Games were common in our home. On my mom’s side of the family, everyone is pretty big into playing games – board games, card games, dice games, you name it. So most of our holidays and family gatherings ended with all of us sitting around the table playing a game of some sort.
Traditional games for families and kids
Monopoly, Clue, Life… my brother and I played all these games time and again. No matter what game we played, he was always green and I was always blue. And we typically had a blast. This is certainly one of my fondest childhood memories. However, we generally stuck with these popular, kid-friendly games. Until, one day, my uncle introduced us to something new.
Enter: Strategy + Area Control
For most of my childhood, my aunt and uncle lived far away from us. I distinctly remember a few days one summer when my brother and I were staying with them. Aside from watching a lot of movies and eating ice cream every night, we played a ton of games. One in particular left a pretty big impact on me: Risk.
Image Source: The Loft Lounge
The game is played with a map of the world and lots of little army men. I had a blue army, my brother had green, and I’m sure my aunt and uncle picked their colors based upon what options were left. We were ready to battle against each other and take over the world.
What intrigued me most about this game was all of the choices one could make on their turn. For example, how aggressively are you going to attack your opponents? It was a choice you had to make on every single turn – if you push too hard and take over too many countries, then you risk spreading your army too thin; but if you don’t fight hard enough, then you won’t conquer any new territory (the goal of the game is to take over the whole world by eliminating all other armies). There are cards and dice that play into the game as well, so it adds an additional layer of planning (to utilize the cards in the most efficient way) as well as a little luck with the dice, which you use to determine who wins/loses in each individual battle.
An introduction to modern gaming
Sometime around late high school a good friend of mine introduced me to a game she had recently learned to play: Ticket to Ride. Just like Risk, this game involved a large map. However, it was a map of the States, rather than the whole world. And instead of tiny army men, the pieces were little train cars.
Image Source: http://www.polyhedroncollider.com/2012/11/ticket-to-ride-review.html
Two things I instantly loved about this game were the amazing artwork and strategy/planning. Having studied art in college, I immediately loved the use of color and attention to detail in this game. Throughout the game, you’re actually collecting cards in various colors to help you build your train routes. There’s even a Locomotive card, which has rainbow colors, and acts like a wild card. All the drawings on the cards and the map itself are phenomenal.
As for strategy, this is a great game if you’re looking for something more than luck or your ability to spell well (I’m looking at you, Scrabble). It’s not too difficult that you don’t know what to do (you only have three actions to choose from on each turn). But it also involves a bit of planning ahead and working to accomplish several goals which will earn you points. Whoever has the most points at the end of the game wins.
Fast forward a few years
When I first played Ticket to Ride, I was reminded of all the great times I had growing up with games. Whether it was the annual Christmas Eve Monopoly session with my mom and brother or trying to solve a murder mystery with some friends in Clue, it was definitely something I always enjoyed. Intrigued by this new game, I was anxious to discover more.
There’s a whole new world that exists in the board game industry today, and in part, that’s why I started this blog. Over the past several years I’ve discovered some incredible games, and my game collection has expanded beyond the classics I grew up with. I’ve also discovered some that aren’t so much my favorite, but hey, you win some/lose some, right?
My family still loves playing games, especially my brother, mom, and aunt and uncle. When we gather at my grandmother’s house, odds are high that a game will hit the table at some point. The only thing that has changed is that we’re often playing what I would consider to be a more modern game, rather than traditional.
I can’t say for certain whether or not I would be as interested in board games today if I hadn’t grown up playing them, but it’s definitely a part of my story. My interests have grown and evolved over time, but I’m very thankful for the journey that led me where I am today.
PS: I still like to be blue. (Unless orange is an option… then orange. Always orange.)