In the board game community, we often talk about “gateway games,” those games we present to the unwitting uninitiated to draw them into our fold. “Gateway games” are those games that change the way a person views gaming. A lightbulb goes on, and the person says, “Wow, bits of cardboard can be fun!” This Friday’s question offers you a chance to share your story: what was the gateway game that drew you into the hobby? A bonus question: do you still like your gateway game? Answer in the comments![editors note: friday question is now saturday question, because @futurewolfie has a real job and doesn’t always get a chance to write his side of the post.]
It’s hard for me to credit any one game. My family is a board- and card-game-playing family, and I remember my first games of Pinochle and Dutch Blitz (or maybe just Pinochle) with a certain relish. I also played several CCGs (namely Overpower, Redemption, Star Wars, and Marvel Vs.), which were certainly precursors to more complex games. But as far as the board gaming hobby is concerned, I suppose my entry point would have to be Kill Doctor Lucky or Acquire. I think Settlers of Catan predated both of these games in terms of when I played it, but my first experience of Settlers was not exactly favorable. (Admittedly, my friend was so excited to teach it to me that he didn’t wait till we had the proper number of players, and we played a two-player game, which was pretty lame.) I played Kill Doctor Lucky on a visit to my sister and brother-in-law’s house, and I loved it so much that I ordered my own copy when I got home. I wanted to make sure I had a copy to share with my friends. And Acquire was the game that completed the work that Kill Doctor Lucky began. Acquire, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, has it all and has remained my favorite game, built on this nostalgia factor.
Whoof, this is kind of a big question for me. I don’t know if there was one specific game that drew me in. If you read the first post of this blog, you can get a pretty good idea of my story. But it was pretty gradual – my family played bored games sometimes as a family activity growing up, but they didn’t really stick much (and I didn’t realize why til much later. We played not-fun games like Clue). Heroclix was a boardgame I played a lot in highschool, but I think I got into it a lot for the novelty of playing as superheroes. Settlers of Catan opened up a door that lead me to the world of greater board-gaming, and while Settlers is a fine game, I wouldn’t say that game really brought me into the hobby.
Really what did it for me was just finding the FLGS in my area after the local Gamers Paradise shut down. Incidentally, finding this FLGS (called “Games Plus”) made me realize how non-gaming-paradise the Gamers Paradise actually was. Games Plus offered several shelves full of unrecognizable (at the time) games, and I distinctly remember standing next to Bryan saying, “There are so many games here. A lot of them HAVE to be amazing – I just wish I knew which ones.” Now I’m a lot more educated, but my first game from that world was Android – a game that, despite its length and complexity, taught me that board games could be complex, strategic, have interesting themes, and not involve rolling dice all the time.