A few weeks ago, the world celebrated International Tabletop Day. Ok… maybe only the geeks celebrated it. Still, it was a huge gala for a unifying and creativity-inducing activity.
The question remains, for some of you, what is Tabletop gaming? Often in our new media society, we view “gaming” as consisting of a controller and a hard drive. But Tabletop is the unplugged, acoustic version. There are various types of tabletop games, and I’m going to talk you through some of my favorite starter varieties. You may recognize one or two…
A great way to get into tabletop gaming, and it was my start as well, is through playing cards. The typical deck has several uses from Poker to Hearts to Gin Rummy. The essence of tabletop gaming is found in the deck through the fellowship had gathered at the table.
I grew up playing Rummy with my Gram at her kitchen table. She even taught me how to play Poker with a pot of pennies and tootsie rolls. It is still some of my favorite memories. And it was truly my initiation into enjoying the aura of tabletop gaming.
Playing cards are not the only card games available to interested gamers. There are some fantastic storytelling card games like Gloom. Another favorite game of mine is called Anomia. The word “anomia” is the inability to recall a word… its that tip-of-the-tongue sensation. This game is built around the frustration and competitiveness of a quick play.
The cards contain categories that are relatively basic, and symbols that match other cards in the deck. When two symbols match, it becomes a game of quick recall as you must name something in the category of your opponent’s card before he names something in yours. It blends the quick and simple functionality of a deck of cards with the wit and intelligence people can enjoy from word games.
The next type of game that the beginner gamer might enjoy is the dice game. Dice games are all about luck and the roll. Some are thematic like Zombie Dice. As they say on their website: “Eat brains. Don’t get shotgunned.” My personal favorite is one I play with my children often, Yahtzee. It’s all about patterns and points, so the number nerd can enjoy the chase. Yahtzee is also a classic family game that allows everyone to root for everyone else while still having a touch of the competitive edge that makes gaming more fun. Especially when you’re lucky enough to get three Yahtzees in one game. These are all great beginner games. But the core of tabletop gaming is probably found in the genre of board games. There are tons of classics, like Monopoly, that many enjoy playing. But there are other lesser known board games that provide a beautiful and rich experience in the world of gaming.
If you enjoy a good RPG video game, you might enjoy playing Munchkin, as it is all about kicking down doors, donning the right equipment, and killing the things that stand in your way… Oh.. and the loots! It’s almost more of a card game with a board for a visual reference — with several decks that can be combined for a unique gaming experience. The really neat thing about Munchkin is there are the varieties of cards for whatever your tastes are. Pick the style that speaks to you! Another addicting board game is Settlers of Catan; this resource-gathering game is all about acquisition and competition. It can be a frustrating and fantastic ride. There’s even a wonderful junior edition to make game night a family experience.
My favorite board game is by far Ticket to Ride. It is simple, strategic, and intricate enough that every game is different. It’s a slightly more elegant board game, but it is still a beginner level event. I also just love the look of the game, the map is gorgeous and colorful. It’s fun to play with the family and talk about the places we’ve been or the places we could go. Ticket to Ride further becomes a competitive game as you try to claim routes and block your opponent’s move while racking up as many points as you can for yourself.
Tabletop gaming is probably my favorite way to get to know people. It is a chance to learn about their personalities and playing the game breaks down inhibitions a little faster than just having a cup of coffee or sharing a meal. There really is a game for everyone. If you’re interested in more games, I strongly suggest you check out Wil Wheaton’s web series “TableTop.” It’s three seasons of gameplay, competition, and camaraderie. The show features some fabulous games, most of which have been mentioned here.
So, dear readers, shall we play a game?