Why I agree that we are in the golden age of boardgaming

battlestar-galatica-boardgame

In this day and age it is hard to ignore a great phenomenon that is sweeping across the land and that has evolved from a lonely hobby to a widespread craze, yes my friends, I am talking about board games!! Now, I have considered myself a gamer in all rights because I love to play videogames but, when I think about it I really wasn’t. You see, in my world the only games that existed were videogames; granted I enjoy to throw down a game of monopoly with my friends time to time but that was it, to me, board games were only monopoly, clue, life and dragon and dungeons but what I didn’t know that there was a whole other world out there with board games for me to discover.  Everything started approximately six months ago and it was as follows:

Mr. C: Do you like to game?

Me: What do you mean? Like what type of videogames?

Mr C: No, I mean board games.

Me:  (Chuckles) Oh yeah!! I like to play monopoly and those games.

Mr. C: No, no those types of board games. Haven’t you heard about Dominion, Agricola, Puerto Rico, Is a Small world…. (And he kept naming games)

monopoly

 What he showed me that day was some of the most amazing games that I had ever seen and played.   It opened my eyes to a new world that I never knew existed. That night I went online and started to look up what I could about these games that I was newly introduced to.  What I found blew me away.  I found tons of blogs and websites with reviews and tons of info about all these different games.

One of my favorite blogs that have a phenomenal game reviews is Shut up and Sit down. This blog is written by a group of British guys. A few days ago, one of them wrote an article about how in these days we are living “the golden age of board games” and it was a great read by all means.  In this article he goes on to talk about how many games have come out a few years back compared to the number of ones that were coming out now.  When you actually look at the numbers it’s astonishing.  The actual number of games that have come out has nearly tripled.  Now you may ask why would that be and I looked into that same question.  In the past two years, the number of people that have actually bought and played board games have increased at about the same rate at which the number of games have come out.  It’s simple math if demand goes up for a product companies are going to jump on the bandwagon to get some of that money.

zombicide

There are some great games that have amazing themes to them and they are extremely fun to play. For example, zombicide and super dungeon explore are some that come to mind. To be honest, I thought that North America was where all the big games were coming from but boy how wrong I was!  As it turns out the biggest place where games come out is actually from Germany.  Every year all the major board game companies debut their games at Essen, the largest board gaming convention on the planet.  And yes before you ask that is on my bucket list to go see before I die hehe.

Now when talking about games you have two groups to talk about, euro games and what they call ameritrash.  Euro games are games that will implement some of the best mechanics known to board gaming with very little theme to the actual game.  When playing a euro game you will sit there and look at the game and say wow this game really has no story or theme to it but wow what a great game.  Now when it comes to what they call ameritrash games these are games that have an amazing theme but can definitely use some mechanics to help it along.  When you play one of these games you will love the story or the theme but will with the game played a little bit better.  Now to give you guys some examples of eurogames would b e games like the castles of burgundy.  Castles puts you in the role of a duke that has a bit of land and has to build his land through tiles that you pick up dependant on two dice that you roll.  It is an amazing game based on the mechanics but when you see the actual game and theme you think this can’t possibly be fun.

super dungeon explore

Now when it comes to American based games you have to think about games like starcraft the board game.  Yes, there is a board game based on the starcraft video game.  The game itself looks amazing, has some of the best components however, the actual game play of it is a bit dry when compared to the euro games.

Now to get back on track as to why I agree that this is the golden age of board gaming.  We are in a time when more and more people are actually spending money on board games, and in turn companies are making more and better games.  When you look at it this way, you can go out and spend 60 bucks on a night out with some friend and only get a few hours of entertainment out of it.  You also can spend that same 60 bucks and get yourself a great board game and invite your friends over and have hundreds of hours of great times with them.  Let me tell you, I am not the only one that has looked at this and thought man I would rather get together with my friends and sit and have a great time where we can always think back and say man we had such a great time that night.  Because of this very reason companies that would never have a chance to make a game can throw it up on kickstarter and get their game printed.

I, for one, am a videogamer that has slowly but surely been transformed more and more into a boardgamer and I am proud to be one.  I hope that one day you can give them a chance to try some out.  One piece of advice I can give fellow gamers is that if you are not sure if you would like board gaming or not, I would find a local game shop and check to see if they have gaming nights and swing by and give them a shot.  Although, I have to warn you as once you get bitten by the bug you might never go back.

Mutant Chronicles Monopoly

mutant chronicles

Quite straightforward this one, I believe. Save the picture (taken from this excellent site), print it, spend a few hours preparing thematically appropriate game-cards, use your Warzone minis, 2d6 and enjoy a game of Mutant Chronicles Monopoly.

Puttanopoly

puttanopoly-

Monopoly. Definitely not a good thing, thoroughly described by Lenin, detested by most, but also one of the landmark board games of the 20th (and apparently 21st) century. And with more than 100 different versions too. Problem is, Monopoly doesn’t have the history we all believed it had… Head over at SnakeOil labs, read everything about Anti-Monopoly, the true story of the game and the obscure Landlord’s Game , thus preparing thyselves for something completely different. The actual point of this humble little post.

Puttanopoly:

puttanopoly

An Italian adaptation of Monopoly, that does to board games, exactly what Pimp: The Backhanding (by none other than the prestigious White Wolf of Vampire fame) did to card games. Unfortunately, it’s only in Italian. Still, the idea is internationally understood. Be a hooker, avoid evil pimps, get to the rich customers, avoid Jack-the-Ripper wannabes and cops and (that’s the Monopoly bit) protect and expand your turf.

If you must know, Puttanopoly derives from the word puttana, a mostly Italian -partly Greek- word that could not mean anything else but whore…

Great stuff. Let’s wait for a translation, right?


Class Struggle

 class struggle - avalon hill

Yes, this is Karl Marx. Yes, yes, he is indeed armwrestling a Rockefeller and both were the stars of an Avalon Hill board game’s box-art. Not any board game’s of course, but a game’s created by New York University professor Bertell Ollman as a socialist alternative to Monopoly. Obviously in the 70s when such ideas were actually allowed (!). This infamous and nowadays obscure board game was (and still is) called Class Struggle.

(Oh, and since it was released in the 70s and then again in the 80s don’t expect the glossy/ultra-polished feeling of contemporary board games.)

Class Struggle manages to combine marxist theory, excellent humor and sheer fun. Each player is randomly (as in real life) assigned as a class and races towards the center of the board (in a spiraling way) in order to win the final confrontation of the classes. Should the workers or their allies win, it’s socialism. Should the capitalists or their allies win, it’s not. The rules are simple, logical and you can check them out here, on Bertell Ollman’s NYU page.

The one most interesting and enjoyable aspect of Class Struggle is the way in which real life is put inside the game mechanics. Here’s is an example of a worker’s Monopoly-styled chance card: ‘If you haven’t washed the dishes or made supper in the last week, move two spaces back’ (which is in game terms a bad thing). On the equivalent capitalist’s chance card you get told to move two spaces ahead (a good thing). Simple as that. Educating too.

That’s an (eight) out of (ten).

Why I Prefer Video Games Over Board, Card, and Pen & Paper Games

Why I Prefer Video Games Over Board, Card, and Pen & Paper Games

I grew up playing a ton of board games, card games, and pen-and-paper RPG games but for many years now I’ve been sick of playing them and have favored video games ever since multiplayer and playing online against other people became abundant.

Battletech Box
Battletech Box

Well, even before then back in the days of hotseat (hotseat is multiple players playing on the same system at the same physical location), especially on my Commodore 64 and Amiga, as well as my friends’ NES, Sega Genesis, and SNES consoles, I would rather play a good balanced video game than deal with the arguments and drama that playing traditional games came with.

Now I love board games, card games, and RPGs but the problem I found throughout the years is that most people you play with will cheat at every opportunity or they don’t really know the rules of the game or they create their own house rules that sometimes make the game have nothing to do with the original game.

I grew up playing Monopoly, Sorry, Talisman, Battletech, Hero Quest, Munchkin, Guillotine, Chez Geek, Magic the Gathering, Jihad (the Vampire the Masquerade card game), Dungeons and Dragons (every version; AD&D every version as well), Shadowrun, Mechwarrior, and Vampire: The Masquerade. I’ve played more but those are the ones that easily pop into my head right now. I remember playing Battletech at a game store called Gamesters here in Miami with my friend Tom Birmingham and it was us two against two other players. The other players would do shit like waste time then make their guys move twice and fire twice. Even with their cheating, we decimated them.

Munchkin Card Game
Munchkin Card Game

For card games, especially Munchkin, there would be so many arguments that one time my friends stayed up all night playing the game and they decided to wake me up at 5 AM asking me to make a rule judgement. The conversation went something like this:

Friend 1: “Yeah we wanted to know how to interpret the Loaded Die card…”
Me: “You have got to be fucking kidding me. You know I’m going to kick you guys each in the balls the next time I see you.”
Friend 2: “I told you not to wake him up because of the game.”
Friend 1: “Shh… Anyways, we want to know if you can counter a Loaded Die card with another Loaded Die card.”
Me: “Yes, now please fuck off and never call me again not even if there’s an emergency. And yes, I will cock/cunt kick you all next time I see you. Good night.”

Vampire The Masquerade book
Vampire The Masquerade book

For pen and paper RPGs people would cheat on their die rolls just so their character would always do well. What’s the point of doing something if there is no penalty? How about playing a game where your character can actually die? What would be the point of real life if no bad things happened? Another problem that I found is that almost nobody knew how to actually role-play anything other than being a combat monster useless fucking character that killed everything that the Dungeon Master (DM) or Game Master (GM) had spent hours designing. I always think of the D&D sketch by the Dead Ale Wives when I think of RPGs. For that I’d rather go play Diablo, at least that’s the point of that game!

Anyways, I grew tired of people ruining games for me so even as a kiddo I knew that unless the controller was broken in hotseat or somebody was using a bot online, video games would solve all that shit by preventing arguments from happening. Whereas on a traditional game you have to enterpret the rules and logic, in a video game everything is happening much faster (no need for die rolls other than internally within the program) and everything is more fluid. Whereas before playing something like Battletech, a battle would take 4 hours of real life time, that would translate into a 5-10 minute match in an RTS game.

Spy vs Spy on the c64
Spy vs Spy on the c64

The logic is simple and it’s even more obvious to me these days as I grow older than video games will continue to propagate even more and those old games will just continue to die. Now yes, I do agree that they should continue to exist. What are you going to do when a natural disaster happens and there’s no power? They’re great for that. Sometimes they’re great for parties so that at least you can play something with a non-gamer.

Auto Assault Box
Auto Assault Box

Now I’m not encouraging people to play an MMO unless it’s something like Auto Assault or Mechwarrior (two dead games) or PlanetSide (still around but almost nobody plays it) where skill and strategy mean something but more something along the lines as playing Starcraft or any favorite FPS game or anything else for that matter, so long as it’s not a gear based shitty game.. Just be careful with the online cheaters that will employ bots to win like a little bitch!

Another problem that traditional games have versus computer games, especially pen and paper RPGs is that they would take up so much time that it essentially became a ritual that you would have to dedicate time for each week. Think of it as the dedication a WoWhead gives their guild for raiding and other stuff in that game, except instead of clicking on World of Warcraft from any computer to connect you have to go to their house, buy food and drinks, and then drive home (usually really late that night or the next morning). It was even worse as a kid because of parents imposing curfews but I guess that doesn’t matter these days since parenting has gone to shit. =P With online gaming these days, you literally can play any game 24 hours a day and find people willing to play with you. You can’t beat that (although that does create problems like gaming addicts and more but that’s another topic for discussion)

Ur Quan Masters Battle
Ur Quan Masters Battle

I’d rather play a video game against a friend where it’s much harder to cheat than play a traditional game that could potentially ruin a friendship. I’ve seen some of my friends get into a permanent feud both over traditional games as well as video games but not as much for video games. Anyways, I’ll take something like a hotseat game of Star Control 2 (The Ur-Quan Masters) over a shitty game of Monopoly! However, just because I love video games that doesn’t mean that I won’t join you for a quick board game or card game or RPG session either!