Ever have trouble picking out the best game for you and your playgroup? Of course you have, because there is an abundance of variety when it come to board games, just like movies or food. It's often a task to determine what you should pick up because you're not quite sure what you will like. That's where we come in! We can't count (no seriously, what comes after 5?)how many times a day people come in or call asking for advice on what they should pick up, so why not make a blog about it and give you another source of information?
The first question we ask our customers is "are you a new or an experienced gamer?" A newer player will tend to want something a little lighter and easier to learn and play; whereas an experienced gamer will look for something with a bit more heft and difficulty. Games are typically broken down into two main categories: Mainstream and Hobby. There is some overlap between the two, but for the most part you can easily classify a game as one or the other.
Mainstream games are definitely the ones you've most likely heard of and/or played because they are . . . well mainstream. Hobby games are the ones that are a bit more niche. They are the games for gamers. Both categories can be broken down a bit further into sub-categories.
- Family - the games you grew up with. . . or the games your "okay boomer" parent's played "back in the day." Sometimes these games get a bad rep, but a lot of them are classics and really were the stepping stones to some of the games we have nowadays. This includes games like Monopoly, Candy Land and Risk. Risk is so popular that it has made a comeback and now has a Legacy version (a type of game we might talk about in the future).
- Dexterity - games that will test your coordination and be more hands on. A lot of these could almost be classified as Party games since they're so fun and involving, but alas, we don't make the lists, just share them with you. Classics like Twister, Operation or everyone's favorite JENGA are a part of this list!
- Party - games you play with larger groups of people. Usually 6 players and up to make these work the best. Word association games like Catch Phrase and Taboo are always fan favorites. Trivial Pursuit and other "quiz" games are popular as well. And then the guttural laughter inducing Apples to Apples is always a good choice for groups that know each other well. . . and for getting to know the new person in your group.
- Thematic - are games that try and warp gameplay around a certain theme. Games like this would be Axis and Allies, Twilight Emperium or Nemesis. Sometimes you're just a space junky so you try thematic games revolving around space exploration or fighting aliens. Maybe you want to go to war with the Germans and finally have an excuse to sabotage that one friend that always picks on you in games. Thematic games tend to scratch that niche you didn't know you have (yes, I tend to pronounce it NISH instead of NEESH. wannafightabout it? cash me in da comments).
- Euro - games that try to be, or at least seem to be, a little bit more sophisticated. You're not going to find as much fighting in this game, but that's not to say there isn't strife. Most of the interactions will be vying for territory or resources. Worker placement is common theme amongst these games. Some are more strategic, some are more tactical and some have a good chunk of both. Games you've probably heard of that really brought these games to glory would be Settler's of Catan, Power Grid and Caylus
- Wargames - usually in-depth time / place specific games based around conflict. Thick, rules dense booklets often accompany these games. These games are not quick, so expect to spend a whole day with the gang to tackle one of these fiends. Do not confuse this genre with miniature games, even though frequently there are intricate minis in these games. Games like Paths of Glory and Flames of War fill this genre.
Abstract games stay accurate to their name because they fall into both of the main categories. These are games that tend to require a lot of thought, both strategically and tactically (another good topic for a blog). Some are simple in nature (Mainstream) like Checkers or Tic-Tac-Toe. Even Chess is classified as Mainstream even though it has an unrivaled ceiling for difficulty and replayability; others are a bit more challenging like Blokus or YINSH. The level of difficulty usually determines whether the game is classified as Mainstream or Hobby, but level of difficulty is so vague, that it's easier to just make Abstract it's own category. One that can bridge between both the Mainstream and Hobby archetypes.
That's it for this one. Expect more a more in-depth look at some of our favorite games from these genres later on. Give us some feedback in the comments! Let us know which of these genres is your favorite, which ones you want to know more about and just more stuff in general for us to talk about!!