A Different Kind of Gaming

In my everyday life, I’ve been guilty of not getting out much and of making impulse buys. For a long while, I’ve been happy just spending evenings at home either watching TV or playing video games. And when it came to impulse buys, I often invested in collectibles—limited edition DVDs or action figures, for example—that I thought I might be able to sell on E-Bay for a profit at a later date.

That being said, I first learned from a video game streamer called TheLegitTipster sometime in 2017 about a Resident Evil 2 board game that was trying to acquire funding for production on Kickstarter.com. Along with thousands of other people around the world, I chose to financially back the project. And it was quite successful—the company making this board game acquired enough money to manufacture a tabletop game featuring hours, if not days, of enjoyment for the player.

Those who invested in the development of the board game gained access to all extras that came with it, even some that were Kickstarter exclusives. I personally invested enough money into the project to acquire three sets of the board game, two of which I plan to sell on E-Bay at some point. It took a while, but my new tabletop game was shipped to me in February 2019. The one problem—I didn’t have anyone in my life I could actually play the board game with. I doubt anyone in my writing group would be interested, and I don’t have very many friends.

Everything changed one Saturday morning in April when I ventured out to my local library to return some movies. I got there before the library opened at 10 am and was surprised to see a dozen people milling around toting a wide assortment of board games.

I struck up a conversation with one of the guys while waiting and found out that this is a group that meets at the library once a month just to play tabletop games. I got interested enough to participate for several hours—I had to work at 3 pm—and see what they were all about.

I ended up joining in on a fantasy horror game called Touch of Evil in which the players cooperate with each other—though the game can also be played competitively—to achieve the collective goal of locating and vanquishing a powerful supernatural monster—Cthulhu in this case. I wasn’t able to stick around long enough to finish the game, but the other players told me that someone could easily take my place for the remainder. There was a really good turnout for the get-together that day; every seat in the auditorium was taken.

I had so much fun that I decided I wanted to participate in more than just the one session, especially when one of the group leaders told me other players would be open to learning about the Resident Evil 2 board game I owned.

As fate would have it, I’d requested the weekend off for the next board gamers get-together on May 18—that was before I’d even found out about this group. My initial plan was to go to a comic convention, but I changed my mind when the celebrity I wanted to meet in person cancelled at the last minute. This left my Saturday wide open to hang out at the library playing board games.

Unlike my last visit, the group members didn’t start coming in until about 10:30. I hung out in the Internet lounge until then—either writing or playing part of a video game on my laptop.

I had only just unwrapped the Resident Evil 2 board game at home, as well as two add-on packs containing additional monsters and playable characters, prior to coming to the library. It was a little embarrassing to admit to the group leaders that I’d never actually played the game, as well as showed that the card decks were still wrapped in plastic and the board pieces hadn’t been punched out from the protective cardboard.

One of the leaders nicely suggested I take time to get the components ready for use and familiarize myself with the rules—this took several hours. I did run into a snafu when it came to assembling the spinner dials for the various guns/ammo amounts. On several, I didn’t arrange the components correctly—I had one heck of a time pulling the fasteners apart to fix it. One of the other group members had to help me with this.

I don’t know how long I spent going through the manual before I got a solid handle on how the game worked. Once I got the board layout for the first scenario set up, I was joined by a female group member—I’m unsure of her name—who said she was interested in trying it out with me.

She read through the rulebook a little herself and I explained some bits before we got started. The first scenario is very simple and the only creatures you face are zombies that can be taken out in one hit—the game gets progressively harder as you go along. The goal of scenario one is just to make it through the door at the end of the board.

I did take one point of damage by stopping to grab a shotgun—a weapon that really only comes in handy in subsequent scenarios. The one thing that my co-player and I neglected to make use of was the tension deck—we were supposed to draw cards at the end of our turns to determine if we were in a safe area or not. The tension deck can generate random encounters or dangerous events to make the game more interesting.

One point of the rules that was unclear pertained to line of sight. The instructions state that you can’t shoot a zombie if it’s behind a closed door, behind a wall, or around a corner. But apparently, there’s no restriction if another creature or character is between you and your target. I looked online for clarification on this and found there’s no problem shooting through whatever animate entity is in your way. But I may set my own restriction for future gameplay.

After we’d finished the scenario—we both agreed it was fun—I proceeded to pack up the game. I’d taken a picture of the character\creature tokens beforehand to determine what went where. Aligning the board pieces back in the box felt like playing a game of Tetris. And one of the board game group leaders was kind enough to give me a Ziploc bag to store all the smaller components for the time being. He suggested I compartmentalize them into smaller baggies for an easier setup next time.

I also learned from reading through the rules that the game can be played solo—I will definitely be giving that a try to get a better feel for it. And even though I’d brought additional sets with extra characters and monsters, reading through the booklets for each made me think it was too much for a trial run. Interesting side note—two of the extra characters are evil and can make the game competitive rather than cooperative if you choose to play as them.

For the remainder of my time at the get-together, I got the opportunity to learn several other games: a card game called Arboretum with two other players and a couple board games called Between Two Cities and Hive Mind, each with four other players. The group leader who introduced me to Arboretum was surprised at how quickly I picked it up—I scored really well for a beginner.

I don’t feel I can adequately simplify how Between Two Cities works—I wasn’t clear on how the winner was determined when I played it—so here’s a YouTube video that explains it.

Hive Mind was the most fun, even if I did lose on my first playthrough. The game starts with all player tokens at the top of a six-story beehive. During each turn, players must write down a set number of answers to whatever question was asked—such as “Name three time travel movies.” The goal is to match whatever the other players wrote—the more matches, the more points you get. The person with the least amount of points per round must go down a level in the beehive; whoever gets expelled from the hive first loses the game. Needless to say, I didn’t do well in matching my responses, even though I got really good answers on some questions. For example, I wrote down Terminator for the movie question, but none of the other four players did.

My co-player for Resident Evil 2 joined me for all subsequent games. Before we started playing Hive Mind, she asked about trying out the next scenario. I declined because I believed the library would be closing within an hour—turns out I was wrong about that—and I felt it would take too long to set up.

All in all, I’m really glad to have discovered this group—not just because it granted me the opportunity to crack open a tabletop game that may otherwise have collected dust. I look forward to broadening my knowledge of the many board or card games out there. And I’ve resolved to request one Saturday off from work on a monthly basis.

I can’t wait to see what the next get-together yields.


    • Barbara Pattee on June 23, 2019 at 1:14 pm
    • Reply

    Your take on these games is interesting. I’m glad you’ve found your passion.

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