One of the downsides of convenient digital distribution is that kids today won’t grow up with a treasured copy of Sacrifice, Brian Reynold’s Alpha Centauri, or Unholy War signed by Fred Ford and Paul Reiche. When a game exists only on your Steam account or in your Good Old Games download folder, it will never include a worn box, a creased manual, or that huge honkin’ three-ring binder for Falcon 4.0. It will never show its age and therefore the love that has sustained it as part of your collection for so long.
But then there’s boardgaming. There is no danger of boardgames escaping the ravages of time and love. Any boardgame that you care about enough to keep for a long time will show some sign of how much you love it. I don’t care if you sleeve your cards, or deny your cat a place in the boxtop while you’re playing. Something will happen in the physical world to designate the passing of time. Card edges ding, box corners blunt, colors fade. If you play your games instead of curate them, they will show how much you love them.
The above image is Mark Geusebroek’s copy of Carcassone. Geusebroek started a thread on Boardgame Geek called “A celebration of your well worn/well loved games”. I love how his name is written on the box cover, as if his mother had written it there before he took it with him to summer camp. He shows photos of some of his more cherished games. Among my favorite contributions to the thread is a comment from a fellow named Brian Lucid talking about his copy of Up Front.
I love this game, started playing it when I joined the Army, literally. My buddy Dale Martin and I drew CQ together and we’d play it all night. I visited him in Detroit and bought a copy for $20 at some game store. That copy has made every move and deployment I’ve had over 20 years. I think I take it along becasue it always feels new, each game is tense, I can teach new players easily and they have fun and most of all it makes me happy when I’m feeling low. I’m retired now, made it through the Army with my Up Front and my family intact.
Lucid includes a picture of him and his friend hunched over a table playing Up Front. That picture, along with the picture of Geusebroek’s worn Carcassone box, say everything that needs to be said about what makes boardgaming special.