During a recent conversation with gaming friends, the topic of “what games most influenced us over the years?” came up. It was so interesting to hear how games we played as kids, in school, and later in life influenced our gaming interests today and led to some of us working in the game industry. This Monday series will take a personal look into my history as a gamer with my #Top10InfluentialGames. This week, do you remember the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups commercials of “Hey, you got your chocolate in my peanut butter?” Well, envision that in your mind as “Hey, you got your roleplaying in my board game. Hey, you got your board game in my roleplaying.”
My gaming group in high school continued to meet each week, but at times whoever was DMing was not prepared to run an adventure that week. For those weeks we would play Risk or other board games. Then, one of our members brought a new game to the table one week…Talisman (the second edition). This board game was like nothing we had ever played. It looked and felt like you were playing a simple RPG, yet it required not prep and had interesting game play. You played characters like the Assassin, Barbarian, Knight, Rogue, Wizard, and more. We eventually found expansions that added new characters and new maps to explore. This became our “go to” game for weeks we didn’t roleplay. This board game was so different than anything I had played up to then and changed my view of board games.
- Theme enhances games. Before Talisman, most of the board games I played were very abstract (i.e. Cards, Backgammon, Pente, Rummikub, etc.) or very light on theme (i.e. Monopoly, Payday, Life, Risk, etc.). Talisman was the first game I played, other than RPGs, that was heavy on theme. Talisman felt like a light roleplaying game with an epic quest to win. It was a great break between RPG adventures. To this day, as much as I enjoy abstract games, I will always lean more towards games that integrate theme well into the gameplay.
- Board games are great introductions to the roleplaying hobby. Talisman was the first game my daughters experienced as an early introduction to rpgs. Later, we played Wrath of Ashardalon and finally Mice & Mystics. Those three board games helped my daughters become more familiar with adventures, quests, characters, equipment, character advancement, and basic roleplaying of a character’s personality.
Later, I purchased my own copy of Talisman (fourth edition) and still enjoy playing it occasionally. The game is showing its age, yet it has a bit of a timeless quality to its retro gameplay merged with roleplaying aspects. So many new games have come out since then that really mimic roleplaying well through board games. If you want to introduce your friends or family to the roleplaying hobby through a board game, check out games like Descent, Dungeons & Dragons: Wrath of Ashardalon, Mice and Mystics, Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, Star Wars: Imperial Assault, and Talisman.
What about you? What game have you played the most over the years that had a huge impact on you? I would be very interested in others writing about their #Top10InfluentialGames. Next week, my growing roleplaying hobby returns to its roots yet takes an odd algebraic turn.