Boardtalk Empire! Your brand new weekly board game blog!Welcome to Boardtalk Empire, the brand new regular column in which I review board games! First up, a mission statement of sorts. Yesterday, I announced on twitter and Facebook that I needed a board game pun-based name for this series, and choosing wasn't easy. Actually, it was agonising. Turns out people are quite good with puns. Observe some of those that it broke my heart to not adopt:
Natalie Collard: Of Dice and Men.
Jessica Scully: Monopauly!
Daniel Nicholls and @commisarjoe, almost simultaneously: Board to Death.
Bec Hill: Die Hard.
Daniel Nicholls again: Boarderlands.
In the end, though, @SarahCoates pitched Boardtalk Empire, which beat out Of Dice and Men by a hair, as it doesn't leave out women in the title. CURSE MY TALENTED FRIENDS.
So, yes. In case you're wondering, people still play board games. Board games have, however, undergone an epic renaissance whilst you've been off avoiding things like fun and miniatures and dice; board games are an immense, somewhat boutique industry. Sure, you can hit up Steam during a sale and download a game you've always wanted. Board games, however, are incredibly tactile little boxes of art. You lose a piece, you're screwed. And you can't play alone, unlike video games, so they become these intensely social events, like free pie day.
I mean, I've never witnessed a 'free pie day', because typically nobody is stupid enough to give away free pie. But everyone would come to get the pie. And everyone would stay to talk about how great pie is. And then people would fight over the pie, and the winner of that fight would get all the pie. Maybe people would form alliances to secure themselves more pie, then backstab their ally at the last minute. The whole thing would take on a kind of operatic complexity, and in the end, everyone would go home feeling a bit sick from all the pie, but a few days later, they'd be all, like, I want more pie!
It's a metaphor. I'm trying to say that board games are just like that: initial appeal, group insanity, alienation, camaraderie, nausea, then craving. And, if you play with the right people, actual pie.
Video games aren't parties where everyone gets pie, they're the pie you buy when you know you've got a night alone. You head out, grab the pie, bring it back home with the intention of eating just one slice, then you take your pants off, kick your feet up, and debase yourself by inhaling the whole thing. There's nobody there to judge you, but there's nobody there to bounce off, either. Which is a shame, because all that pie has made you quite bouncy.
Whilst games like Warhammer 40k, Dungeons and Dragons and Magic the Gathering may have moved past an actual physical board, eschewing their constraints in favour of tabletops and the realm conjured by the spoken word, they still qualify. I'll be tackling each one of them here, once a week. I'll also be talking about games that are out of print, games with no actual rules, and games that haven't even been released yet. I'll also occasionally chat with developers, review gamebooks (Fighting Fantasy, anyone?) and shoot video content for you during play sessions.
In essence, this is going to be a concentrated weekly hit of board games, card games, tabletop games and other games. Hell, they're all different decks on the same ship. Here's where you come in, though: I want to know what games you want me to deconstruct and review, and I'll do my darndest to get elbow-deep in that beastie, so feel free to tweet at me (@paulverhoeven), or leave a comment below. Next week, I shall be reviewing my new favourite game, Descent. Descent is like a supercharged HeroQuest, a game I shall also be reviewing in the coming weeks.
Before I wrap up this mission statement for Boardtalk Empire, I'd like to say this: I've had more co-op fun playing board games like Descent, Space Alert, Game of Thrones, Android Netrunner, El Grande, Space Hulk and Magic: The Gathering with friends in a year than I have with co-op video games in five. Board games are freaking incredible; they're intricate, fiddly, and they're conducive to a lot of yelling. They force you into a room, and they bring to the table people who are, generally, willing to be there, which means you're always in good company. Sure, you'll occasionally have to drive a friend to the hospital on account of the twelve sided die you rammed up their special parts because they couldn't get the rules straight, even after a six hour prep session. But stitches are a small price to pay for greatness.
See you next week for the first review on Boardtalk Empire - Descent: Journeys in the Dark, 2nd Edition!