Yesterday night I had an opportunity to introduce my parents to a classic board game. Having grown up in an age where Monopoly and Rummikub were the only real table top toppers, they were unfamiliar to the vast world and community of table top gaming as it stands today. You dear reader might also be unaware to the massive renaissance that board games have been experiencing over the past few years. As Wil Wheaton says: “A lot of people think that video games killed board games, but a lot of people are wrong.”
There is actually an award (a very prestigious one at that) called the Spiel Des Jahres, which basically means game of the year in German. Winning a Spiel Des Jahres is like getting an Academy Award in the board game world. Just to give you some perspective, Rummikub won one way back in 1980. It’s a big deal. A game that wins it usually sells tens of thousands more because of it.
Anyway, the game I played with my parents last night holds the prestigious position of having won the Spiel Des Jahres in the year 2001. The game is called Carcassonne. You and other players basically “build” the city of Carcassonne, and then score points by placing “followers” or meeples, as they are more commonly known. It’s a heck of a lot of fun! The game itself has sold over 10 million copies. Yes, you read that correctly.
After explaining the (very) simple rules, we gathered around the dinner table and started to play. Once a few rounds had passed and everyone had the swing of things, we started laughing, joking, and just in general enjoying the game for it’s simplistic beauty. It was at that moment that I saw a very rare reaction on my stepfather and mother’s faces. They were surprised. Now don’t get me wrong, they’re surprised just as much as any other person, but this time, they were surprised by the game. Having been exposed to nothing but long never-ending tedious games of Monopoly and repetitive card games, they had unconsciously dismissed board games as simple minded games that are actually just meant for children. Carcassonne, in a single game, destroyed that entire misconception.
It was a good night. So if you’re looking for a new hobby, or a new way to spend time with your partner, friends, family, whatever, do yourself a favour, and try a board game. The rabbit hole gets deeper the more you dig.
If you don’t know where to start, then I recommend The Settlers of Catan, or just Catan (the new edition but the same game) Otherwise, I’ve included an entire list of Spiel Des Jahres winners just for you!