Updated: Mar 1, 2019
We thought for our first real blog post we’d focus on what it’s like to be new to the tabletop world, since in a way we are new as content creators. Nobody on our team has been heavily entrenched in the board game community for a long time when compared to someone like Tom Vasel. Our experience pales in comparison to so many people that love this hobby, but should that affect how we are able to interact with others that are likeminded? We at GAG don’t believe it should. Because of our team being relatively new to the hobby, everything that goes along with entering this hobby is still fresh on our minds. Take a moment to check out these ten points to see what you will often experience as a newbie to this world or to see how veterans can excel at welcoming those who are tiptoeing around in this rapidly growing hobby. We hope that many of you are able to relate to us here at Green Akers Games and that we all can grow to interact better with those who are new to this world of gaming!
Friends and Foes
When I first started diving into this hobby it led me to engage with others through BoardGameGeek.com, various Facebook Groups, and face-to-face interactions. I had so many questions! I was like the kid that discovered Pokémon, yo-yos, or shoulder pads five years after everyone else. I needed to play catch-up and fast! One of the most amazing things about this hobby is the community that comes with it. Learning more was going to be relatively easy because it wasn’t like I had to drive to a golf course and spend a wad of cash on lessons. All I had to do was engage with people and take the humble step of admitting I knew nothing! I quickly found, as many others do, that sadly not everyone in this hobby is the friendliest of types. I received many snide comments on those Facebook Pages, BoardGameGeek Forums, and even had some local encounters that shut me down since MTG (Magic: The Gathering) wasn’t high on my interest board. I took a bit of time to navigate through random Tabletop Facebook Groups along with threads throughout BoardGameGeek and quickly saw that what I experienced isn’t an oddity or exclusive to my own situation. People would often begin their questions with something like, “Don’t destroy me but…” or something similar, and it made me wonder, has someone in this hobby done something to them that made them not want to ask any more questions or are they just generally a timid person. There is ultimately no way of knowing which is the case, but as someone who is now entrenched in the hobby I find myself hoping for the latter. My message that I’m trying to get across is this. As tabletop gaming rapidly becomes more mainstream there are going to be loads of people dying to know more. If you find yourself as one of those folks hopefully this blog post is helpful for you, but also remember that every hobby is going to have some jerks. It’s not a unique problem to this hobby alone, but you may see it fleshed out more because interaction is vital to enjoy the board game world to the fullest! Many other interests allow you to float through on your own, but take joy in the fact that this one will more often than not lead you to a unique community made up of people of all shapes and sizes that are an absolute joy! So don’t stop asking questions! For those of us who are veterans in this world of board gaming, we should strive to welcome newcomers as we were all once a newcomer ourselves. An author once said, “Tolerance is a poor substitute for embrace.” This is true on so many levels, and though it can’t/shouldn’t be applied to every situation, it definitely speaks truth for this hobby we love.
Lesson: Embrace those people who admit they know nothing and let’s help them to enjoy the same amazing hobby that we all love so much! Newbies, stick with it and you’ll find that it’s all you could possibly hope and dream for!
Gateway Games? Is this a drug?
No. Well maybe. Kind of, yes. Okay no, it’s not…final answer! Frequently people within the board game community joke as if the hobby is addicting. You can find yourself being drawn to buy, buy, and buy some more because of FOMO (fear of missing out) or simply due to your pure love for games. I seriously do hope nobody makes unwise financial decisions when it comes to purchasing board games. I myself, along with my wife, decided that I can purchase only six games per year, this of course excludes what I get as presents for Christmas or Birthday. This assures that I don’t get too crazy with money and that I don’t sacrifice my family on the altar of board games, especially since one of my biggest reasons for loving the hobby is it will always provide good interaction with my wife and kids in this digital age! Veterans, I implore you to have this same mindset since your marriage, relationships, and possibly your faith are more important than filling 10 Kallax shelves! So yes, I suppose it has the potential to be a drug if you allow it to be, but that’s not really what this point is about! Gateway Game is a term used to describe a game with simple rules that are easy to grasp for non-gamers which may attract them to board gaming as a hobby. This leaves a bit of room for interpretation of course. A gateway game for someone who has grown up playing in-depth RPGs on a computer is possibly going to look much different than a gateway game for the person whose interests have never involved gaming of any type! Either way, the goal is for the people that are new to playing to understand that board games don’t end at Monopoly, Risk, or Life. These childhood staples for most families don’t even begin to touch the surface of the expanse of today’s board game opportunities! Some of my favorite games that are considered gateway games are Ticket to Ride, Sushi Go Party!, and a new game that I consider to be gateway and family oriented, The Grimm Forest.
Lesson: When you hear gateway game don’t think drugs, but instead think of a library. You know the person who is visiting, so even though the first book you hand them may not be your personal favorite or the best you have in your collection, give them something that will open their eyes to the wonders of reading without scaring them away!
Board Games Are Expensive!
Thinking of our second point here, yes board games can be very expensive collectively just as drugs would obviously become expensive over time, but not neccessarily individually! If you allow the hobby to become a drug then you will live with an empty wallet and accrue a bunch of debt, but if not then it’s a perfectly affordable interest to have. This point is full of 100% factual arguments (based on averages) for the justification of spending money on board games…in moderation! We could explain this through words, but aren’t pictures worth a thousand words or something like that? Hopefully this small image helps you, and allows you to explain to your friends and family that controlled spending on board games is a sound and acceptable investment when viewed alongside other potential hobbies for adults to have.
Lesson: Be wise and practical. If you will never "get a game to the table" is it really worth the money? Sometimes yes, but usually no. Use board games to grow closer to those you love and allow it to be a hobby that your proud of!
What’s a Meeple?
A meeple, pronounced “meepul” is a small figurine used in certain board games. Gaming lore tracks the word back to the combining of the words “my” and “people” to describe the figures being used within a game of Carcassonne. Traditionally it looks something like this and is made of wood; however, as game design has expanded they are now often times made of different materials and depict different characters rather than people alone. A great example of the diversification of meeples (#meepleequality) can be see in Dinosaur Island which contains plastic dinosaur meeples. Technically we suppose this should be called minosaurs or something like that, but meeple gets the job done!
Lesson: Now you know more about meeples. Use this newfound knowledge to make this world better! With great power comes great responsibility!
Mechanics and More: How do I understand it all?
Eurogame? Take That? Worker Placement? Card Drafting? It’s a handful to wrap your brain around, but it doesn’t all have to be done in a day. Your best bet though is to visit this link (CLICK HERE!) regularly and study up on your lingo to stay in the know! The layout is far more efficient at explaining than we would be here. Some things are too perfect to try to recreate! Just remember, reading about a mechanic is much different than getting hands-on with the mechanic itself, so early on diversify your collection to get a feel for what you really enjoy!
Lesson: Take your time. It's going to take a LONG time to grasp it all but enjoy the process and don't miss the fun in the midst of the rush to catch up! Veterans, let's give them all the knowledge they can handle!
We could have done an entire series of blogs about BoardGameGeek, and maybe someday we will. For this blog though we only wanted to briefly touch on what it is. BGG is a website for all things board gaming. Looking for folks to connect with? BGG. Looking for game reviews? BGG. Looking for free stuff? BGG. Looking for local groups to connect with? BGG. Wanting to know what’s new in the board game world? BGG. Seriously it is an amazing site supported by its users and I personally wouldn’t be where I am in the hobby today without it! Again, we can’t cover all there is to know about BGG here (secret: we are still learning ourselves), but check out the links throughout this point along with this final one (CLICK HERE!) to head on over and check it out! If you’re having trouble just come back here and post comments with questions and we will give you all the help we can!
Lesson: USE AND SUPPORT THIS SITE! That is all.
Are Kickstarters Trustworthy?
Yes and no. For the most part yes. However, it is always a good rule of thumb to do ample research before backing a project through the popular crowdfunding site. Loads of publishers utilize Kickstarter these days to launch games, and a lot of consumers prefer it as opposed to purchasing in a big box store. If you plan on getting deeper in the hobby we can guarantee you’ll at least find yourself looking at Kickstarter at some point. You can always check to see how many other projects a company has launched and even travel to those projects and read comments to see how they did with previous projects before giving them your hard earned money. Utilizing BGG and Facebook Groups are another way to see what the word around town is about certain projects, but for the most part Kickstarter is pretty safe! They can also be pretty fun to be a part of since many times backers get a say in what ends up in the final product!
Lesson: Do your research just as you would with any other purchase, especially online purchases. Don't be afraid of it or let one bad egg spoil the whole bunch. Another quick tidbit for veterans and newbies alike, be patient with those that run campaigns. It is a HUGE endeavor and more often than not they are giving it their all. Speak your mind, but don't forget there is a person on the other side of the screen!
How to convince my friends?
Let us go ahead and say, as painful as it is, some people will never accept or get into tabletop gaming. That’s okay, but if they are your friends and family you probably don’t want that to be the case! Not only would it be hard to find people to play with, but it eliminates the best argument for spending money on board games as we discussed above: spending time with friends and family! Truthfully, there is no surefire way to convince those you love to enjoy board games with you. The obstacles can sometimes be mountainous and they will never even give anything a try due to terrible childhood memories of Monopoly or family arguments involving Scrabble. Be encouraged though. The hardest part is getting them to the table the first time. If you really know who you are trying to convince you should be able to at least persuade them to just one game night in which they will give 2-3 (more if you’re lucky) games a try. Since you know them so well you should be able to put together a solid group of games(remember the term gateway games from earlier?) and all you have to do is hit on one of them to win them over. Ultimately it is up to you…are you ready to jump in the battle? Leeeeerooyyyyyyyyyy Jenkinsssssssssssssssss!
Lesson: Good Luck!
I want more! How do I get involved?
To get involved more there isn’t really a flowchart or anything like that, but the process is still pretty simply. Are you ready for the secret? Here it is. Engage! Engage with others. Do this online. Do this locally. Do this in whatever way you can and you will find yourself as involved as you care to be. We’ve given some starter sites to get involved below so figure out the ones you like and once you get there ask questions, be bold, and go where no man has gone before…a big task! We didn't want to overwhelm anyone anymore than they already may be, but we'd love for our readers to comment with their favorite Websites, Facebook Pages/Groups, or YouTube Channels for everything board gaming!
Lesson: Work hard and spend time engaging and you'll be heavily involved before you even know it!
Is this okay?
You just read a blog about board games. If you’re new you may be asking, “Is this okay?” The answer is 100% yes! All the veterans here agree and we hope you’re here to stay. Enjoy your games this week and we'd love for you to check out our YouTube Channel or other blog posts!