Welcome to DICE IN THE DARK.
This site is a place for me to express my love for the tabletop gaming hobby, whether that be board games, roleplaying games, card games, miniatures games or anything else in between.
This post is intended to act as both an introduction to me and the page, as well as a bit of a primer for the hobby.
My name is Mark and I’ve been playing games for as long as I can remember. I’m from the UK and, like many people of my generation, my first memory of any kind of tabletop game was Monopoly. And, like many others, I don’t think I ever actually enjoyed it. But, it did light in me, even at that early age, a love for gathering around a table with my family and playing a game.
My first real gaming love was HeroQuest, released in 1989 when I was 6 years old. I have vivid memories of seeing the evocative television advert in the early 90’s (“I use my broadsword!” “Fire of Wrath!”) and I fell in love instantly.
That game, more than any other, sparked a love for fantasy adventure which I still have to this day. It fostered a love for Jason and the Argonauts, Clash of the Titans, The Lord of the Rings, Labyrinth, Game of Thrones and many others. Game wise, It lead on to an interest in Warhammer and then later Dungeons & Dragons.
I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons now for 20 years, and that kind of game: controlling a single character and working together with other players, which all started for me with HeroQuest, has influenced the type of games that I most enjoy today. The feeling of delving into a dungeon (whether it be a literal dungeon, or something else with dungeon-like qualities, like the haunted halls of Mansions of Madness) with friends by my side is the thing that I find most exciting hence the name for this page; Dice in the Dark.
THE TABLETOP GAMING HOBBY – WHERE WE ARE
In order to lay the ground work for the rest of the site, I feel that a quick discussion and definition of terms may be useful. I’ll also point to some useful links.
When I am talking about board games (a short hand for tabletop games as a whole), I’m referring to what might be termed ‘specialist games’.
Specialist games stand apart from ‘mass-market’ games, such as Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Kerplunk etc as being slightly more esoteric. There are literally thousands of board games released each year, many of which the general public are unaware of. (That is not an attempt to sound snobby or elitist in any way: if anything the whole point of this page is to help spread the word of the board gaming hobby.) There has been some breakout hits, such as Ticket to Ride which has sold over 5.5million copies, and Pandemic which introduced a large number of people to the idea of cooperative games.
Shut Up & Sit Down is a site that is extremely influential in the board gaming hobby, and one of its founders Quinns made a short video which is an excellent primer for anyone wanting to know more about the hobby.
Quinns also made a video that talks about the current state of tabletop gaming, which is going through what he calls “a golden age”.
He explains that this golden age has come about from a number of factors. One of these is the fusion of European, particularly German, game design, which emphasised mechanics and board games as being pleasurable physical objects, with an American sense of story telling and theme. This has lead to huge leaps forward in terms of game design, meaning we now have games that are better than at any point previous.
Another massive factor for the current board game Renaissance is availability thanks to the internet. Not only do sites like Amazon and more specialists sites mean that you can get games delivered to you wherever you are, but the internet has also increased the availability of information. Whereas in the not-too-distant past, knowledge of these types of games was limited to local communities, specialist stores and clubs, sites like YouTube have made learning about new games easier than ever before.
You can see Quinns’ talk here, and it is well worth a watch:
Kickstarter has also had a huge impact on board games over the last few years. Just this week it was reported that over $1bn has been pledged to games since Kickstarter began 10 years ago, the majority of that being to tabletop games (you can read more by clicking here). One game in particular, Kingdom Death Monster raised $12.4million in early 2017, the 4th highest funded project on the whole of Kickstarter. For better or worse, it’s not hard to see that Kickstarter has changed the way in which games are made.
The largest YouTube channel concerned with tabletop gaming is The Dice Tower. They produce a large amount of board game related content each week (reviews, unboxing, live plays, magazine type shows with a variety of contributors etc), and are well worth checking out. They review a wide variety of games, from heavy strategy games to games for children, and a good starting point for anyone looking to find out more.
Board Game Geek is a site that is very much central to the tabletop hobby. And although it appears impenetrable at first (I agree, and I still find it somewhat intimidating), there is no better resource for finding out information on a game. It’s worth noting that there are over 100,000 games currently listed on Board Game Geek, with roughly 3,000 or so new games being released each year. That gives some sense of the size of the hobby.
Hopefully this acts as a very quick introduction to a hobby that is experiencing massive growth and innovation. It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a tabletop gamer, and hopefully this page will enable me to share some of that excitement.
Thanks for reading.