Being at university has been an eye-opening experience for me. It’s allowed me to figure out what I really like and don’t like but it allowed me to expand on the thing I already love: Gaming. I was able to get into Board gaming, Tabletop wargaming and at least carry on playing RPGs. The main hook that was used to get me into this part of the hobby was that we were all gamers in one capacity or another, so I was able to find common ground with those people and I was able to take gaming one step further. I had an easy in but for other people, how does one get into this part of the gaming sphere? Is there a wrong way? Not really.
If we look at the most common overlaps in gaming, most video gamers will have played something that has roots somewhere else. Warhammer is a huge thing as it’s the cornerstone of wargaming and there have been many games released under its franchise like Total War: Warhammer, Space Hulk, Vermintide and so on. Some board gamers will end up playing something based off of a video game like the popular Dark Souls board game or the more recent Fallout board game released by fantasy flight. If you look for it, there is overlap somewhere that is the main way to get into some of these games. I’ll pick on a few examples and explain my thought process or at least explain why I ended up spending a boat load of money on tiny plastic men and boxes of stuff. We’ll break it down into wargaming, board games, RPGs and card games as those are the main four.
Board games are probably the easiest in as board games are so common in many different ways. Now I don’t mean monopoly or battleship but I’m referring to games like Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride and the previously mentioned Fallout and Dark Souls. Board games that bring people together the same way that a couch co-op video game can provide hours of entertainment. A lot of these games are easy to learn, repayable to no end and most sit around the same price as most current video games. Even more so when you add the DLC like a season pass. You may get expansions with a board game but that expansion adds so much to the base game compared to a DLC pack and can even spin the game on its head in some cases. Juicy layers of add-ons give board games a different level of lifespan. For example, Settlers of Catan as a few different expansions and each one adds different resources, different ways to win and make the base version unrecognisable. Dark Souls is a newer game but the expansions coming out add new bosses, loot, areas, and even players. Board game designers and creators are able to make the concept of riding in a bicycle race a board game that can win awards and is loved by many. There are games that emulate video games as well so there is so much overlap that it is an easy way in. If you are ever curious about these kinds of games then you can do one of two things, find your local board game store or “FLGS” (Friendly Local Game Store) and ask for a demo or advice from the knowledgeable staff or look up playthroughs on YouTube. Tabletop hosted by Wil Wheaton is a great start to get the general idea and can give you some ideas of where to go next.
Wargaming is a more difficult one for a couple of reasons. Price and method. Some games like Warhammer both 40K and Age of Sigmar have a higher price point as you have large armies of varying units slugging it out in various locations and you’ll end up spending a lot to get a large army with many options, but they are making an active effort to have people with a lot less play a lot more. The other is method, what I mean by this is that most games can’t be played straight out the box but have to be assembled and have rulebooks and terrain and becomes a bit of a headache. On the flipside, playing a game that lasts 4 hours with a giant army of armoured dudes with tanks and other space nonsense that you built and made your own is an amazing thing. There are a variety of games that are out that follow many different themes.
You’ve got Warhammer 40K which is humanity versus everything in the grim dark future of the 41st millennium. Age of Sigmar is dwarves, elves, undead, fishmen and a whole menagerie of other races battling it out in a similar way as 40K, Star Wars has multiple; X-wing which is fighter V fighter, Armada which is Capital ship V Capital ship and now Legion which is ground soldiers vs ground soldiers and has more customisation than battlefront 2 because you can paint Darth Vader any colour you want. Fallout is also getting a war game in a similar style but that’s beside the point. There are many games to get involved with depending on what you like but if you were wanting to start, the ones I mentioned above are the best ones as they have many video games you can play first to get the idea and then decide what you want from there. If you worry about who to play with then hit up your local hobby store, Warhammer store or FLGS and say you want to get started and they’ll help you out. You can also just google wargaming and your town name and you’ll probably find a group that you can join and they’ll be more than open to helping out new players. Just remember you don’t have to paint them or build models how everyone else does. Make them yours.
Then we come to RPGs, the game where everyone makes the world together and you can do everything. Video game RPGs are always limited by what can be done and what can be developed. Divinity: Orignial Sin took that a step further by making the world a playground but still left some fences up due to technical capability. Tabletop RPGs on the other hand are only limited by imagination and dice rolls. Yeah you can punch a god in the face but if the roll is bad then you may fall over, smacking your head or maybe it goes too well and you knock him out causing problems for your group but it becomes a fun story. The tabletop RPG is expansive, especially with the right GM or Games Master running it for you, they will be every character you meet and also every enemy. I’ve run a few different games in a variety of systems. Dungeons and Dragons, Dark Heresy, Call of Cthulhu, Vampire and so on. Each game is different and the players can make any character they want. It allows you to be truly free. Dungeons and dragons is the main one people start with as it’s the easiest to explain. Games like Call of Cthulhu and Vampire are a bit more complicated so I’d advice staying away unless you find a seasoned GM who can explain everything in great detail. Be anyone you want to be and embody them
Last one is a bit tricky in my opinion, but I think that just comes down to me as a player. Card games, more specifically Trading Card and Collectible Card games are very self-explanatory. You get cards, put them into a deck and then play against other people. Magic the Gathering is the big one with games like Yu-gi-oh, Legend of the Five rings, Final Fantasy (See there is a video game one) following behind but with a decent sized player base. With Magic, there are many actual video games that you can play to get your head around the rules but the game itself is solid with it’s ruleset, you can build decks and play to your strengths and there are many entry points for new players with starter decks and with most areas, there is usually a large group of players that meet on certain days to play, if you arrived on those days saying you were new, there would be many people who would happily help. Magic is usually on a Friday because Friday Night Magic is a standard event that allow the players to get ranking points. For other games, you’ll have to check in your local area and see what’s going on. My advice would be to find a starter deck of any of the games you like the look of and then ask around for advice or someone to play with and go from there. If you love it, then you’ll be able to experiment with your playstyle and if not you can tap out early and move to either another game or something else entirely.
Here’s the thing. If you wanted something new that has a wider range of options that you can replay time and time again, have every time be different and devote entire evenings to unforgettable experiences that you build with your friends then just take a step outside of video games and see whats around you. It’s not often you can play a game where you steal a pirate ship from a dock, sail it on an adventure and then try to ransom it back to the pirates you stole it from with interest. Or have 1 lone model take on three chaos lords in close combat and survive. There is so much more on offer and no matter your interest, you can easily find something you will like. If you struggle to find people in your local area, then games like Tabletop Simulator and apps like Roll20 allow you to have the same experiences online. Take the dive and hopefully, you’ll have way more stories to tell.