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How to Get Started with Tabletop Hobby Games as an Absolute Beginner

Tabletop gaming is a great way to make friends, have fun, and get out of the house–which is, for some of us geeks, a tough challenge. But the world of hobby games can be intimidating for a noob. Here’s how to get started.

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Where to Meet Gamers

The best place to find people to play with is your local game store. These places almost always have large tables set up for people to enjoy their games. Best of all, many stores have demo copies of games for customers to try before they buy.

Game stores will typically have open gaming days as well as scheduled sessions. You can also see if they have a bulletin board where existing players post notices about ongoing games or groups.

Meetup.com is a good place to find a local hobby game society. If you arrange to attend a meeting, don’t feel awkward about telling the organizer that you’re new to the world of gaming.

Most people are more than happy to help you–but at the same time, don’t monopolize everyone’s game time with endless questions or interruptions.

Don’t Expect Monopoly or Risk

Tabletop gaming has come a long way since you were a kid. The board games of yesteryear don’t really factor into the conversation anymore. Instead, it’s all about hobby games. Here are the most common types you’ll encounter:

Route Building

Most hobbyist gamers cite the 1995 game Settlers of Catan as the beginning of the modern tabletop gaming era. If you’ve never played it, the game blends strategy, resource gathering, and road building.

Ticket to Ride is another popular route builder where you literally create train lines on a map. The sequel–Ticket to Ride: Europe–is always popular at game nights.

Co-Op

While Catan pits players against each other, many popular modern hobby games are co-ops. In those games, you work together with the other players to win (or lose) against a common enemy.

Co-op games are a lot of fun to play with strangers since you’ll have to quickly learn to work together. Pandemic is a really popular co-op where the players have to stop the spread of diseases across the world.

Deck Building

Deck building games are also popular. You’ve doubtless heard of Magic: The Gathering, right? That’s a deck builder. The most popular version of that concept these days is a game called Dominion.

The bummer is that it’s difficult to casually drop in on a deck building game. Your best bet is to observe a game at your local game shop and figure out if you want to start building your own deck.

Worker Placement

A thriving subset of hobby games is the worker placement genre. You get a certain number of workers to do actions in the game, such as collecting resources or building structures. They rely on strategy and often have multiple phases. The learning curve on this type of game can be a little steep!

Get Out There!

The best way to start playing games is to find some people and… start playing. You’ll need to put on your extrovert pants for a few hours, but don’t worry–most hobby gamers are friendly, welcoming, and patient. Be sure to listen closely to the rules of the game you want to play, and don’t be afraid to ask for clarification when you need it.

Everyone is there to have fun together, so just relax and play!

Erin Long

Erin Elizabeth Long's obsession with geek culture started young and has only grown over the years. She loves playing RPGs and has strong opinions about 'Game of Thrones.'

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