Image by Arun Clarke

ABOUT INSTANT GAME NIGHT

Instant Game Night was born out of a sudden and unexpected world event - the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020. 

I can trace the beginnings of my board game passion to early 2020 - February to be precise. This was when I placed my first official modern board game order. My brother and I began frequenting our local board game cafe, and I had just discovered The Dice Tower on Youtube. Yes, I had fallen head first into the wonderful world of games......just in time for the world to fall apart.

When I stop and think about it, this was a really ideal time for my entry into the board game hobby. The pandemic and subsequent quarantine had transformed my busy, hectic life into one of working from home, no traveling, and a lot of time on my hands. My brother (an EMT) had decided to stop living with my parents and quarantined at our house. Suddenly, I found myself locked at home with 3 grown adults and nowhere to go. Yes, this was a recipe for board game heaven!

The rest, as they say, is history. I have learned so much about board games this year, and my passion has grown deeper with each passing day. I particularly enjoy teaching and introducing new games to my friends and family who are not board game geeks like myself. It is so rewarding to see someone so entertained by a game that you picked out especially with them in mind. Considering your audience's likes/dislikes/interests and matching that with a specific board game is truly what powers my passion for games. And that's why I decided to start this site - I could have started a review site or a playthrough site, but in the end I wanted to focus on what I know and what I enjoy: Using board games to bring people together and bond in ways that no other social activity can provide. 

For all the negative effects of this pandemic, I have to credit it with one very large positive in my life - starting this website. I hope you'll enjoy your time here. Thanks for stopping by!

Rob

 

HOW I DISCOVERED BOARD GAMES

I am a newcomer to the hobby, one of (probably many) people who sparked their board game passion in the darkest of times - March 2020.

Today, I am an avid Euro gamer who appreciates a strong, unique theme. I achieved a big milestone in just 8 months - 100 games in my collection. But it was a long journey to get my relationship with board games where it is today. In case anyone is interested, I have gone to great lengths below to describe the origins of my board game obsession.

My history with board games

Prior to the COVID pandemic, I had played some mass market games (Monopoly, Clue, CaH, etc.) but I had no idea of the beautiful world of gaming I was missing out on. One of the earliest sparks of my interest was, rather clichely, Catan. My wife played it with college friends and tried for years to convince me to play it. "That's for nerds" is what I remember saying......

Then, back around 2015, we went to some friends house for a game night. I didn't even know what that meant at the time. The very first game off the shelf - you guessed it - Catan. Much to my wife's annoyance, it was love at first sight. The next game was Carcassonne, and again, true love. I bought both immediately. But, that wasn't what singularly brought me into the hobby. I still didn't realize how many board games were out there, I was truly content with a two game collection (three if you count Spot It!).

The next spark was about a year later when my brother came home with Pandemic. And Codenames. Then came Catan: Cities and Knights. And of course the 5-6 player expansion.

The next few years I suffered through the classic "my family decided to buy another lame party game for Christmas" syndrome. I cooled off on board games considerably, although Catan still made it to the table often but overall board games were not on my radar. That is, until my brother and I rediscovered a copy of Axis and Allies my mom had ambitiously bought me when I was a teenager. Opening that box was like opening a treasure chest. After probably 10 plays, my brother decided to buy me the anniversary edition as a Christmas present. To this day I have not enjoyed a game unboxing as much as the wonderful production that is Axis and Allies Anniversary edition. I can't say how many dozens of campaigns we played through, but suffice it to say that burn out kicked in after about a year.

Then, the PC gaming world took over. As of November 2020 I have logged 250 hours of Civ 6 and 825 hours of Hearts of Iron 4. I was well and truly addicted for the better part of 2 years. And I don't say addicted lightly. It got to the point where I would go to my parents house for a weekend of family time and spend 80% of my time in front of my laptop. This addiction was straining my relationship with my parents, and worst of all, my wife and children. Eventually I came to the crushing realization of what I was doing and how I was literally wasting my life away in front of a screen. It was clear right then and there that I needed to cut off video games completely. Bad news for my laptop, great news for my family.

Somewhere during this soul searching, family rebuilding time I saw a dusty copy of Catan sitting on a shelf. And it hit me - I miss gaming so much but I can't go back to the computer. But board games seemed like a perfect solution. Not only do I get to play games, but I can also include my family as well. We can all have fun together.

Yup, that is what did it. That sparked the biggest, strongest hobby passion I have ever experienced - board gaming. I made my first official dive into the hobby in February 2020 by purchasing four games - after carefully researching on YouTube for "Best board games for couples" and "Best board games for families". The games I decided on were: Ticket to Ride Europe, Power Grid, Agricola, and Jaipur.

All four of these games will forever hold special places in my heart because each of them helped propel me wallet first into this hobby. Jaipur was the first game to be played of the bunch. What a good choice. Such a simple yet addicting game. It gave my wife and I something to do besides sitting next to each other on our phones. The next game unboxed was Power Grid. It was the first game we played with the whole extended family. I almost thought it wouldn't happen. After literally hours studying the rulebook, I finally declared we were ready to begin. And what an absolutely amazing experience. It was unlike any game we had ever played. My 60 year old mom and dad absolutely loved it. Dad couldn't believe you didn't have to roll a dice, that you could actually control your fate completely without luck. It was and still is a smash hit in our household.

By contrast, breaking out Ticket to Ride after having played Power Grid made this game seem even more simplistic than it is. But that was the beauty of TtR, how simple yet engaging and fun it was. You couldn't dislike it if you tried.

Agricola was the final experience of the three, and while brutal (I'm sure I messed up 50% of the rules initially) I consider this my gateway to the Euro gamer I have become.

But within a month of this passion beginning, it seemed like it might end as quickly as it began. Cue March 2020.....

The COVID Board Game Experience

During the early days of the pandemic, I discovered BGG and registered. I found and subscribed to the Dice Tower and Watch It Played. I monitored new listings on BGG marketplace like religion. And finally I made my first small BGG marketplace order. And then another. And then, my third order was a 20 game whopper from BoardGameCo for $300. Yep, I was on my way to becoming a board game geek.

Although I haven't been an official board gamer for long, this hobby has already helped me through some really tumultuous times. Firstly, the lockdown. What a scary time. My brother was living with my parents at the time and decided to come stay with my wife, myself, and our kids. He was a paramedic and we didn't want to risk exposing our parents. Having my brother around was a godsend for so many reasons, one of which was I now had a house full of 3 adults without much to do. Suddenly I had game partners. I cant even count how many games we played during the first month of lockdown. Despite the world falling apart and all the fears we had, at least we had an escape. I truly don't know what I would have done to get through that time without my newly acquired collection of games.

Then, in April, I presented with COVID symptoms including chest pressure and shortness of breath. Tests were so scarce that I had no choice but to simply self isolate for two weeks, alone in my bedroom while my wife and brother brought me food and drinks and took care of the kids. It was a somber and scary chapter in my life. But I am forever thankful for that big board game order, as I spent so much of my quarantine reading rule books, setting up games, and learning. It really solidified this hobby for me. It was amazing that some pieces of paper and cardboard could transport your body and mind to an entirely new world. It was a sliver of calm and relaxation in a world of darkness and uncertainty. And it gave me something to look forward to - the day when I could come out and play games with my family again.

As the days drug on and my symptoms persisted, nightfall was particularly haunting. I would literally lay in bed wondering if I'd wake to see another sunrise. Or to see my family's faces again. And then one night, scrolling through my phone, Tom Vassal's daily chat popped up. I was hooked. Those daily chats, as silly as it sounds, became the only positive thing I had to look forward to when night fell. I know I sound dramatic but those daily chats helped me keep my sanity throughout this pandemic and particularly my isolation. I will be forever grateful to him and the Dice Tower crew for all they did throughout 2020.

In Closing

To close off this long and rambling story about me, I'll just say that I am so thankful to be a small part of this community and this wonderful hobby. I am constantly looking for new ways to get involved and would love to chat with anyone about anything. If you are reading this, I am utterly shocked you made it this far. Thank you for stopping by and feel free to drop me a line. I would love to play a game with you someday. Until then, happy gaming everyone!!