Features// Michael Fox's Table Top Gaming Column

Posted 9 Feb 2013 11:00 by
Hello fickle bastards everywhere. Welcome to Michaelís Column About Boardgames.

It has been said that I am a charming chap, mild mannered and inoffensive, an agreeable cove, a lover and not a fighter Ė so why am I opening this weekís column with such an offensive turn of phrase?

Because itís true. You are ALL fickle bastards, and so am I (when itís within my meagre games budget) Ė especially when it comes to video games. We are all tarts, looking for the next quick fix, the newest game that everyone will be playing for... oooh, all of a week or two before skipping merrily onto the next instalment of ManShooter IV (Game of the Year Edition).

Itís one of the reasons that Iíve been playing video games a lot less in the last couple of years Ė I simply canít afford to keep up with the latest and greatest releases. When thereís a brand new game that simply everyone must have, dahling, I just donít have the funds to splash out on it. Thatís made even worse when no fucker will be playing it in a fortnight because something shinier has been released.

Sure, thereís been times when Iíve happily jumped on the Day One Bandwagon. Itís exciting! I was there banging on the doors of GAME the Friday that Dishonored was released. GTA IV saw me queueing up in Tesco for the midnight launch, and Iíll invariably be there again later this year when V is unleashed on a slavering public. But yeah... I canít be doing with this constant need, this Cult of the New. Iím going to stick with my cardboard, and hereís why.

Thereís longevity with tabletop games. Iíll happily admit that I slaver over the news of the latest releases week in, week out, as they drop into my inbox, but I never really feel the need to have THAT GAME RIGHT NOW.

The desire to get New Stuff is always there, sure Ė thatís human nature Ė but itís not necessary to grab everything in the cardboard world the moment it comes out.

Sure, thereís a risk that a game may sell out or go out of print, but if itís good enough, thereís always the possibility of a reprint or tracking it down in a trade a little later down the line.

Letís look at a few classics, games that have been around for not just a few years but decades. Iím not talking Cluedo or Monopoly (though thatís currently celebrating its 75th anniversary, depending on who you believe). Iím thinking of stuff that you may not have heard of but, if you have even a slight interest in gaming, you should at least know the names.

Acquire is a legend, first released over fifty years ago and still available today. Itís cut-throat and cruel, a game of corporate takeover and share acquisition that deservedly takes its place in the Pantheon of the Greats. Canít Stop (mentioned in last weekís column and by the same designer, Sid Sackson) is over thirty.

Thirty! Thirty years ago we were all playing Atari if we were lucky! Can you imagine inviting your mates over tonight and spending the evening playing ET or Pitfall?

You donít even have to look back that far. Pandemic, a brilliant co-operative game about trying to save the world from virulent plagues and diseases, is just about to celebrate its fifth anniversary. Five years ago it was all Mirrorís Edge and Left 4 Dead round here! Is anyone still playing them (apart from us schmucks who had to do it for Joypod recently)? Agricola was released in the same year and is easily one of the best games ever created, is still being printed, is still being played and is still bloody amazing.

Left 4 Dead, though wonderful, is now an undead wasteland filled with hungry zombies left with nothing to feast upon compared to those early days when the servers were heaving with digital flesh.

Of course, Iím being a little argumentative and playing devilís advocate here Ė a lot of people will still happily sit down and play retro video games, but the vast majority prefer to flit from new release to new release, from yearly update to yearly update.

Thatís just how the video games industry works but in the world of the table top, things function a little differently Ė the age of a game matters little. Whether something is brand new or has been sitting on someoneís shelf for years, theyíre all still equally regarded.

Sure, some people may favour one style of game in place of another, but Pit (first released in 1904!) is still as easy to pick up and play as something released last week. Are any of you lot still playing Horace and the Spiders? Are you shite!

Maybe Iím getting old. Actually, fuck it, I *am* getting old and I donít care about having the new hotness the day it comes out. Leave me be, sat around my table, surrounded by piles of cards and plastic pieces, my relics, my history, all the while warmed by the fire that is stoked with copies of Call of Duty and FIFA 08.

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