Board Game Players: New Class Options Now Available
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that every board game group is different. The number and mix of players, the types of games they prefer to play, the emphasis on competition or cooperation – all these things will change from table to table. There are groups that want to play a ruthless 6-hour game of Twilight Imperium and others that want to play a gentle 60-minute game of Tokaido.
It is also acknowledged that every player sat around the game table is different. However, it’s usual to find people occupying certain recognisable roles in their groups or falling into certain patterns of behaviour.
Discussions of these behaviours tends to be negative, skewed towards tired stereotypes. There’s the Overthinker. This is the strategist who’s either planning several rounds ahead or who’s looking to maximise their points score on each move, and who is therefore susceptible to analysis paralysis. There’s the Rules Referee who, every time you make a cool move, insists on checking the book or, better still, a BoardGameGeek forum to see if it was legal. They will insist on retconning every decision, especially if a game’s designer has commented on a thread. Then there are Inattentive Gamers and Alpha Gamers: the first group don’t realise it’s their turn; the second assume every turn is their turn.
However, these negative roles aren’t the only ones available to players sitting down at the board game table. They certainly don’t reflect my experiences in my game group. So, in the spirit of positivity I’d like to provide details of some other gamer roles. These have been play tested by my game group over the last 4 years. You can think of them as a new class options that you can choose at the table.
The First Player
The First Player is a master of quick action and decisiveness. They are dexterous and always seek the initiative. They view the first possible move as the best possible move and consider the finest round to be a surprise round. As such, they will always seek to take the first player token and will be distinctly annoyed if someone else claims it back. This player will take the wood in Agricola. They will enlist that single available cleric in Lords of Waterdeep. If you sit to the right of this player you can be sure that you’ll be going last in the turn order.
This player’s greatest rival is not the opponent taking the first player token for themselves but the friend who suggests that the group play a simultaneous action game like Roll for the Galaxy where there is no first player.
The Resource Gatherer
The Resource Gatherer is cautious and wary of the road ahead. Firstly, they are mindful of the need to secure items now to off set the risk of future scarcity. They don’t have any use for all that gold yet but they’ll get it just in case. They don’t have any active quests requiring warriors but the Field of Triumph was unoccupied so why not get two cubes whilst they can? Of course, it doesn’t hurt that all these resources will be worth victory points at game end. And if the game has a set collection bonus, well that’s just great.
Viewed another way, the Resource Gatherer is acutely aware of the finite nature of all board game resources. Turning their player mat into a personal bunker, they know that when game end comes they’ll have set aside everything they need to succeed.
The Stealthy Points Accumulator
This player is a rogue, stealthily sneaking in for victory at the last minute whilst the other players are distracted. You think you know the position. Perhaps you can see everyone’s marker on the score tracker. It makes no difference. The Stealthy Points Accumulator will suddenly complete a vast number of quests in the last round. They could have traded these in several turns ago but wanted to keep their hand secret to inflict the most damage. And of course, being so late in the game, there’s nothing you can do to counteract this move.
The piles of bamboo that the Stealthy Points Accumulator has been putting to one side during your entire game of Takenoko are now, purely coincidentally, exactly what the panda wants to eat. Similarly, the haphazard garden landscaping is now be revealed to be an exact recreation of the gardener’s own detailed plans. You didn’t realise that? Sorry, you lose.
The Rulebook Reader
The Rulebook Reader is someone who’s always excited by the possibility of a game. They like to use their research skills to pour over a game’s instructions and imagine the delights that await. To them, the instruction booklet is a testament, a promise made by the game designer to the player. The Rulebook Reader is also careful. They are not prepared to risk their future fun by mindlessly steaming ahead. Instead, they insist that a game is set up correctly and in order, with no steps missing. How else can the fun signposted in the rulebook be guaranteed?
This player is never happier than when playing a game like Pandemic Legacy, where the rule book is constantly being updated with stickers. For the Rulebook Reader, a legacy game provides a new set up adventure every game night.
The Non-Competitive Competitor
The Non-Competitive Competitor knows just how much fun playing board games can be. More importantly, they are not prepared to risk that fun in the name of victory. Yes, they will try to play the best game that they can. Yes, they will endeavour to strategize, to maximise the points they score every turn, and to gather resources for future rounds. However, they know that to try to win – to really go after victory – and then to lose is very disappointing. As such, the Non-Competitive Competitor never sets their heart on winning for fear of losing and treats any victory as an added bonus.
Do you recognise yourself in any of these player class options? Do you have to be the first player or gather every resource? What other roles do players take in your game groups? Let us know in the comments below or via social media.