In a previous post, I spoke about how games have changed since your grandparents were your age. I may be dating myself, here, but I remember growing up with Monopoly, Clue, and Battleship. These are still popular games today, and yet, people don’t turn to them as the first choice of entertainment? Why, I asked myself, would mainstream board games be the last resort for so many people? Why is it that they are the things people turn to when all other options are exhausted?
I believe it’s because these games had basically left sour tastes in everyone’s mouths since they were kids. Remember Monopoly? You get to pick a little token – it could have been the hat, the shoe, or my favorite, the dog. You get to roll two 6-sided die. You got colorful money and little deeds for property you bought. And after twice around maybe, it started to get ugly. People were landing on your property or you were landing on theirs. Wheeling and dealing happened. And you started building things to see who would go broke and who would be the last one standing. Sure, it’s just a game. But after seeing lots of emotional breakdowns (and having a few myself as a child – I suspected my old brother cheated), I’ve come to the conclusion that Monopoly is evil. I may be going on a limb, here. But it never fostered any good feelings unless you won. And after a while, because I didn’t have many choices (the die were telling me where to go), I felt helpless and not in control of my own fate.
I still feel that way sometimes, especially when I roleplay. I always suspect my die hate me and I’ve never found any set that really works for what I’m hoping to do. Sure, the die are just tools and inanimate objects that have no say, but if you’ve ever had a set of die that just continues to give you poor results (no matter what), you know what I mean. Back to Monopoly. You are in the hands of your die. For the most part, they make a lot of your decisions (where to go — and if you can get out of jail). I’d rather be the one responsible for my own fate, thank you. That’s how you learn to analyze situations and adapt.
I’ve come to learn that I like certain types of games more than others. There are some games that I’ve tried many times to play *cough Seven Wonders cough* that I just can’t seem to enjoy. But the beauty of living in this day and age is that you’re not stuck with just a handful of board games to choose from anymore. My husband owns over a hundred. (That’s a fairly modest collection of board games compared to other enthusiasts.) There are tons of games out there and you are likely to find one or two that you will always want to play.
Yesterday, my husband and I had some friends over and we played three games in total (for about 10 hours). The first one was Planes, a cute game, where you’re trying to navigate an airport and board your plane, following a flow of traffic, and competing with other players to see if you can score as many points before the end of the game. The end of game triggers when there are 12 passengers boarded onto any planes in total.
Then, we managed to get nearly max capacity for Between Two Castles of Mad King Ludwig (a hybrid of Between Two Cities and Castles of Mad King Ludwig). This is a semi-cooperative game, where you work with the person on either side of you to build your castle. You need to strategically place tiles around your throne room, noting the best ways to score points based on criteria on the tiles. The winning score, however, is the lowest of your two castles, so it’s always in your best interest to be as balanced as possible. This game also includes drafting, which makes it very interesting and the replay value is very high.
Finally, we broke out Dinosaur Island, again. We absolutely love this game.This is a huge game and we needed two tables for five people to play it. This game took most of the night to play because of the various stages of gameplay and also, the only way to end the game was to achieve 5/6 goal cards. The premise of this game is to build your own dinosaur theme park and gain excitement, which in turn gains you patrons and money. You have to be careful, however, because if your park has exciting attractions, and little security to compensate for threat level, then you may have visitors that get eaten by your attractions. Sound familiar?
I look forward to playing games these days, though I still can’t claim to love playing any game. I love the variety and replay value of these new games. It’s certainly different from having to worry that your brother will cheat. 🙂