When I was a younger lad, I really did not like board games. I was one of those people who would say “they are called bored games for a reason” thinking I was being clever. At the time though, it was kind of accurate. All I had played were the games you see at big-box stores like Monopoly, Clue, and Sorry. To me, they really were boring. Everything, it seemed, was based on luck. If the dice landed in my favor, I won. If they didn’t, I lost.
Now, it is important to note, I seem to be a statistical outlier when it comes to rolling dice. I have the worst luck. A lot of people say that and many people I have played games with in the past roll their eyes when I say that. Then we play a few games together, and the eye rolling stops. My dice rolls are consistently bad and I cannot explain why. As a result, I hated those roll and move games I played as a kid because not only did I rarely win, I usually got dead last. As a result, I did not give board games a chance for quite a long time.
The game that changed my mind, as it did for many people, was Settlers of Catan (now officially known just as Catan). When I first played this game (it would have been the mid-2000s) I was hooked. I wanted to play it all the time. Up to that point I had been playing video games most of my life, and I saw video games as the only place I could get some type of real player interaction. But with the ability to trade, form unofficial alliances, and back-stab your fellow player, Catan helped show me that board games could be much more than the traditional role and move games I had played in my past.
Playing Catan encouraged me to check out other games. Soon Ticket to Ride and Pandemic were added to the rotation and while I enjoyed all of these games, I was thirsting for something bigger, heavier, and with more strategy. That is when I was introduced to Power Grid. The level of strategy needed in Power Grid exceeded the previous board games I had played, and most video games. The idea that there were more games like Power Grid out there caused me to get more involved in designer board game community. I started seeking out more games, and similar to video games, was buying a ton of them. As a result, I have a healthy collection of my own which is around 75 games. This seems like a lot to some people, but to many folks in the board game hobby, this is a pretty small collection.
A couple quick clarifications. What is the difference between board games and tabletop games? Tabletop is a broader definition that includes board games, but also includes many other types of games such as collectible card games, miniatures games, pen and paper RPGs, etc. I use them interchangeably but some folks don’t, so just be aware of this if you read other articles. Another thing you may see is folks referring to games as “designer” or “hobby” board games. What does that mean? It used to be a way to differentiate the games you would get at a big box store (think Target, Walmart, etc.) from those you would find at a specialty store (often referred to as a “FLG” or Friendly Local Game Store). With the surge of designer board game popularity though, many entry-level hobby board games (often called “gateway games”) can now be found at big-box stores, and some specialized retailers (especially Barnes & Noble) have a large offering of designer games.
So, what is the point of this article? I wanted you to know just a touch about my journey into the world of board games and to let you know there will be more articles about board games coming in the near future. I plan to do some reviews as well as “list” style articles covering my favorite games in different genres. If there are other topics you would like me to write about, be sure to let me know in the comments below or hit me up on Twitter.