Friday, 22 June 2012

Lesbians On: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Board Games

There is an argument that board games are behind the timez. We live in a psychotic electronic world where I can shop, bank, eat vegemite sandwiches, and throw wet sponges at my boss all online. What more could I want in my cybertransative* and post-modern** existence? Yes, I admit, there are times when one is playing Mage Knight, and one is like, ok, now all I need to do is - deep breath - refreshthespellofferrefreshtheunitofferrefreshtheadvancedactionofferreshufflemydeckflipthedaynighththingrerollthesourcedierefreshmycharacterabilities WHY IS THIS NOT ON A COMPUTER? Oh ye of little faith… Don’t get me wrong, video games can be a sack full of awesome, but for those of us who have the board game bug, or rather TERMINAL and CHRONIC board game insanity, there’s got to be some things that keep our games on the table top instead of the desktop. Here are my two main reasons board gaming = hellz yeah.
*means nothing
** probably also means nothing

1. You can touch them
Who likes that moment when they open a new game and see all the shiny shiny flashy components super-neatly arranged in the shiny shiny box? The OCD Girlfriend becomes very affected by these moments and is prone to yelling such things as “AVERT YOUR EYES IT IS TOO GLORIOUS” etc. etc. It is as if a beam of geeky light radiates from these untouched pieces that will only ever be handled by you, and those you have deemed worthy of initiation into the art of boardgamery (they must pass a series of grueling tests, including reading the entire rulebook of Advanced Squad Leader, and play through an entire game of Paths of Glory and/or a 7-player game of Diplomacy). Even those who are not organisataphiles*** can appreciate the physical nature of board games, because it just allows things that aren’t possible on the computer. For example, painting or making figurines/scenery. I have never tried to paint my computer screen, but I don’t think it would end well.
 *** This means something because I made it up and gave it a meaning.

The antiques at the GF's house are labelled;
not sure if house or museum...
Even game boards and maps – I had to move four priceless antiques and a pot of flowers off a table to play Twilight Struggle and although this could have ended in ten years hard labour and being fed only cardboard, IT WAS WORTH IT. Maps and map building present possibilities that are tamed and condensed on the computer screen.
Because you can touch them, you can also take board games around with you. Ok, it is questionable to port them certain times and certain places, and yes, trying to play Stone Age while waiting for New Year’s fireworks in the city will probably end with someone drunkenly ingesting your tokens. But board games can be ported to a lot of places. When I was a kid, we used to sneak out of the house at night and play Monopoly by flashlight in the nearby park. Now I’m twenty, the Girlfriend and I are too old and wise to do that kind of thing – play Monopoly I mean (it’s such a bad game!). Take Race for the Galaxy on a ten day hiking trip through the desert? It’s been done. And seriously, nothing beats this:

I want to host a dinner party for these guys.

Also, there is just something MOAR satisfying about playing that killer eight-card-three die-four-token combo and shouting “BOW DOWN BEFORE ME MORTALS” and then throwing all the other tokens randomly around the room in celebration than going *clickclick*…… *silence*…..
And the last advantage of board game tangibility is EARTHQUAKE. I mean come on, no one wants to lose at Scrabble.

2. Other People
This is the bit where I say nice things about the beautiful people boardgamers can be and how they enrich our lives. NOT. YES, there are awesome people who will provide you with warmth and companionship and maybe even snacks, BUT at our twisted and depraved playing core, we do not want your happy happy vibes of friendship at this moment, nor do we even want your delicious nachos with extra cheese, what we want is an OPPONENT. Someone against whom we can pit the full force of our brains, our skillz, our expertise, our Irish Luck, the whole kebab. And who, no holds barred, will fling their full brilliant selves at us. An opponent who does not make things “harder” for us by setting difficulty higher and increasing enemy strength or number or taking away a “life” whatever that is. 

They make things harder by adapting, changing, seeing our strategy, finding our weakness, the chinks in our tactical armour, and shooting a bazooka right through them.

And unlike multiplayer video games, board games actually give you time to think (as irritating as this can be). It’s this battle of wits that for me will always be the ultimate thrill of board games (I feel no need to match my wits against A.I. – it’s like wrestling a wall – it ain’t going to come down boy.).
Man, with all these good things, I wonder why I can never talk my non-boardgaming friends into playing Mage Knight with me….


  1. I find in person LANs can be just as fun as board games in terms of companionship and snacks. Board games however don't require lots of computers or controllers and are much more reliable than some digital games in terms of setting up servers etc. You can also make house rules easily if there is something you want to change/try.

  2. Also, there's just something fulfilling about looking your opponent in the eye and proclaiming, "I have more VICTORY POINTS than you! I win!!!"****

    ****your use of footnotes is quite amusing