Board Games for Beginners – Part 1

Hello again! Welcome back to the unsettlingly sexy side of the internet.

So we’re all about craft beer and board games here right? Right. So Paddy did a great post as an introduction to craft beer right? Right. Which means that I should do an introduction to board games right?…

Crap.

We’ve been going for a few weeks now (yay!) and we tend to use certain words or a certain language when discussing games. We’re so used to this fun little secret code that we don’t even notice that we’re using it, it’s just the way the world is to us. It only really hits me that not everyone knows this language when I say something like “Hey, can you pass me that d6?” and the person looks at me like I’ve two heads (a d6 by the way is your bog standard 6 sided poker dice).

With that in mind I thought I’d throw together a little primer to explain the different types of tabletop games out there and some of the terminology associated with them. As always in nerd culture you might find some contradictions elsewhere, but this is just meant as a jumping off point for people. It also reflects my own opinions and preferences, and if you want to call a d20 a “Throwable Random Number Generator That Always Seems to Land on 1” then by god you call it that!

Tabletop

Ok, right out of the gate I’ll go with this one: Tabletop refers to any game you can play on, you guessed it, a table top. This includes board games, card games,miniature games, and pen and paper role playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. We call ourselves a board game site when in truth we’re actually a tabletop site.

Side Note: Beer also sits nicely on a tabletop

Meeple

MEEPLE! I don’t know why but I love these little guys. And based on the amount of different board game accounts and blogs and websites who utilise them in their names and branding, a helluvalot of other people love them too! I’m assuming the word comes from the mashing together of “My people”, but I’m far too lazy to check into it.

meeple
“As mad as a bag of meeple.” – Ancient Irish Proverb

Meeple, or “meeples”, are the tiny little wooden dudes that come with a lot of board games, usually worker placement games. They come in different shapes and sizes: some with little hats carved in; some with hair carved in; some meeple aren’t even meeple – they might be deeple (dino meeple) or even peeple (pig meeple)!

Dice

d6
Behold the sext potesque, the most common species of the genus dicera

“I know what a god damn dice is Emmet!” I hear you yelling at the screen as I sit perched atop my high horse.

“Oh no my friend” I counter, readjusting my very fine hat, “These aren’t just any dice! These dice have more than 6 sides!”

You gasp, swoon, and fall face first into the mud while my pretty horse and I flounce away.

Ok look, yeah you know what a dice is. My point here is that there are alot (like alot) of variations of dice, and usually they’re referred to as a d-something. So, like above, a d6 is a 6 sided dice, d8, d10, d12, and on and on. There’s even an actual d100 with a hundred sides! It’s like a freakin’ tennis ball! There are also dice with no numbers on them like fudge dice (not as delicious as they sound) or attack and defence dice that you would see in the X-Wing Miniatures game or Descent: Journeys in the Dark.

Generally dice are used in tabletop RPGs and miniatures games, but they do crop up in some board and card games.

Euro Style & American Style

No you haven’t strayed into some kind of weird Buzzfeed article comparing the merits of Euro Style vs. American Style lurv making. Instead this is the far more arousing discussion on different types of board games.

Euro & American Style are probably the broadest and most used term in board games, and it essentially boils down to substance over style (confusingly the Europeans aren’t on the style side).

Euro Style/Eurogame/Euros tend to favour mechanics and be thin on theme – the theme is essentially set dressing. Games like Settlers of Catan, Carcassonne, and Power Grid would fall into this category.

American Style games like to look good first and be functional later – usually they’ll take a few mechanics from other games and fit them to the theme. Here you’re looking at games like Last Night on Earth, Zombicide, and most IP branded games like Lord of the Rings or Gears of War.

Basically Euro is your art house think piece, American Style is your big budget action flick. You, my friend, are searching for the Holy Grail that lies between these two poles.

assemble
Captain America took “American Style” a little too literally

NOTE: Ameritrash

Uch. UCH! I even hate typing that. I wasn’t going to mention this but odds are you’ll come across it in your travels. “Ameritrash” is usually used to refer to any American Style game. People claim they’re using it as a term of endearment but I find it insulting to the people who have worked long and hard to get their game published. Please don’t use it.

(“Eurotrash” does exist in the vernacular but is far less likely to be seen or heard.)

CCG

CCG stands for a Collectible Card Game. These games see you building a deck of cards to compete against other players. Usually there’ll be base decks available and you’ll customise these by purchasing new decks and expansions or “booster” packs as they’re released. The problem is you don’t know what cards you’ll get in those little boosters so you might have to invest a lot of money in order to get what you want, and you’ll be left with a lot of junk cards you don’t need.

The Lord Ruler of CCG’s is Magic: The Gathering (or MtG).

LCG

An LCG is a Living Card Game. These sprang up from the growing aversion players had to having to invest huge amounts of money in games like MtG in order to be able to compete at the top level.

Instead of buying boosters, LCGs usually release new expansions every month. The difference here is you know exactly what cards will be in the box and it means that every player has access to the same pool of cards if they’re up to date on the expansions. Though they’re different from CCG’s, LCG’s can still be huge money sinks.

The current king of LCG’s is Android: Netrunner.

Deck Building

A deck building game is yet another type of card game. Generally these games live in a single box but some deck building games can also be LCG’s (and deeper into the rabbit hole we go…).

Usually in deck building games all players start with the same cards and acquire cards from a central pool. These are then recycled into your deck and it grows and grows based on your decisions.

The big daddy deck builder out there is Dominion, but you can also look for Machi Koro and Flip City as well as many others.

#Camu
Like all good cities, the key to Flip City is having as many factories and hospitals as possible

Right, I think I’ll call time on this post for now as it’s running a bit long. Come back next Friday where I’ll talk about the multitude different types of board games! And be sure to come back Monday for Paddy’s second post on his Beer for Beginner’s.

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