For the last 30 or so years I’ve stayed away from board games. Don’t get the wrong idea, I like to play ’em, but I’ve generally stayed away from buying them. I always admired my friends, mostly named Dave, that had big collections of board games and were heavily into game design. But I felt I needed to make a choice–board games or miniature games. There’s a reason for the choice. The first is cost. If I was going to sink a lot of money into miniatures and all the paraphernalia that went with them, I’d have less money for board games. The other big problem is storage. Miniatures, books, records and assorted memorabilia really sucks up all the room I have for keeping stuff. Board games compete for that space too, and, I confess, I’m pretty much all full up.
Nevertheless, I’ve played lots of wonderful games over the years, other peoples’ games mostly. But in the last 18 months or so, I’ve taken more of an interest. I’ve been sparked by our trips to Cafe Mox, and for whatever reason, I’ve just been intrigued with the topics of many historical board games. I’ve probably bought or gotten as gifts one game a year over the past five or so years, But this summer II got some birthday cash, used some of my camp stipend and added a bit besides to pick up several board games the past two months. To be truthful, I’ve played exactly none of them, but I have some plans to tackle them.
The first game I got was from a copy of the magazine Against the Odds # 34. Right Fierce and Terrible is the name of the game and it is on the Battle of Sluys. For those who know me, you realize I have a deep interest in battles of the Hundred Years War. Sluys is a 1340 naval battle that greatly resembles a land battle of the era. It’s important because I also ran a miniatures game of the battle three years ago, and I wanted to see how the board game matched up with my game. So far I’ve read the article about the battle, but haven’t punched out the game or read the rules.
The second game I got was a birthday gift from a friend. It is Prairie Aflame about the Riel Rebellion in Canada. My friend and I have both been intrigued with this topic for years. We both seem to have an abiding interest in hopeless rebellions, such as this campaign and the Spanish Civil War. In any case, I haven’t had a chance to take a look at it all, and I feel greatly remiss. I think tomorrow, Labor day is the perfect time to look inside and get an idea of what it will take to play it.
One game I have that I’ve played a lot and really like is GMT’s Twilight Struggle about the Cold War. It is a CDG or card driven game. I’ve actually played several games that use this mechanism, including We the People, on the American Revolution, and Making of the President 1960 by Zman Games. I love the mechanics. Twilight Struggle and Making of President actually helped me learn a bit more about the period as well, so I found this kind of game to be fun and interesting . I was at Game Matrix one day and saw 1989: Dawn of Freedom, a political game about the fall of Communism in Eastern Europe. It uses the CDG system from Twilight Struggle, and is on a topic that really interests me. I’ve looked through some of the rules, but haven’t punched it out yet.
The last game that I got was GMT’s Labyrinth: The War on Terror. This is another CDG game, an award winner from 2010 that is again derived from Twilight Struggle. I read some reviews of the game and checked the ratings on Board Game Geek. A real advantage of this game is that in addition to head to head gaming it is possible to play a solitaire game, though it is a tough game for the U.S. to win.
While I won’t let board games take over my life, they are a nice distraction. However, I will note my number of days painting for school year 2012-13 was down. While I still paint most nights (I’d guess 250 or so days per year) that’s still less fewer days than the past. Most other nights I read quietly until bed time or spent too much time being unproductive on the computer. This is one more evening activity I can take on instead of wasting untold hours Googling cures for male pattern baldness or Donald Trump’s birth certificate. With our little home renovation, I now have a space big enough to play them. I’m considering devoting one evening a week to working through a game at my dining room table, or getting together with someone to play a bit.