On Tumblr, t wrote:
My birthday is coming up next week and my brother insists on getting me something. He asked me what I wanted and told him I wanted a board game. He asked which one and I kind of blanked ajd told him I’d get back to him.
Being a fan of Table Top I went through and picked out my favorite ones but can’t decide on which game I want. Currently it is a choice between Munchkin, Betrayal at House on the Hill, Elder Sign and Pandemic. Which one would you pick?
This is a fairly common question, though the games are a little different each time. Here’s what I answered:
Those are all very different games, so it depends on what kind of gaming experience you want to have.
Munchkin is silly, pun-filled, and about messing with your friends. It also has about nine million expansions.
Pandemic is about working together in a game that you’re probably going to have fun losing.
Elder Sign is about working together in a heavily-themed game that is very random because of the dice.
Betrayal is about working together — until you find out that one of you is trying to murder the rest of you with kill death. It’s more of an RPG in a box, and is really fun if you treat it that way.
So I can’t tell you which one is best, but hopefully that information can help you make an informed decision.
I can’t say “Oh, if you are choosing from these games, this is the one to play,” because they’re all great games in their own way. I would, of course, try to direct t away from a game that wasn’t fun at all, or had a terrible rule book, because I believe that’s a moral imperative when games are being discussed.
I was recently at a game shop to pick up this game called Hive that is insanely fun. While I was there, I watched an employee try very hard to help a young woman pick out a game. They went through all the aisles, and he explained each game in depth long after she’d lost interest in it. This happened because he wasn’t asking the right question: what kind of game do you want to play? because he was asking questions about theme (you like Torchwood? Well, this game is blah blah blah) that didn’t help her at all. I didn’t want to jump in, but it was killing me to watch this happen. He was trying so hard, and it was like they were speaking the same language but weren’t able to exchange anything of substance between them.
I don’t know what, if anything, she decided to get, but I hope she left with something because the world needs more gamers. One way we can help make that happen is to know how to talk to them, so they can find their way into our hobby, and feel at home there.