Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Those who know me probably know that one of my nerdy passions is board games.
I can pinpoint the beginning of my passion for tabletop games to my freshman year of college. There my college adviser, who was also my history professor, had shelves of games such as The Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, Pandemic, Tsuro and Ticket to Ride. I always thought he was a cool guy, because he would try to incorporate the games in the classroom whenever possible. It was strange learning about the French Revolution through gathering resources in Catan, but memorable and impactful.
In Pennsylvania, I had a quasi-regular group of folks I played games with. Some had no experience beyond more popular games, such as Monopoly, Scrabble and Sorry. Others were overly competitive and spiteful, which made for rivalries in games such as Munchkin, where you can either choose to help or become a thorn in someone’s side.
Recently, I found the YouTube series Tabletop, featuring Wil Wheaton. Wheaton, for those of you who don’t know, claims his fame for being one of the most well-known characters in “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” In the show he played Wesley Crusher, and a very vocal minority of folks always ranted and raved about him. He later went on play himself in “The Big Bang Theory.”
Tabletop is a video series that goes in-depth with playthroughs of games. For someone like myself, who constantly likes to try new ones, it’s great to understand what you’re getting yourself into. There’s nothing that can ruin a good game night quicker than someone having to consult the instruction manual for 10 to 15 minutes to figure out if someone can move a certain way or not. Some games, such as A Game of Thrones: The Board Game, have so much stuff to keep up with and such unclear instructions to the point where most will just box them up and never allow them to see the light of day again.
Through Tabletop, I found my next purchase: A Betrayal at House on the Hill. The three-part playthrough on Tabletop was well put together and immediately sold me on the game. In Betrayal, you and up to five other friends explore a creepy old house, all the while expanding the board by opening new rooms. Along the way you find items, as well as omens. The omens require dice rolls, and could lead to a haunting being triggered.
This is where the game turns into a totally different experience, as one of the players is now out to take out everyone else. Traitor-based games are among my favorites, simply because of the strategy in play. Maybe it’s that reason I still enjoy watching “Survivor” after all of these years – the whole outwit element and everything.
One of the few things I missed about Philadelphia (other than cheesesteaks) is the presence of friendly local game stores (or FLGS). Here in the CSRA we seem to really lack a shop of this kind. I know it’s a niche and requires a clientele that is dedicated to supporting it, rather than checking things out and buying them all on Amazon. If anyone out there knows of a store or tabletop scene, feel free to shoot me an email. Anyone out there that also would love to learn more about this dorky hobby can also shoot me an email. Just promise not to flip the table.