I wondered whether it would be interesting to given an account of newcomers to the hobby. I imagine many of you are hardened, seasoned gamers, minds battered and bruised by years of pitting your wits against fiendish creations - perhaps to call them "games" is to cause them to sound too facile - which smuggly straddle the upper eshelons of BGG's complexityometer.
Our initiation into the hobby came about through a chance drop-in at Nottingham's Dice Cup board game cafe. Two vegans, we were primilary attractive on the basis of its being a totally vegan cafe. "A game with your fake-cheese panino?" And then we were hooked.
The first game we ever played was the cheerily simply Lost Cities (card version). Come our next visit we moved onto the harder stuff, confident we were ready to prostrate ourselves before the god of gaming if he'd only accept us, two wet-behind-the-ears initiates. It was time to meet Takenoko.
And what a lovely game that is. Is there a "nicer", more fuzzy-feeling game out there? You get to feed a panda. You can even give him extra to calm him when lightning strikes. This questionable endorsement of comfort eating aside, it's a joy to play, and one we keep coming back to.
From feeding pandas to collecting jewels, then, as we then went to Splendor. I had the misfortune to introduce it to a local chess champion, who found, to my cost, that there were synergies with the strategisation of that ancient game, and promptly destroyed me each and every game.
By now we were ready to begin our own collection. Splendor was the first purchase, switfly followed by - and this has remained a favourite - Isle of Skye. That nurtured a love of tile-laying games and I've yet to find a better example of the genre. Carcassonne's fine, and I'm eager to try the Hill and Dale variant, but Skye is just wonderful. "Carcassonne" with trading, you'd say. It just needs a lake monsters expansion, a suggestion I PM'd to the co-maker, Andreas Pelikan, who received this with such enthusiasm as to ignore my message entirely. Oh well, I'm sure they've got better ideas.
I won't bore readers with a blow-by-blow account of every game we've played. We did eventually graduate to the (real) harder stuff - we were advised against Keyflower but bought it anyway and love it.
I'll just wrap up with my dessert island top three, in reverse order:
3) Isle of Skye. See above. Could play it all day, but I'm ready for some expansions.
2) Keyflower. Wonderful, tight game with almost no randomness. I battled with the rulebook and had to ask questions on BGG, but once we got it, we loved it.
And the winner is...
1) Grand Austria Hotel. Oh lordy what a game this is. Even had it not been immaculately executed we would have enjoyed it - what's not to like about feeding guests coffee and cake and carting them off to their rooms? But it also happens to be a fantastic game. Multiple ways to score and win, strongly thematic but with some meaingless, abstract mechanics - it's all here. Our favourite game by some distance.
Games I haven't liked: pretty much anything deck-building and drafting. Just don't like the mechanics. Or anything that's absurdly priced (looking at you, Clank!)
Well, if you've made it this far, I can only assume you're really bored or generally wish to recall what it's like starting out in the hobby. I'll take the opportunity to thank the BGG community for all the info, advice, recommendations and general awesomeness that have been indespensible to us thus far.
(On the subject of BGG, how come there's almost two versions of the site - one, much more modern-looking one on the game pages, and another, much older-seeming, and not mobile-friendly, for the home and other pages?)