What I love most about board games?

I’ve been a fan of playing board games for so many years now and I thought it might be an interesting time for a little reflection on what I love about the hobby.

At my core what I find the most attractive thing about playing games is fairness and in board games I find this is represented by balance. While not all board games I love have the perfect level of balance, my enjoyment from any game is highly influenced by how unfair or unbalanced the gameplay is. This holds true just as much for games that fall in my favour as those that fall against.

In practice this means that I’m pushed away from most trivia and knowledge based games towards those that have their own skill-set or skill sets derived primarily from playing games. This allows more players to start games on an even basis – it gives fairness to the playing field.

As an adult, this fairness draws on my own beliefs and opinions about the world and the inequalities that exist. It’s such a shame to me that we’re not all born equal. So many are born into such inequality that their highest potential is dwarfed by the privilege that so many others take for granted. There’s a lot more to say on this subject, but I’ll try to keep this post about board games.

However as a child, the roots of this passion for fairness simply comes from being the youngest of three competitive brothers. Being younger always meant I had less knowledge and skill and for the most part relied on the kindness of my siblings in order to effectively compete in any meaningful way. That was until I found board games.

Board games put everyone on the same footing at the beginning. Whether it was something as simple as Snakes & Ladders or Mousetrap, or much more complex like Chess, each game reset to the beginning and gave players a chance to start from the same place and as a youngling, I found this concept so compelling so much so that it has influenced many aspects of my life and continues to do so to this day.

Hell hath no fury

I’ve been listening to Drum n Bass for many years after my older brother started sharing tracks with me in the late 90s. While there’s a huge amount of music out there that I’d love to listen to at a rave or party, there’s one track that caught my attention the very first time I listened to it.

Hell hath no fury by Klute remains to this day one of my favourite tunes of all time. A melodic Drum n Bass track that takes you on a journey of emotions, this tune stuck with me through the years and unless I’m in an incredibly positive mood, will undoubtedly make me cry.

I’m a fan of plenty of Klute’s other releases, but this one song will always have a special place in my heart.

The Raven Series by James Barclay

Consisting of 7 books in total (the 6 pictured above and the final eposiode: Ravensoul), the Raven series of books written by James Barclay is by far my favourite fantasy collection.

Following a group of mercenaries called the Raven, the books tell the incredible story of their lives as everything in their world gets turned upside down. The enemies they face earlier on in the series are somewhat mundane in nature, though the group still need to combine their talents and expertise with a whole bunch of luck in order to survive the ordeals that face them. As the series continues, the group find themselves in the very centre of the challenge to save their world and all inhabitants from extinction.

I’m reluctant to write a true review of the series as I believe that any fantasy buff who happens upon this should in fact read them for themselves. What I will say though is the writing style is captivating and seamless, giving a consistently enticing narrative of both the micro and macro activities occurring throughout the fictional universe that’s been created. The characters are well developed and so is the magic system that’s been fleshed out to the point that you really begin to understand how magic works within this realm and wonder yourself if you might have magical powers of your own to draw on.

The races represented are familiar (human, elves, etc), although they have their own origins and backstories that give them a unique feel in this saga, but don’t push so far beyond the typical fantasy setting that buffs will need to stretch their imaginations too far to grasp what drives these populations in their purposes.

I found myself so attached to the characters that upon finalising the series in Ravensoul, I was brought to tears as my friends by then, the Raven’s story reached it’s closing song.

I’ve lent Dawnthief to more people than any other book in my collection (my copy is currently on-loan as I write this), and so many of the recipients have gone on to enjoy the entire series themselves.

If you’ve only got time in your life to read one epic fantasy saga, don’t go for the song of ice and fire, pickup Dawnthief and begin the journey with the Raven and I promise you won’t be disappointed!

My lovely (but dangerous) HomOgres

So while my ogres were the second army I decided to collect for Warhammer, it was the first one that got a real colour palette, basing pattern and was the first army I consider is complete.

The theme was pretty easy for me – I wanted to make them as colourful as possible, to make these big scary beasts look a little less intimidating and potentially trick the opponent into underestimating them.

With individual colours for each and every ogre in the army it was great to be able to be really creative when it came to painting them. For sure it didn’t get at all boring – this was of course made easier by the really low model count.

Plenty of models in the army got a more camouflage effect in green, orange or blue that was a combination of laziness and wanting to give something really unique to the look of these troops.

The core troops in the army got rainbow bases, with half of them having the pattern going from red to purple, and the other half purple to red. The inner turmoil in this army is the bickering about which way round rainbows are and causes such a split that these troops need to be kept apart. Of course this is not an argument the more serious homogre troops engage with, hence them having mostly monotone rainbow patterns.

All the characters in the army are either gold/bronze for the fighty leaders or silver for the magic users, who also got a matching colour base pattern for the type of magic they were intending to use.

I’m so happy with the way this army turned out. It’s so much fun to put these colourful models on the table and see my opponent just laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. Especially the hippo catapult that is converted from a mascot of my former employer.

What do you think of my homogre army then?

Think big, start small

I’ve had an online presence for a long time, but starting a personal website from scratch is a really tough thing to do. I’ve got all these big ideas about things I want to share and discuss as blog posts as well as loads of things to create new pages and structured content about that I think could be really interesting.

Getting started however is proving to be a big challenge. My instinct and experience tells me that I should be creating templates and layouts that will allow me to easily add lots of content in the future, but then my motivation to action this disappears and nothing happens.

For now I think I’m going to just start posting small intros to the various subjects and topics I’d like to feature in the hope that this sparks my interest and creativity and more comes later. After all, I do stand by the concept of “Better something than nothing.”

How do you all manage to go from nothing to something? I’m super interested to hear from you!

There’s only one thing I could post about first…

Of course, I have to have my first post here about the biggest project right now – Gay Sauna the Board Game!

After spending well over a year with a really rough game concept in my head, I’ve been putting a lot more effort into turning this into a reality. Right now that means organising lots of play-testing sessions, making revisions to all the rules, as well as building out a digital presence and following.

Lots more to come, but if you want to do me a favour – sign up to the newsletter at Gay Sauna the Board Game!