Here’s the thing. I love board games. I mean, I really love board games. I was obsessed with them as a kid and carried on playing them until long after it was deemed seemly. Of course, when I was a kid, the level of sophistication reached such giddy heights as “Operation”, “Escape from Atlantis” and my favourite, “Haunted House”.
My game playing stopped round the age of sixteen, mostly because most of my friends ‘grew up’. I reluctantly admitted that perhaps my game playing days were over.
I left home and moved to Sheffield and it didn’t take me long to find a shop that sold games – an unassuming little place called “Games Workshop”. Back then it sold it’s own games, TSR and many European and American games. It also sold comics. Can you believe that? The problem was, the games were pretty expensive. I desperately wanted “Talisman” but with a price tag of £25 (about £70 these days) and being unemployed, that was never going to happen.
Then one day, I was walking home from The Leadmill where I’d had lunch – they did a UB40 special, cheap for unemployed people – passing through a car park and there, on the ground, nowhere near any of the cars was two twenty pound notes, and a five pound note, folded together in quarters.
I did actually look round for someone who may have dropped it and even hung around for an hour waiting to see if anyone came back frantic at the loss of cash. After an hour, I pretty much ran straight to Games Workshop and Talisman was mine!
I found a bunch of people who wanted to play and we spent many, many happy days traipsing around the fantasy world depicted on the box in search of a talisman that would allow us access to the Valley of Fire. I still love the game. Sadly after a couple of years working and picking up games like Dragon Master, Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb and some of the 2000ad based games (Rogue Trooper, Block War and my favourite Judge Dredd), Game Workshop jettisoned pretty much everything that wasn’t Warhammer.
With the lack of new games, and no shops that sold anything similar, I drifted away from gaming again.
Five years later, I meet a couple of people who liked playing but after a couple of years of gaming fun, circumstances dictated that we could no longer spare the time. And from there, there was the great gaming drought. All my games were boxed up and put into storage. I met my partner and moved to Southampton with him. I often talked about gaming in the hope that he would play, but he was very sniffy about it and refused.
Eventually, knowing that gaming was important to me, he started buying me games for birthdays, etc.. Except he still refused to play them with me. So I ended up with half a dozen new games on the shelf gathering dust.
Now, the thing is, I know very few people in Southampton, so find a group of people to play with has always been difficult. When I moved to Leeds to go to University, I managed to play a few games with people, and on one particularly dull Easter vacation, my partner visited and I actually managed to get a game of “World of Warcraft” out of him (the board game, obviously). He loved it. And for that birthday years birthday which was only a week or so after the WoW experience – he brought me “Arkham Horror”.
Now the weird thing is, he was almost ashamed at having enjoyed playing World of Warcraft and refused point blank to play anything else. I finally got a game of Arkham Horror in 2014, eight years after it was brought for me.
He’s always reluctant to play, but always enjoys it when he does. The problem is, I wanted to play more, and with more people. I was gagging to play Settlers of Catan, but with it requiring three people, not knowing anyone, and with social anxiety and agoraphobia leaning heavily on my life, gaming was limited to two player games only.
This year, I’m making a concerted effort to get out of the house. I’m fed up with seeing no one except my husband and the stir-craziness has become pretty much unbearable. I know a couple of people here who like games, but getting people together has always proved difficult.
So, not realising there was a fairly healthy gaming scene in Southampton, I started a group up. In a pub on a Sunday afternoon. The agoraphobia means that valium is involved, but I’m hoping to wean myself off that. In the mean time, the club has happened twice, both have been successful and there’s more to come.
I thought about going to some of the other clubs, but decided against because when it boils down to it, I only like certain types of game. I’m not fond of things like Warhammer obviously, as I would still be a Games Workshop customer if I did. I’m not fond of games where you can a perfunctory ‘base set’ and then add to it with either more and more sets of cards or more and more models. I figure that gaming shouldn’t be about who can afford bigger and better pieces of kit. It should be about how you play the game.
Essentially, if it doesn’t come in one box and isn’t fully playable and enjoyable without feeling like something is lacking, I don’t want to know. I don’t mind expansions, they have the same ‘closed box’ ethic, but any situation where the person with the most cash has a better chance of winning is just wrong. Or at least for me.
I’m not really sure what the point of this post is. In terms of gaming clubs, I find myself in the weird position of being the ‘owner’ of one (and that *really* isn’t the right word!) and being almost completely unaware of games produced in the last twenty years. In many ways, I started the games club up to learn more about them. I’m hoping that the members who are much more fluent in game-ese will be gentle with me!
But yeah, games are awesome.
As a relative outsider, maybe I should log my gaming experiences here? Review games from the perspective of a newb, while not actually being one? Hmmm….. semi-newb.