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Zatu Selection: Our first board games

Everyone in this hobby started somewhere. Whether it was playing Othello with your Nan or your first play of a classic like Monopoly, somewhere along the line we all got our first taste of board gaming magic (Some games being far more magical than others).

Perhaps it was this first venture that drew you into the hobby but I think I can safely say in most cases it probably wasn't, as its unlikely that you started with a 'real' game.... Only joking you crazy Monopoly fans!!

Now with many a game under our belts, the Zatu content team takes a stroll down memory lane as we look at our first board games.

Niamh - Cluedo

I may or may not have fed the lead piping to the cat, that’s a mystery that will never be solved, however, we did lose almost all the murder weapons. The lead piping in question was replaced with a sachet of sugar, the revolver with a 2p coin, and the dagger with a plastic spork from a Tesco’s pasta salad.

It made for some hilarious deaths. Colonel Mustard in the Library with the spork anyone? (No cats were harmed in the playing of this game).

Lee Lowe - Thunderroad

One day my uncle walked in with a present for me when I was young and called me "Feral Kid!" Thanks I thought, not really understanding what he meant. Sitting down with this thin long box I began tearing at the paper, the connection was made, Thunderroad!

Thunderroad was a classic from MB which allowed you to play that awesome highway battle scene from Mad Max 2. I love this game, simple, fun and great minis. Now grown up and looking more raggedy,  I still get this out on occasion, a forgotten treasure that always brings a smile to the faces of those that play it.

Helen Jones - Lord of the Rings Monopoly 

I don't remember whether it was my first board game, but I have fond memories of playing Monopoly as a child (naturally, my family got The Lord of the Rings version: for the cunning housing investors of Middle Earth). Quite the opposite from teaching me an appreciation of mechanics and resource management… I just traded everything until my family let me have all the horses (the equivalent of trains in normal Monopoly).

I can’t say that I won many games… but I did always lose quite happily alongside Shadowfax, Brego, Asfaloth, and Bill the pony.

Ross Bingham - Chess

My Dad taught me how to play when I was quite young. He had this beautiful Ancient Rome themed set that was made of clay. I remember having difficulty with how the knight moved. The biggest challenge, though, was avoiding getting absolutely trounced. My Dad was a great player and to this day I haven't beat him (shakes fist at sky).

Jessica O'Brien - Chess

Mine was also chess, I don't think I even lasted five minutes..... This wasn't even when I was a child! My next and most loved game was the classic Guess Who and I was instantly engrossed in the whole process of elimination, a particular favourite of mine when looking at which board game to play.

Rory J. Somers - Warhammer

Well, I started with Warhammer when I was a wee nipper, I especially loved Warhammer Quest, as a late teen I was a huge fan of Bloodbowl. However; I soon put Games Workshop behind me (I still have an attic full of miniatures, well my parents do), and discovered Pandemic. There was no turning back after that long, cold winter night back in 2009.

I was introduced to the world of Neo-Board gaming by an old friend and I was instantly in love with the game. My first purchase was also a co-op: Castle Panic.

Sko (Ross Gilchrist) - 1989’s Monopoly Junior 1st Edition

That was the game that started it all for me. Babysitters would dread the question, “Can we play a game?”, every time they arrived to take care of me. It was completely broken, as far as I recall. Rolling one die instead of two meant that if you had fully upgraded one space every six spaces you were guaranteed to win.

Albeit, in the slow, un-fun, funeral dirge that befalls so many games of Monopoly. My brother and I used this exact strategy to bleed the wallets of so many babysitters dry and now I understand why we had such a large pool of babysitters.

The Broken Meeple (Luke Hector) - Hero Quest

If we're going to ignore mass market games, my first would be Hero Quest. Not only my first true proper game, but also my first experience with dungeon crawls and the fantasy universe. I have so many fond memories of playing this with my brother as we delved into the quest books and also designed our own scenarios for each other, though his were certainly much better than mine, both in structure and in artistic skill (let's just say my neatness was left to be desired).

I wish I still owned this really, such a strong nostalgic connection to Hero Quest and my "brogue-swoad"!

Mitch Head - Othello

Othello was the first game that I ever played. My Nan was a keen player and took it upon herself to teach her grandson a few lessons in losing!! The first 'real' game I played however was Warriors Knights.

Me and a few friends found a copy at a car boot sale and though it was a struggle at first, but we soon came to love that gem of a game. Raising armies and laying siege to your opponent's castles, it was truly like my favourite computer games in board game form. Only now do I realise how much cleaner it could have been and FFG's remake was certainly much tighter.

Stu Bailey - Catan

It's a cliche, but it was Catan. A friend brought it around to my house and then there were five of us. He graciously sat out the first two games so that all 'newbies' to tabletop games could get a feel for life outside of Monopoly.

I was instantly hooked by area control games and now love all games with area control but especially worker placement.


Ashley Perryman - Napoleon at Waterloo

I remember a friend of mine had borrowed his older brother's’ copy of Strategy and Tactics along with a cover game (I think it was Sixth Fleet) and a copy of Napoleon at Waterloo, so that would have been 1975. A little bit of rules reading and we decided that Napoleon at Waterloo would be easier to take on, apart from which we both had some familiarity with tabletop war games, ancients mostly, but we were aware of Napoleonic games.

That and the suggested playing time of 30 minutes. which meant we could get a game in over school lunch break. I’m sure that being eager to play we initially got some rules wrong, but after a few plays we got it worked out, and indeed it could be played over lunch break. It was fun in its own way, challenging to play well, and so different from anything else we had encountered.

We moved on to Sixth Fleet, Grunt and Sinai at a later date, and the Avalon Hill Bookcase Games like Panzer Leader and Rise and Decline of the Third Reich. So, I’m offering Napoleon at Waterloo as my first board game and the one that got me into board games, fitting really since it is very much described as an entry level game for those days.

Zane Kennedy - Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne

I was always more of an outdoors kind of guy, growing up in Africa we were shoved outside a lot and prompted more into sports than staying inside. When I used to go to my grandmother's house she would bring out Cluedo and Scrabble almost every time I was there and it became 'our thing' very quickly.

When I got the job with the Zatu Team my eyes were opened to a whole new world of board gaming and I quickly found a new passion. My colleague Mitch invited me onto our YouTube channel, which I now present heavily on, and got me to do an unboxing of Game of Thrones: The Iron Throne. As we went through the game I was mesmerised by how it looked and worked, to the point that I went back to work and took the same game home that very night and played, what I call, my first real board game.

Since then I have played game after game and thoroughly enjoy indulging in new mechanics and themes that different games offer - challenging myself in the process. It is all thanks to Game of Thrones, and of course my colleague Mitch, thanks buddy.

Josh Close - Quadropolis

Apart from the standard child-friendly games of Frustration, Hungry, Hungry Hippoes and Snakes and Ladders, I was always more of a video gamer growing up. I was constantly on my PlayStation and then moving up to my Xbox 360 during school.

Working for Zatu Games has opened my eyes to an exciting board game world... one that I honestly did not know existed. The first board game since working for Zatu was the brain-tingling Quadropolis - which was a lot more interesting than I had thought. I loved the fact that you had to constantly think about your next move... how could I ensure that my city gets me the most points! Even those angry moments when the player before you steals the tile that you wanted was still fun it it's own unique way!

Since then I have played some exciting party games such as Cash 'N' Guns, One Night Ultimate Werewolf and Codenames: Pictures. Working on the YouTube channel allows me to take a glimpse at so many board games - most of which I now want to try out for myself.

Martyn Poole - Cluedo

My first board game would of been Cluedo and I fondly remember playing it as a child. I grew up and didn't play a game again until around 2016 when I bought and played Heroes of Normandie and that's where my collection started. I now have over 30 games and I'm as hooked to the collecting as I am the playing.

This hobby has allowed me to start reviewing board games and I am even in talks with a publisher about making my own game idea a reality. I find the board game community a friendly one where everyone always makes you feel welcome.

Humble Beginnings

Monopoly and Cluedo, those games have a lot to answer for! With the rise of board games, especially here within the UK, I foresee a future where Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride and Catan spread from the household names they are within our community and are taken to the wider audiences! And with how tech-focused the world is becoming, board games present the perfect situation for some family bonding and surely its time for a change? Lets replace luck-based dice rollers with poor mechanics, with innovative brain expanding games of skill.

Wherever you started however the board gaming community is one of the greatest around. Full of friendly, enthusiastic gamers who are more than ready to teach you some new games and expand your horizons.

So if you are new to the hobby welcome and believe me we will show you the world!