Digital Words about Cardboard Bits

One bored "man's" ramblings about his life and the cardboard in it.
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jflartner
United States
Wayne
Pennsylvania
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SO! Another board game blog on BGG.

The last time I updated my personal blog was in March, so we'll see what happens with this thing.

I don't have a unique or special perspective on games. I mean I guess no one else is me, so that's somewhat unique...but I'm also not an especially "well-read" (well-played?) or experienced gamer. Just another guy who loves the hobby, and has some free time on his hands.


I have loved board games all my life. I never understood why my mom would always get so upset when she asked me for a list to send to Santa, and I would simply write "Board Games" on a piece of paper and hand it back to her. "Santa knows what one's I'll like mom! Stop stressing!"

I had the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ready for Battle Game, and even then appreciated the game for its unique game mechanism for combat.
[The game had this see-saw type thing with four dice-sized compartments in it (one for the die, and three labeled 3, 2, and 1...I think). You would put the die in one end, push down the other end and hopefully it would land in one of the other compartments, doing damage to Beebop, Rocksteady, or The Shredder.] I have fond memories of playing this in bed with my dad while we waited out a midnight nose-bleed. (I used to get them fairly frequently, for some reason)

I also LOVED Monopoly. I would often coherse my younger sister to play with me - her kicking and screaming the whole way. All I wanted was to build up an empire! Was it my fault that the only way I knew how to do that was not all that fun and took 2+ hours??
She would almost always quit before the game was over (8 times out of 10 it was immediately following me landing on Free Parking), leaving me enraged.

I remember vividly receiving the game Aggravation as a gift. I LOVED it. The huge box, the colorful board with all the little holes in it, and the bits!!! Tiny, boldly colored balls!! This was a foreshadowing of a future (now present) love of quality - and just plain cool - components.

I also recall the first time that my love for Monopoly was put in doubt. It was Christmas. I had received Monopoly: Star Wars Limited Collector's Edition. I had wanted this game for so. long. I was elated. I couldn't wait to play it. My unwilling sister was feeling extra charitable (and probably extra bored) on the lazy day of December 26. I had been admiring the little pewter figures all morning, waiting for her to say that she was ready to start. I couldn't wait! We started playing, and...it was Monopoly. It was exactly the same!! Sure, the pieces were extra awesome, and for some reason you built X-Wings, TIE Fighters, Star Destroyers, and YT-1400 Correlian Freighters on the properties...but it was just Monopoly. I felt betrayed. That was my last game of Monopoly.

After that I turned to Risk for my board gaming needs. Even fewer of my friends liked it than liked Monopoly, and so it rarely saw the table. But even on the few occasions when it did, I would always realize about 30 minutes after starting that I didn't want to play anymore. Being generally terrible at the game didn't help anything, but mostly I realized that I simply did not find the game to be fun.

Then came my party game phase. Scattergories, Taboo(still a favorite of mine), and Apples to Apples all blew me away. They were so different from what I considered a board game, but still a lot of fun! I was always on the lookout for games that looked like they had a fun twist on the Apples to Apples formula. I played Cranium Super Showdown, Cranium Whoonu, Poser, and countless others until I realized these games were all doing the same thing.

Throughout this time, one hobby was far more important to me than board games: computer and console video games.
I don't want to get too far into that - as these digital words are supposed to be about cardboard - but I have one word for you: look at my avatar. best. game. ever.
But anyway, through high school and college if I played a board game, it was either Risk or a party game. Or poker. Played a lot of poker in college. Still love poker in fact.

It wasn't until a couple of years ago that I began my long (short), dark (pretty enjoyable, actually), and twisted (no.) path to board gaming obsession.

Friends of mine (jumpingsquare and his wife) brought out a game called Ticket to Ride for us to play. They warned us that it was a board game probably unlike anything else we had played before, but that it was a lot of fun. I went into it a little skeptically - "where is my piece? where is the die, or the spinner?" - but came out of it totally amazed. After that we played Carcassonne and my girlfriend and I were both enthralled. Immideiately after the first game we both wanted to play again. To this day I'm still not entirely sure how to score farmers, but I'm grateful to those little guys.

Not long after that, we played Pandemic with them. Incredible. We're all on the same side??? UNHEARD OF!!! REVOLUTIONARY!!! LIFE-CHANGING. Before they had even left for the night I had purchased a copy of Pandemic of my own on my smartphone. (WITH Amazon's one day shipping)
Soon, I started becoming more educated about the hobby as a whole, and found this site. I believe my next purchase was Last Night on Earth: The Zombie Game. I loved all the little figures and the nice feeling/sounding cardboard bits. I learned the game by myself and even played a few games by myself (learning the virtues of the solo gaming experience from playing Pandemic solo). I played my first game while my girlfriend was out. I set it all up, put on the CD ("It comes with a CD!!") and started playing. About five minutes later, I turned off the CD, NOT because I was scared, but because...yeah I was getting creeped out. But I kept playing. As the tension on the board was mounting, I could feel my pulse quickening. The zombies were everywhere!!! After my first two heroes fell victim to the shambling dead, I abandoned the playthrough altogether. NOT because I was scared.

Not long after that, I had my first failure as a gamer. I pulled out LNoE with a group that consisted mainly of friends who had never played a game more complicated than The Game of Life. It was horrible.
"Zombies!" I thought, "Dice rolling and doing what the cards say! What could be simpler??" TERRIBLE plan. No one had fun, and the more I tried to convince them that the game really was fun, the less enjoyable the night became. It was like when someone send you a link what a description like - "FUNNIEST VIDEO EVER!!! WATCH THIS NOWWWW!!!! LAUGH UNTIL YOU POO YOUR PANTS!!!! FUNNY STUFF!!!!!!!" except that in addition to clicking the link and then not laughing, you first have to sit and listen to a bunch of rules from someone who has never taught a game more complicated than The Game of Life. We eventually played a game of Taboo with LNoE still set up on the table...the zombies looked so sad.

The evolution of my love for this hobby is cloudy now, and I can't quite remember the board games that provided the pathway to where I am now.
I know that some early additions to the collections were VERY influenced by what I watched on boardgameswithscott.com. For a man that I have never met, he is one hell of a mentor. For me, his is the last word when it comes to board games. I will listen to other's opinions on here and elsewhere, but when it comes down to it, in my board gaming world it is "Scott's Law."

As an introduction, I think this post is disorganized, wordy, a little confusing, and considerably terrible. So this is probably a good place to stop. (That, and I'm done work soon and don't feel like copy/pasting this into a Google doc.)

I'll expand more on my collection, how I got here, what I love about games, what I'm not so crazy about in games, and a lot of what I've played and what I want to buy next.

later on,
Jim
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