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The year was 2013. It was a significant year for me on many fronts. I tiptoed into my thirties. I graduated college. Also, my wife and I moved our family for a job. That was a first for me. All three of these events would be considered by many to be landmark events, but there was a smaller moment during the first week of January, barely registering at the time, that would prove to be a tremor that would eventually lead to a seismic shift in how I play games.
Previous to this moment my gaming consisted of ninety-eight percent or more of video gaming. I am a staunch supporter of Nintendo, and as such I played a lot of Mario and The Legend of Zelda games. Occasionally I'd fire up the ol' Sega Genesis and play either Sonic the Hedgehog or some EA sports game, but whether flying a Nintendo or Sega banner, board games were rare to occupy my time. Suggesting a board game to play with any of my family or with my friends was not going to happen. I didn't dislike board game- they simply didn't cross my mind.
Typically around the holidays, I would join a friend's family for some festivities. Nearly every time some type of board game would be broken out and us younger folk (late teens, early twenties) would gather around the table. I remember one evening in particular where we played Balderdash, constantly writing extravagant lies. They were comical, and we laughed until our heads' hurt. It was also the first time I'd heard of Rory's Story Cubes. We would take turns rolling one of the dice and continue with the collective story, trying to top what the other people had come up with while ensuring the integrity of the emblem on our die, and seeing smiles fissure across faces and hearing laughter erupt.
Even with positive experiences such as this, board games were still far from my consciousness when talking about what to do.
The epicenter, I believe, can be pinpointed to a January evening in 2013. I was again at the friend's house I mentioned earlier, and, again, there was a game I experienced for the first time. That game was Munchkin.
Munchkin is a card-based dungeon crawler. Each person plays a character and adds a race type, if he can, equips specific garb and weaponry, and "opens" a door by flipping over the top card in the center deck. Once flipped, it could be a race, type, accessory, or a monster to fight. Defeating monsters gain a player a point, and the first to ten points wins.
It isn't the most well-liked game out there to gamers, I've discovered, and it's not among my favorites, but that doesn't mean it wasn't important. The game can run long (the last time I played, we practically gave the victory to one of the players after over three hours), and the humor of the cards can wear thin. Still, it is enjoyable for what it is- an easy, introductory game.
A week or so after playing it for the first time, my friend brought me a gift for my birthday. Of course, it was Munchkin. It was my first hobby game, and the only one I would have for quite some time.
Even then, the game set in a closet shelf with the dredge of mass market games, such as Life and Monopoly. It piqued my interest in new games, but it would be a few years before that little crack would grow into the earth-shattering quake that board games now are. The next moment would make that tiny shift in the tectonic plates of hobby into a measurable event on the Richter Scale.