It's mailbag time! Every month I answer your hard hitting questions without sugar coating the truth. No fluff, just the answers you demand. This month we look at my introduction to board games, quick games of Hanabi and upgrading your game components. Okay, maybe there's a little fluff. If you have questions, be sure to leave them here so they can be answered in future mailbag articles. And if you have answers to these questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.
What got you interested in board games? -Friend
Well Friend, if that is your real name, that's a long and sordid tale of betrayal and triumph, adversity and perseverance. OK, it's not quite that interesting, but it is unique. I credit my initial interest in board games with a cafe I visited while living in South Korea. They had a small collection of board games to play and we decided to give Blokus a shot. That simple game awoke something that has consumed me ever since. That night I went home and started searching around and stumbled upon a video overview of a game called Indonesia by a Scott Nicholson which you can see below.
I was hooked and spent all night watch all of the Board Games with Scott videos. Funny thing is I still haven't played Indonesia. Unfortunately, Scott has stopped his video series to pursue more lofty ambitions. He's an immensely likable fellow and I'd still recommend going back and watching some of his videos.
What is the quickest winning game of Hanabi you have ever seen? -Matthew McChesney
I've never considered Hanabi to be a speed game so I can't say I've ever paid attention to how long it's taken. Also, winning is a strange concept in Hanabi. It's more of a high score contest akin to 80's arcade games. But rather than give you a non-answer I went to my little sister and asked her what the quickest winning game of Hanabi she'd ever seen and her answer was 10 minutes. Granted, she's never played or even heard of the game, but hey at least she was confident enough to give an answer, unlike a certain mailbag question anwerer.
I'm always looking to pimp out my board games with better bits. Where is the best place to go? -Rick Louallen
**Steps atop soap box** I need to take a moment and air my feelings about the term "pimp." For some reason, this term has become common vernacular in the board game community to describe upgrading the quality of the components in a game. For some, it may be funny or cute to use the term. But lets not forget that pimps do terrible things and ascribing anything positive to their culture is not something that I want to contribute to. I don't mean to single you out Rick, or anyone else that says it. I'm sure no one says it intending any malice, but we should mindful of the things that we put out into the world. Words are powerful and have consequence and while board games are far from a serious matter, we in the hobby should be mindful of how we describe out little, but growing pastime. **Steps down from soap box**
You're in luck! Stonemaier Games is running a Kickstarter campaign for Treasure Chest: Realistic Resource Tokens for Board Games. These are beautifully crafted components meant to replace the wooden cubes and tokens included in most game. Better hurry though because the campaign ends... yesterday. Sorry? Luckily you can still pre-order it, just at slightly higher than Kickstarter prices.
If custom meeples are more your thing, then check out Meeple Source. They specialize in custom painted, wooden meeples. The have monkey meeples. Monkey meeples! I haven't had the pleasure purchasing any myself. They are a bit pricey, but monkey meeples!
If you want to go deep down the rabbit hole you can head to your local arts and crafts store and buy some polymer clay to make your own components. Fair warning, this can be a long and painstaking process. My wife and I created custom bits for our copy of Agricola. I couldn't be happier, but it took us about a dozen hours to complete.
If you value your time and sanity more than I did, you can check out Etsy for some amazing clay bits. Just be prepared to pay for it.