The History of Games
Through the ages humans have devised many ways to entertain themselves. From making up fascinating tales that capture the imagination of their readers, to hitting a ball with a stick, we will do anything to keep from getting bored. Here at Alpha Nerds Guild we tend to focus on video games as our recreational activity, yet the spiritual predecessor to video games, tabletop games, are showing they are still relevant.
Tabletop games are any game that is normally played on a table or other flat surface, and include things such as board games, card games and miniature wargames to name a few. The first known tabletop game in history was a board game played in Egypt around 3100 BC called “Senet.” In “Senet” two players race each other to try and get all their figures off the board first. It was a simple game that relied primarily on luck, which is still a common formula for many new games. Many of these games, such as “Chess” and “Monopoly,” have withstood the test of time, and are still played by millions today.
Other than the most common family board games, tabletop games have primarily been relegated to a community of people typically referred to as “nerds” or “geeks.” Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s “Dungeons & Dragons” was the big one, with “Magic: The Gathering” and “Pokémon” showing up in the ‘90s. While the U.S. has primarily sold board games as toys for kids, this hobby is taken pretty seriously in Germany.
The Rise of Eurogames
These German-style board games (or Eurogames) started gaining more attention from hobbyists around the world when the strategy board game “The Settlers of Catan” (“Settlers”) first appeared. Released in Germany in 1995, “Settlers” saw a good amount of success overseas, but didn’t gain much attention stateside for more than a decade. Two decades after its initial release, “Settlers” has now sold more than 15 million copies worldwide, and has brought a much larger audience to tabletop gaming.
How to Get Started
With the rise in tabletop gaming it has become much easier to get started in the hobby. Most cities have gaming stores with a decent selection of board games, card games and miniature games. Of course, you can find these online as well, but I suggest going to a brick and mortar store for any beginner so you can talk to those working there. It can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out which game to buy, but most players are more than happy to help get you started.
When going to a store to find the right tabletop game for you, the main thing to do is set a budget. Most of these games will require additional purchases eventually, so you need to know how much you’ll be willing to spend later. Even those games that are a one-time purchase can just be a gateway into a lifelong hobby. Thankfully there are plenty of options to suit whatever playstyle you prefer.
The cost isn’t the only thing to think about on that first trip, you should decide on a particular style as well. The most complex, and expensive, games tend to be the miniatures. These games can involve battles with just a few figures for each player, or multiple dozen. Most of these figures also require some amount of assembly. This could be as simple as pieces that snap together or could pretty much become as complex as you want. For some people the work put into building your armies can be just as fun as playing.
For those that are looking for something not as in depth as that you could try card games. These aren’t your typical deck of playing cards, rather each card game has a very large library of cards that you collect to build your own decks. To collect these cards you can buy pre-made decks, large boxes full of a variety of cards, or booster packs with around 15 cards in each. Once you have enough cards to start putting together a decent deck many players will buy the individual cards they want for it. It’s when you start trying to get competitive by building the perfect deck that you’ll end up spending a decent amount of money. These cards can also become useless as new sets come out, making it necessary to buy more if you want to play at most local shops.
If you’re still looking for something easier to get into (and typically cheaper), than board games are the way to go. Some of these can be under $20 and give you plenty of entertainment, while others could cost over a hundred. These games can also be simple games that take up no more than 15 minutes at a time, or you could go for something more complex like the aforementioned “Settlers” which can take upwards of 2 hours. Many of these also come out with expansion sets, which can help keep them entertaining for years to come.
Even if you’re not sure what you want when you first check them out, many tabletop gaming stores have open gaming nights for you to try them out. If not, many other players will gladly let you play with them. No matter your tastes, or budget, game night can now be a lot more fun with all the new options out there.