Hello and welcome to The Crafty Players – A site for all your board game and craft beer needs! We are Paddy and Emmet and we plan on bringing you an arousingly voyeuristic look into our board gaming lives!
Step over the obstacle course of meeple and dice, brush aside the teetering cases of micro-brews, and join us in our cozy little corner of the internet for a chat. Here we’re going to share with you articles and podcasts about our love of board games, how they magically strengthen friendships through betrayal and subterfuge, and why they have become so important to us. We’ll look at board game and geek culture and share some personal stories about how our little pastime has affected our lives, and we’ll even give you a fly on the wall look at our little cadre of players in our monthly videos.
For those interested (and of age) we’ll also spotlight our favourite beers and give a suggestion for what games you should pair them with.
Before all that though let’s each of us chat about why we play board games…
Like a lot of people my first experience of board games was what you would expect: Snakes & Ladders, Monopoly, Cluedo – all the old stalwarts. Unfortunately as a kid I had a very short fuse, and was a terrible loser (our little gaming group will say that hasn’t changed but I am sticking to my word that that is a strategy!).
Being the type of person I was, games of chance and the frustration entailed within didn’t really hold a lot of appeal for me. I grew up and did my best to avoid these games, burying myself in video games and tabletop role-playing games instead (that’s basically Dungeons & Dragons to those of you who are unfamiliar with the term). These games appealed far more to me, D&D in particular. There was still an element of chance (you’re rolling a lot of dice) but I felt like I had far more agency over my destiny through how my character acted in the story, and how I created and advanced them. I’ll talk a bit more about pen and paper role-playing (PnP RPing ;)) in the future, but for now just know that my head was soundly turned away from board games.
Flash forward to today and I’m desperately trying to cram an increasingly growing pile of board games into a press that should be waiting to be filled with a stack of newborn sized nappies. So what happened? Well, when a man loves a woman –
Oh! With the board games! Gotcha.
Well for years we had an RP group that met every Wednesday, or Thursday, or whenever suited. We ran the gamut of systems, stories, settings, and had a helluvalot of fun. It was a great reason to meet and catch up with one another every week, and chat before and after the game (and sometimes during…). As life is wont to do however, it got in the way. People dropped out or could only show up irregularly so games drifted and stagnated, or sometimes just… faded into the ether. And then, like the Irish Thor that he is, Paddy returned! (having cruelly abandoned us to go and live in Japan and meet his beautiful wife. He’s just inherently selfish that way.) With Paddy came a renewed push for board games, and so I trundled along determined to deride this silly pastime.
INTERLUDE: I should write an article on the weirdly antagonistic relationship within nerd culture…
But wait! What’s this?! Tactics? An evolving narrative? Diplomacy? Backstabbing and treachery? Beautifully painted board and pieces? These aren’t the board games I grew up on!
Now credit where it’s due, Paddy knows his audience. He hooked me in with the Game of Thrones board game, having previously gotten me addicted to the novels as well. I really enjoyed it – I didn’t love it, but I did like it. We played another game at some point, and I was hooked (and hey – ruler of Westeros in 3 turns). New games were bought and played, and I started to find what games I liked.
I began to enjoy board games more than our weekly RP sessions. It still allowed for a rich experience, it had luck as well as tactics, and it also still had a narrative to it. The narrative could come in-game, or could grow between the players and the board itself (what’s called “The Meta”), and that game’s “story” was done in a few hours – with no weekly commitment. It still allowed me to gather up a small group of my friends and spend some quality time with them too! That’s a winning combination for me.
So to cut what’s turned into a very long story short, I play board games because they’re stories I can share with my friends. They can be a 20 second hand of Love Letter, or a 3 hour epic of Dead of Winter, it doesn’t matter. These little stories are memories that I can keep with me forever – tucked away in a little plastic ziplock baggy in my head.
Card games, wargames, roleplaying games… yeah, I’ve played them all. I’ve spent a lot of money in my life on these games. Magic the Gathering and Warhammer are particular pits I have thrown endless wads of cash down, and that is one of the reasons I play board games. For €60 I can have a board game that lasts 3 hours, a wonderful, storied experience with friends, that can create lasting memories in one night. Then I can do it a month later, and for no additional cost, have another unique experience, and a month later, another unique experience. For me, board games facilitate friendships and shared experiences.
But how did I come to board games? As I said, I played most games when I was younger. Magic was my first vice, then I moved onto Warhammer, passed via a few other card games, and also role playing. I had my frustrations with all of them; Magic was won by the person who threw the most money at it, Warhammer could be lost by poor dice rolling, or just the horribly unbalanced mechanics, and my characters when we role-played never came out the way I imagined them to be (I’m sure the “We’re not here to help!” story will be told eventually…)
Then there was board games. I can’t remember which one I played or came across first. Of course I played as a kid, many do. The usual games of Monopoly and Risk were played, as well as one or two more uncommon ones like Power. I remember playing War of the Ring with my uncle and cousin at one point, and around the same time learning of Settlers of Catan, not to mention the Game of Thrones board game. How, I have no idea…
But something pivotal happened in my early twenties: I moved to Japan. For 5 years. I left all of those gaming hobbies at home, and they were mostly ignored for those 5 years. In that time I learned a lot about myself, and I reflected on how I spent my time, who spent it with, and what I wanted from my life. The guys I had spent my teenage and early adult years meant the world to me (among others!), and that was why I played most of the games I played, to spend time with them. Even if I didn’t enjoy the games, I would play. I just wanted to be around my friends. But board games were a bit different. They were on my mind in Japan, the were in there, in the corner, always poking, prodding, something I wanted to re-engage with.
After I moved home, the group were chatting over the Christmas holidays, and we decided to try run a monthly board game night. Once a month, the first weekend of every month, with a rotating host. Two years later, we’re still going strong. The fires of passion have been lit, collections have been expanded or started, and now, that sense of excitement and passion is spilling over to this site. Board games, more powerful than you can ever know.
So there you have it, a glimpse into why we play games. Be sure to check back regularly for new content including podcasts, videos, and more yet more articles on why games are great! Oh, and be sure to follow us on various social media accounts to the side!