. I've come to a point in my life where much of my video gaming is condensed into the few breaks I get while in school. While I do have my consoles and gaming-oriented laptop with me at college, a game hardly gets booted up unless my friends are all busy.
This might have to do with the types of games I like, but I simply cannot invest the time in a long, time-soaking game with all of the stuff I have to keep up with at school. I value the time I do, and I still keep up on gaming news for the one or two titles I will be making time for in the future. Until that time comes, however, I need some sort of gaming in my life. I have to scratch that itch in my head that's screaming for a challenge of some sort that doesn't involve learning a new language or computer code.
Well, you see where this is going. I found board games.
No! Not those. Those are boring.
The board games I'm talking about are not the ones we all grew up with as children. No Battleship, Monopoly or LIFE for me. Nope. I'm playing games like Arkham Horror, Mansions of Madness, Munchkin, Dominion, Infiltration, Civilization: The Board Game, Settlers of Catan and so on.
I've become a big board gamer ever since I started becoming aware of how many inventive and creative ones there are out there. I never thought I'd see the day where I would be scouring the internet for the latest board game news (alas, I do now). In fact, a large part of my reasoning for not playing as many video games in my free time nowadays is because I have these board games that I can play with my friends.
With the move towards online, more connected gaming, a lot of the old-fashioned four-friends-on-a-couch style of video gaming has been lost. I'm not saying it's a bad thing, not at all; it's a natural part of the evolution of video games. It still exists in a psuedo form through custom matches and voice chat, and many games with a multiplayer component still allow for splitscreen, but the fact of the matter is that the majority of gamers will play with their friends through an internet connection most of the time. However, as video game multiplayer moves more towards online aspects, it is impossible for board games to do so. Sure, you could pick up the XBL/PSN version of Settlers of Catan and play them online, but anyone who's played the game in physical and digital form will tell you that it's far more engaging and fun with four friends at a table. This is true with all board games.
What board games bring to the table (pun intended) that video games still can but (I feel) people ignore is that 4-friends-on-a-couch feeling that made gaming so much fun 10 years ago. With a board game, everyone is at the same place. Everyone is looking at each other, everyone is communicating strategies and deviating plots in front of everyone else. Playing a board game is a very intimate event. In a game such as A Game of Thrones (the board game is probably one of the best things on this planet...but, then again, so is the franchise) you must consider where your interests lie, and where they clash with your allies/enemy's interests. The game's functions and procedures almost force you to cooperate, while encouraging backstabbing at the right time. It's a delicate balance of diplomacy and war, and such a balance would be impossible to achieve in a game. Part of what makes A Game of Thrones and other board games of the same irk so compelling is that, whatever you do, someone's going to react to it, and they're right across the table from you. You have to put up with their rage, confusion, or perhaps their own evil plots on the spot as the game progresses. It tests wit and mettle, such a test that I have yet to see a game communicate successfully. Throw in some text messaging (well call it "sending a raven") and you have strategies and plans being created without even a word being said.
Those. Freaking. Lannisters. THE NORTH REMEMBERS!
I particularly value the face-to-face aspect of board games because it allows for strengthening of friendships and sharing memories, even if you did just destroy your best friend's capital city, taking all of their tokens and laughing as they're eliminated from the game. Another aspect I value is that a board game can be completed within 45mins-4 hours (depending on the game). You get a complete gaming experience from start to finish in one sitting, often with side conversation, food, laughter (shouting, too) , and a good time with friends sprinkled in. I don't have to wonder what will happen next or look up a strategy on how to beat an incredibly difficult boss. I won't have to save my game for later. It's done. And I can come back to it again and again, and often I do, because the board games I play have multiple scenarios or variations for each game. They may have a randomly generated map. They may be completely cooperative. They may have a persistent world that changes with each game you play. They offer much the same entertainment video games do, but in a different form. A form more practical for someone like me, who would rather spend his time with his non-video-gaming friends than playing his video games, while still playing a game.
The most horrifying part about Arkham Horror is not Cthulu, but how impossible it is to win. Even if the game is cooperative.
It's funny, one would think that tabletop gaming is on the decline nowadays. Digital entertainment continues to surge in both popularity and revenue, to the common eye it would seem that the days of rolling a die and praying for anything but a 6 is over. This is not the case. Board gaming is as strong as it has ever been, and its creativity never seems to die. I've always felt that more people should wet their feet into the realm of these complex board games just once, to see if they like it. If they're already a video gamer, I guarantee you that they'll probably fall in love.
Great Blog! I am into Board Games as well, and your blog has nailed how I feel about the indy world of Boardgames. My friends and I are a huge Mansions of Madness fans. If you donot mind me saying a board game developer that I am into is Fly Frog Productions. Their best known game is Last Night on Earth which in my opinion is the finest Zombie board game ever made. They also made the equally fantastic Touch of Evil, and Conquest of Planet Earth. Their artwork is a bit cheesy but aside from that their games are awesome. One thing they do as well is that they have soundtracks to their games which honestly are very good and not horrible in the least. Check them out.
@TheTrueMagusX1 I was actually looking into Last Night on Earth, thanks for the recommendation! I'll definitely try it out. Mansions of Madness is amazing! I've only played two games (both times as Keeper) and I've just taught my friend how to play keeper so I hope to finally be able to play investigator next time.
You have to be over 30 years old, to fully appreciate the magic of board games. Sadly kids this days are to use to having a controller in their hands :(
Great Blog ! I felling all nostalgic now. ;)
@CaesarIIII Hmm, I'm only in my mid-20s. I guess I don't truly appreciate the magic of board games, even though I actually enjoy playing them more with other people then I've ever enjoyed playing a multiplayer video game with other people. Also, my parents, both in their 50s, don't appreciate board games at all, in fact, my mom probably spends more time on Farmville then I ever do playing my video games, and she definitely spends more time on it then I spend playing board games.
Settler's of Catan is great, but it is in the same vein as Risk and Monopoly. Why would you find those boring but not Catan?
College was when I truly became a multiplayer orientated gamer. I like multiplayer games before (and I still like single player games after graduating), but multiplayer games became my focus in college, and that just stuck.
@Poodger Perhaps it's because I feel that Monopoly requires more luck than strategy. There's a bit of mettle involved in trading off properties and such, but otherwise I feel that Catan is more fun because it requires that you think more. Sure, there's a dice roll that determines what resources are being pulled, but by taking the right resources at the right time you can manipulate the dice rolls so that they always benefit you.
I don't think I ever mentioned RISK up there. RISK is a fine game, and is a really good bridge into the other, more complex games out there. In fact, there's this wonderful new iteration of RISK called RISK: Legacy that I highly recommend you check out, especially if you're a fan of the original.
I play multiplayer games like everyone else, but I do prefer my single-player RPGs, Platformers, Action games, and Turn Taking Strategy RPGs.
@Poodger mm I don't think Catan is like Risk or Monopoly. For one, it isn't nearly as widely known as Risk or Monopoly. I know people who have never heard of Catan, but mention Risk or Monopoly and they immediately know what I'm talking about.
@Allicrombie @Poodger So the criteria for a good board game is "it can't be too popular"? That is a hipster way of looking at things I guess. THey are similar games though, in the sense that you collect resources (money) and build settlements (houses) on the map. I would consider these 3 games to be in a very similar genre of board game. I do like Catan more than Risk or Monopoly, but it is a very "similar" type of game.
As a side note, Catan has become MUCH more popular over the past couple of years. It is not an obscure game anymore.
Catan and dominion are my favorites. Haven't played since college though. I don't have anybody to play with anymore.
Memoir '44 and Mage Wars for me lol. Got the Dark Vengeance starter set for Warhammer 40k (not entirely a board game but within the same field lol). I enjoy board games just as much as I do my video games lol.
@Vrygar777 I also recently picked up Dark Vengeance, looks like i'm going to be broke because its my new spendy hobby
Hells yes. Games like Arkham Horror, Mage Knight, War of the Ring, Descent, Twilight Imperium, Star Trek Fleet Captains, etc are the games played by real men.
Always good to see someone looking past stuff like Monopoly and Clue.
While I don't normally play board games, I get what your saying about being face to face with friends on the couch. Back in high school, my friends and I would get our xbox's and have a LAN party at one of our houses. It was a bit of a hassle since only one of us had a car but then we would be spending the whole day together playing games and insulting each other's moms. It was so satisfying to stick a plasma grenade on the back of a friends head, slink away, and know that the grenade exploded because they are screaming obscenities in the other room. I just don't get that kind of satisfaction playing online.
Of course we don't do LAN parties anymore, because that's lame. Now we play Rifts.
Not a single decent board game in the article, the games you cited are the angry birds and farmiville of boardgames. Munchikin is not a game btw, it is, at most, a group activity.
If you are a long time gamer skip those and go for the gamers games like Agricola and Brass.
More info in board game geek...
@sir_inverno Both of those games have extremely boring themes. I have no idea what makes Agricola or Brass a "gamer's game", but I can assure you that I am no less a gamer than you. It is a matter of preference. A person who spends their time playing hours upon hours of Angry Birds and Farmville* is just as much of a gamer as one who plays hours upon hours of Halo and Skyrim.
Ok, we are arguing semantics. Would you agree people that "normal" have a greater chance to prefer angry birds over dragon age when compared to people who surf game sites fora? That is my point, people in gamespot are more likely to enjoy strategy than the luck+theme of those games, I may be wrong.
So, just because you only enjoy Euro games, and anything less is for the young or mentally handicapped (your inference, not mine, and YES, I've been on BGG for many, many, many moons) you came here to $#!t on the blogger's effort to get video gamers to consider board games as a fun alternative to video-based games? Wow, that kind of elitism must make you very popular. Thank you, Sir, for your contributions to society.
" to stop playing the Farmviilles of Board Games (which should be considered Monopoly, Clue, etc)"
I think space invaders and pacman would the correct analogy, classics that have their place in history but are outdated.
Munchikin, arkhan... games are indeed like farmivile i.e. modern games made for people who either don't wan't or are unable to play deeper games.
Yes I do think euros are better than ameritrass but it is an opinion, it would make no sense for me to say they are universally better.
@sir_inverno @Thunderstarter I'd say you're wrong. It sounds more like you are just saying that your genre of board game is the best genre rather than making some kind of sensible argument to get people to stop playing the Farmviilles of Board Games (which should be considered Monopoly, Clue, etc). Dragon Age is a pretty dumbed down version of old PC roleplaying games so I'd say even your video game comparison isn't very good.
@sir_inverno what? Are you saying that the game of thrones, arkham horror, mansions of madness, civ the board game are not good games? not everyone love eurogames and maybe those are not the most complex games out there but they are fun. I'm a Ameritrash boardgamer the most but not everyone find agricola or le harve the best games out there it is matter of what someone likes not about BGG top 100 games.
Yes, to me, they are terrible games. If a 5 year old or a mentally challenged person has a chance to win a given game against adults I consider it a terrible game.
It is ok to like those games just as it is liking angry birds, that said if you are a long time gamer the euro strategy will probably trump the pretty pictures and luck fest of those games.
One may think angry birds is fun but if I am approaching a gamer it is not a game I would recommend.
I've been going every Tuesday to my local game shop for their game nights. I always have a ton of fun. I freaking love Settlers of Catan, though I prefer the Star Trek version to the original.
@starduke There's a Star Trek version? >.> I knew that there was a Megaman version in Japan, but not Star Trek.
@Thunderstarter Yeah, and it's awesome! It has cards with the characters from TOS that can really help out in a pinch. Like, Spock's let's you pick a resource if a dice roll doesn't give you any. It makes it even more fun then Catan usually is.
Nice blog. I would love to get into board games but I don't really know anyone who would be interested in playing them with me. Sad but true.
@-INKling- If you have a local comic/game store you should see if they have game nights. Many do, and it's a great way to not only try out new board games but to find a group to play.
You could also just take my route and force people to sit down and play. :P It worked for 4/10 people that I did it to and I have people to play with now! Many people don't know they'd like board games until they give them a shot.
My favorite game was Mouse Trap lol it was so awesome when you got to make all of the contraptions go and end the game. Great blog, I actually completely forgot about board games, never pay attention to them at the store anymore. Defenitely something I'll have to go look into for family time and such. Thanks!!!
me&my gang from my villige played D&D when we were kids and we had an awsome master,all the books were in italian so he had to translate us everything but i goota tell you those are one of the best memories from my childhood!!!we would like to play it again after all these years but no one wants to be the master and lets face it u must have the skills for it...so if u have just a little imagination board games are AWSOME!!!
I used to play a lot of RISK and I enjoy Carcassonne a lot as well. haven't played many board games.as of lately though, but me and some of my friends were just talking about it the other day, though its not very complex, I did make an Aggrivation board a year or so ago, so maybe I'll bust that out and play it. I've never heard of the Arkham Horror game you mentioned but it sounds interesting so I might look into that. While I love my videogames, there will always be that special place for sitting around the table playing board games with friends
@Apocalypse324 Arkham Horror is a bit complex. There's a heck of a lot of rules, but if you're willing to read through the rule book (and then screw up the rules the first few times you play) you'll find that it's a fantastic game.There's a little thing the board game community says when it comes to rules complexity:
Person: "How complex is this game?"
Other Person: "Have you played Arkham Horror?"
Other Person: "You're fine."
I used to play a Lord Of The Rings table top game and that was a lot of fun. I can't remember the name of it though. I see places in malls that feature these and have always thought about joining but the inconvenience of driving to these places, how much time is needed to play them, and lack of friends that played these were big drawbacks for me so I never took the initiative.
@YYankee Was it named Lord of the Rings lol dumb joke
@timdogg42069 @YYankee Actually, I think it's called Lord of the Rings!
There are many LOTR tabletop games, so if it's not this one I wouldn't be surprised.