"Tipping Points" - those seminal games and experiences that shaped you into the gamer you are today. What were your tipping points? - courtesy of the Dads On A Map podcast

by wallysmith127. Posted on Aug 02, 2020    18    12

So on the most recent episode of the Dads on a Map podcast hosts James and Sanchez started talking about the "tipping points" in their boardgaming lives, swapping fun, personal stories that resonated with them to this day. From Pandemic Legacy S1 with the wife to Ticket to Ride with the kids, then component-excitement with The Gallerist to playing Splendor at a first Meet-up, or discovering dexterity games with Crokinole and prototyping Pax Pamir 2E at a con... and especially their shared love for 18xx. It was also cool hearing about how each "phase" tended to evolve and influence later moments in their boardgaming experiences.

This got me thinking about my own tipping points, like:

  • Ars Technica's review on Gloomhaven compelled me to KS the second printing and I distinctly remember thinking "wow am I really spending $100 on a boardgame of all things". However, it was shipped to me soon after...

  • My wife and I started hanging out with another couple that introduced us to Betrayal at House on the Hill and Codenames but especially Champions of Midgard. My wife and I loved this game because there was this whole new world that blended compelling decisions with the excitement of dice rolling. Gloomhaven hit the table not long after and through the looking glass we went...

  • Addiction to content producers came soon after. Cardboard Reality was my early favorite podcast because the diverse tastes, insightful analysis and easy banter was immediately inviting. They absolutely raved over this little game called Pax Renaissance, which sounded incredibly intriguing (coinciding with a time when I was the go-to Game of Thrones authority amongst my friends). It took me two solid weeks of video playthroughs, rereading the manual and serious forum diving to finally feel like I had a tenuous grasp on what I was doing. This was also during a time when my collection was only about 10-12 games so I could really focus on just one game at a time. The oblique nature of interactions just blew my mind, setting the stage for...

  • Immersion into Root's designer diaries. I don't know how many times I've reread these. My digital and analog gaming tastes already tended deeply towards asymmetry (Monday Night Combat, XCOM, Overwatch, Starcraft, Spirit Island, etc.) so Root seemed right up my alley. But Cole Wehrle's thoughts on not just game design but game philosophy was utterly fascinating. Here was an ethos that was simultaneously intuitive yet groundbreaking. He is unquestionably my favorite game designer, despite the fact that Phil (or Matt?) Eklund's games rate higher in my personal rankings. But that could possibly change with Cole's next project...

These were all major moments that really defined my tastes and influenced the games I'm drawn to, the people I play with and the topics I enjoy discussing. So I'd love to hear from fellow gamers... what were some of the most memorable sessions, people, games and events that shaped and evolved you into the player you are today?

[One final note: wanted to give a big shout-out to James and Sanchez and the great Dads on a Map community they've brought together, that itself was borne from the Cardboard Reality crew. As a new dad myself (shout-out to the 1yo that just learned to point) I immediately loved the premise of the podcast but then they just reinforced that with a lot of chatter about Pax, 18xx and Hamilton.

I highly recommend listening to at least their stories on tipping points, where they also covered Modern Art, Fresh Fish, The Search For Planet X and Pan AM. All are welcome, being a parent is not required!]


perumbula 1

I grew up in a board gaming family but we played classic games, Scrabble, Monopoly (only when forced. Oldest brother was mean and cheated.) , Scatergories, and a few others. The big one was Polyanna, a Parchisi variation that's much better than Trouble or Sorry. I learned to play it so early I don't remember learning. It's the game that comes out at nearly every family gathering.

So when we were introduced to modern Euros, I was hooked immediately. We were first introduced to Catan. About 15 years ago one of my husband's friends begin traveling for work and would stop by for a visit whenever he was in town. He would bring a game with him. He showed us Pandemic (with such an early version he had the cute little petri dishes to hold the disease markers), King of Tokyo, and a couple of others.

We bought our first modern board game a few years later, Catan. Then our daughter went off to college and her college town had three game stores. We would go visit and bring home a new game every time and that really kicked off my collection. We still have a relatively small collection for this subreddit, but I love nearly ever game.

A few games have helped me really see what my game tastes are, Tokaido taught me that I like sneaky relaxed games. Takenoko showed me that good components matter. Machi Koro verified that yes, I like dice. Pandemic introduced me to my love of cooperative games.

It's been fun and I look forward to more collecting and playing.

flyliceplick 2

Pax Porfiriana gave me something between incontinence and a breakdown (mentally in both cases), resulting in what we in the business call "surprise bordering on alarm". I absolutely rejected the game on first play, found its existence preposterous, and its chaos insulting. It was like being poked in the eye all game, and when the game was over, being laughed at for 'crying' because that consistently-poked eye was watering. I took it quite personally, and was actually angry at the person who brought it for about a week. The next time I played it, it was with so much aggression I beat the other players with little apparent difficulty and it became obvious the game wasn't just throwing shit at a wall.

The only other time I've been as angry was a poker game where I got drunk after arguing with my gf and won a lot of money, because I bluffed and raised all night and never stopped scowling.

thegchild 2

I can't tell if this is praise or rage for Pax Porfiriana, but it perfectly encapsulates the game and why I love it!

cuttlefishcrossbow 3

As I think is pretty common, Betrayal at House on the Hill. Before that, I had always thought of board games as synonymous with word games like Scrabble, which my family loves but I can't stand. I had played thematic games before, but they were always entirely dice-based. Betrayal was the first game I'd ever played that had both a theme and player agency.

lust-boy 3

1st play of Cosmic Encounter
Had such a crazy ending with yelling and screaming it showed me how high boardgames could take you emotionally

Boogie_Wookiee 4

Not everything is a game ...

Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition ... Never knew that games could be this epic, other epic games followed, but so far it has only been bested by it's own 4th edition.

Mechs vs Minions ... The production quality was amazing, even at it's price point. The fact that it was built by computer game developers brought some new things too. Tutorials, achievements and voice acting trough an app. And it made me fall in love with how a game should look. Games like Everdell, Root and Tang Garden look beautiful, and how a game looks becomes more and more of a factor nowadays.

Sorastro ... I've painted mini's before, but Sorastro taught me to paint better and I've become a better painter because of that. My entire Imperial Assault set is painted and I have a big backlog for other games. It really became part of the hobby for me. Part of that is also building foamcore inserts and other game upgrades like FIMO-components.

Werewolf ... During my student years I played this a lot with large groups, it was nearly always epic. The social deduction genre really grew on me and The Resistance is now my favorite in that genre. On the other hand, the game mastering was a nice introduction to Dungeons & Dragons and being a GM.

Shut up and Sit Down ... I believe it was the review of Imperial Assault that got me started (and made me buy the game). They (and later NPI) helped me looking at the boardgame world differently. Reviews we're not just only based on rules and component quality, but also on how you experience a game, what is it this game is trying to do and tackle issues like sexism, racism and social criticism.

Kickstarter ... My first one was Massive Darkness. It changed investing in games a lot. You would buy in to a gamble. Some of them were a disappointment, others a bullseye. And on the other hand when I buy a non-kickstarted edition of a game I somehow feel cheated out of some KS-exclusives while also paying a higher price. Part of me loves KS, part of me hates it.

charlesfosterlime 4

Good grief, this has gotta be 20 years ago. A friend introduced us to Age of Renaissance. None of us had any idea what we were doing; it was the first euro or euro-style game for all of us. It must have taken us 6 or 8 hours to get through the whole thing. Endless analysis paralysis on the bidding. And the guy who brought it failed to explain the victory conditions. Or the importance of the Misery Index... he won by default when everybody else fell off the bottom.

We were all hooked.

And we never let him live it down.

qret 8

Clue as a kid, loved it.

MTG and D&D in elementary school, my whole friend circle got into these for years.

Capitalism in high school at lunch every day, Catan after school.

In undergrad became close friends with two extremely committed Chess players and practiced a lot myself for a couple years, got to an advanced beginner level and read some books on Chess theory. Explored Go as well, but without an expert friend to teach me.

Fast forward to after grad school, got a big gift card to a FLGS unexpectedly and picked up Viticulture and Evolution. Started playing games with family again.

A year later went to my first board game convention, got introduced to Ra and Agricola and absolutely fell in love with auction games and heavier euros, started collecting more and attending regular game nights.

A year ago, tried 1889 and gradually shifted the bulk of my gaming towards 18xx, becoming my main focus since then. Also started exploring cube rail games which are a nice complement since they pose the kind of questions I like but the family can get into it.

zezzene 1

Do you have any favorite economic games outside of the 18xx genre? I enjoy 1889 and 18chesapeake, but they take a little too long for me to play regularly.

qret 3

For a shorter option that is one of my all-time favorite games The Estates is perfect, it's even a good family game as long as no one is overly sensitive about getting screwed. Acquire is possibly even better for a mixed group and has stood the test of time. The cube rail genre I mentioned is also a good option if you look at the slightly heavier ones like Irish Gauge and Chicago Express. All of the above are 60ish minutes.

There is also Container, another of my all-time favs, which is more of a typical euro length. And finally Age of Steam which is on the longer side but shorter than 18xx - I don't personally love it but I would still recommend trying it out.

codeman73 1

I was going to ask what you meant by 'cube rail games', assuming it was something like Railways of the World, Whistle Stop, etc. You've answered that, but I haven't played Irish Gauge and Chicago Express. What are these like, how are they different? I also very intrigued by the 60ish minutes timeframe. Always looking for that holy grail game of meaty, interesting decisions, in a shorter time frame. Oh, and I like tile laying, network building, delivery, etc.
I've been thinking about looking into the 18xx games. I like heavier economic euros like Power Grid and Brass:Birmingham. Also wondered if there were any websites where 18xx could be played asynchronously; briefly read some on Trains Tuesday and thought I saw that somewhere...

qret 1

Cube rail games in general distill economic game ideas (shareholding/speculation, shared incentives/ownership, logistics, auctions) into super minimal rulesets, usually one or two pages.

Irish Gauge - Lighter and quicker, includes a luck factor in the random bag pull for dividends so it's more tactical. Chicago Express - bit heavier like a light/medium weight euro, no luck, cool gauge mechanic that limits how many times each action can be taken each round, companies have their own treasuries and have to pay to lay track so finances are more involved.

Check out 18xx.games for async play online. It is a little harder to learn on the site tho because the interface is a bit abstracted and geared more for experienced players. If you are interested in a live learning game I'm in a Discord group for 18xx games and we're always happy to teach, typically on Tabletop Sim with voice chat.