I am somewhat new to board games (about eight years in now) but have long been a geek in training. Star Wars hit me at the perfect age; an obsession for fantasy novels and world mythology came soon after, and Dungeons & Dragons introduced to me in high school rounded out my formative education. Later still I saw how innovative role playing systems like Call of Cthulhu had different mechanics which not only were inspired by the genre but were instrumental in developing theme and atmosphere. As I got older I found that I had less time to devote to role-playing games, fewer friends who could commit regularly, and, to be honest, the freshness of the scene seemed to dissipate. In addition, becoming a History Teacher actually spoke to many of those longings– a sense of community and collective journey, “mechanics” which drive the atmosphere (although lesson planning and grading are rarely thought of so colorfully!) and, most of all, there is the interactive story building. Still, though, I missed the self-contained journey of the game and the sense of discovery it brought.
In the past ten years I developed a new group of geek buddies – “geeks of a certain age” with whom I share many rites of passage. I also found in this time a real nostalgia for the geek culture of the 70’s – progressive rock, dice and pencil role playing games, fantasy authors that only you knew about – when all of it was underground but just out of reach for me, born a few years too late. I remembered from that time long, fiddly board games from publishers like Avalon Hill also and mentioned out loud one day to a teaching friend that I wished those games were still around. I didn’t know that there had been a gaming renaissance.Life with Boardgamegeek.com
It didn’t happen right away. I bought Munchkin, loved it briefly, then discovered its limitations quickly. I wondered if the board game version of the PC game Civilization were still available (before the FF version) and looked for it (without knowing its limitations). Finally, I searched for the board game I had heard was made from one of my favorite shows, “Battlestar Galactica.” These searches led me here, however. Battlestar proved to be a hit with my gaming group. It wasn’t an easy sell, but because it’s an IT heavy group full of video game gamers, it was wonderful for a lowly Humanities major to have something to offer!
Like many, I bought too much too quickly. I used the rankings too literally. I bought games that I thought I should like before I knew my tastes. However, I’ve grown since then. I read and read reviews, geeklists and forum threads. I got to know – and am to no end grateful to – many very generous reviewers and thoughtful collectors here. While I don't have as much time as I'd like with my piles of grading, I game as much as I can and contribute here as often as able.
I have grown to be protective over the site a little in the last five years, recognizing it to be one of the kindest, most generous and civil places on the Internet. I hope we all can keep it that way. It's so easy to be rude in the consequence free theater of the Internet; it's much more interesting, then, to take the effort to be kind and maintain a meaningful discussion. I, like many others here, derive no entertainment from flame wars and hope to do my part to keep the good conversation going. If I ever seem exaggeratedly nice, I'm just trying not to have my tone misinterpreted; I genuinely want to hear what the crazy smart gamers have to say. Constructive disagreement is harder on the Internet -- but so much more worthwhile. Gaming Tastes
After a few years now I know what I like. Arkham Horror was my first true board game revelation. The fiddliness of the game almost seemed like part of the ritual; the challenge of playing and winning the game was part of the thematic experience. In keeping with that, my tastes mostly are in lines with thematic (“Ameritrash”) games. There is nothing dogmatic about that position, though; the very best thematic games I find are those that incorporate innovative mechanics often borrowed from the “Euros.” Fundamentally, there aren’t many abstract games that grab my attention as I feel like games need to tell a story. My criteria for what makes a good game for me are nothing new, but they amount to the following.
1. A game should have its mechanics suit its theme. They should reflect the theme and be an engine generating it. The elegance of how a few rules are able to do this with a variety of different board games is a thing of beauty.
2. A game should offer a satisfying amount of return on the investment to learn and the time to play the game. I really don’t care if a game is a filler, a light, medium or heavy game so long as it rewards its players for what they put in.
3. A game should have interesting and meaningful decisions. I, of course, don’t mind randomness, but that randomness needs to serve the decisions, not override their importance.
All of these, for me, make good games, games that are interactive stories. They have a force driving them, enough substance to keep one interested for the length with, at the same time, an ending which is at once unknown but also a relevant consequence of the choices made by all the participants.Game Ratings
My ratings tend to be high. I don't have as many opportunities to play as I'd like, so I go through a thorough vetting process before I buy and play. The ratings reflect that and skew higher as a result. Games I would have rated much lower I knew enough to avoid. Additionally, I do have a good amount of tens while some users have none. My own feeling about witholding tens from a game because one isn't unable to find any flaw in it is silly. The difference in enjoyment I get between sevens and eights is roughly the same difference I feel between eights and nines and, yes, between nines and tens, too. Each one of them has provided me the most enjoyment I've had from a game experience and meets my criteria as a personal classic.
Again, I am grateful for the community here and to all who participate to make it a good one. Because of you guys I’ve had so many enriching experiences I otherwise would not have had. Feel free to shoot me a geekmail to recommend a game, comment on or criticize any of my collection comments or posts, or say whatever is on your mind; I’m always happy to talk board games.