I love video games. I will always love video games. I don’t see ever not playing video games.
But if I’m being honest, over the last few years, I have found myself gravitating more and more to tabletop games as a preferred gaming experience.
Not all the time, obviously. The logistics prevent it from being an impromptu activity I can just “do” for an hour or so at the end of a long day. With busy schedules, you can’t always gather people easily.
And it helps that we’re in the midst of a board game renaissance I suppose, but there’s something… simpler, about tabletop gaming. I don’t mean they’re shallow from a complexity standpoint; trust me, we’re a far cry from the days of Monopoly.
In light of all the video game industry stuff we’ve been discussing, though, tabletop gaming just feels more straightforward, and that’s refreshing. And don’t get me wrong, some of the stuff we see in video game business takes place in board gaming too; after all, booster packs for games like Magic are pretty much the original “loot boxes.” Make no mistake, board game companies want your money just as much as anyone else.
And some games end up getting expansions you can choose to purchase to extend your game experience, and “patches” exist in board gaming in the form of FAQ’s and Erratas, but by and large it more consistently feels like when you buy a game, you’re buying the whole game. Like, that’s it.
Maybe the tactile portion of board gaming helps with the sense of value too, as we’ve moved entirely into an age where most of our entertainment is digital. And I’m fine with that, I’m happy to have all my movies and games off my shelves and stored in digital libraries I can access from anywhere. But there is still something nice about holding a product you’ve purchased. And board games give you a lot to touch and hold.
And unfortunately, most video games can’t hold a candle to same-room multiplayer. While the video game industry and pretty much all but forsaken split-screen and couch co-op, tabletop gaming still lets you engage with people in a more intimate, direct social way. Sure, working out the logistics takes more effort than hopping into an online lobby, and so online gaming will always have its place, but given the choice I’d always rather play with friends in person as opposed to over a headset.
So I don’t know, that’s just something I’ve been feeling lately as we discuss the different directions that the video game industry is headed, and whether or not its actually something we have any control over. At least my board games remain a bastion of direct, someone pure enjoyment, and they aren’t fucking me over just yet.
Yeah I know that feel and I appreciate the fact I found at least a few people to occasionally play a board game. Video games always were the “easier” and “cheaper” (then some tabletop or TCG) alternative to card or board games. They also were the better way to spend time alone and experiencing a story rather then just reading or viewing it. But they are losing this more and more.
I don’t think a comic has captured the state of the industry quite as thoroughly as this one does
Agreed. This was really topical for me today, even though Tim didn’t address it. – Video Games that release a DLC that breaks the game. Yesterdays example was Dead By Daylights inclusion of a DLC for Freddy Krueger. Now DbD has been releasing bad guys that are head and shoulders better than the included killers for some time. Freddy takes the cake however. The worst killer in the world should still be able to kill 3 survivors every time, with getting 4 most of the time.
When I think of a ‘gamer’ I have always thought of a person who enjoys video games and board games. They have always been tied together for me, the same hobby. In fact, there are literally video games that are just board games on a computer. Though board games have always been a bit harder to find other people to play with.
Then you have the likes of Games Workshop – have you seen how much they charge for plastic and paint? Players are encouraged to build up armies, so it’s not enough just to have a few minis – you need squads and squads of expensive little soldiers. Sure, building them and painting them is fun (I don’t speak from personal experience – I don’t have the patience or a steady enough hand to paint an inch-high model in any kind of detail). Of course, it doesn’t end with the soldiers. An army needs vehicles too and the tanks aren’t cheap… Read more »
inb4 – I recognise that Warhammer 40,000 is not representative of all tabletop games, I was just giving an example of a company that makes tabletop games and “wants your money as much as anyone else”.
This sound like you havent played any current GW game. You can easily play with a 60$ start collecting ( 40 if you buy it at the right place), and if you are not only playing but participating in every aspect of the hobby, then building and painting alone should keep you occupied for about 6-40 hours ( depending on army and colour scheme). Paints arent to expensive either…there are surely cheaper options, but considering how long you can go with one pot of paint it doesnt really matter if they are 30ct more or less. Most hobbypaint cost about… Read more »
Oh without a doubt you can drop big money on tabletop stuff. I’ve probably collected a few thousand dollars worth of Warmachine/Hordes stuff over the ten years I’ve played. But there are some key differences: A) You aren’t gambling on what you’re going to get. If I buy a box with Trenchers in it, I’ve got the same Trenchers that everyone else playing the game has. I think people would be a little bit more accepting of purchasing in-game items if you could just buy exactly what you want. Ie, buy the sniper rifle you want, instead of gambling and… Read more »
I agree with you mostly Tim, but with regards to Warhammer: 40,000 specifically, they do still have a bit of the DLC gamble in them. Since GamesWorkshop doesn’t release all the codices for the armies anywhere near the same time, sometimes not even when there have been multiple editions like the Dark Eldar were for the longest time, It makes it so that your army eventually becomes nearly unplayable. From there you have to either be content with always losing to superior armies due to Codex Creep, or shell out hundreds of dollars up front to build a brand new… Read more »
That’s not necessarily related to DLC… that’s more if you bought a weapon in game, but then the developer patched the game to make the gun less powerful, or function differently. And yeah, that’s a legit issue that wargamers have to contend with, which is part of having a living game that evolves and stays relevant/has that longevity. But there is one difference with tabletop games, and while it’s harder with competitive wargames than other board games, it still holds true: when the board game developer updates a board game, they can’t delete your old rulebooks. You can still play… Read more »
This is the first comic of yours that I’ve actually liked…
and I can relate to it, very much so.
This. So much this… I have such a hard time finding games I want to play these days. I can’t say why for sure, but micro transactions, free to play, early access, games in installments, etc. The whole lot just feels like a giant cash grab and the overall quality/content you get in return just feels like a rip off. I find myself going back to older titles from the snes through original Xbox eras and older pc titles to find something. Of course those were times I had all the time on earth to game. So I’m not really… Read more »
My happy place is pen&paper 😀
You should check out Factorio, it’s a single player game with no real plot that’s reeaal easy to just lose yourself in for a couple of hours before you realise three days have passed xD
As a modder of Factorio, I give this comment +1000
If my logistics bots would ever deliver those circuits I need….
While boardgames are certainly sweet, having three kids, the logistics problems are way over the top for me. (On the other hand, in a few years we’ll have a homegrown gaming crew, hopefully ;))
Steam sales of ‘aged’ gold titles are a great solution for the problem though. Seeing how i haven’t played half of my library anyway, there’s just no point in getting a game while it’s fresh. Best moment is often when they’re promoting the successor, so the whole package including DLCs is on sale 😉
Is this because the Kingdom Death 1.5 upgrade kit got here today? lol I know I had similar thoughts when I got mine from the mailbox.
Mine got here last week 😀
You got good taste in boardgames, Tim.
I can think of at least two reasons why you drew the Monster box that way; don’t take this as a criticism.
As a PSA, for anyone who doesn’t know: the size of the Monster box in the comic doesn’t do justice to the real thing.
How many pairs of testicles have you claimed for the glory of your settlement sir?
I have lost count of how many testicles my many settlements have brought home over the past couple of years XD
To be fair, even before video games had DLC… MtG, Pokémon e.t.c. Had “expansion packs” as their primary model… DLC and loot boxes rolled into one foil wrapper.
Er you can’t really call expansion packs “DLC”. It’s more of additional aspects of the game being thrown in. You see, you could make a deck entirely out of the expansion packs and not out of the pre made decks. With DLC you HAVE to have the main game before you can purchase anything else. It IS a bit like a loot box but the difference is since some card games work best if you have multiples of cards, comparatively little goes to waste. Sure you won’t always get the card you want. But you have a significantly higher chance… Read more »
With MTG Specifically though Hamster, in order to play in most tournaments, you HAVE to constantly buy new cards, Every 3 months or so, an entire set gets taken out of Standard play, which forces people to buy new cards. You don’t *have* to play standard, but if you want to do any organized play at all, you must continually upgrade your deck with the new cards, which is akin to a lot of multiplayer games where you must have the newest DLC or expansion in order to keep playing in multiplayer. Take Diablo 3 for example, you can play… Read more »
I don’t play many card games (Magic is not one of them) so I wouldn’t know. You do make a good point though.
I’m still on ffg sensory overload from gencon and the tibits since
Fallout on the tabletop!
Star wars Legion!
Pretty soon i’m going to look like the mario shroom shirt but with plastic mini’s (That was you, wasn’t it Tim?)
Wait, we got an official Fallout Tabletop? Not Exodus or Wasteland, but true Fallout? I would like to know more!
check the ffg website. you can preorder, due q4 this year.
Tim, we both know damn well it’s physically impossible to hold the KD:M core box as depicted in that last panel, come on! lol, j/k. j/k
Seeing that there was a nice little bonus… It also reminded me that I first learned of the game when you were doing those gameplay videos… So it’s basically your fault I backed the subsequent 1.5 release… Friggin game, it’s been a week and I’m still making room to unbox it! lol
Artistic license 😉
Hehe… one of my boardgames appears in this strip. 🙂
Dude, we looooove Potion Explosion 😀
Hehe, thanks. I like your strips. 🙂
I totally relate to this comics:) I’ve been playing video games less and less over the last few years. I never really got into Online Gaming and after a few tries I decided to stick to Single Player only… then it turned out that there are fewer and fewer original games coming from big publishers that I want to try. I ended playing some obscure indies now and then (there are some real treasures there!) and only buy AAA from a Steam when on sale (and still returning it more often then not). In the end I did not even… Read more »
I just got my 1.5 copy of Kingdom Death. That game is amazing.
I can also totally relate. Problem is, I haven’t played a good board game in over a year, mostly because we have a little one and a half year old girl at home cannot be trusted to go two minutes without attempting something dangerous or trying to eat something which isn’t edible. It kind of ruins game night with friends when either me or my wife has to be constant baby monitor. There’s one other person that I would stick up in that comic: the hobby shop owner who says “Sure! Warhammer and Magic the Gathering are amazing games. We… Read more »
The only game that fits that criteria that I can think of is actually Sun and Moon, but that was last year and Ultra SuMo doesn’t come out until November…
Unless Mario Odyssey has announced future DLC, it fits this criteria. There are amiibos, sure, but they’re just early access to stuff you already get in the game.
Honestly, I don’t at all mind DLC, when it’s done right – for example, BotW feels like a very complete game on its own (even if I think it would be VASTLY improved with some kind of weapon crafting/repair/augmentation design, using all the various monster parts, ore, etc. the player loots). I’m not naive enough to think that companies should sink a lot of time into free major patches. But yeah, it seems like very few games take the BotW approach.
I was looking at X-Com 2 dlc reviews. Some trash. And then a $40 “We heard you liked nemesis systems, factions, zombies, and telling us where to stick mission timers.” thing that has some folks actually happy to basically buy the game a second time.
If the big add-on were “gold edition”, there’d have been screaming. But it was developed after, and based on feedback… and is tempting me, despite my being utter crap at strategy. (or feeling like I am, as I build the wrong thing and feel doom. I am starting to wonder if that’s universal tho.)
Oh right I forgot about SMO
I’ve been doing the same thing lately more and more as well. Over the last couple of years I’ve gotten back together with some old friends and we have been board gaming a lot now. It really is an excellent experience and the variety of tabletop experiences out there now is just amazing. Also, is that supposed to be a Kingdom Death Monster box in your arms in the last panel?? I just got my 1.5 edition and I cant stop playing.
I can provide you with that wonderful medium between board-game and video game. It is called Culdcept, and if you like the couch-coop fun times, you can do that, or play online. It is also one of those “this would work just fine as a board-game” video games.
P.S. I keep saying ‘it’ however the series has existed a long time and exists on multiple consoles. Find the one that is right for you.
I just had to comment that a lot of the board games that are funded through kickstarter (and similar things) are almost the same as the different levels of ‘complete’ games in that there is a lot of exclusive content that you can only get if you buy it through their funding campaign. There are board games that I do not want to buy off the shelf because I know that I missed out on the extra content that everyone got for no extra money.
You’ve contradicted yourself. The “different levels of complete” people complain about cost different amounts of money. The more you fork over, the more you get.
Early adopter bonuses are a way to encourage people to buy early, actually getting a game funded, rather than waiting to pick it up a year or two down the line. But as you said, they often don’t cost more. They’re just perks for getting in on the ground floor.
@Andrew, I have to admit I’m a slave to this pre-order bonus system, though not sure if it’s in spite of my distaste for the video game pre-order market, or actually BECAUSE of it. To clarify, a campaign with a good collection of stretch goals is apt to entice me to back a game; the “deluxified” versions TMG has been doing recently, at a significant discount from MSRP, is a scarily good target for that kind of thing. By contrast, the only game I can ever remember pre-ordering was Portrait of Ruin, because it had a package with an art… Read more »
Dude, BattleTech. Stable ruleset for 20+ years. Fun to the extreme.
I think this is also compounded by the seeming trend of online gamers being very vocal about wanting things to be easier. I’m seeing more and more games that are catering towards this version of a very casual gamer, who wants to be able to start a game and see the endgame content in a week, mostly skipping any kind of level or gearing up process…and they want to be able to earn all the rewards even though they play one hour a week (just as quickly as the guy who plays 5 hours a night and organizes the 40… Read more »
Yeah, agreed. I’ve seen a lot of that in WoW – leveling & queued content is all very easy, with no real alternatives until you’re max level and past the queued content gear/skill level. And while I love the way a casual gamer can see the end boss of the current patch, I think the sheer amount of handholding provided is just too much. You should be ABLE to kill the end boss without months of progression – but you shouldn’t be GUARANTEED to just by pressing a button to enter, waiting for the queue, then ignoring mechanics and using… Read more »
While hand holding is a problem in the grand scheme of things, the complete opposite is also a problem. What im referring to these days is the absurd expectation that a game has to have some sort of ‘grind’. Grind implies its tedious and unenjoyable, AKA the entire opposite of what a game is meant to be. In addition to that, even if the levelling process is made to take 20 hours minimum, a good amount of the time that 20 hours feels like a lot more before the process is very badly streamlined and structed, turning it more into… Read more »
Yeah, I can really agree with this. There’s so many games with just constant money-grabbing antics that it can be difficult to find ones that are just a good complete package that you can enjoy. I’ve never been too heavily into board games themselves, although I’d love to get into them, D&D is one of my passions (it’s great too when there are even D&D video games!). It’s just so fun to sit down with friends, grab some real dice and just *imagine*. There’s something so nice and therapeutic about sitting around a table with friends to play games, rather… Read more »
Why we got gog.com obviously and the means to play other old games. 🙂
thinking about impromptu board games makes me think about the time i set up a RISK game where each player was a bakugan i had i just used a rng to decide what they did. had the game going for a month sitting in my room.
I think this is the big reason why Dungeons & Dragons is having such a renaissance. WOTC is purposefully trying to stagger the release of their 5E books so you don’t have to buy a dozen different books to have a viable character, and one players handbook can help provide hundreds of great games with different characters and abilities. Tim I feel like with your audience you could do really well jumping on the D&D streaming train!
But… but… you need friends to play tabletop games T_T
I have friends but most of them don’t want to travel to my place to play a board game, take time to set it up, have to clean up with me when were done, and then go back home.
We still do it on occasion but it’s like a once a month thing now.
“What are friends?”
I really enjoy spending quality time with my husband: we have each other’s back in Gears of War, after all. But it’s next to impossible to find any other games (series) we can both enjoy, (Yeah, okay, Halo, sortof…) sitting next to each other, the cats in place, tea and snacks on the table, and just be together while gibbing and giving head-shots… Makes me wonder why we invested in an Xbox One S. 🙁
Tim! This is dead on. I will always play the Fallouts, CSGOs, Zeldas, Destinies, etc. But we love our tabletop games. Do you have any favorites? Genres?
You all know that if video games had kept up thier prices with inflation, we’d all be paying over $100 for a complete game now, right? There’s a reason that companies have to use gimmicks like this for more money, they are selling the games at an extreme loss anymore for how much programmers and artists should cost. IMO I’d rather pay a little extra for a complete game now and support our poor development teams.
Unless a game bombs, it is making money for the company. So how are they selling it at a loss?
One argument that’s been made is that a lot of the increased prices for games are because a lot of the games being made today go really crazy with remaking engines from scratch and trying to amp up all the graphics to max. I’ve seen people argue that the Switch is a weak system, yet I look at Breath of the Wild and I wonder how that level can be considered “weak”. It’s kind of like how the Pokémon series keeps introducing large numbers of new mons – so we have a kajillion different kinds of fire/water/grass starters (seriously, what… Read more »
You really nailed the box size /art on this one. I think i’ve worked out most of them but can’t get one – from left to right:
Mansions of madness,??????? , Imperial assault, specter ops, wasteland delivery service, dead of winter, 7 continent, KD: monster, potion explosion and Battlestar gallactica.
Dinosaur Island 😉
I thought it was Lazer Riders, but too thick
I started out on consoles (90s), moved over to pc gaming in the 90’s/early 00’s, got sick of the constant upgrade requirements and driver nightmares on the pc (since subsided), moved back to console and Steam, and now am fully invested in boardgaming. I was so sick of the constant negative atmosphere in online gaming – the most fun I ever had playing video games was playing games on my couch with friends. Boardgaming, I’m getting that same friendly rivalry, but having a fantastic time. There’s easier and simpler methods to connect with new people to create new friendships –… Read more »
This problem is actually one of pure fiscal health. If a game takes 100$ per player to develop, they have to do BS to break even. No one wnats to pay 100$, or even 80$ up front, even if it would make the game far more enjoyable. Then micro-transactions hit it huge and now even single player games have to have them.
Except players WOULD accept a price hike (not $40 at once, no, but gradually over the years, sure); no, not all games need THAT much to break even; there are better models for selling paid extras to the players; and if development costs that much maybe ease up on the whole “making whole new top-of-the-line engines and art assets to perform the exact same tasks with very minor additions” thing? (Seriously, it’s not as if Minecraft or Undertale did poorly even with very outdated graphics.)
I don’t get how consoles like the N64 and original Xbox could handle 4 player local multiplayer but modern consoles cannot. Were the games for those consoles not utilizing all the systems capabilities to allow for that multiplayer to happen? I realize some of it is just developers don’t desire to implement it. But that’s kind of sad.
It’s almost entirely a lack of developer desire, yeah.
Oh man there is so much truth to this comic. I’ve started playing a lot more table-top games over the past few years!
Except 7th Continent and Kingdom Death were also Kickstarters. Same problem as the indie dev scenario.
Me and my friends love having board games around, but we also play a lot of card games, like MTG, Exploding Kittens etc. I’m actually awaiting my copy of Unstable Unicorns +expansions in the coming months ^.^
I would much rather play couch co-op with my husband and other friends, but as these are dying out, I’ll just have to continue having fun with the solid games that I have 😉
As an owner of two consoles, and a literal room for my board game collection, I had to chime in on this one, 100% agree. With the exception of the Switch, the move away from Same-room multiplayer means I just flat don’t buy ps4 games much anymore. (Okay, I want to play Don’t Starve together with my wife, in the same room on the same system….I need to buy BOTH of us Playstation Plus now? Hard Pass) We are absolutely in the Golden Age of Board Games. The variety, the complexity, the perfectly tuned expansions, it’s such a blast. We… Read more »
Yep, same-room multiplayer is a big thing for me, even years after I stopped having friends to game with – I do still frequently visit my cousins. The last several visits we’ve had, we’ve played Minecraft together on the Switch, with a fair bit of Mario Kart and Overcooked too. Yeah, single-player games are great and all, but some of my most beloved experiences have always been multiplayer experiences.
I’m totally with you, Tim. I’ve been a CAD reader for a LONG time, and came to your comic because I was really into video games (I’m trying to remember when I started reading CAD and I can’t, but I do remember being a reader when you posted comics about WWII Online because I played that game, so I was reading CAD before that!) I was also into board games at the time, but probably spent more time on video games. Over the years my time and attention has shifted more and more away from video games and towards board… Read more »
Huge fan of the tabletop genre. I can literally name all of the games in the last panel. It’s a pity that most AAA video game companies have taken on some pretty greedy business practices, including buying out the smaller development groups as soon as they release something great. I literally will not touch Fallout 4 anymore, but still hold Fallout NV to be one of the best designed games of all time. I also greatly miss the days of local co-op, where everyone in the apartment can hook up to the lan and join in a solid game of… Read more »
I see Cthulhu Wars is suspiciously missing from your collection…
You think THAT’s my entire collection? XD
Except these days…the best board games are Indie games that want the money up front and then add expansion packs and DLC as stretch goals. 🙂
Once one industry discovers how lucrative it is to take advantage of their users it’s only a matter of time.
Pretty soon you’re going to go to the Dealership and find out that Toyota you wanted to buy costs extras if you want it to come with seats and tires and a windshield.
Unfortunately board games require things that I do not possess, like money and friends.
I used to keep a set of dice in my purse for impromptu waiting room games.
But then why buy the normal Assault of the Giants or Tomb of Annihilation board game when you can get the PREMIUM one with all the minis painted? 🙂
This I think fits so much. Video games were a comparatively cheap alternative to the pen and paper games that I couldn’t find a group to play with. Now my books are calling me from the shelves and closets. My cygnar soldiers rally for their paint and I think it may be time to step back and let the industry notice we have alternatives. (Or I pray they do. I still like video games but as said this really hits home on how it feels.)
You touched on this with your multiplayer content, but I wanted to mention that tabletop gaming is definitely healthier from a social standpoint for me. I easily get sucked into the world of single player games. I’m not naturally drawn to a digital community. I don’t really do online multiplayer with people I know, and when I have the experience has been less than fulfilling. But TABLETOP games, that is the real deal. Social interaction, mental challenge ( as other people perform strategies you didn’t think of and you have to adapt ), and so much more. Tabletop gaming of… Read more »
What are the board games displayed? There seems to be 11 of them (assuming the one on the table is different than the 10 other boxes) and my friend and I could only identify 9:
-Dead of Winter
-Mansion of Madness
Blood rage isn’t pictured. Wasteland Delivery service and dinosaur Island are, though.
Thanks for the info. I am thoroughly disappointed in myself 😛
I love it how BSG and Mansions (looks like 1st ed?) are pictured. Two of my favorite games that are often overlooked.
I agree and disagree with this. I look at it like this. Games feel less complete now because back when we were growing up, games were as complex as they are now. A simple story and that was it. Now you got these complex stories, insane details in graphics, and depending on the game intense deep multiplayer. Now those multiplayers are all ran on servers and companies need people to monitor and repair those servers, provide updates where needed, kick/ban players who are breaking their games. All that costs man power and time which means money. A video game is… Read more »
Generally I agree with you. In the ten years since I’ve joined the hobby, I’ve invested significantly more time and energy into the boardgame hobby than video games, and that includes buying and stocking a Wii U to give my kids a bunch of stuff to play. I’ve played nearly every game in your last panel and love just about all of them. The one hiccup to that, however, is the segment of Kickstarter that is awash in games with 800 sculpted minis and like a $200 buy-in point. I’m glad, though, that there are still companies doing KS projects… Read more »
You know, the indie scene, I can understand… and then you show yourself holding KDM… which was Kickstarted.
It was more a jab at Early Access than a condemnation of crowdfunding across the board.
None of the examples above can be applied to ALL games in their genre. There ARE still video games that don’t do microtransactions or sixty launch versions.
I have never played a board game aside from the likes of Monopoly and Risk. Mostly because my group of friends were never interested in it and I doubt I’ll be able to get a decent schedule put together these days. I used to play a shit ton of couch multiplayer, though and I’ll agree and say that it increases the entertainment you can get from a game tenfold compared to online games. These days, there are barely any games that can come close to the experience of playing TimeSplitters or Super Smash Bros Melee with someone by your side.… Read more »
Wait, Halo killed split screen? I mean, most of my Halo multiplayer was done online, but a HUGE amount of that was done split screen with at least one guest! o_O