Thursday, 26 May 2011

I loved board games! What happened?

When I was a wee nipper wet behind the ears, before they decided the world was a spherical orb actually orbiting the sun (those KrazyKats) I remember that much of my early days 'gaming' were spent huddled over various crappy card based boards that would fall apart as soon as you got them out of the shiny new box. I still maintain if you think you're a serious wargamer you should have at least played Risk once and you should also have tried Warhammer Quest and Space Hulk or Space Crusade. I'm still amazed I have found people who haven't played those games... Risk in particular, I mean what the hell is wrong with you people!!! Sure its shit but its good fun with some mates.

I've honestly lost track of all the utterly mental board games I used to play with my dad things like WizWar spring to mind I guess if I really have to think about it. Later I played such games with my school friends... I still fecking maintain that James Yates used to cheat at games the bastard... but he's buried in a shallow grave in my mothers back garden now so we don't have to worry about that. Unless the Police are reading this blog in which case its a joke!!! *Note to self must move the body* However I honestly can not for the life of me remember the last board game I actually brought. Or for that matter played. There were 3 board games however produced by none other than the Games Workshop that kept my hobby alive during my school days, because they were so quick and easy to fit in around playing the guitar, playing with girls and oh yeah and going to school:

Blood bowl

Now I know the game of fantasy football divides people into those who love it and those who hate it. I get that I do. However I loved it, I'm not sure there was a team I didn't collect and I still have my all conquering Wood Elf team I painted many moons ago in a figure case upstairs. I can feel the nostalgia come flooding back. It was perfect; turn based so you knew roughly how long a match would take, took up very little space and required very little financial output. Plus you could foul people. I helped run a highly successful Blood Bowl league in the Birmingham Games Workshop that attracted 43 teams according to my sheets I have here. 43 gamers, I don't think any Games Workshop gets that at all in the UK right now on a games night and it should speak volumes for how loved the game was and still is by some. Games Workshop fumbled the ball badly on this one while slipping on the banana skin dirty tricks card... why kill it?

space hulk

Ah yes Space Hulk... I remember stopping up really late one night to watch Alien, when I was far to young to be watching it (9 as peeps have asked). My parents really shouldn't have let me have my own tiny little TV, that film scared the shit out of me I can tell you, I was so scared the ginger cat wouldn't make it. Space Hulk very nearly captured that tension with its fecking awful Alien rip offs and goofy Terminators, sure they weren't Colonial Marines, but thank fook hey because who would want to face an Alien wearing some khaki combat pants a bandana and a wife beater top? Feck that off I want to be armoured like a tank and have a gatling gun for an arm. Those 'blip' counters were genius and still would be. You see not too long ago the Games Workshop did a limited run of a new Space Hulk with some truly gorgeous plastic mini's. What did they do? Killed it again as it was only a limited release, even though it was a roaring success, its almost like they want to fail!!!


The third game on my school day's hobby list is a pure board game. No crappy plastic men, just you, some card and few dice and some shitty card board piece representing you on the board. It was utterly fecking ace!!! to say I loved this game would be an understatement, whereas I would sometimes struggle to find opponents for Blood Bowl or Space Hulk, all my friends enjoyed Talisman and I never struggled to get a full game in EVER. It was fun, it had expansions, you could screw your friends over big time... brings a tear to my eye. I know Fantasy Flight Games do a souped up deluxe version of the game but I'm scared to pick it up in case I've been wearing a particularly thick pair of rose tinted goggles.

The future

Is the board game making a come back, well yeah it might well be you know, although I'm sure there are some people out there who'll tell me it never really went away and that it was me who moved on. I've done a bit of research and found old farts like me don't have much time for all this demanding wargaming and some might have kids they want to play games with, just like my dad did with me and for this they want board games because wargames can be expensive to run and difficult to set up and play, not to mention to teach to young kids. Here's a few board games I currently have my eye on:

Super Dungeon Explore ( Sodapop )

The super deformed miniatures look freaking awesome and this might well be the best board game I've never ever played. I'm just waiting for somewhere to let me pre-order it now as no matter what the price is I've decided this just has to go into my hobby den!!! Its like a cross between the best bits of my youth, loose catholic girls and... no wait I meant to say my NES and SNES games like Zelda and stuff and board games like Space Hulk and Warhammer Quest. It has got me really interested and I hope to God Sodapop don't disappoint with the rules as those miniatures look fantastic.

Kingdom Death  ( Kingdom Death )

I have no idea what Adam Poots is up to with this game, or what exactly it'll be like to play. However it is a board game, that much I do know, it sounds like it has RPG elements which I dig... but its those mini's people. I just can't get enough of those gorgeous Kingdom Death mini's. Please go and take a look at them, they're just splendid. I will be doing a WIP on one of them and I'll be reviewing them all very, very soon. If there is a game that deserves to succeed its this with all the obvious effort and attention to detail Adam has put into it, I urge people to support his project by buying his lovely mini's. Go on you know you want to.

Gears of War (FFG) ( Gears of War board game )

I think its fair to say that an awful lot of geeks out there like me have played the Gears of War games on Xbox 360... and if you're like me you probably thought ' do you know what would make this better? If it was a board game with plastic miniatures I can ruin with my God awful paint jobs'. Well rejoice my fellow geeks because our prayers have been answered. Fantasy Flight Games are releasing a Gears of War board game, in your face next gen consoles, IN YOUR FACE!!! As its a Fantasy Flight Games product I'm sure we can expect a high production values on the pieces and a tight and tidy game system. The plastic figures look fab in the pictures I've seen so far and not at all shit like the Heroclix abortions that they've released... seriously who buys that shit?

Dwarf kings Hold ( Mad Ronnie Renton & Jake Thornton )

Finally we have  Dwarf Kings Hold by Mantic Games, designed by Jake Thornton. Its Dwarfs versus the undead on a board. Its a complete throw back to my early days of board gaming and I'll be ordering myself a copy and doing a review as soon as pay day swings round (which fact fans is tomorrow). I've posted a link to the YouTube video simply because I think the affectionately known Mad Ronnie Renton is good for entertainment value if nothing else!!!


I think the sorts of board games I used to play as a wee nipper might be starting to make a come back, and that's great because I think for many gamers these sorts of games are what's missing currently from our gaming repertoire. I will be definitely picking up Dwarf Kings Hold, Gears of War and as soon as I can Super Dungeon Explore. Plus when Adam Poots has something to show the world I'll be one of the first people right there as I expect it to be stunning. If there are any board games you used to love let me know about them, or if there are some board games you're playing what are they? Are there board games you'd like to know about? Peace out!


  1. That looks pretty much like my list of childhood board games. Just add Axis & Allies.

    However, in my group we had a big board game resurgence a few years ago. It all started with Twilight Imperium and since then board gaming has been a big, perhaps even the main, part of our gaming.

    Looking at the games you've written about I'd like to make two suggestions: Earth Reborn and Claustrophobia. They're both dungeon crawlers of sorts, although Earth Reborn is really a small scale skirmish game in a board game format.

    Anyway, they're both excellent and I think you might enjoy them!

  2. Thanks I'll look them up Martin. I've also heard good thing about 'Twilight Imperium' anything further you could add about that game? Cheers.

  3. I had the same childhood experience with Heroquest added in. We have been playing Arkham Horror, Settlers of Catan, Zombies and Dominion(not a board game). I want to give Agricola a spin but it might have to wait until next convention season.

  4. Heroquest!!! How could I have forgotten Heroquest!!! Never owned it myself but it was all a mate of mine would ever play.

  5. Haha! HeroQuest indeed! That was probably my first...

    Just a brief comment on the board games Doom mentioned (sorry if I seem presumptious, it's just that I've been playing a lot of board games these past few years, and I enjoy discussing them);

    Arkham Horror can be great fun if you're in the right mood with the right people (ie Lovecraft fans), but it's also quite random and can drag on for a while.

    Settlers of Catan. I'm not a fan of it. It feels too random and simplistic. There are many other games out there with a similar theme (harvest+build), but better mechanics, imho. I'm especially partial to Ad Astra.

    Zombies. We played this a LOT when we started to get into board games again. And while it can be loads of fun when you don't take it very seriously and have a large amount of beer and pretzels to consume, you're probably better off never playing it sober as its glaring faults soon become obvious. I haven't played it yet, but Zombie Survival from the same company seems like more fun. Or just get Last Night on Earth.

    Haven't played Dominion but would like to try it. Same with Agricola (although the theme leaves me cold).

    As for Twilight Imperium, it's probably my favourite game of all time. It has everything! From stellar conquest to political intrigue, shady trade deals to planetary invasions! It's a triple X game (eXplore, eXploit, eXterminate)where the players are each trying to carve out their own galactic empire while fending off their neighbours and completing objectives.
    At first glance it might seem like a war game but it's really not. Sure there's warfare in it and it is one way to victory, but certainly not the only one (and it's more of a cold war in any case). Naturally you want to build up a decent fleet, but it's just as important to have influence in the senate to be able to vote on what law's to pass or not, and trading is just as powerful when you know how to spend your resources. Hmm.. I could go on gushing, but this is getting long-winded already. Hehe!

    The drawbacks of Twilight Imperium is it's massive play time (be prepared to set aside an entire day for it) and the mechanics are not as elegant as some similar, more modern games (Runewars for example), but in the end it provides an epic experience no other game can!

    If you want to have a look at the games I regularly play and which I like hop on over to BGG.

    I'll leave you with just two more solid suggestions: Chaos in the Old World and Battlestar Galactica.

  6. Hell no chat away. I think people of a 'certain age' have a really strong affection for board games. However a board game that takes all day? That kinda defeats the point for me!!! Board games should be quick for me. Otherwise I might as well set up a table some scenery and crack out my armies!!!

  7. I think it is easier to talk people who play RPGs and cards games into a board game like TI than straight into miniatures. It can act as a gateway drug into minis since they already waste a day with a board game. My friend swears by it.

    Zombies we used to kill time at work and as our beer and pretzel break on off days. Also it can be fun to make your plays based on the movies you have on the background. It is also a nice entry game for a younger crowd of cousins and relatives.

    I will agree with your point on Arkham Horror, luckily we like Lovecraft in my circle so it never really comes up and the randomness doesn't bother me.

    Settlers is more of a plan out your resource grab and deception game for me but we play with a lot of the expansion so I see how our play experience could differ. It isn't for everyone having a lot of younger relatives around definitely helps.

    Chaos in the Old World was a good time and I might pick it back up if the new expansion is well received. I always thought Tzeentch had a tough road to hoe.

    I say pick up Dominion or find someone who has it and give it a try.

  8. Cheers for all the feedback guys. I'll let you all know what I go for and what I think of it. Definitely getting Gears on Pre-order today and ordering Dwarf Kings Hold so I'll review those ASAP. I'll talk through some of the others with my group of gaming geeks and see if peeps are interested.