Nothing brings people together and tears them apart like a good tabletop game. Friendships are tested, obscenities exchanged and occasionally a d20 gets chucked at someone’s eye. And with all sorts of fantastic game and hobby shops around Portland (Guardian Games, Cloud Cap Games, Other Worlds Games, Unplugged Games, et cetera), it’s easy to jump right into the good time that is the tabletop gaming community.
Nothing brings people together and tears them apart like a good tabletop game.
Friendships are tested, obscenities exchanged and occasionally a d20 gets chucked at someone’s eye.
And with all sorts of fantastic game and hobby shops around Portland (Guardian Games, Cloud Cap Games, Other Worlds Games, Unplugged Games, et cetera), it’s easy to jump right into the good time that is the tabletop gaming community.
What is tabletop gaming, you ask?
Tabletop gaming refers to a variety of gaming, from board games to tile games, dice games, card games or any other kind of game typically played on a table or flat surface.
Some attribute the growing popularity of tabletop gaming to actor, writer and avid tweeter Wil Wheaton’s web series TableTop, where the widely proclaimed geek icon plays board games with everyone from The Guild’s Felicia Day to My Drunk Kitchen’s Hannah Hart.
Tabletop games date back as far as 3100 B.C. Senet, a game from Egypt, is the oldest known board game. Artifacts of ancient board games have been found in China, Iran and India.
Jumping forward a few millennia, board games increased in popularity in America with the introduction of Parcheesi in 1874 and Monopoly in 1930.
Moving forward another 30 years, America was introduced to one of the most commonly known tabletop role-playing game to ever exist: Dungeons & Dragons.
Still popular today, Wizards of the Coast released the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons in 2008.
That brings me to my next point: RPGs. A role-playing game is one in which players take the role of a character in a fictional narrative.
RPGs can take the form of live-action role-playing, where players physically act out the actions of a character. They can also be in the form of a tabletop RPG where, as opposed to LARPing, players discuss their character’s actions instead of physically acting them out.
Some of the top tabletop RPGs are Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, World of Darkness and Savage Worlds. Other popular tabletop games include Gloom, Settlers of Catan, Zombie Dice, Ticket to Ride, Star Fluxx, Munchkin, Small World, Star Wars: X-Wing and HeroClix.
Portland is a hub for tabletop games with shops like Guardian Games, where you can uncover a goldmine of obscure games and partake in weekly game nights.
Not only is Portland a great place to buy games, but it seems as if new groups devoted to tabletop gaming are popping up all over.
Rose City Boardgaming has monthly game nights where you’re free to bring your own game or choose from their large variety of games. Events typically draw 30 people or more and are new-player-friendly.
Portland State also has a student gaming organization called Gamers Republic of University Players. The group meets every Thursday at 6 p.m. and is in the process of setting up biweekly RPG nights, the next of which is scheduled for Wednesday, May 8.
For those of you who are new to the world of RPGs and tabletop games, I’ve compiled a list of tips to get you started.
1. Invest in a dice set
If you’re interested in jumping into the tabletop RPG scene, I suggest you invest in a set of RPG dice. Most gaming shops around Portland carry standard dice sets for less than $10. I recommend Things From Another World and Guardian Games for a wide selection of colors.
2. Do some research
The groups and places I’ve covered are merely a fraction of what Portland’s huge gaming community has to offer. Hop on Facebook, Twitter, Reddit or Google to find groups that best suit you. You can even ask employees at local game shops about groups around Portland.
3. Explore your local game shop
Pick up a game you’ve never played before, or ask an employee for suggestions—they’re typically more than willing to help you find something that fits your gaming preferences. Sometimes the crazy obscure games that you normally would never buy end up being the most fun.
4. Leave your house
Sure, having a cozy game night in with friends is fun, but why not play some Zombie Dice out on the town? The great thing about the tabletop gaming community in Portland is that game nights are hosted everywhere from comics shops to bars, so get out there, have a pint and meet some great people.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
This is the most important tip of all. Meeting new people and joining a group can be intimidating. Just remember that everyone was a beginner at some point, so don’t let it stop you from trying out a game. There are plenty of new-player-friendly groups around Portland whose members are more than willing to explain the game to you and would be thrilled to have someone new to add to this fantastic community.