Boardgaming for Everyone!

Where To Start February 7, 2011

Filed under: Weekly Entry — hoamer @ 7:01 PM
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     So, you’d like to play a few new games, but where do you start?  First, of course, you have to find some games.  Easy!  Then, you have to find some players.  THAT may be harder than it seems.  Don’t fret – I’ll give you a leg up.

     Casually mention “Settlers of Catan” at your next social gathering. Chances are you’ll get some blank stares (like that one you just gave me). On the other hand, you might see someone perk up, or a big grin, or most likely, you’ll hear, “I LOVE that game!” Now you’ve found your potential gamer.  Ask friends and family – if you make an evening of it, with games, food, and general social concord, you’re likely to get a few of the people that may be on the fence about playing games.  Even if you only find one person, it’s enough to get some very good games going.
     Another way to find other gamers is to check places like your local library or community center. Find out from them if they ever hold board game nights and check any message boards at such locations to see if anyone is looking to play once in a while. If they don’t, or there isn’t, post something yourself and see if you can organize such an event at that location.
     Search the internet for board game clubs in your area. If you are in a college town, or near a bigger city, you are probably more likely to find one, but they pop up everywhere. My husband started out meeting with a very small group of mostly graduate students in Columbia, Missouri, who had posted a notification about their meetings in the University of Missouri community. When we moved, the internet was much more of a fertile hunting ground, and we easily found CABS in Columbus.  When we joined, this was a modest club of, at most, 50 members.  Ten years later, it has grown to at least 300.  People of all sorts come to enjoy the fun.  Game Clubs of Maryland has a mighty fine link to clubs around the states here.  Check it out to see if you can find one near you!

     Before I go on to finding games to play, I want to give tell you about a web site that links finding people and finding games.  Board Game Geek This online resource can help you find games of interest to you, find people in your area looking for players, and give you great reviews and tutorials.  Often times, you can find extra materials and updates for games, and the site is extraordinary for rules clarifications.  There are also links to reputable online stores to supply your gaming needs.   One of the nicest features is the advanced search, where you can fill in as much or as little information and get results back.  This is useful for finding a game to play when you know how many you’ll have and what your skill level is.  [One caveat – the search in Board Game Geek is very sensitive to spelling.  If you are not sure how to spell the name of a game, just type in the beginning few letters of one word from the title, and find it in the list of results.]

     I promised that I’d give you a few ideas for different games that can easily be found in your big box stores.  These games are different, fun, and easy to get your hands on.   One of the easiest to find will be Wits & Wagers.  This fun party-type game can accommodate a lot of players, and I have seen it at Target.  While you’re there, see if you can find Blokus, or its younger sibling, Blokus Duo (sometimes called Travel Blokus, and made for 2 players only), both of which are spatial relationship games.  The 3D version of Blokus is also worthwhile to seek out, but I haven’t seen it in the box stores in some time. 

     Once in a while Wal-Mart will carry these games, but it isn’t often.  If I notice them in the store, I’ll alert you, dear readers. It is worth noting, however, that one can have several games from Wal-Mart’s online store shipped to a store near you for free.  Since most online game stores won’t ship for free unless your order totals $100, this is a nice way to keep your cost down if you just want to buy one or two games.  In a quick search today I found that one could order Ticket to Ride, Carcassonne, Settlers of Catan, and Lost Cities, all of which are great games for starting your collection.

    This should get you started on your way to enjoying game night on a regular basis.  If you have a game suggestion, know of a club, or have tips for getting people together, comment below and I’ll get it in the post!

Happy gaming!