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Boardgaming – The Slippery Slope Of Starting Out In The Hobby


It starts off so innocuously. Maybe you meet your friend in a local pub, or you pop over to their house. You’re expecting a night of idle chit-chat, of catching up, maybe a drink or two.

But you see something furtive in their eyes. And that bag they’ve brought with them seems a little too big for a 20 minute bus ride to the pub. And, is it just me, or do they keep lustily glancing down at that rucksack of theirs?

The first time the conversation finds a natural ebb, there’s an innocent question asked - “do you fancy playing a game?”

You shudder. Christmas memories of Monopoly come flooding back. You remember those youthful tears that one time - playing Snakes & Ladders - where you’d oh so nearly won it, only to land on a big slithery beast right at the end and slip all the way back to the start. It. Was. So. Unfair.

“A game?” You ask, “what do you mean a game?”

“Well,” your friend says, “I’ve got into boardgaming recently, I’ve got the latest Euro dek builder with me. I think you’d love it. Let’s try.”

You’ve got to say yes, haven’t you? Otherwise it’s just all a bit awkward. “Ok, I’ll give it a try.”

Your Journey Has Begun

You’ve hit that fight or flight moment.

Either you’re going to have one tortuous evening of not understanding the stupid complicated rules, not knowing what on earth you’re meant to be doing and tearing your hair out as your friend says, “well, actually, I think you’ll find that’s an illegal move you’ve done there”. Your most spoken phrase will be, “so how does this game end then?” If only you could work out a strategy to make it happen..

Or (and this is the best way, trust me), you’re transported. The evening passes at pace as you navigate a brave new world of deck-building, dice drafting, strategy forming and meeple moving. Maybe you’re searching for treasure, creating a menagerie, guiding a civilisation or foiling a murder. Whatever it is, you are in it, and you want more of it.

You’ve made your first step into becoming a boardgaming hobbyist. It has begun.

So, now what?

You’re Going To Need More Games

Your first step is probably to buy your own copy of the magical first game (mine is Takenoko, FYI). (We might just know a place you could buy that first game from, by the way…)

Then you need to find some new victims punters to play with. Maybe you’ve a partner, or kids, or housemates who’ll play with you. Or maybe you’re now making that step to being that person lugging a too-large bag to the pub?

And of course, that magical first friend. Your patient zero - the one who got you into this - you need to see them again. And soon. You need them to bring more games. And more! And more…

Now you’re trapped.

You’re Going Deeper

Lucky (or not) for you, boardgaming is very much a world for obsessives, for the interested and (for most the part) for the open minded and inclusive. You’ve had a taste, you’ve identified a few spaces on your Kallax shelves. It’s time to go big.

You might start doing some research. You’re probably going to want to sign up for an account on BoardGameGeek, maybe you wonder if there are any good boardgaming blogs out there (hint: there are), or maybe YouTube channels (yep!), podcasts (yep!).

Now you’re building a mental (or more likely online) list of games you want to try, games you want to buy. You start hearing about legends of the hobby. Your Reiner Knizias, your Uwe Roslers. You find yourself getting curious about Twilight Imperium, and very keen on the idea of Gloomhaven.

There are boardgame groups out there - you discover to your delight. Rooms full of people, all there with one thing on their mind - gaming. And they’re welcoming of newcomers - there’s always someone willing to teach, and (if you’re lucky) someone to patiently explain that rule you keep forgetting time and time again.

You Learn The Lingo

Someone asks you about your favourite dice drafting game. You respond with a blank face. “Dice drafting, what’s that?” They tell you about the latest big Kickstarter dice drafter, and you find you need to learn about the world of boardgaming Kickstarters.

And the lingo stacks up - tug of war, Eurogamer, party game, war game. A big box version?!

Some of them are obvious and you can blag your way through, others less so. And sometimes you’re several years in and still not really sure what classifies a Euro as a Euro. Are we talking geography? Game play? Or some sweet spot of the two?

You’re Going To Need A Bigger Kallax

And now, you’re a proper games hobbyist. You’re building your collection, and considering its balance.

Do you have enough party games? What about a game big enough for 20 people to play at once? How many of your games are all about strategy, versus ones heavily weighted on luck - and is three social deduction games enough, or do you need more?! How many Uwe Rosler games are too many? Legacy games sounds interesting, but are they for you?

You find you have opinions on this stuff now (although how much is really yours, and how much comes from the media you’ve been digesting). A friend starts talking you through their latest game and the mechanisms and strategies start to ring a bell. “Oh, that’s like that zoo building we played last week, but crossed with the dungeon crawler we played last month!” you cry. And at the moment, you realise you’ve done it. You are now a fully fledged gamer.