Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Back to the playing board

I used to play board games a lot, had a huge collection. But between Dungeons & Dragons, Magic the Gathering, and an increasing flood of video games, board games stopped to be part of my repertoire many years ago. And then an increasing number of board games got computer adaptations, especially on the iPad, and for some time the only board games I played were virtual. The best virtual board / card game this year for me is Pathfinder Adventures. Patches added more content and fixed most of the bugs, so at this point I can really only recommend it.

As Pathfinder Adventures is the sort of game my wife also likes, I started playing it with her in pass & play mode. But it turned out that this wasn't ideal. The fun of playing with somebody is the shared experience, and passing a tablet between players isn't all that great for that shared experience. And the video game automates many things like shuffling, and only shows you the relevant part of the game at the moment, so many game mechanics end up being less clear than if you have to take care of everything yourself.

So for the first time I bought a board game after already having played the video game adaption. At first just the base set, but as that was a big success I ended up buying the 6 adventures as well. That is six times as expensive in physical form than in video game form, but for us the added fun was worth it. Even the added time required for setting up the game and sorting cards back into stacks afterwards didn't deter us. We like this game, and will take the box with us on our summer holidays.

The only other tabletop game I'm playing is Dungeons & Dragons. Now pen & paper roleplaying is very, very different than any computer roleplaying game. The great freedom that a human DM gives over a computer following a script makes the experience very different. But after my experience with the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game I started to think that may that wasn't the only reason why I prefer D&D over games like World of Warcraft or Skyrim. The same factor of a better shared experience when you are sitting around the table with friends is also something that is much better than a solo game against a computer.

"Legends of Andor" is a great coop board game. Learn as you play, but hard enough that you can't beat the end boss in your first try. Beautyful artwork. It's a German game but an English version is available (twice as expensive though).
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