Over the past decade or so, tabletop games as a hobby have grown in both popularity and scale. Be it Tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons coming back into fashion or expansive developments in more traditional board games, the hobby is bigger than ever before, and that growth shows no signs of stopping any time soon.
However, like any hobby, people on the outside have preconceived notions of what they're like based on word of mouth or media representation. This can lead to many misconceptions about what tabletop gaming is really like, and dispelling them can be a big hurdle to get over for someone new to the hobby.
10 They're All Complicated
Perhaps the quickest way to turn someone off of learning a board game is by showing them the rulebook. A lot of games have rulebooks that look more like novellas, which can be offputting to newcomers. However, appearances can often be deceiving.
While there are plenty of complicated board games out there, most aren't as bad as they seem. Rulebooks often contain a step-by-step guide through turns, including explanations of every possible edge case that may arise during play, which means that only a single page may be needed to get started. Twilight Imperium is the poster child for complex rules, but even that isn't too dense when you boil it down to just the basics of what players must do on their turn. Even tabletop RPGs have simpler alternatives.
On top of that, there are many fantastic party games that can be explained in just a few sentences and guarantee a good time.
9 They Take Ages To Play
What stops many people from playing a tabletop game is that they're something people have to make time for. This one rings more true than most misconceptions, as there are plenty of ridiculously long board games out there. That said, those extremely long board games are the minority.
Most board games take 2 hours or less, which sounds like a lot, but 2 hours is a fairly average video gaming session for many, so it seems like it could easily slot into someone's regular schedule of free time. Even for people who are tighter on time, there are games like Cheese Thief or Snakesss, whose rounds take less than 10 minutes, and players can choose how many rounds they want to play.
8 They're All Expensive
It is an unfortunate reality of tabletop gaming that many of the deepest and complex games are quite expensive. As incredible as games like Nemesis and Gloomhaven are, $100+ is A LOT to put down on a game. Additionally, with Kickstarter pushing games to have more luxurious accessories like fully molded figures and plastic counters rather than cardboard, it can feel like tabletop is a rich man's game.
That's simply not the case, though, as some of the best board games can be picked up for under $20, a third of the price of a AAA video game. Codenames, Skull & Sushi Go are all beloved classics that cost less than a night out and offer endless replayability.
7 Finding One You Like Is Hard
Even someone genuinely wanting to get into the hobby can struggle at first to find a game that fits their tastes. With so many games, it can seem like an impossible task to sort through them all and find what's suitable for each player. It doesn't have to be difficult, though.
Board Game Geek is a great place to start, as it's essentially a massive database on tabletop games with reviews, tutorials, and ratings for everything, even as new ones release. Then, when looking for recommendations, YouTube has players covered, with channels like No Rolls Barred, Dicebreaker, or Shut Up & Sit Down, just to name a few, all offering easy-to-digest looks at games, along with fun playthroughs. Finally, there are board game cafes, where players can bring a few friends and try some games without buying them.
6 The "Classics" Are The Only Good Ones
This is a view that's thankfully starting to die out as the hobby becomes more expansive, but many older gamers who grew up with just the "family classics" like Monopoly or The Game of Life may be apprehensive to stray away from what they know they enjoy.
It's understandable, but doing that means they are denying themselves a genuinely astounding amount of variety. Even games in the game genre with very similar makeup can lead to astoundingly different experiences, and keeping such a narrow perspective on things would be a big shame.
5 "Family Games" Are All Bad
While people shouldn't limit themselves to just the "family classics", writing them off entirely would be bad too. While it's true most gamers would sooner jam forks into their eyes than play Monopoly, other classics like Clue/Cluedo or Settlers of Catan can still be great.
Additionally, just because a game is geared towards the whole family doesn't mean it'll be boring for the adults playing. Telestrations is a simple concept that everyone will get a laugh out of. Something like Ticket To Ride or No Thanks is easy enough for 10+ years olds to understand while still offering adults an engaging strategy game.
4 They're Old Fashioned
This is another point that is dying down but still exists amongst the naysayers. As the world shifts more and more to run entirely on digital media, board games can look somewhat outdated by comparison. The family taking turns to have fun with a VR Headset certainly feels more modern than sitting around a colored piece of cardboard, rolling dice.
However, if tabletop games were old-fashioned, the industry wouldn't be in the midst of its biggest boom period. On top of that, the immersive levels of storytelling and social connection board games can offer feels quite modern. Many games now are less about racking up points and crowning a winner but bringing people together in a shared thematic and/or social experience.
3 They're Only Fun For The Winner
As is the very nature of a game, most board games have some form of a winner at the end of it, be they singular or multiple. This leads some to claim that board games simply aren't fun for those who invest a lot of time into their game, only to lose. This is mostly Monopoly's fault, as the long dragged-out experience can really demoralize players when it becomes apparent they're not going to win but still have to play for another hour.
In reality, a well-designed board game will make the experience fun for everyone all the way to the final move. There are different ways of doing this. Ticket To Ride keeps some scoring aspects hidden, meaning every player is in with a shout until it's counted up at the end, while social deduction games like Blood on the Clocktower make the experience so incredibly tense and engaging that even when the opposing team wins, it feels close and the victory was well-earned.
2 Digital Board Games Are The Future
This is the most easily understandable misconception, especially with a global pandemic fresh in everyone's minds. As everyone could not get together in the same room, many developers and fans produced fully functional digital versions of even the most complex board games, so people could still play tabletop games during the pandemic. In recent years, the gaming industry has even seen more and more video games inspired by tabletop games.
This has led many on the outside (and even a few on the inside) to believe the medium will be shifting online more fully in the coming years. It's an understandable assumption to make but a fundamentally flawed one that misunderstands the most basic appeal of board games; getting together and spending time with family and friends in a way that is guaranteed to be enjoyable for all.
1 Your Friends And Family Won't Want To Play Them
It can be difficult for someone newly getting into board gaming to find people to play with, which is a big hurdle for some. However, many of these people are working under the assumption that those around them wouldn't be interested and thus never ask.
The fact is as tabletop gaming has come back into fashion and is being represented more favorably in the media, much apprehension to it has faded in all age groups. In reality, if players simply ask their friends if they'd like to get together and play a game they think they'll like, most people will at least give it a go. They may end up not enjoying it as much as they'd hoped, but one of the reasons the hobby has expanded so quickly is because people are very open to giving it a try, and many find they enjoy it.
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