Do you remember the moment you fell down the rabbit hole?

As per the title, do you remember the how and what that turned you on to non-monopoly boardgames, and brought you into our collective time- and money-sink of a hobby?

I remember mine. It was maybe 12 years ago or so when I stumbled onto Scott Nicholson’s channel on YouTube (board games with Scott as it was). He was so nice and had this huge pile of games, and I remember him describing Apples to Apples in particular. I was amazed at the variety, and from there found BGG (a whole site about board games?!), and here I am today. I remember my first order of stuff I couldn’t get in the shops, and it was Dominion and Last Night on Earth.


I would guess it was playing and failing to understand Battle of the Halji and Kings and Things in my (8 years) older brother’s bedroom in my pre-teens. From there it was all

Games Workshop

DungeonQuest, Heroquest, Space Crusade, Advanced Heroquest, Advanced Space Crusade, Dark Future, Block Mania, Curse of the Mummy’s Tomb, Chainsaw Warrior, Battlefleet Gothic, Judge Dredd, Warhammer 40k, and more…

for a while, then Magic, Jyhad, Roborally, and Cosmic Encounter, then a long hiatus during uni, until I rediscovered gaming as an adult and went all Vlaada Chvatil.


I remember my naive early 20s, visiting The Escapist to watch Zero Punctuation. Then I got bored of Zero Punctuation and realised Extra Credit and MovieBob were quite good. Then this hip and happening Quinnz dude popped up and was like blah blah blah boardgames.

So anyway, I bought Netrunner.


I was pretty big into roleplaying in the 90s, back when I was in High School. Throughout my 20s, I played video games more than just about anything else (maybe on par with time spent working).

Fast forward to 2010 or so when I started dating my, now, wife; her sister and brother-in-law were heavily interested in roleplaying and, to a lesser degree, boardgames. As the result of one of my brother-in-law’s friends being unable to attend GenCon back in 2008, they decided to hold their own roleplaying convention - it was a lot of fun and it eventually turned into a moderately successful local gaming convention (KantCon). So, shortly after we began dating, my partner invited me to sign up to play in some RPG sessions at KantCon; it was fun and I really missed the roleplaying that I did as a teenager. The following couple of years, due to a stressful job, I was reluctant to sign up for game sessions and decided to just show up and be a casual observer or fill-in when tables had empty spots.

By this time, my partner and I were living together and her sister had given us Takenoko as a gift (because she knew my partner would adore the panda). I was still mostly oblivious to boardgaming at this point; I had been conned into playing a boardgamification of Sid Meier’s Civilization a few years prior by a different group of friends - that did not go well and it really left a bad taste in my mouth as far as “modern boardgames”. That same group of people had also experimented with Settlers of Catan- it was fine but we had a serious groupthink problem and the games always turned out very samey. I had also played Apples to Apples (a lot) but A2A always seemed like a party activity and not actually game.

So, there I was, sitting and chatting with some familiar faces at KantCon 2012 when somebody pulled out a copy of Dixit. “Oh, hey, I saw this game played on Wil Wheaton’s TableTop show and thought it was a lot of fun… do you all want to play it with me?” I was really anxious about it at first but by the end of the game I was in love.

We played a few other games but none of them were as good as Dixit that weekend (I don’t even remember what they were; I know Ricochet Robots was involved and I really didn’t get on with that one). It got me excited enough that I started watching TableTop and searching for boardgames on Amazon to put on my wishlist.

It wasn’t until 2014 that I made a BGG account. For Christmas of 2013, my mother got a sizable bonus and wanted to spread the wealth; she found my boardgame wishlist on Amazon, printed it out and took it to a nearby gaming store (the one I used to go to for my RPG books back in middle/high school) and ended up buying me SO MANY GAMES that I started googling how to keep track of boardgames… leading me to BGG (which I already knew about) as a way to keep track of what games I had.

Here’s my best guess based on the spotty records keeping I did back then and my spottier memory:

  • Dixit
  • Castles of Burgundy
  • Small World Underground
  • Suburbia
  • Pandemic
  • Stone Age
  • Lords of Waterdeep
  • Pathfinder Adventure Card Game: Rise of the Runelords
  • Gubs: A Game of Wits and Luck
  • IOTA

I’m boring. It’s was Catan and Ticket. Lots of games prior, including some seriously heavy stuff, TTRPGs, a few minor “wargaming” stints (mostly Battletech), etc. but Catan and Ticket were what did it. Curiously, it took several years before I fell down (this particular) rabbit hole, but once you peek in there’s no way back out.


For me it was finally admitting I just didn’t like the main GW systems. So I bought Munchkin and Catan.


To get into modern board gaming it was dominion. A friend pulled it out at a gathering and although I was lost for the first few hands I had a blast.

I was the annoying guy who just had a hand full of masquerade.

I never started picking up my own games until a year or so later when I watched an episode of tabletop and thought there might be something to this.

Within a week i’d Bought Carcassonne, dominion and pandemic. It was a pretty good week.


It was Wil’s episode of Tabletop. I believe it was Small World, which made me get the app, and then the board game (app first because I don’t have anyone to play with).


1980s: RPGs (D&D, RuneQuest, Traveller), and Car Wars and Battletech.
1990s: RPGs (Rolemaster/Space Master mostly).
2000s: RPGs (GURPS). Then Phil Masters got me into being a Man in Black (SJGames demo agent), since I was already running GURPS games at conventions anyway. MIBs get paid in points for product, and postage was cheaper then. So I started also playing and demoing the SJGames boardgames; this was after the first flush of Munchkin: Chez Geek, Lord of the Fries; Revolution, The Stars Are Right.)
2010s: still playing GURPS, but by virtue of going along to various games shows for SJGames I started playing other modern boardgames. First Essen was in 2012.

So I got in after Catan and Carcassonne had mostly had their huge successes, but before things exploded with Tabletop and the like.


I have had several phases, from being a kid through the 80s and moving from Monopoly and Pictionary to Hero Quest, with a lot of Trivial Pursuit in the middle, then mostly the 90s it was all video games and playing some RPGs like Ctulhu or Vampire the Masquerade (with the odd LotR or Star Wars game) in Uni.

My second phase involved my niece in the late 2000s when she was in her 10-12 and we would play Game of Life and an old board game of mine called Incognito that she loved (in the 80s I only played it once with my parents and my family found too complicated) that involved spies in Venice, and some games of Hero Quest and its space version (No idea about the name in English, it was Cruzada Estelar in Spanish). I used to play the baddies, and she enjoyed it loads.

My third phase has been since I moved to NZ in 2018, where through Youtube I discovered SUSD and joined a Napier games club just about this last Christmas time. I cannot really place the “rabbit hole” moment onto a game but onto a collaboration video that Matt Lees did with Lindybeige reviewing Lindy’s game, Glorantha: God’s Wars.
My passion hobby since having my children had been into Historical European Martial Arts (historical fencing) but having no clubs here in the Bay I think board games have taken over. Which is good for my knuckles. :slight_smile:


Space Crusade

Interesting! I really enjoyed that review.


Surely HeroQuest, Space Crusade, Car Wars, Battletech, and the like are already in the rabbit hole?


I know, if it wasn’t for the prices and the gazillion expansions, it had me really interested to buy them. Then I fell down the SUSD rabbit hole. I remember writing down a list of “to buy” games… still might have it somewhere in my office.


I remember very vividly as a kid playing Thunder Road at a friends house often, and then my mom got really into Heroquest and we would play that and scrabble A LOT together. In my teens we moved across the country and she and I spent about 6 months living with a friend of hers and her sons who were just a couple years older than me. That’s when I was first able to actually play DnD, Blood Bowl, and the original Star Wars rpg (and I remember some of those sessions with incredible clarity and how I was the only person who wanted to be a jedi and good, that still hasn’t changed). But after we moved across country again when my mom remarried, around 95-96, I had no friends and there was absolutely no scene in my town. I got lucky and had some friends who played DnD, but they really liked the anachronistic stuff, or the whole “pop culture story as campaign” style of roleplaying that I have always been averse to.

After high school I would occasionally play games at Dragoncon with friends, but they didn’t teach very well, or they were too tipsy at the con, or I was too tipsy at the con, and all anyone wanted to play was Munchkin, which totally turned me off of games. I got Battlestar Galactica for my birthday around 2011, I think, and I played it once with my roommates and that was it. I got Imperial Assault a year or two later, but no one wanted to play. Then, last year around March, I stumbled across the SUSD review for Imperial Assault, and I just started watching other reviews because I found them quite funny and there were so many interesting things I’d never seen. The first two games I bought based on the site were Orleans and Railroad Ink, and after that first game of Orleans I was absolutely smitten. I don’t remember what the next few games I bought were, but I bought like 10 games with no group to really play with, so I started nagging my roommate and a friend who lives close by to check things out since they loved DnD and we had recently finished a campaign for the FF Star Wars RPG (my first GM experience in about 15-20 years or so. I haven’t gone a day since without reading about games, watching something about games, listening to something about games, or actually playing a game. I have a relatively small collection of about 55 or so, and probably need to trim it up, but I just have so many things I want to play or simply own for the beautiful production. Now, my roommate and my friend are building their own collections, and we routinely have others asking about setting things up when the world finds some kind of normalcy.

I’m taking all of them with me. All of them.


I think I’m going to need to change my answer here and say D&D (AD&D 2nd edition if you want to get technical), and to a slightly lesser extent, Top Secret/SI were the real culprits. I just got off a lengthy call with a close friend I hadn’t spoken to in a solid 6 months and a little reminiscing (promoted by some urging on both our parts to set up an online one-shot) made me remember just how important and impactful my years playing RPGs were. Not just from a gamer’s perspective, either. Some of the best moments of my young teen life were spent with my friends in our fellowship.

And let’s face it: if you can handle an RPG, you can probably handle just about any board game.


I can’t remember, I might have encountered it before this, but when I was in third grade, I was fast friends with a girl named Lizzy, and she had a boardgame called Heroquest. I don’t think I got to play it but the once - she had a sleepover for her birthday (I was the only boy there) and we all stayed up super late (for third graders, at least) and played Heroquest. Cue the two of us running around at recess and freeform roleplaying based on that game for months. It probably was only another year or two before my father figure (he’s not actually my father, and he hasn’t been married to my mom for over 30 years now, but we’re still close) brought me to the home of a bearded hippy type with a fondness for tie-dye clothes and a light show business, and also the biggest boardgame collection in the state if not the country to attend a Friday night boardgaming party. Well, I kept going to that regularly into my 20s and still attend occasionally even now if much less religiously (it doesn’t go as late, it’s much harder for me to get there, I have my own games, and the tastes of the general crowd have skewed away from big fantasy adventures to playing several short, light games that do little for me), though they are currently on hiatus due to COVID.

I did get to play Heroquest a couple more times there, I think, though still not that much. Way more Talisman, LOTR Coop Game (an early Reiner Knizia/FFG affair), and so on. Was quite startled when an obscure 1980s boardgame we had in regular rotation (Tales of the Arabian Nights) suddenly got a lavish Z-Man reprint and expansion. Etc.


If we define “non-monopoly games” as traditional, family roll-and-move games, my gateway red pill game was probably Scotland Yard when I was about 10. Our family had several family games already as my Dad had lots of games before, allowing me to dabble in wargames like Gettysburg and Blitzkreig too, but Scotland Yard was the most enlightening. Within a year, along with my school friends we’d discovered Talisman and Basic D&D so there was definitely no going back then - although outside of RPGs the big early money sink title back then was definitely Warhammer 40,000 and latterly Warhammer (Fantasy Battle).

Lovely mention of Last Night on Earth too - I do love that and Flying Frog’s other titles A Touch of Evil and Fortune & Glory but just wish they had a more reliable movement mechanic.


I’m somewhat surprised we haven’t seen Magic: The Gathering really mentioned in a substantial way yet. Frankly I’m surprised I didn’t mention it. My friends all played MTG for years through high school, right at the peak of the CCG craze. We didn’t let up until Ice Age released, which killed the game for every last one of us. Yikes!


I did dabble during the late 90s-early 00s but the whole deck construction was daunting enough to put me off.


Was my reply not substantial enough? It was a big part of my teenage years, along with Jyhad. I think Ice Age was around the time I bailed too!