When I see the phrase “tabletop games,” one of two images usually comes to mind. The first is that of the many board games we’ve grown up with such as “Monopoly” and “Operation.” The second is that of a group of friends fending off against imaginary monsters as they play a session of “Dungeons and Dragons” in a basement.
You’d think that tabletop gaming, like many media in the past, would have died out by now in this age in which you can play a game of “Scrabble” with your cell phone. However, over the past few years, there has been a boom in the popularity of tabletop games and this isn’t limited solely to the popularity of collectible trading card games that one often sees played in The Lair at the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
“Tabletop gaming is actually more popular now than it ever has been in the past,” said Dawn Christensen, owner of Epic Puzzles and Games in West Valley City. “If you buy a game, you can use it over and over again and it’s good entertainment for about the same value as going out for one evening…”
While cost-effectiveness is one of the key factors in the success of tabletop gaming, another important thing to consider is the social aspect of it. Upon closer inspection, one may find that it appears to be the polar opposite of the social climate one finds online. In online gaming, the conduct of players is often cold and even hostile at times, particularly when it comes to new players.
“Even if you’re gaming with someone online…you’re not interacting in the same way, the same social manner, as if you’re sitting at a table and playing a board game,” Christensen said.
As with anything that has amassed a loyal fandom, there is a layer of intimidation that is to be expected when it comes to tabletop gaming. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that someone who is new to it will enjoy these games any less than seasoned players.
“There are a couple of go-to games that we usually suggest for somebody who’s coming into it fairly new,” Christensen said. “We suggest ‘Ticket to Ride’ because it’s pretty easy to play. Another one we suggest, particularly to people with children, is ‘Carcassonne,’ which is a tile-laying game.”
The most notable change in tabletop games has been in the maturity of the games’ content. In addition to the previously mentioned family-friendly titles, there is also a share of titles with as much depth as a Tolkien novel, with styles ranging from classic fantasy to anime-inspired steampunk. Whether you’re spending a night at “The Red Dragon Inn” or gathering resources as a settler of “Catan,” it is undeniable that tabletop gaming has grown quite a bit over the past few years.
One title I personally recommend is the “Resident Evil Deck Building Game.” It plays pretty similarly to the video game series as you work towards buying, or finding, better weapons to take on the various monsters, which range from zombies to boss monsters such as Nemesis or Uroboros. It’s a great starter game for hardcore gamers who want to transition to tabletop role-playing games.
If you’re looking to get started in the world of tabletop gaming, a good starting point is Epic Puzzles and Games, located at 3612 West and 4700 South. The store will be hosting a Board Game Day on January 21 from 11:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Here you can get familiar with Utah’s tabletop gaming community, which ranges from seasoned players to relative newcomers. As with most games stores, there are also gaming tables where weekly events ranging from sessions of “Dungeons and Dragons” to casual sessions of “Magic the Gathering” take place. For more information, you can visit the store’s website at www.epicpug.com.