VOICES OF THE SYNDICATE: Why are Board Games Suddenly Popular Again?

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Board games have come a long way in the last 10 years but more recently they have seen a huge surge in variety and type. Even on Geek Syndicate we have now started to pay attention to the topic and caught the game bug.

There are even game conventions around the UK and the rest of the world that are growing every year and like Comic Con major companies are noticing and getting involved.

We asked the rest of Geek Syndicate what games (board, dice, card, miniatures) have you enjoyed the most and why. Also why do you think board games have become so popular again?

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Luke 

I think they’ve become popular again because there is something nice about getting together with your friends and play. I think it’s become popular again because for younger players it feels new and different and for the rest of us we are craving the nostalgia.

For me it has and always will be monopoly. I just love it as a game. I enjoy the risk involved and that it is not like any other game you can get. It has often been imitated but never could you beat the original.

Christophe 

Having come into the board game arena only recently I have been overwhelmed as to how big it has all become and the variety of them. I am loving board games the most especially the co op ones where you play against the game to win or survive or a race against time.
I think the reason they have become so popular is because they are now not just moving around a board but rather more complex, like a strategy or commerce game that makes you think about not just this move but 3 moves down the line. There are many themes to appeal to everyone and they are not just aimed at children any more.
My favourite game so far is Forbidden Island and King of Tokyo because they can be played over and over again and it is just as much fun every time.

Matt 

I think that its largely due to an increase in diverse, accessible, and quick-to-play games on the European Model – when I was younger there seemed to be a huge gap between simple games “for kids” and then vast, complex simulationist board games that took up hours and hours to play and were essentially wargames-lite.

The rise of things like Settlers of Catan, that you can understand quickly and play in a couple of hours, is perfect for adult gaming with a time constraint! Game I’m playing the most at the moment is the X-Wing Miniatures game with my eldest son, although shout outs to “Smallworld” as a recurring favourite

L-J

As a kid it was all about monopoly and cluedo but as an adult I’ve fallen away from board games.  The thing is, I REALLY want to play these games I hear people talk about.  I just don’t have a clue where to start!  So any advice that I can glean from the GS Board Gaming section on best games for a newbie would be most appreciated..

NUGE

To be honest I have no idea why board gaming has taken off in the way it has. I myself have not been able to play any of these new breed of games as I don’t have anyone to play them with in my area. However after a recent invite hoping to get a try on  X-Wing Miniatures for the first time and looking forward to it. Like L-J I’ll be keeping an eye on the GS Board Gaming section to get some more info on what’s going on.

Antony

I’ve come back into table-top gaming in the last year or so, partly due to shows like TableTop over on Geek and Sundry, but also because my wife has gaming friends. My personal favourite type of games are really the same as my favourite video games: Co-Operative games. While it’s great trying to beat your mates, I really like the feeling of working together to “beat the game”: Gears of War, Castle Panic and Legends of Andor are all top fun, though Pandemic takes the award for my current favourite (see Issue 7 of Geek Syndicate Magazine for my review!).

On the non-co-operative front, the simple Dice Game Zombie Dice is an ideal quick game, Star Wars X-Wing is a beautifully crafted miniature skirmish system and the most unexpected fun I had was playing a game called “For Sale” in which every one plays an estate agent, buys property then sells at auction. Ridiculous fun for the subject matter.

As to the popularity: chalk it down to the phenomenal craftsmanship that goes into modern games (and new versions of old ones), the desire for people to meet up and have fun and shows like TableTop. WHEEEEEEEATON!!!!

Dean

I suppose the revival in board games is down to a number of factors.  One is greater commercial support/attention. Shops are stocking a much more diverse selection than I ever remember.
Another factor is the innovation that occurred during the more niche years, led to more ideas and simple devices to improve diversity and accessibility for potential newbies. This might be from the commercial side of things moving away for a while and giving indie developers a chance to try new things. Indies tend to be the ones that push innovation the most, after all.

It could also be tougher economic times in the last decade have meant that boardgames are a more affordable way of spending leisure time, particularly with friends and family. This would in turn improve demand for more off-beat games as the more well-trodden games get played to death.

I suppose it could also be a backlash from the speed of technological innovation. People can only spend so much time in front of a screen before they need a break. It is odd that the advice we get about taking a break from screens (computers), leads us to other screen (phones, tablets, TVs). Some people would find this unsettling and might want to jump to something less glaringly high tech.

I can’t say I’m an expert on boardgames though. I can only posit those possible factors/theories. I hardly play boardgames because very few people around me had the time or interest to play. Though I have recently expressed greater interest than before in trying stuff. I recall a handful of games I liked when I was younger – Risk, and Buccaneer (the 1950s version, I think). Absolutely loathe scrabble and monopoly.

Ron

We’ve always been games players in our house (“the family that plays together, stays together”) but it was limited to Risk (Transformers version), Electronic Game of Life, and about 4 different versions of Monopoly including Marvel Comics, Spiderman & Star Wars (if any one can find the very rare St. Albans Edition – please give me a shout!)  – we even built our own SciFi version incorporating all of our favourite shows & films!

The game changers are now:

i) the games are much more immersive now- really pulling you in to the world(s) they have created

ii) there are some really great (and significantly cheaper) iPad based versions, which really whet your appetite for the real thing (e.g. Gubbs, Forbidden Island and Ticket to Ride)

iii) the games employ more chance of winning through chance / luck and guile / cunning, rather than just pure intellect – that means if you’ve got two or three quite similar children playing, they’ve all got a pretty good chance of winning.>

Dion

Board games have always been a sociable medium, designed to set up friendly competition, banter and fun.  While the rise of the computer game took a lot of that market, there’s nothing quite like getting round a table with a bunch of mates.  I’ve had years of fun with the role-playing group I joined back in my student days – we still meet up when we can, though we’re opposite sides of the country – and have even experimented with Skype as a means to ‘meet’ more often.RPG’s aside, I’ve had loads of fun with co-operative board games like Mansions of Madness and competitive card-games like Pirate Fluxx or Game Of Thrones.  For sheer affronted outrage, it’s hard to beat a game of Pictionary over Christmas with the family, yet even that holds a certain lustre. The hardest part is getting a gaming group together in the first place – particularly as an adult.  Crack that nut though, and you’re made.

Check out below some of the games mentioned in this edition of Voices of the Syndicate.

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For other board game news see HERE

Reporter: Montoya

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3 comments

  1. They were slowly gaining traction through the mobile market creating a steady awareness in casual games and non traditional boardgames. Considering that the market is now saturated with adults who do not look down on Games as something to be left with childhood then you have a overly fertile market for which opportunities like Wil Wheaton and Tom Vassal are able to create sudden growth in awareness. Granted sites like Boardgame Geek can make you feel that the hobby is still stuck in a web landscape circa 1998 but the interest in Gaming on the table is now on the table for many Geeks

  2. I used to play Games Workshop games and Magic The Gathering but stopped due to the cost. A few years later I got into card and boardgaming while looking at kids’ games to play with my nephew.

    I can recommend:
    Sentinels Of The Multiverse
    Legendary: A Marvel Deckbuilding Game
    Small World
    Ticket To Ride
    Forbidden Island
    Flash Point: Fire Rescue
    Smash Up
    Formula D
    Carcassonne
    Blood Bowl Team Manager
    Castle Panic
    Space Hulk: Death Angel
    Tsuro

    Anyone interested in board or card games should check out http://www.boardgamegeek.com. Ask in the Recommendations forum and you’ll probably be given a list of hundreds of games to try! Alternatively search youtube for Tabletop, Watch It Played or The Dice Tower.

  3. I’d argue that there are a few big factors.

    1) The internet is amazing at connecting people with their passions, meaning people can more easily find board and card games they like and spread them via word of mouth in social circles beyond those they physically move in
    2) In such a screen-crazy world, it’s good to get together in a physical place at a physical time and engage with something absolutely real
    3) Unlike 90% of video games, board and card games fail if they don’t make other players a fundamental part of the gameplay mechanic. Interacting with other humans and seeing them test systems and try to outfox you… what cooler thing could there be than that?! And not just in games – in life!!

    If you have time, check out my game, Lords of War, over on http://www.lords-of-war.com or via facebook.com/BBG.lordsofwar – and if you happen to be heading to Essen next week, for the largest game show on the flippin’ PLANET (150,000 people, 4 days…) then find us and say hi at Booth 3-P118.

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