Whether print, film or television, fantasy as gone from being a fringe to mainstream genre in recent years. We’ve discussed why it has appeal and how the stories of the masters like Tolkien have such depth and staying power. But what if you could take these worlds that captivate your mind and add another dimension to them? An interactive one where you can enter for a time?
I’m not talking about joining some reenactment group (though some do) or video games (and their lack of face-to-face human interaction). Instead, there have been a number of successful attempts to lay out fantasy worlds right on your table in the form of board games. No, these aren’t the repetitive and soon worn out type of games we are all introduced to as kids.
Take Legends of Andor where you join your fellow players in Andor to stand up to the evil hordes and resolve pressing quests. Yes, I said join; this is a cooperative game. This is a whole different experience for those (nearly all of us) used to the normal competitive party games. Most find they like it, but might find it strange that everyone can lose.
In Runebound you set off on your own into Terrinoth, but instead of just reading about heroes, you can become one and face their trials and triumphs for yourself. Or maybe you want a familiar land? Then enter Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings: The Card Game. With essentially just cards, you find yourself in immersive scenarios with your allies. Soon you will want to jump back into the books, or are you already there?
While the stories that unfold cannot be as detailed as a book, they certainly have qualities of unexpectedness, interaction and variability that pull you in like a good book would. These class of games bring gaming out of the kid realm. The learning curve is a bit steeper than say Scattergories or Trivial Pursuit, and but you are rewarded with depth and the joy of engaging your mind (that’s not to mean that they are hard to learn). Apparently there is a golden age of gaming threatening to drag people from their glowing screens and replacing it with human interaction and adventure.
Battling evil, finding the hero within, exploring strange lands…it all seems much more exciting than another television show that is the same as the last twenty.
But as fantasy fans, you already knew that.