All this month we are celebrating the world of board games with fellow Phoenix Remix writer Board Not Board. All month we are going to talk about board games whilst focussing on different areas.
Hello tell us about yourself!
Hello! I’ve been doing improv for around five years and, partly because the Venn diagram of improvisers and board game players has a large crossover, got heavily back into board and card games over that period having largely ignored them since my late teens.
What is your earliest memory of playing board games?
There was a racing game called Turbo which I absolutely loved as a child. I think the game itself was actually rather dull but it had this cool looking track, some kind of rudimentary rev counter and loads of small model cars that I used to play with. The cars may even have glowed in the dark.
Growing up what board games would you play a lot of?
A LOT of Cluedo. And Monopoly. I remember making my own extended version of Monopoly with law suits, estate agents and airports. It was completely unplayable but, like a lot of things as a child, it’s the planning and the making that’s the fun bit.
Why do you like board games?
That sense of transportation to another world.
What is your favourite game and why?
Tricky. It’s usually the one I’ve played most recently so I’m going to say Jaipur, because I hadn’t played it for about six months and had forgotten what a fast-moving pleasure it is.
What has been some of your least favorite games?
There’s a certain stage of Monopoly, when everyone has bought their properties, where it just becomes a war of attrition. I used to love that as a child but I find it exhausting now. I think when you’re a child the line between fantasy and reality is slimmer so you can imagine your victory might actually make you rich. It’s harder to keep that illusion as an adult.
Lets talk about reviews – what have been some of your favourites to review for the site so far?
I’ve only done two so far, Sherlock is probably my favourite out of that and The Mind, though. It’s more of an interactive story than a game but it’s so much fun to play in a group.
What have readers got to look forward to in the future?
I’ve been playing a lot recently so should have a few up my sleeve. The lockdown knocked me a bit off balance because I’ve had so much more to do than usual.
Do you go to board game cafes?
Do you think that they would have an impact on the way people play boardgames?
I can imagine that it’d be a great way to sample games without having to buy them, and the social side must be nice, too. But my knowledge is all theory.
When you are playing a board game does the size of counters / cards etc matter?
I became very annoyed at Mansion Of Madness the other day, because the cards were so much smaller than they are in Arkham Horror. In my head I imagined it was because they’d done it on the cheap – which is ridiculous, when you look at the rest of the game – but it’s actually just so they fit on the board. So what I’m trying to say is that practicality is important. Also, I’d say texture is a big thing. The way the back of cards feel is important, as is the quality of the artwork; there’s a game called Citadels, and the differences in the artwork between the original German version and the later English one has a condiderable impact on the atmosphere of the game.
Another example: the tile pieces in Azul. They’re gorgeous. Almost worth buying the game for on their own. You want to eat them.
What makes a good board game?
Ease of immersion and mechanics that make sense.
What about instructions to a game – what are good ones and what are bad ones?
I often get irritated with written instructions because I lack the patience to follow them if they’re complicated (That’s Pretty Clever, for instance, took me months to learn) and end up watching videos on YouTube instead. Sometimes learning by doing is easier. So, that answer reflects a desire for clarity on their part and a cerain laziness on mine. I also think it’s nice to recognise that you can change the rules as long as everyone is playing by the same set.
More from our writer Board Not Bored next Wednesday