My Favorite Things: Board Games

by Emerian Rich

Name: Chantal Noordeloos
Current obsession: Board Games

GloomFamiliesThere are those who have hobbies, and there are those who turn into obsessed Loony Tunes. I, unfortunately, belong to the latter category. I have had a lot of hobbies in my life. Some gradually fade after a while, some are reoccurring (I lose interest, then they sort of come back after a while), and some just stay with me.

My hobby du jour is ‘board games’. It didn’t start as an obsession, I promise. It all started rather gradually. I’ve always loved playing board games, but I have the competitive nature of a wet tissue, so I was soon ‘gamed out’, so to speak. Then, quite a few years ago, we bought a ‘cooperative board game’ in the Lord of the Rings theme. It sucked on so many levels, that I sort of dismissed the whole cooperative thing.

So, we occasionally played a game. Sometimes at parties, sometimes at home. Usually Settlers of Catan or Elvenland. Nothing fancy, we usually just stuck to tabletop role playing (another one of my obsessions) instead of board games until someone introduced us to Pandemic. We really liked it, and around the same time a friend of ours had his birthday, and his girlfriend (now wife) asked everyone to chip in so that they could buy the whole set of Arkham horror games, expansions and all. I read about it, and the game intrigued me. So, I bought the base game (because I’m not impulsive or anything).

zombicideThe game was awesome. It was dark and thrilling and the only issue I had with gaming –namely the competitiveness—was completely eliminated. I was in heaven. After the base game, the expansions soon followed, and my wallet went on a diet. We played Arkham for a while, but with the expansions came some issues. First of all, most of our table would be swallowed up by the bazillion boards, and since we rarely managed to finish a game in one evening, we would have the boards on our table for a few days. The worst part was cleaning all the itty bitty pieces. So, though we still enjoyed it, it wasn’t a nightly thing. Besides, I like a bit of  variation, and one game simply would not do.

We decided to buy more games, and with each game, the obsession grew a little. We loved playing Last Night on Earth, which is a Zombie themed game. It’s a shame it’s not fully co-op. When we found a game similar to it –that WAS co-op—we were over the moon. The game was called Zombicide, and with it we became proper gaming geeks. (This is still one of our favourite games)

Now we play games several nights a week. Mostly just the two of us, but we also play with friends. I even started a bi-monthly game night, so that others could join the fun. I love co-operative games the most, though I like playing worker placement games too, as long as they’re not too cut-throat.

Gaming is taking up a chunk of our spending money, because when we like a game, we tend to want the expansions as well. Kickstarter is a dangerous place for me. That’s where you find games that haven’t been made yet, and there are usually some exclusive extras involved if you pledge money. There’s an addictive excitement in trying to reach pledge goals. Kickstarter junkies will understand what I mean.

clay sheepIt’s even made me creative. We bought a game called Agricola, and I was disappointed with the game pieces. I had seen such wonderful creations online and I thought: “I should try this”. So the past week and a half I’ve been spending all the time that I’m not writing (or playing games) making clay figures to use as game pieces. I even worked some of my own favorite themes like ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ into the little figures. It’s been a lot of fun, and as soon as I’m finished with these (there are a lot of them) I’m going to do the same for Dungeon Petz and Robinson Crusoe.

clay nbcSo, why this obsession with games? I don’t know, I think they speak to my inner child. What I like about them is that they’re so social. It’s fun to play games, even if you’re just with two people. I prefer it over watching television. Not that I dislike binge-watching a good series now and then, but I noticed that my husband and I were watching too many programs we didn’t even like. And we wouldn’t really talk to each other anymore. Now we talk, we laugh and we have to think. There’s a childish excitement we feel when we get to try a new game, or play a game we really love. It’s great to browse in game stores, or admire miniatures or other things. There are so many visually stunning games out there, they speak to the amateur artist in me as well. Games like Gloom, in which you need to try to make your own characters dreadfully unhappy, and kill them, really speak to me. The cards are see-through and very gothic looking. I love that. Or the expansions of Dixit are also breath taking. Beautiful artwork.

Some games are just silly. We love playing Escape: Curse of the temple. It’s only a 10 minute game (literally, it has a timer) and it always ends up with people yelling frantically at each other and laughing rather loud. Games like that really add something to our day.

We play a lot of games with our 8 year old too, which is a different type of fun. It’s good for her education too. She learns to deal with disappointment, but also to plan and think strategically.

So… what’s not to love about board games? They’re fun, educational, exciting, social and stimulate your grey matter. The only thing that it does affect negatively is your bank account… on that subject… anyone in the market for a kidney?

Find out more about Chantal, go to: http://www.chantalnoordeloos.info

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Don’t miss the next installment of this
favorite things series when my writer friend
Cinsearae Santiago-Reiniger
will talk about her obsession.

Do you have something you collect or obsess about and would like to share with my readers? Feel free to comment below or if you’d like to do a post on your obsession, email me at emzbox13@gmail.com

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