After several reviews on Facebook, I thought it would be fun to write about my favorite hobby- Board Gaming. You may have seen some games on your last trip to Target or Barnes & Noble that didn't seem like the games you grew up with. Sure the old standards like Monopoly and Risk are still out there, but right now you can find way more games than you could ever play in a year on the shelves of a hobby store. And take heed, these ain't your grandmama's games! Up front you should know a little bit about them (and the people who play them) before you agree to play something you've never heard of before.
First off, know that the game you are sitting down to could cost anything from $40 to $100. The average price is about $55-$60 for a board game. Often times, owners will upgrade their games driving up their monetary and emotional value. Cards may have plastic "sleeves" to protect them, pieces may have been upgraded with custom painting or even swapped out all together for better pieces, there may be ultra rare promotional bits that weren't distributed widely. Even the box condition is important to hobbyists, so be careful when examining the box or helping to clean things up. And it always shows good manners to ask the owner of the game about what to do with any snacks or drinks you may have (where to put them- use a coaster if they are anywhere close to the game, make sure you aren't eating cheetos or doritos etc). How gamers react to others handling their games is a pretty wide spectrum. You could see every reaction from not caring one iota about the game or its bits, to those who would seemingly have you where a containment suit while playing their precious board game.
Secondly, find out how long a "learning game" will take. Many of these games have a play time that is well over an hour. Most hobbyists don't even bat an eyelash at the thought of sitting down to a game that will last TWO hours. A "learning game" will usually tack on a 50% longer playing time than one where everyone is pretty familiar with the game "mechanics." Leaving before a game ends is not be considered sinful by most, but it is generally regarded as poor form. Though this is easily forgiven when playing only one other person, consider the time and keep this in mind before sitting down with a group of people.
Thirdly, there are all sorts of games types. If the first game you try out doesn't seem to peak your interest, try something else! There are dice rolling games, deck building games, place workers for resources games, competitive games, cooperative games, short games, long games, games whose theme is rich and encompassing, games whose theme isn't all that strong but the game is still fun, light easy games, party games, heavy games (deep and complex), the list goes on and on. Don't be discouraged by the first time or two where people are talking about things that seem alien to you. They may use terminology that sounds foreign (and may even be a foreign language). You may even notice that somethings come simple to many veteran gamers who sit down to a game for the first time. Like anything else, these things will seem easy to you too, in time (many games have "mechanics" that are similar to other games on the market and experience helps those veteran players flatten the learning curve of a new game).
Lastly (for now), many gamers are always on the look out for other gamers. If you don't have a store that caters directly to the board gaming community (try a Google or Yelp search, you may be surprised), try asking at your local comic shops. Many host specific nights when we all come out and meet new folks and try new/old games that we own. That's the one thing I love about this hobby. The meeting of new people and the willingness to share what we have with one another. It's also a great way to meet people who wouldn't normally be involved in your established social circles.
So don't be too afraid to talk with new folks, strike up a conversation, ask questions, request to play this or that (whatever looks interesting), and build genuine relationships along the way.
Jason's Board Game Reviews, Suggestions, Tips, and Stuff.
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