The revival of board games

Are board games now the new "it" thing?

Benja Townsend
7th November 2018
Image: Jaciel Melnik

Craft beers, organic kale chips, beards, fake glasses and now boardgames; have they been appropriated by the hipster movement? Yes, they have. Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity have risen alongside boardgames in popularity. But these mediocre card games are only good for passing time at sixth-form and can’t compete with recent boardgames.

From experience I can confidently say that there are those who spend their Saturday nights fighting through a dungeon rather than a crowded club. This isn’t to say that alcohol and friends are side-lined, Friday night pres now start earlier so a quick game of Ticket to Ride can be finished beforehand. This form of socialising has long been known to have been practiced by Dads, so it is far from a new trend. Therefore, playing boardgames is not a hipster thing. Could it be that these new games are better? I’m going to say yes just so I can waffle on about my favourite games.

Settlers of Catan, first produced in 1996 (before I was born), has regularly brought out updates or expansions to keep itself in everyone’s mind. It combines randomness, strategy, simplicity with a small amount of messing with your friends. Reminiscent of Sid Meier’s Civilisation games on PC, which the latest instalment costs £49.99, Catan is significantly cheaper, and in my opinion the more sociable option. The idea of collecting sheep and attempting to build the longest road may sound ridiculous, but it is surprisingly addictive. However, it isn’t to everyone’s taste and obviously isn’t the only board game out there. In a similar way to the well-known Pandemic, Zombicide is a game which encourages teamwork to achieve the goal of beating the apocalypse. These ‘win or lose’ types of games encourage teamwork while also allowing everyone to have a bit of fun. They’re great if you need a more peaceful night or have someone new to initiate into the exclusive club of board-gamers.

The question remains is there a rising number of people playing boardgames, or it is just now socially acceptable to admit it to the world? Surprisingly I came to this realisation in a pub (believe it or not, boardgames don’t prevent you from spending your life surrounded by pints). While sitting out on a terrace in central Newcastle a woman was telling her mate that she had been playing D&D (Dungeons and Dragons to the uncultured) for seven years. D&D’s versatility is what makes it so fantastic; if you want to dress up and role play to the extreme you can, but on the other hand if you just want a calm night of story-telling that won’t take over your life, that’s an option. Why this woman took seven years to tell her friend I don’t know. But it confirms that the boardgame revival isn’t real, rather spending your evenings huddled around a coffee table has now become socially acceptable.


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