During my freshman year of highschool, my friend introduced me to modern board games. Now, when you mention board games, most people think of chess, checkers, monopoly, or maybe some other simple games like connect four. When I say “modern” board games, I am referring to more complex strategy board games that you see topping the rankings on boardgamegeek.com. Games with ten to twenty page rulebooks, with dozens or even hundreds of components, games that seem to resemble strategy video games more so than the likes of chess and monopoly. In my highschool, we had a board games club that met outside of school in a local food court every friday. This is what my friend introduced me to, and what I religiously attended almost every week till the end of my high school days.
The first game my friend had me learn and play was Mageknight, created by Vlaada Chvatil. In hindsight, maybe Mageknight was not the best introduction game since it’s infamous among board game communities for being ridiculously complicated. Indeed, it came with a 20 page rulebook with small font text. Additionally, the creator also included a walkthrough handbook, intended to walk you through the first “learning” session, a shorter training game to help new players learn the game. Being so excited to play, instead of bothering with the walkthrough, the day I learned about the game I read through the entire 20 page rulebook in one sitting, using a pdf version I found online.
Mageknight and my highschool’s board game community was a gateway to modern board games. Since the club met outside of school, it was not forced to adjourn at 5 pm like other clubs were. The more dedicated members, me being one of them, would often stay well in the night, often until midnight, playing board games. The first few times my mother would lecture me about worrying her and the dangers of being out at midnight, but after a while she became accustomed to my late arrivals, with the aid of a cell phone. More importantly, board games were a transition period within my gaming habits. While I had spent the majority of my youth playing video games, the majority of which were strategy games, the games I played tended to be pretty simple, cheap or free, and not very deep or complex. Meanwhile, the board games available to me escalated the complexity and engagement and really pushed my mental abilities. I think board games was where I developed a craving for difficult strategy games, as well as helped me transition into more mature strategy games in the market, which is where I spend a significant portion of my free time nowadays.