Growing up, you would have experienced at least one game of Monopoly that ended in cheating, a few broken friendships and no one actually winning the property magnate crown. There was also your standard games of Cluedo and Battleship, but we were lucky enough to play the official Pokemon and Jumanji board games (no hordes of animals were released during our play sessions). We had no idea how to actually play that Pokemon game, we would just make it up on the fly which, unsurprisingly, meant a few arguments over what the rules were and for some completely unknown reason the discussion would get quite heated the closer someone was to winning.
While our hype for board games died down over our high school years, it was once again ignited when a friend introduced us to the hugely popular tabletop Settlers of Catan (now simply called Catan). Friendships could be damaged beyond repair depending on where you placed the thief, but you soon learn that in Catan nobody wants your bloody sheep and if you want to avoid a mutiny, do not block anyone’s clay. The game still remains a popular choice when my band of geeks assemble, although I still get utterly frustrated at the frequency of supposedly commonly rolled numbers – snake eyes were rolled more often than a six? Thanks a lot statistics, I blame you for my lack of resources.
After our initial foray into board games, the doors were thrown wide open to the sheer quantity of games available that were also very different to the typical dice-roll-and-move games of our youth. There were games with cooperative play, ones that solely relied on lying, card games that were more diverse than a standard 52-pack and plenty of options for both amateur and experienced tabletop players to enjoy. As our board game repertoire expanded, our wallets slimmed down and we were all the happier for it; we spent more time finding a free night dedicated to those pieces of cardboard then actually going out into the real world…you know, doing whatever the young people are supposed to do.
Once you’ve starting adventuring into the tabletop world, some games have grown to become house favourites while individuals in my usual sessions have denounced them after feeling personally attacked by the chance element of the game (for example me and my broken dice rolling in Catan). I have a friend who refuses to play Avalon because there is too much lying while many friendship’s have been strained when someone has blocked other player’s train route in Ticket to Ride. That’s why one of my personal favourites is Splendor where other players can mess around with you, but as long as you pay attention you can plan around any sabotage. Although it was still a rough day when my 10 time winning streak was destroyed by a first-timer and I’ve been unable to replicate it ever since.
I was lucky enough to be dragged into board games through my friends so I didn’t have to test out games at local stores or search far for potential players – although, if it weren’t for those friends who were already playing, I may have never got into tabletop gaming in the first place. For those who are looking to join the madness, introducing an easier party game to your friends may be your best option if you don’t want to go through the hassle of meeting new people, otherwise have a quick search online for some local tabletop communities that meet up frequently. I’ve found Codenames to be a optimal choice for parties where it’s a hit for non-gamers and tabletop connoisseurs alike (well, in my social circle at least); it might also be the stepping stone your friends need to get into some of the more strategic type games. Although Codenames technically has a four player maximum according to its instructions, it actually works quite smoothly as a team game as well. So what are you waiting for? Go forth and conquer!