Tuesday, June 7, 2022

 International Tabletop Game Day is observed on the first Saturday in June which fell on June 4th this year.  Tabletop games are games played on a table and include games played with cards, dice, paper and pencil, miniatures, maps, and tokens.

Tabletop gaming dates to at least 3500BCE. Senet, Backgammon and Go are among the oldest games still being played today, but in the 20th Century, board gaming, fueled by cheap printing, cardstock, and newly minted leisure time, had a new beginning.  In 1903, Elizabeth Magie’s The Landlord’s Game (appropriated by Charles Darrow as Monopoly in 1935) kicked off a broader interest in board games.  For the next few decades board games were often roll and move games with paper money and player elimination. 

Gary Gygax made waves in 1974 when he released the first commercially available role playing game: Dungeons and Dragons.  Instead of a board, the game was played in the theatre of the mind directed by a referee who ran the adventure and applied the rules set forth in the Player’s Handbook.

Roleplaying game.  Image by C. Mitolo

A watershed moment happened when the family friendly strategy game Settlers of Catan introduced Euro style gaming to North America and gamers haven’t looked back. What followed was an explosion of new titles and reprints of popular European games. Today, Boardgamegeek.com—a boardgame database--lists tens of thousands of tabletop games.

If you’re interested in tabletop gaming and want to explore the hobby without wading through thousands of titles then try one of these gateway games that can serve as an entry into the hobby.  They’re easy to learn, easy to find, and aren’t a huge time commitment to play. Start here and cultivate a love of cardboard.

Trade goods in the bazaar in Jaipur.  Image by F. Coruzzi

For 2 Players Only

·         Jaipur.  Buy and sell in the marketplace in this card based game.

·         Patchwork.  Create a quilt by laying tiles and spending buttons.

·         Dominion.  A deckbuilding game in which you try to build your empire.

·         Memoir ’44. A stripped down wargame where actions are based on cards in your hand.

For 2 Or More Players

·         Carcassone.  A classic tile laying game in which you build walled cities in France.

·         Ticket to Ride.  Claim rail networks by collecting sets of cards

·         Pandemic.  Beat a viral outbreak in this co-operative globetrotting game.

·         Forbidden Island.  Grab the artifacts and escape the sinking island with your party of adventurers.

·         Kingdomino.  Match landscapes instead of numbers by laying down your dominos.

·         Small World.   Send elves, dwarves, and other fantasy races out to claim your territory

·         King of Tokyo.  Choose a giant monster to battle your friends in this fast paced dice game.


Want to try a game before you buy? Visit a board game café!  You can visit The Bard and Bear on James St. N in Hamilton; they have many of the games listed above that you can play for a small cover charge.

Uwe Rosenberg’s 2 Player Patchwork.  Image by: C. Mitolo

So grab some friends, some snacks, your dice, and have fun!

Listen to Leave Luck To Us—Hamilton’s tabletop gaming podcast--on CFMU every Saturday at 7pm.  You can hear us chat about tabletop gaming and play a roleplaying adventure called The Forgotten Shrine of the Slime Toad.


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