How Might We Describe The Games We Play?

Well the overriding word would be FUN!

Their appeal spans those at school to those well into their retirement, they have themes ranging from farming, building, economic, political, fantasy Sci-Fi Horror, railroad building, who-dun it, historical and a myriad of other to great to mention. They are played around a table with typically from 2-6 players and you can normally play 2 or 3 different games in an evening or afternoon.

Unlike the common or popular board games such as Monopoly, Risk or Trivial Pursuit they neither require a level of general knowledge or a desire to eliminate all the other players. In fact in many respects with their varied themes, strong social interaction they are ideal family / educational games. This makes it more than a little surprising that they haven’t found a wider audience in the UK.

Our group don’t see themselves as having board games as a hobby, rather they come together to socialise around the board game so it might be truer to describe it as an activity rather than a hobby.

Settlers of Catan
I started by using the word fun and that is because of the degree of social interaction typically found in our games where players have to trade, collaborate or in other ways interact with each other and that this typical occurs even when it isn’t your go. So there is always something happening and unlike more commonly known games rarely are players eliminated from the game so everybody is in with a chance right to the end. Whilst there is always luck this dimension in downplayed. Probably the most well known game in this genre is Settlers of Catan. This having recently featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal when it was discovered there were lots of people playing it within Google and a number of other Web 2.0 companies.

Where the popular games typically require you to eliminate the other players or result in direct conflict this is also avoided with a number being openly collaborative where you are seeking to play together against the game e.g. Castle Panic.

In a world where Facebook and its numerous apps dominates such a large part of many people’s recreation time many of us have seen friends Farming and being updated on their progression in FarmVille yet how many people have heard of Agricola, an award winning game were you are faced with similar opportunities and choices, but you sit around a table with friends to laugh and relax.

Our games could be described as German, or European, or family or Light Strategy games. Some are played with cards others on a board but all have beautiful and often amusing artwork, and high quality playing pieces, often at a similar price to a computer game, with many much cheaper. However what you will not do is find them in your normal high street shops, they tend to be found in specialist Bard Games shops or via the internet. Hence in part at least they are less well known.

The rules make the games easy to pick up, yet typically with a light strategy dynamic they provide just enough of a challenge to stimulate the grey matter, providing an opportunity to escape the strains and stresses of normal live, playing a part, at time out of character leading to much amusement and leaving you refreshed. We have found that the games and the social opportunity have resulted in members joining aged from 17 to over 80 with a good spread in between.

There aren’t many activities that would provide an opportunity for such a wide demographic to come together and have a fun evening.

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