What are your gaming influences?

I recently started a new game of Civilization 6 on my computer and musing about how long the series has accompanied me, I realized that having played this one so much may be a major influence not only on what games I like (area control, tech trees) but also how I play them.

Civ requires the player to make a decisions all the time and quickly evaluate which building to build, which tech to research, how to focus a city, what army to move where, units to produce. The longer the game runs the more decisions there are. At the same time, it is turn based creating the illusion that if only you look hard enough you can optimize the puzzle. But for me Civ transcends that if you start micromanaging all aspects of the game it is unlikely to ever finish and also not fun. So the sheer scope quickly forces me to move beyond AP or quit the game.

I feel that this is a big influence on how I play complex strategy games without falling into AP. I am used to make decisions based on my incomplete understanding and trying my best to guess the next best move.

This is just one example from my own set of influences and certainly a major one.

What are your experiences that shape how and what you play?


Funny, I do micromanage every aspect of Civ games, at least until it’s clear I’ll win, and perhaps that’s one reason I don’t like them as much as I used to.

Difficult to find an influence on my own gaming, because my tastes have changed a lot. From chess club, that I don’t think I liked, to Warhammer and everything Games Workshop, which I hardly ever got to play, to collectible card games, to the modern hobby, the common thread does seem to be that for me it’s all competitive.

As kids, we were apparently known as the “fighting McBrides”, so perhaps the (physical) competition with my brother is an influence. Cooperation never entered the picture. Though I do remember making up choose your own adventure stories on the fly for him to play at night, in lieu of any more structured roleplaying.

My older brother also has to be a strong influence, I was always intrigued by his games, like Battle of the Halji and Kings & Things. So, fantasy games, fantasy books, science fiction - these all have a much greater hold on my imagination than Euro games ever have. I completely missed the whole Catan Euro game thing.


Being competent with chess when i was young and loving Risk, and then moving on to RTS games and Civilization series made me more receptive towards area control/majority and anything spatial. Final Fantasy Tactics and Fire Emblem series are still my fave video games and shaped my taste.

I used to play a lot of Yu-Gi-Oh. They are bootlegs you buy on your typical corner shop but we were poor and dont play competitively, so who cares? Which definitely helped me get into Ashes and Android: Netrunner back in the day.


Front Mission 3 and Final Fantasy7-9 definitely shaped my turnbases gaming tastes. Then all the other mech and JRPGs.

I used to play a bit of Warcraft, Civ and C&C, but don’t think they had much of an interest in my tastes. I mainly played them because they were there :man_shrugging:

Oh and Popcap games too. A lot of the mini games were simple boardgames.


We played the usual stuff that families in the UK play - Monopoly, Ludo, Cluedo. Lots of card games, mostly on Sunday evenings; Rummy, Knockout Whist, Tens, what we called “Guy’s Game” (crazy 8s). Lots of long games of Risk with my best mate, which always ended up with him controlling the world and me Australasia - bunging loads of dice in Yakusk IIRC. Bit of chess.

Never did War Hammer, Civ or D&D. Lots of Master System, then Megadrive followed by N64 and PlayStation. I was never one for solo gaming, I always enjoyed multiplayer - particularly Mario Kart and Goldeneye.

Other than knowing I liked to play with other people rather than against a computer I came to the hobby with pretty much a blank canvas.


I’m not sure where I start. Growing up, it was common for my folks and our family to get together for card nights (they often played Blackout/Oh Hell). My mom hosted a couple of murder mystery parties when I was young. My folks had a Pong machine, and I was born into an Atari 2600. Both my mom and my Nanny (grandma) are/were ruthless Scrabble wizards, and always eager to play. This is all before we talk about crosswords, jigsaws, sudoku, etc. We had a pretty significant pile of older board games including Risk, Boggle, Scattergories, Balderdash, Yahtzee… the list goes on and on if I think about it.

I was going to take this somewhere else, getting into my own gaming obsessions (which started very early on), but I think I’ve solved my opening problem: I start with my mom.


My one big gaming influence is Civilization—the computer version, not the tabletop one. Years and years ago, I played it till my eyes were physically raw. Twice. Then I uninstalled it, and since then I haven’t done any computer gaming, because it’s too compelling. That’s a negative influence, to be sure, but it HAS changed my behavior and my preferences.


Tricky, this. I think for games in my family, besides the odd game of Monopoly (which nearly always my father won), we mostly played Trivial Pursuit. General knowledge is a little bit of a guilty pleasure for me, I love a quizz, and I am quite decent at them.

Other than that, Hero Quest, Inkognito, Escape from Atlantis and Risk were my main board games when I was a kid in the 80s, playing occasionally with my brother (who is 12 years my eldest) and friends from school. Then I got Advanced Hero Quest and Space Crusade in the early 90s and that was mainly solo playing.

I went through mainly videogames in Uni (second half of the 90s) and that was mostly Playstation. FFVII, Tenchu, or Metal Gear Solid were my favourites. Then when I moved to the UK I started playing more computer games, and mostly Total War games, the odd Civilisation game, and Crusader Kings 2 have been the core of my computer play, spiced up with Mass Effect, Oblivion and Skyrim on the Playstation.

So a bit of everything, like my collection. It has been nearly 2 years since I started going to our local Board game Guild, I am still a bit of a newbie, and it shows. Lately after every game of Splendor my OH beats me up at, she says that I suffer from lack of middle and long game strategy. I think she is bang on. I am more for the experience than the win, and often my strategy shows, I focus more on the nearby target than the long game winning tactics.


Early boardgaming, let’s see. Monopoly was never a big thing; we did have, for reasons I don’t know, Scoop, and what I think may have been Cargoes. But I got into RPGs in the early 1980s and really did boardgaming only as an ancillary activity to that. I have a memory of being surprisingly good at Mertwig’s Maze.

Then I got back into boardgames via demoing for SJGames. But I’m not at all sure any of those early games is really much of an influence, apart from a vague desire to design a pick-up-and-deliver game that’s mostly about the picking up and delivering.

One big influence on my modern boardgaming is Firefly - like Chewy77, I’m there for the experience.


I wanted to give a big nod to Mindtrap, not least of all because it’s amazing, but because it normalized the “format” of just hanging out while playing a game. Seems like a trifle, but for a group of dirtbag skater teens generally more interested in being dirtbag skater teens, routinely hanging out in my friend’s basement and just kind of thinking together was pretty unexpected behaviour.

Anyway, to the point, the end-of-week chillouts at my friend’s place became ritual, and eventually set the stage for my friend to introduce us all to AD&D. The rest was a long snowball from there.


Besides the usual suspects of Chess, Nine Man’s Morris (Mühle), Skat, Back Gammon, Scrabble and the obligatory “Spielesammlung” … a lot of the “notable” games that I grew up with were nominees of Spiel des Jahres. The first I remember is Sagaland. But looking through older winners and nominees I realize I played so many of those: Rummikub, Hase und Igel, Dampfross, Rubik’s Cube was given the only ever solo-gaming award in 1980, Scotland Yard, Heimlich & Co (probably the first Wolfgang Kramer game I owned–not anymore though I am tempted to buy a new edition), Barbarossa (Klaus Teuber made other stuff before Catan), Auf Achse (another Kramer).

It is quite interesting that the year we got our first PC (1990 I think) is the one where I do not recognize a lot of games from the nominations list. It is the year my parents stopped buying boardgames for us for Christmas. Instead we got California Games and Leisure Suit Larry.

Another big influence from my early years was my discovery of the “Choose your own adventures stories” being discussed elsewhere. I found a few at the local library and it was a quest of at least a decade (or longer) to find the games I really wanted… A first step was playing Clouds of Xeen (I just learned this was one of the first open world computer rpgs) in 1993/94, but it took me another 2 years to stumble across some pen&paper players at university.

At university I also encountered another major influence on my current gaming: Magic The Gathering. I do not know what I spent more money on RPG books or Magic cards? The combo-tastic, skirmish nature of magic and the deck construction will forever be something I enjoy. Also how incredibly portable is a Magic deck? It fits into any jacket pocket and with sleeves you could play on a sticky pub table or during a lecture. Perfect for university students who were always on the move…

We played a lot of boardgames but for nearly a decade I played mostly RPGs and Magic. Still I went to SPIEL a couple of times even in those years.

I really only got back to boardgames when the time/money availability switched from more time to more money. (Does that mean that RPGs and Magic are cheaper than boardgames? I don’t think it does… but boardgames definitely take up less time)

And I would say that I would call boardgames an actual hobby… maybe for the past 5-6 years when our Spiel visits were something I started prepping for.


If we’re looking as far back as childhood, I should talk about the Map Game. This is a game that starts by drawing a map of one or several large islands or small continents. Each player, in turn, draws roughly circular or elliptical boundaries enclosing an area of a certain size, which represents a colony. As the game progresses, new colonies are set up, usually adjacent to existing ones, but it’s possible to set up remote ones upriver from existing ones. The ability to do so is paid for with a budget equal to the number of colonies in being at the start of the previous turn. Budget can also be spent on certain types of improvements (I think canals were one of them) or on attempting to conquer another player’s colony that’s adjacent to one’s own. I don’t remember the formal victory conditions, if there were any.

I made this up in my teens, in the mid-1960s, and played it with my sister and a friend of ours. I had never heard of wargaming at the time. Regrettably, I no longer remember the details of how it was played.


Apart from the earliest boardgames I played (which came from my parents / grandparents: Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Cluedo, Chess, Othello) I had a lot of games that were popular in the 80s in the UK: Connect 4, Hungry Hippos, Guess Who?, Stratego.

Heroquest and Advanced Heroquest DEFINITELY made me into a dungeon crawl fan. Amiga games added to that, like “Eye of the Beholder” 1+2. And those completely explain why I have Gloomhaven:Jaws of the Lion, LotR:Journeys in Middle Earth and even Eldritch Horror.

But as for the others being “influences”, my current shelf is full of
worker placement (Everdell, Viticulture)
push your luck (Quacks, Parks maybe),
set collection (Kanagawa, Canvas, Herbaceous, Azul: Summer Pavilion) and
detective games (SHConsultingDet, CoCrime1400).

I don’t think ANY of those were the kind of thing you got from Milton Bradley in the 80s. The closest would probably be Santorini as a 2-player head-to-head on a square board with some simple rules and a lot of plastic :slight_smile:

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So was your next step war games then? How did you go from drawing on a map to RPGs(1)? I imagine discovering those at some point was a revelation back then as much as it was for me in the 90s.

(1) for me RPGs without any other qualifier always refers to pen & paper roleplaying games (or TTRPGs as I see often now) not the computer variant even though I personally first encountered computer rpgs.

It was a rather slow process. When I was at UC San Diego, in the very early 1970s, one of my friends introduced me to the Triton Wargaming Society, where I learned about various wargames and other board games. Then, around 1975, I went to my first science fiction convention, and happened to walk into a room where a group of people were playing original D&D; I got the DM’s name and phone number and got in touch with him a week or two after the convention. At that time, of course, there were no computer RPGs and few computer games, though early generation video games were becoming commercially viable.


I’m enjoying this thread, so I feel maybe I should contribute, but I’m not sure what I have to add.

I guess I’ve always enjoyed games. Some memories: I used to play L’Attaque with my grandfather, and lots of family card games. Racing Demon was a bit of a staple for a while. It’s perfect for large aggressive families, and my own children have inherited an appreciation of it.

We got a ZX Spectrum as fairly early adopters (1982 or 1983), and I remember Head Over Heels being the absolute pinnacle of computer games [Aside, I still can’t quite believe what was achieved in the 80s with 48k of RAM]. But computer gaming has always been like puzzle-solving (I’m actually more of a crossword geek than board game geek), and I’m old enough that I missed out on online multiplayer gaming, so I still see computer games (including chess) as primarily me vs a puzzle. I increasingly see board games as primarily a social interaction.

Hence I enjoy games with high player counts that allow negotiation, ganging up, entertainingly memorable unfairnesses… and generally do more than determine who is the ‘best’ at the game. The two games that came out recently(ish) that I haven’t played but have got my attention are Sidereal Confluence and Nemesis. One for the negotiation (and for being more or less its own genre, which is a plus) and the other for the chaos. So maybe family Racing Demon is really my most enduring gaming influence.


That was ace! My brother had an MSX, and he had that game, although he played the Batman version more (from the same programmers? They looked very similar). Wouldn’t mind having a go at that now, although I remember them being really tricky games.

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This is going to sound like a cop-out, but my gaming preferences are heavily driven by my lifelong love of playing cards. Part of that is due to the games I played when I was younger (my swim team’s go-to game at meets was Egyptian Ratscrew), but I’ve also just been obsessed with cards. I was really into card magic and cardistry as a kid, I wanted to be a blackjack dealer when I was in middle school, and even into college I was really interested in the history of playing cards all over the world. I would frequent Pagat.com in my free time and pore over all the different kinds of games that were played, teaching myself a wealth of trick-taking and shedding and beating games, with French and Swiss and Italian decks, that I would never play with anyone because I didn’t have any friends. I even started getting into cartomancy and tarot card reading, just because the dense history of it fascinated me.

Nowadays, if a board game doesn’t involve holding and playing with a semi-hefty hand of cards, or if the cardplay is secondary to some token- or miniature-fiddling, I’m immediately less excited by it. In fact, I think the only game I currently love that isn’t a card game is Istanbul, and that was my first foray into the board gaming hobby; my other favorites are anywhere between 80-100 percent cards. It’s so severe that when I design a game for one of the BGG design contests, I pretty much refuse to include any components other than cards. The act of shuffling a deck, drawing a hand, and playing a card is by a wide margin the greatest tactile feeling in board games for me.


This is correct!

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It’s the best game, but somehow it doesn’t have any artwork worthy of a Discourse avatar. For that you need the genius of Matthew Smith, who created Miner Willy. I still know his phone number* (6031769) which was the infinite lives cheat code for Manic Miner. And I don’t even know my own mobile number.

* Wikipedia says it’s from his driving licence number, but I’m sticking with my story.