Welcome to the Cardboard Empire

No image could better introduce myself for a board game blog than that of my shelves. Fresh Ikea wood, just minted this holiday season with some Christmas money. To me, this is a wall of endless entertaining possibilities as well as one of memories. The spine of any given game will remind me of the last time a group of friends and I got together to open that box, and what laughter, betrayal, or grand strategy lay within.

Behold my Empire!
Behold my Empire!

And yet, to most readers this is a wall with no familiar sights. Just a bunch of strange names you have never heard of before. After all, where is Monopoly or Clue, or even an old reliable like Uno on these shelves?

To that I say, I started there too. We all have some kind of board game heritage from our youth. Monopoly games that had to be left in a frozen state overnight, Uno games where we are on the verge of winning until an uncle  played a +4 card, or traditional card games with the parents or grandparents. Most of us moved on, with other forms of entertainment taking precedence. Why dive into a board game when Netflix is tempting you to catch up on the last season of House of Cards, or your Xbox controller is sitting forlornly on your couch, or a night on the town is in the cards?

For me it started about 5 years ago. I was bored one fateful Friday night and I wandered into Zombie Planet, a comic and game store on Central Ave. Compared to your usual board game selection at a Target or Walmart, the selection of games in the store seemed strange to me, and it was a bit overwhelming. Curious, I wandered towards the back where a group was playing a space ship building game. Everyone was laughing, clearly having an amazing time as their space ships were torn to bits by the harsh realities of space trucking. I asked them for a recommendation, walked out with a new found prize, and a few weeks later I was back to share the joy of these hobby games with some new found friends.

What I have discovered with board games, and what I want to share with you, is the evolution of those games from our youth. There is a small but growing industry of so called “designer games” where one might seek out a game by the name on the box much like you would look for the latest book by your favorite author.IMG_0182

So who am I apart from my board game shelves? I originally came to the area to go to school at University at Albany, and fell in love with it so much that I have been here ever since. When I am not at the table rolling dice I can be found curling (yes, that strange winter sport with the brooms) or out cycling on the Mohawk-Hudson trail. I work in database account management, but even during the 9 to 5 I can be found talking about last night’s gaming adventures, or trying to pull coworkers together for games at lunch.

My hope with this blog is to shed a light on this growing hobby. I will try to show what makes it tick, and why it is a fantastic decision to set aside a lunch at the office, or skip a Netflix night in in order to explore these cardboard totems, and see what it is they can offer.

12 thoughts on “Welcome to the Cardboard Empire

  1. Hi Jeremy. I wasn’t sure a blog on board games would be interesting, but no joke, you had me with your first paragraph. Hope this blog will be a fun and learning experience for us novices. Welcome!

    • Hi Michael,

      I’m one of those “gamers” Jeremy speaks of! Welcome to a whole new world!! I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Jeremy most of those 5 years he speaks of as I’ve been going to Zombie Planet for 10+ years now. It’s a great community of people and we always welcome new players who wander in to check things out. Jeremy is a great guy and will do well to promote what we “gamers” love doing most!! I look forward seeing you sometime in the future!!

      • My son and his friends go to Zombie Planet for ‘Magic the Gathering’ games. I’ve browsed the aisles and been amazed at the variety of games being played today. I think you guys are onto something.

  2. Cardboard Empire!! I love the title! I still remember when you first told me how many games you had and said that was a lot and you shrugged and basically said, “Not really.” To me, it’s still a lot. Great intro…looking forward to more, including the tour de force I expect on LAS VEGAS!!! 🙂

  3. That’s awesome! I just got into the hobby a few years back. I am now obsessed and own a small start up gaming company called Atheris Games.

  4. Can you recommend board games that an “older” couple to enjoy? We’d prefer to do something together that engages us and promotes interaction and conversation rather than sitting in front of the boob tube!
    Thanks so much!

    • Absolutely! There are many great two player games that are perfect for couples. I will try to feature some in a Valentines day blog post, but my first suggestion would be Lost Cities. It’s a fantastic two player card game that is easy to learn but has quite a bit of depth for strategic play. Two other suggestions are Hive, a chess-like game where you move insect to try to capture the opponents queen, or Carcassonne, a fantastic tile laying game that has the cathartic pleasure of building a map of the French countryside. Hope this helps, and enjoy!

  5. Great to see! I was considering doing this too! Glad someone is shedding light on this fun and awesome hobby!

    Is that MoM i see creeping out of the top edge of the picture!

    • It is not Mansions of Madness but instead another wonderful game Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. Dying on a a desert island has never been this fun!

      • Oh, I hear that is pretty great! Just starting to get more into “Euros” but I am a sucker for some “Ameritrash” though. Can’t wait to see what this blog has in store for the future! Its just so fun to be able to talk about games and I have learned that I get much more out of the social aspect of gaming as opposed to the somewhat isolationist feel of some epic video games like Skyrim and Fallout.

        • It’s great and very thematic. Definitely one of those games you can walk away from with a great story. I enjoy both sides of the Euro/Ameritrash coin and will try to cover both and the differences. Thanks again for reading!

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