Never Board…

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Okay, that’s a cheesy title, but it’s true! As big time board game enthusiasts, we are never “bored” when it comes to unplugged fun with friends or our two year old!

Definition: any game played on a board, especially one that involves the movement of pieces on the board, such as chess or checkers.

Growing up, this term had a very different meaning for me than it does now, some twenty years later.

Back then we would play the “classics”: Chess, Checkers, Monopoly, Life, Sorry, Clue, Risk, Stratego, Battleship and the board/card game Sequence.

I’m now old enough that the games mentioned above have been revised many times over and have even been made into retro versions! (Which is sad considering I remember what they looked like before retro was retro.) I have many fond memories playing each of these games either on a family vacation or right in front of the wood stove trying to take over the “known world!” with the luck of the dice… Wahahaha! *insert evil laugh here*

I still remember thinking that girls were gross when I was forced to get married in the game of Life… or fill a mini van with 4 crying babies…I mean come on, how many times can you have twins!? All of them had their unique strategies in how you played them and all were equally fun. I went along, growing older and not really playing board games as much when the dawn of video gaming consoles happened right around my teen years.

I grew distant with these childhood games I had loved so much. Dusting one off every so often to play with family if we were sick or the power went out (because you know the batteries only lasted so long on Gameboys.)

Every time we would play a game I would sense that while it was still fun, it wasn’t the same excitement I had when I first played. I still enjoyed playing because I was doing something with people that I loved, but I also started realizing that the games were too similar to be thrilling. I wanted more adventure and more mystery.

Seattle Space Needle on a clear and sunny day. Credit:TheSproutedCottage.com

A trip to Seattle in 2008 with Elizabeth and her younger brother, (engagement trip to meet her older brother before the BIG DAY!) opened my eyes to a completely different definition of the board game! Her aunt and uncle were “boardgamers,” but not the usual kind…

It all started one night when Elizabeth’s uncle was talking about this new store that had opened nearby selling board games… I was like huh, interesting. A store that sells things like Monopoly games and different Risk and Clue variations…wonder how they stay in business? I mean they’re fun and all but I wouldn’t open a store to sell those games…can’t you get them at department stores?

I was a little perplexed by the idea of a store that sold board games alone. He went on and described that they had a library allowing you to rent a board game and play before you bought or just to play in store. Just like a book library. I was still skeptical but it sounded like an interesting spot to see so we decided we would go the next day.

After our conversation, everything started to click for me…

Elizabeth’s uncle brought out a small blue box with cover art like I had never seen on a board game box before! I looked intently as he lifted the box to reveal its contents. Card board tiles and mini figures shaped like little people. I would soon learn that they were called “meeples”; you got it…mini peoples. There was also a score board unlike any board game I had ever seen before!!! *mind blown*

If you haven’t guessed by now, the game was Carcassonne; a German tile game based off of the fortified city in southern France. On your turn, you pick a tile from the stack and place it on the “board” wherever you decide and you get to choose what you do with your Meeples. You have the choice of respectable farmer, knights to protect the cities, robbers on the roads, or monks in the monastery. All give you various points based on their function.

I had never played such a fascinating board game that effectively changed every time you played it!

I was ready to see this store that had more games like Carcassonne! Although at that point, I had a hard time conceiving of any game better than Carcassonne.

The next day we drove to Blue Highway Games in the Queen Anne district of Seattle. We pulled two games from the library and sat down to play. Ra‘ and Ticket to Ride.

Just a “few” variations.

We played a handful of other games that trip including Kill Dr. Lucky, which further sparked my interest in these new found games.

We ended up buying Carcassonne and Kill Dr. Lucky on that trip. They were the very first games in our collection. Our friends and families back home soon fell in love with these games as much as we did. My brother-in-law enjoys choosing and giving us board games every year for Christmas, which effectively grows our collection regularly. Many of our friends in our new hometown on the coast have also caught the bug. As our collection has grown and our love of board games has spread to our family and friends, we get to see all these people get excited over games and see their collections grow. Now, we get the fun adventure of building a collection for our Sprout!

The ones that started it all…Carcasonne and Kill Dr. Lucky

We have been back to Seattle twice since then and each time we discover a new facet of the board gaming industry and we come back with more games in tow. The game shops have multiplied in the Pacific Northwest and now include more elaborate establishments. Think, cafés attached to the libraries; tournament rooms; full service restaurants offering gourmet choices as well as local beer and wine. Two of our recent stops were Meeples in West Seattle and Mox Boarding House in Bellevue. We’ve seen everyone from older couples with grandkids to college students on a study break. There is literally something for everyone.

We have just a few games!

We also upgraded our first Carcassonne edition with the “Big Box Collection” which has quite a few expansions. That’s the beauty of these games. They are so uniquely engineered that most games come with multiple expansions or versions to change the way the game plays out. The possibilities are almost endless!

It’s always exciting to see what’s new and upcoming but still satisfying to pull out our very first game and play a round because no matter how many times you play, it’s never the same and that’s what we love about these kind of games.

Ticket to Ride and Settlers of Catan

As I said before, there is something for everyone. Whether you’re super cutthroat/competitive in nature, more on the friendly/cooperative side, or somewhere in the middle, there is a game for you. Games are becoming more and more mainstream. You’re now able to pick up games at regular department stores, but I almost always go back to the local sources. They created my love for these games and I feel that it’s important to support local businesses and passions as much as I can.  However, if you are on a budget, you can find some of them at online retailers.

So, grab your family or friends and go play a board game!


Here is a list of some of our favorites divided into age groups to help you get started:

For the grown-ups: (Mature game strategies or content that might be scary or go over the heads of sprouts.)

Castle Panic

Guillotine (card)

Red Dragon Inn

Smallworld

Kill Dr. Lucky

Seven Wonders

Forbidden Island

Killer Bunnies

Pandemic

Survive

For the whole family: (Fun for all age groups, some little sprouts may need help from a partner)

Ticket to Ride

Saboteur (card)

FlashPoint

Carcassonne

Code Names

Settlers of Catan

Colt Express

Relic Runners

For the sprouts: (Great for the little sprouts while also being fun for the grownups playing along with them.)

Hoot Owl Hoot
Zingo
Animal Upon Animal
First Orchard
Socken – Lucky Sock Dip
Count Your Chickens

A Eurogame, also called a German-style board game, German game, or Euro-style game, is a class of tabletop games that generally have indirect player interaction and abstract physical components. Euro-style games emphasize strategy while downplaying luck and conflict. They tend to have economic themes rather than military and usually keep all the players in the game until it ends.

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