Welcome to Board and Game! My goal is to create a useful source of reviews, session recaps, previews and more for all those who love board, card and other tabletop games, from those just getting into the hobby to those who have been playing games for decades. This site’s obviously not alone in that regard; as you can see from our blogroll, there are plenty of other great sites out there doing this! So, what’s going to make this site useful for you? Here are a few thoughts:
A focus on the name: Why Board and Game? It illustrates what I’m about on a couple of levels. First, this is a site about my obsession with board (but also card, and other tabletop) games, but second, it’s meant to be an inclusive site. So, the title is an invitation: board, and game! Really, all those pirate and naval actions could have been resolved much more politely if boarding led to games rather than combat. I mean, they’re even called boarding parties…
A focus on theme: For many of us, theme can be an awesome part of gaming. Whether it’s a fully-immersive theme that transports you from the table into medieval kingdoms, seas swarming with pirates or outer space, or just something that makes you think a little differently about what set of cards you’re collecting, theme can be a big part of the experience. Our reviews and session reports will try to incorporate this whenever possible, talking about games’ themes, whether they fit with the mechanics, and how they affect the play environment, and even going in-character whenever possible. Not every game needs to be full of flavour text and unique cards to have a strong theme; sometimes, theme can come through strongly in what is otherwise almost an abstract game (I find Michael Barnes’ 2014 No High Scores article on Reiner Knizia and theme illustrates this well, as does Dan Thurot’s review of Knizia’s Tigris and Euphrates.) Theme matters to many of us gamers, though, so everything here will carry a discussion of the theme and how it works.
A focus on play: A game can have your personal favourite theme, and the most innovative and well-balanced mechanics out there, but if it isn’t actually fun to play, you’re going to feel let down. Conversely, there are plenty of games that are held up as design standards, but may not be everyone’s cup of tea. People play games for different reasons (The Cardboard Republic‘s Gamer Archetypes are an interesting step into analyzing this), and different elements of games are fun for different people, but at the core, play should be fun. With each game discussed here, I’ll try to relate what’s fun about it (and what may not be as fun) to help you decide if it might be up your alley.
A focus on individuality: Gaming is a highly personal subject, and your interactions with a game aren’t going to be exactly like anyone else’s. Maybe a particular well-executed theme just doesn’t interest you at all, or maybe what feels like a brilliant combination of mechanics to others may seem like fiddly busywork to you. Maybe what someone else sees as a perfect strategy/luck balance is far too random, or not random enough, for your liking. Maybe what feels like an ideal length of game to you is a draggy monstrosity for someone else. The people you play with can make a difference, too; many games are significantly altered at various player counts, and some can feel completely unrecognizable if you go from a group that focuses on their own empires to a group that’s out to interfere with each other every chance they get. Beyond all that, it’s awfully hard to find a game that everyone will love; one person’s BoardGameGeek 10 may be another’s 1. The goal here isn’t passing judgement, but rather providing useful information; I’ll discuss a game, say whether it works for me or not and why, and also discuss who it may and may not particularly appeal to.
A focus on writing, and on listening: A piece can be the most brilliant analysis of a game ever, but if it’s not well-crafted and interesting to read, many aren’t going to make it to the end. The goal here will always be to make our content entertaining, well-written and useful. Hopefully my background can help out with that a bit, but I’m always open to suggestions on how to improve. What’s useful for you? What do you like and not like about this site? Feedback is always welcome, via comments, Twitter or e-mail.