We are living in a board game renaissance

By Cody Carlson

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, Aug. 30 2013 7:15 a.m. MDT

The European and American game integration has led to the current explosion of great games with no shortage of fun and engaging themes. In Courtier from Alderac Entertainment Group, gamers can try to influence the Queen in a royal court. In Twilight Struggle from GMT Games, players can experience firsthand the shadow world of the Cold War. There are also old-fashioned war games with a fantasy twist, like “Warparty” from Lock 'n Load Publishing.

In the past, film and TV tie-ins rarely made for original and interesting board games. Today, games like Battlestar Galactica and Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures from Fantasy Flight Games, as wells as WizKids' Star Trek: Fleet Captains are top-notch productions. Cryptozoic Entertainment's DC Comics Deck-Building Game has an immersive theme, as does Upper Deck's Marvel: Legendary Deck-Building Game.

Some people may be turned off by the competition of games and may enjoy a new trend out there: cooperative games. In games like Z-Man Games' Pandemic, players work together to stop a series of plagues and diseases from ravaging the planet. In Flash Point: Fire Rescue from Indie Boards and Cards, players are firefighters who must combine their skills to save people from a burning building. In Zombicide, players work together to defeat a number of undead ghouls in a variety of scenarios.

Jeremy Stomberg, operations manager for Fantasy Flight Games, said that the wide variety of games available attracts new board gamers.

“It used to be that most gamers were only interested in one or two different types of games,” Stomberg said. "But more recently, I've seen people going from a huge galaxy-spanning game with hundreds of miniatures to a small, 45-minute worker placement game, to a deckbuilder, and back again, all in one day of gaming. There are still holdouts, but we see a lot more people that are picking up different games from outside of their comfort zones, and that's awesome.”

“It's a great time to be a gamer,” said Scott Gaeta, chief operating officer for Cryptozoic Entertainment. “The general public has really caught on to the fact that games aren't just for kids.”

Geoff W. Dearing, owner of Game Haven, a chain of board game stores in Utah, said that board games are a great way for families to interact.

“We specialize in family games,” Dearing said, “so it's not surprising that those titles sell. I believe families love to game in Utah, hence why we decided to open in northern Utah and St. George.”

Smith cited a most basic reason to play board games: “We are hard-coded to sit down with our friends and just enjoy one another's company. And board games let us do that.”

Cody K. Carlson holds a master's degree in history from the University of Utah and currently teaches at SLCC. He has also appeared on many local stages, including Hale Center Theater and Off Broadway Theater. Email: ckcarlson76@gmail.com

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