My stepbrother is nearing the point where he’ll be releasing his first ever card game for children. Before that, he was always huge in to tabletop games. CCG, miniatures, board games of any varying type…it didn’t matter. He runs weekly board game nights with himself and his friends. The day after the Super Bowl party is a “hangover board game day”, where everyone’s pickled brains get to try to think strategically in a round of some board gaming because when wouldn’t you feel most logical?
Being the distance I am from him and those experiences, I’ve got to feed this occasional need for gaming in a more physical realm. And since the only other person I have to game with is my husband, that provides some challenges.
I miss doing pen and paper stuff, but I almost immediately think that will never really fly by virtue of the fact that most pen and paper games are not quite geared towards one player and one game master. A great deal of the fun in this type of game is the social aspects of a party of people. So, as much as I may miss Vampire: The Masquerade and as hard as he misses having dice in his hand for a reason beyond “Ooo pretty dice”, that probably will never fly.
So, we’ve got other choices. The first thing that I’ve looked towards are CCGs. Just a couple of days ago, I picked up a starter set of a game called Force of Will, a game that involves summoning historical figures who were all transformed in to anime girls to battle each other for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. The setting is pretty much bonkers, but the game is damned solid. It feels like Magic: The Gathering and Yu-Gi-Oh had weird drunken sex, had a fun baby, and raised it right despite how trite and “tragic” the initial setup sounds.
Another option I’ve got available to me are miniatures games. I have a pretty nice collection of MechWarrior tabletop minis that I haven’t really tried out on him. I like to think the collectible nature of a table minis game would intrigue him. He likes toys. I like toys. We’re both into collectible plastic nonsense cluttering our desks.
In either case, though, it would strike me that playing the same opponent might become a little boring over the course of time. I could be wrong, though.
There’s also the fact that, despite my enjoyment of these types of games, I have the tactical acumen of a box of kittens. Honestly, it’s one of those game types that I gravitate towards because they are different or shiny or unique, and then I end up being a little put off by the fact that I get my ass kicked on a repeated basis. I’m not a sore loser, mind you, but it’d be hard to not admit that losing constantly isn’t really my idea of a good time. Which is probably why I don’t like PvP in MMO’s that much either.
I then should maybe consider that, if nothing else, the “collectible” part of the CCG or miniatures game is maybe something I could fixate on. I immediately consider the works of the ‘Eavy Metal folks who paint and modify all those Warhammer minis in to incredible pieces of nerdly art, and that just tickles the nerve to want to play. But maybe I don’t actually want to play. Maybe I just want to have these neat things as a collection.
It’s a bit like having an old retro videogame system. Even if most TV’s nowadays don’t actually have the plugs to support jacking them in, having that old grey or black box and those unwieldly controllers just puts a smile on my face. They are statues to my childhood. Physical acknowledgement of my pastimes and a reminder of how old can be just as good as new. In some cases even better than new.
So I sit torn, looking at the stylized box of Force of Will and the boxes of my MechWarrior minis and the meager amount of flat surface we have dedicated to tabletop gaming. And I actually find myself a tiny bit sad, even if only for a moment. This stuff has this unmistakable draw that no PC or console game can really match. It’s literally tangible. These games are malleable, physical and engaging stuff. But the barriers to fully enjoy makes me wonder if the cost is really truly worth it. Especially since I can’t use these things to their fullest potential.
It’s a really weird conundrum that I don’t know if anyone here shares. But I just thought I would share in the hopes that maybe it would cause some wheels to turn. Or even some discussion. Maybe I’m doing it wrong? Maybe I’m overthinking it? Or is there others who feel that these sorts of games are meant to be enjoyed in more than their function as games?