Bored Game?

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!

Enjoy!

2015 Colt Express
2014 Camel Up
2013 Hanabi
2012 Kingdom Builder
2011 Qwirkle
2010 Dixit
2009 Dominion
2008 Keltis
2007 Zooloretto
2006 Thurn and Taxis
2005 Niagara
2004 Ticket to Ride
2003 Alhambra
2002 Villa Paletti
2001 Carcassonne
2000 Torres
1999 Tikal
1998 Elfenland
1997 Mississippi Queen
1996 El Grande
1995 The Settlers of Catan
1994 Manhattan
1993 Call my Bluff
1992 Um Reifenbreite
1991 Drunter und Drüber
1990 Adel Verpflichtet
1989 Café International
1988 Barbarossa
1987 Auf Achse
1986 Top Secret Spies
1985 Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective
1984 Railway Rivals
1983 Scotland Yard
1982 Enchanted Forest
1981 Focus
1980 Rummikub
1979 Hare and Tortoise

Dungeons and Dragons… and lots and lots of rules.

I recently started developing a massive interest in Table Top Gaming. So I went to my local comic book store and bought a Dungeons and Dragons starter set. The reason I opted for D&D was because it just seemed like the right place to start.  Just like if you were to start reading fantasy,  J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord Of The Rings would be the perfect place to begin.  D&D was my Lord Of The Rings.

I patiently waited for us to get home before gently, and at the same time violently, ripping off the plastic covering that was separating me from the magical, and beautiful land of the Forgotten Realms.  A smile ripped it’s way across my face, and much like a Heath Ledger Joker, these scars would be not be leaving anytime soon.  I called my two younger sisters and older brother in excitement.  It was time to play Dungeons and Dragons.  The enthralling, almost electric pulse of adrenaline was all over the room.  As we sat down, I realized that I had forgotten the most important part of any game:  The rules.

I looked at them all and asked if they didn’t mind me quickly having a glance at the rule book before we began. Once I had a basic idea of how things worked, we could work our way through the game, and also find out what was, and wasn’t allowed.  I took the manual from the box and gave it a good looking.  I began at the first chapter, everything you need to know to start playing.  15 minutes later I reached the second chapter: Combat, which was even longer than the initial rules chapter.  I decided to give it all a quick glance instead of trying to give it a detailed read.  I started paging through the now intimidating manual of “basic” rules.  The pages just kept on turning…  New concept after new concept.  I realized that this wasn’t just another game of UNO.  This was Dungeons and Dragons.  Arguably one of the most well known fantasy board games ever crafted by human hands.  I took a deep breath and told my siblings that we weren’t going to be playing D&D that evening, or the next.  We all laughed and decided to play the easier to grasp Zombie Dice instead.

I’ve been reading the D&D manual for the past week and almost have a full grasp on most of the rules.  Since D&D is mostly just imagination fueling the game,  there have to be a lot of rules dictating what can and can’t be done, since the game is actually limitless.  From what I’ve read already, the game looks fascinating and exciting.  Perhaps we’ll get to slay a dragon sooner than expected.  Whenever that does happen though, I’m sure that it’s going to be well worth the wait.

Dylan

2015-06-28

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Boardgame?

As a young boy growing up in America in the 90’s, there were a few things that I was required to be well educated in.  Namely: Pokémon, Video games and Star Wars.  I would spend hours with my San-Diego friends discussing the best Evee evolution, or the best way to clean our Nintendo 64 game cartridges. Watching the Star Wars movies on loop for a whole weekend was not uncommon either. These things became a part of me, and I still have brief moments of spontaneous excitement when someone brings up a lightsaber, or even Pikachu.

There was however, another love. The love of board games.  And while Star Wars, video games, and Pokémon stuck with me, board games seemed to lose their charm.  Why?  Heck if I know.  Maybe I grew out of them, or maybe I just stopped seeing the appeal of what was usually, quite a repetitive system of play.

Recently however, I discovered a show that would change everything for me.  TableTop, a YouTube show on the Geek and Sundry channel, which is hosted by one of my favourite actors: Wil Wheaton.  It’s basically just celebrities playing a board game.  It’s a different game each week, along with different players.  It’s actually a ton of fun to watch. Give it a try.

Before I carry on, you should know this: Board games have really developed over the years.  It’s not all about buying property or capturing Australia anymore.  These days, board games range from simple family games, to complex tactical fantasy role playing games.

After watching enough TableTop and deciding on which game I was going to spend my hard earned money, I opted for the classic: Dungeons and Dragons.   I cautiously opened the box, which revealed a bible like rulebook filled with every possible scenario the game could ever put you through.  I giggled like a little girl. I unpacked everything and then convinced my little sisters to join in on a game.  Sadly, the rules were so complex that we had to stop just to allow a chance to make sure we all knew the rules.  It was fun spending time with family around a table with nothing to guide us but our imaginations though.  We laughed, a lot.  These days, not enough people play board games.  While watching a movie with the family is always nice; playing a board game provides a whole other level of bonding and simple satisfaction.  I think that were going to start having a family board game night, once we learn all the rules that is.

It felt really good to connect to an element of my past with elements of my present, in the form of my little sisters. They couldn’t wait to play again. I don’t know why I lost interest in board games.  That doesn’t matter anymore though. Playing Dungeons and Dragons with my little sisters made up for all those lost years.  It wasn’t just a simple board game in that box, It was a part of my childhood that I hadn’t seen in years, and golly, did we have a lot to talk about.

Dylan

2015-06-22