In the last ten or so years, I have become aware of the large number of very good boardgames out there which have been released, but which are seen nowhere except in a small number of niche shops which specialise in them. Like many people, I had been through the classics, such as Monopoly and Cluedo. However, I was lucky that my father's family had been keen boardgamers, and had less well known games, such as Careers, Totopoly and Taxi. My father seemed to have gone through a phase where he had bought such games as Othello, Campaign and even the notorious Diplomacy, although I suspect he has never played the latter. All of these were played aside the kind of games you normally find in toy shops.
I went through a phase when I got into role playing games, and board games were something which I wouldn't have afforded, even though Talisman looked exceptionally cool. It wasn't until I discovered the web site which I am linking to throughout this article, The Boardgame Geek (http://www.boardgamegeek.com), and became introduced to a new world of games that I never knew existed. These range from the beautiful simple railway game Ticket to Ride and the tile landscape generating Carcassonne, through the simple in concept - more complicated in play Settlers of Catan, up to highly dice-free tilefests like Caylus.
The main problem with all this is finding the time to play them. The main problem is to get people together in a room long enough to finish one of them. Yesterday, I got the chance to play the rather exciting Battlestar Galactica Boardgame. This is based on the excellent recent SciFi Channel (don't get me started about their stupid name change) drama, reimagined from the tired mediocre offering from the late 70s.
Sadly, only my two friends Paul and Katy were available for the initial play, but we quickly got sucked into the game. The game cleverly replicates the paranoia in the original program, because nobody can be absolutely sure whether a player is a Cylon, working against humanity. At the beginning, everyone maybe intent on saving humanity from annihilation, but by the end a sleeper Cylon could be activated. Maybe the last crisis occurred because of bad luck. Maybe it was someone else on the table causing it; maybe it was you.
As it happened, I played Admiral Adama, only be stripped of my rank by my ungrateful son, Apollo. Whilst I believed I was human, halfway through the game, everyone's suspicions were confirmed when I thought it would be a jolly good idea to stage a coup d'etat. I failed miserably, but when Apollo was out fighting the Cylon Raiders, and Starbuck was happy in the dual role of President and Admiral on Colonial One, I revealed my inner Cyclon, and sent Starbuck into the brig, and went onto wreck havoc on the human fleet leaving them cold in space, with no fuel left. Tragically for them, they were two turns from jumping to the safety of Kobol.
All great fun.
Tomorrow: another obsession (TBA)