Still no site. The comic:
Monday, January 25, 2010: Board Games: A Reflection
A recent birthday gift has got me thinking about the weirdly large number of board games I own. Okay, it’s nothing next to the number my family had when I was growing up, or even next to the pile in the Massey Common Room, but if you take into account the fact that I live in an apartment the size of my head and rarely have anyone over, the proliferation of games begins to seem a little odd. In addition, all but one of these games have been either gifts or inherited from the people who used to live in my apartment. I’ve just sort of…collected them.
Don’t get me wrong: I love board games (the good ones, at least). I’m always happy when I get one as a gift. However, I’m beginning to wonder whether the whole board-game industry is predicated on the existence of Christmas and birthdays. The games are often so expensive that it’s difficult to justify buying them for oneself. Recently, a couple of friends and I were checking out the price of Settlers of Catan (which I enjoy but don’t own); just the basic game is about $50. I remember when it was more like $70. The fact that a $50 game can be regarded as relatively cheap may tell you something about how much it hurts to buy one of these things.
Amusingly, my sister and I tend to load each other up with games. She has given me four; I think I’ve given her a similar number. We give each other games we like but don’t own. I don’t yet own any of the games I have given her; she probably doesn’t yet own any of the games she has given me. It’s like some weird, contorted version of paying it forward: you play a game owned by someone else, like it, and pass it on without attaining your own copy first. It’s the Circle of Games, and it rules us all.
Below is a list (with commentary) of the games I have somehow managed to acquire.
Random Cat Jigsaw Puzzle: This is one of the games (well, it’s technically a game) left behind by the previous inhabitants of my apartment. I have to say that I can see why these people abandoned it. The horrible kittens featured on the puzzle reminder me of nothing so much as the foul, simpering kittens gracing the pictures in Professor Umbridge’s office in the Harry Potter novels. They are truly appalling. I have never tried the puzzle or even attempted to ascertain whether all of the pieces are there.
Who Wants to Be a Millionaire: This is the other game left behind in my apartment. I know nothing about it except that it is based on the game show of the same name. Apparently, its original owners knew just as little about it; the cards inside the box are still in their original shrink wrap. It is rated quite well on Amazon, though, so maybe it will eventually be worth a try, even if it is yet another trivia game based on a TV show that was a big deal way back in 1998.
The Harry Potter Trivia Game: This one was given to me in 2001 in thanks for my work as LMF co-chair. I’ve played it once. The questions are based entirely on the American version of HP 1, and as far as I can remember, most, if not all, of them are multiple choice. It is clearly geared towards children, though the designers may have been a little misguided here; I have met a lot of kids with such a complete knowledge of the HP books that a multiple-choice HP question might strike them as rather insulting. I do remember it being fun to play.
Upwords: This one was a Christmas gift from my sister on the advice of my mother. I’ve never played it. It’s sort of like Scrabble, except that you can build new words on top of old words. I’m not entirely sure whether it is, in fact, fun or extraordinarily frustrating.
Scrabble: This is the one I bought for myself. Well, I had to have a copy of Scrabble, didn’t I? I am fond of this game, though I have only used my set once. I tend to play at other people’s places. They all own the game as well.
Pandemic: My sister gave me this one for Christmas this year. It is the first cooperative board game I’ve ever played, and I’ve got to say that it’s much more fun than I thought it would be. Sure, I couldn’t go around stabbing people in the back, but working together to beat the damn board (which is very difficult, even at the simplest level) turns out to be engaging, in a frustrating sort of way. Basically, the players have to save the world from germs. Topicality in board games can be a good thing, I guess.
Carcassonne: Friends gave me this one for my birthday this year. They had never heard of it before; I, on the other hand, have played it several times. Carcassonne is a good game that I am glad to own. It is something like Settlers of Catan, in which players compete for resources, but it involves different actions and goals. As with Settlers, the board looks different every time the game is played.
Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot: I really want to try this one, but I’ve never had the chance; the year my sister gave it to me for Christmas, she was barred from our house because she was pregnant and my parents had been exposed to German Measles. Someday, I shall force my friends to learn this game with me. It looks awesome.
Once Upon a Time: This is a card game given to me years ago on my birthday. I’ve never played it (are you sensing a pattern here yet?). It’s a storytelling game that is apparently quite fun to play, and I would like to try it eventually.
Dominos: Yep, really. This one was from my sister, again on the advice of my mother, who is addicted to a domino-based game called Chickenfoot. I’ve played it; it’s fun. I’ve also got directions for a whole bunch of other domino games. There are a lot of them, apparently.
I do also have various packs of cards, of course. I carry one around with me in my backpack; it saved two friends and me the day we were helping a fourth friend move and, due to an unfortunate combination of rush-hour traffic and a need for him to go back to his old place and reload the truck, ended up stuck in a room for something like three hours with absolutely nothing else to do.
At any rate…what I, personally, have learned from the list above is that I really need to clean my apartment more often so that I can invite people over and break in all these games. I have a lot of them, and I have played relatively few. At the same time, I have only ever bought one of them for myself (the cards don’t count). I guess it’s just one of those things.