I play a lot of games, console games, computer games, card games, board games, tabletop games, and role-playing games. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not an extremist about the hobby, but I’m also more into it then the general public. It’s one of my nerdier aspects for sure. Part of it has to do with the awkwardness I feel in social situations. At a party where everyone is just standing around talking, I don’t really understand my place in the room unless I’m familiar and comfortable with the majority of the people there. Games help to alleviate that. They give me structure in a social situation, an activity that everyone is communally participating in. It gives me automatic common ground for discussion with new people.

Most of my social activities that I regularly are somehow structured around a game of some sort. These are just some of the games that fill my time. I’ve left out video games because other than Rock Band I tend to be a one man wolf pack when video gaming.

D&D: Dungeons and Dragons is my first and really only RPG experience. I’ve dabbled with other systems of RPGs, but I always come back to D&D in the end. Part of that has to do with the group I play with. I would love to try the Dresden Files RPG, but my group just isn’t down for it. Here’s the long and short of it, RPGs are just great fun. They take all the imagination and adventure that I used to get out of playing with action figures as a little kid, but adds a system of rules and structure to the play. It lets multiple people collaboratively tell a story, the rules just provide a baseline for the physics of the world you’re playing in. And ultimately, you can usually take or leave any of the rules you come across and house rule in new rules when your group needs them. The sky isn’t even the limit, the cosmos are the limit.

Bang!: Bang! is one of the first casual card games that we picked up as a filler for our game nights. We would play it at the start of the gathering if we were missing players and couldn’t start D&D yet, or we would play it after wrapping up D&D for a night just to prolong the gathering. We’ve since gotten together to play the game on random non-D&D related occasions, often times with drinks involved. It’s a fun game of strategy and deception where you get to shoot your friends. It’s based around old spaghetti westerns and sometimes it’s totally politically incorrect, but it’s fun because you get to shoot fake bullets at your friends. It’s easy to just pick up and play, and best of all, you can buy all the expansions and the base set in one collectors set now. It’s not a CCG like Magic the Gathering so you don’t have to constantly dump money into the game to stay competitive or anything. There were 2 expansions which just added new twists to the game. I used to play Magic the Gathering, but quickly found that you constantly had to reinvest in the game to stay competitive. It’s like a constant nuclear arms race, and I just couldn’t stay committed to the hobby given how my financial stability has wavered over the years. Bang! and in fact none of the games on this page really have that element to them.

Zombie Dice: Zombie Dice is a game I picked up at PAX Prime 2010 and it was a rage at PAX that year. It’s an even better game to pick up for quick amusing play while you’re hanging out with friends, because unlike a lot of games it’s just about equally as fun for 2 people as it is for 7 people. It isn’t terribly complex, in fact it’s like a lot of old dice games played at bars around the world. It’s often the time killer we all pick up at our game table because we’re just waiting for other people to arrive. There’s strategy, but it’s not terribly complex and it skews much higher to luck than it does skill. It’s cheap, easy, and transports super well. Great stocking stuffer or secret Santa gift for the gamer/nerd in your life.

Munchkin: Munchkin is a card game great for any D&D player that doesn’t mind poking fun and their own beloved game. It takes the D&D power gaming extremism to ridiculous and hilarious heights. The tag line for the game is “Kill the Monster, Steal the Treasure, Stab Your Buddy in the Back.” and that pretty much describes the game in a nut shell. I picked up the basic set of Munchkin a few weeks ago, and we’ve only played a couple of hands, but at this point I’ve picked up just about every expansion of Munchkin, and might do the same for the spin-off series. It was just that much fun. I know this isn’t a new game. I know it’s been out there for a long time now. But it’s new to our table, and I’m sure there are other groups out there that haven’t ventured into its shallow depths yet. It’s a great game for your D&D table to play at the beginning of the night while you’re waiting for people to arrive, or a great game to play at the end of the night when you’re just looking to wrap things up. We’ve only gotten 3 people playing at once so far, but I’m looking forward to getting a much bigger table. The box says a maximum of 6, but now that I’ve added the expansions to the base set, I don’t see why that needs to hold true.

Zombies!!!: Zombies!!! is another game that’s been out there for a while, but that I’ve just recently discovered and our table already loves. It’s a hybrid card/board game. You’re playing a group of human survivors in a city over run by zombies. You’re on the run, desperately searching for supplies and the elusive helipad where a rescue chopper awaits. The game works off of two very distinct decks of cards, the Map cards which each player draws each turn and lays down. This forms your board for your human survivors to move on and the map of the city you’re stuck in. This way, every time you play the map is randomly generated. I think it fairly represents the desperate sprint through a city for survival, where with all the monsters, horror, and adrenaline you don’t really know where everything is, even though it could be a city you know well. The other deck of cards are special action cards that let you get bonuses of various sorts, and sometimes screw with other players in the race to the helipad. We’ve only played with the basic set so far. I’ve purchased the first expansion, but we haven’t incorporated it yet. To be honest, my only complaint about the game, is they could do a better job of spelling out the rules for us. Even as regular table top gamers, it’s taken some work to really figure out the mechanics of the game so that we know we’re playing right. Often this has required us to go online and check for errata or the game’s FAQ. I guess you could call that the learning curve, and I just wish the rules were a little bit more clear from the get go. Other than that we love the game and I think I’ll probably invest in the other expansions of Zombies and maybe even into the two spin offs, Humans!! and Martians!!.

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