Board Games

Posted: July 16, 2012 by Josh in Rants

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So, to begin, I used to be a fan of Monopoly. I don’t feel that this needs an explanation because everybody knows what Monopoly is because… Ahh… It’s Monopoly. It’s the classic board game that people decide to play when they are feeling bored and don’t want to watch TV or talk to other people.

I find this to be rather troubling because to the vast majority of people find the words ‘Monopoly’ and ‘board game’ analogous. I used to have this problem as a young child when my parents first introduced me to the game. This dissolved a little bit when I started to play Risk with other young friends and family members. We never actually played Risk properly because, as most people, it is distressingly boring. As in, hair-rippingly boring. So, we kind of made up some rules of our own. It made the game more interesting to us (as children) but probably broke most of the mechanics that were actually supposed to exist…

After this slight separation of the two terms had occured, my relationship with board games stagnated for many years. All throughout the majority of my adolescence, I was trying so hard to fit in that I didn’t really play any board games at all. Occasionally, with the family, we would play a game of Monopoly but I had begun to hate the game by this point – what a wise teenager I was becoming. The funny thing about this is that throughout all of my forced playthroughs of Monopoly games, I was seeing how the game really didn’t have much of a skill element. Yeah, it was there in the building management but that was it. There’s really only one important mechanic in that game and that is the managemnt of the properties. The rest is determined by a dice roll and some witty banter. This is fine for the vast majority of people who like simple games that they can get their heads around without having to worry about to many rules before they start playing. Hence it’s massive commercial success.

About a year ago, I begun following people on the interwebs who played a lot of board games (Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Brooke ‘Dodger’ Leigh Lawson, Rym & Scott of GeekNights & FrontRowCrew – amongst others) and my interest began to wax once more. I discovered the brilliance of certain board games like Ticket to Ride and Tsuro, even if the latter cannot be obtained in my country of residence for a respectable sum of money. Due to this, I recently purchased Ticket to Ride which has been one of the best purchases that I have made in the last couple of years. It has been played so many times by my family that it has replaced Monopoly as our go-to game. This makes me nothing but happy.

It did, however, take me a couple of minutes to explain the rules to them, which reinforces my point about the simplicity of Monopoly being one of the major factors for it’s continued commercial success. My family was bored with my explanation of the rules almost instantly so I decided to explain a little bit of the rules and then play, telling them what they can and can’t do as we went along. This worked very well because then they got to experience what the game was and how to play it as they were actually playing it.

As we have the European version – living in Europe and such – we chose not to play the ferry rule. If you have played European TTR then you know what this is. It’s not difficult but they decided that thy didn’t want to use it so we didn’t. It’s not all that different, it just adds an element of chance to the game. I play with it in other games but it can be played without it, unlike our Risk rules…

And also, there’s a TTR pc game now. I’m pretty sure that I saw it come out on XBLA quite a while ago but when I saw TTR on the front page of Steam, I threw my money at the screen. As it happens, that did nothing but mess up my wallet but after I had eventually purchased the game, I played it FOR AGES. I have now played so many games of TTR that it’s not even funny. I’ve played against the computer and I have played against real people in the multiplayer as well. I have also played both the original (US) and the Eurpoean boards. There’s also a 1910 board, a Nordic board and a bunch of others but I haven’t played those. I like both boards for different reasons but I only have the EU board at the moment. I did recently see the US board in a local independant bookshop so that will be a purchase that I will make fairly soon so that I can introduce the family to it.

In the same bookshop, I also noticed that they have Munchkin and a couple of expansions for it so I will also be buying those fairly soon. But, I count that as more of a TableTop RPG so I will discuss that one in a later post.

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