It’s a fascinating and unique thing. Books, films, music, video games, all are bought with a mind to sitting and reading, watching, listening and playing alone, or at least the possibility of doing so alone or in the company of friends or family. A board game on the other hand is not something that can be enjoyed alone* but something that you buy with a view to using with others, and almost all of us are lucky enough to have a group of people with whom we can call upon to play.
Amongst the gaming group you have a collection of your favourites, maybe split between various homes and cupboards, or hoarded all in one place by the one with the biggest house, a decent gaming table, or a friendly pub with a geeky disposition.
This presents us with some quite fascinating issues. How do you buy an item specifically for a group?
Ok, so there are those games that you can comfortably divide between friends. I recently picked up a copy of Operation Icestorm – the Infinity miniature skirmish pack – alongside the co-creator of Quotes from the Tabletop, Mike. That’s a nice easy thing to divide up, there are two factions, a rulebook and a terrain pack. As a fiend for rules and mechanics I was more than happy to leave Mike with the rulebook and the Panoceania minis, and as a feverish DM with a new cyber-punk styled role-play to run I fled with the scenery pieces and a box of Nomads.
Munchkin, another fairly easy game to divide up, not that you can split a box but each person able could buy the set they prefer from the massive range of genres. The same can be said of Fluxx, these days Love Letter too, and a smattering of other games seeking to reach as many fandoms as possible.
So what if a group pitches in on a game, and then the group divides. What criteria do you use to decide who gets the game? As geeks it could be one of the most awkward and terrible things we may have to face, not just the loss of a friend but potentially losing one of the things you shared memories over.
I mean what else do we buy together? Houses, pets, loans, small businesses. Somehow board games have made it onto that list and brought with them the complexities and entanglements that come with them, although perhaps on a much smaller scale. They do say that you do not know someone until you have played Monopoly against them; personally I say that the kind of person who plays Monopoly is no friend to you. It is worth saying then that you should really know someone before considering starting a board game collection with them, it’s one hell of a commitment, just be sure your ready.
Thanks to John Common of CSR Studios, creator of Dead Pixels and it’s upcoming sequel Straight to Video. It was an interesting topic to consider. If you have ideas for articles you’d like Timlah, Catharsisjelly or me to consider, you can get in touch with us at our contacts page, Facebook, or Twitter.
*Except for all of the games that you can play on your own, there are plenty of those but that’s missing the point.