Monopoly, Risk, Battleship, the Game of Life, Sorry.
If you’re any sort of age over 20, I’m sure you look back at these games with more than a hint of nostalgia. And if you’re younger than 20, I’m sure you’ve played your fair share of these games yourself. But if you’re anything like me, those three hour Risk marathons or Sorry hope-and-roll games were…lacking…in a way that young me couldn’t put my finger on. Don’t get me wrong, still a lot of fun but sometimes in a going-through-the-motions-now-we’re-going-to-play-a-board-game kind of way. Other interests came along and board games were a foregone conclusion. And that’s too bad.
I’m the target demographic for game publishers (heck, I have a board game review site now), and though I enjoyed them, board games were often shelved when growing up. Why is that? Well, for one, video games at the time stole all the thunder. While they were inventing and reinventing themselves during their meteoric rise in popularity, what board games were available on the shelf? Monopoly, Risk, Life, Sorry, Chinese Checkers, Connect Four, Battleship, Yahtzee, Trivial Pursuit, Operation.
If you played one of these games, this was going to happen: You were going to roll lots of die lots of times, and you were either going to land on a certain space and win or you were not. You were going to decide to secure Australia again, roll poorly again, and spend two hours hanging around with no chance to win until you were finally eliminated. You were going to start another game of Life, make the only meaningful game choice available (your occupation), and wait until the spinner decides who wins. No wonder other forms of entertainment climbed ahead.
Now, some classics still do hold up well today (Stratego, Chess, Clue, Scrabble, Mastermind, etc). Certainly, the advent of the internet age has helped the steady spread of modern design board games–especially the titanic Amazon and the presence of thousands and thousands of user reviews to narrow down the games worth our time. But the main reason for board games’ recent resurgence is due to one simple factor: better games are available now.
Admittedly behind the times, I was first introduced to Settlers of Catan. Then Ticket to Ride. Then Dominion, Pandemic, 7 Wonders. Eventually Agricola. I was hooked. Interesting, strategic, fun games that weren’t based mostly on luck or die rolling or required actual decisions as the main driver of the game. Fun around a table with a group of friends or family. Young me would have been all over these.
Now, even Big Box stores like Target, which for a long time only could claim Catan as a modern title, are stocking other modern games like Pandemic, Munchkin, Small World, and King of Tokyo. This is a great thing.
That’s what this site is about. Reviewing interesting games and giving you an idea of what’s out there now. Your friends and family will thank you. Don’t worry about starting late. I did too, all due to Monopoly.¹