Joe Bouchard is quite the geek for all types of games. Although he started playing video games at a very early age, his parents were also big on different types of card and board games during his upbringing. The net result has been a diversely nerdy background for all things gaming. Joe has close to 20 years of experience with Magic: the Gathering and 15 years of experience playing pen-and-paper RPGs. He lives in New Bedford, MA with his fiancé, who has shown an infinite amount of patience when his gaming habits explode all over the dining room table.
Joe is a regular contributor to The Cardboard Republic with a focus on tabletop gaming. His current column is a DM-focused tip column called The ABCs of GMing.
The Five Questions
What was your gateway game?
I had a lot of gateway games throughout my childhood. I grew up playing Yahtzee, Uno, and standard card games with my parents (namely Pitch and Rummy), along with various board games along the way. Even my extra-curricular activities led to other games (the only thing I still remember from Boy Scouts is how to play Cribbage). In terms of a major game, it would be the RPG Shatterzone. That was my first introduction to table-top RPGs and it was back in 1997.
What was the last game you really enjoyed playing?
[Updated: May 2015] Recently, a group of us have really been enjoying Ascension and most of the sets thereof. It’s a great multiplayer deckbuilder that plays differently every time you take it out of the box. We don’t really have a dominant winner, either. We all win about an equal amount of time.
Lords of Waterdeep is probably one of classic favorites, and with all the new games we try to play, we always come back to this one once in a while. The expansion, Scoundrels of Skullport, adds a 6th player for us, and is a popular addition to our Waterdeep games.
Finally, I’ve had a few opportunities in a short amount of time to get a few games of Civilization the board game completed. Those of us that have played it really enjoyed it, but more often than not, we don’t have 5 hours to dedicate on a weekend to play. Some of us own some games that require a longer stretch of time to play through (such as Descent or Mage Knight), and when the Northeast isn’t buried under snow, we plan to dedicate more weekend afternoons to these longer-format games we’ve enjoyed.
How big is your game collection?
This is a pretty funny question, because my video game collection always gets noticed first (over 400+ games from Atari to Xbox 360). My non-video game collection consists of roughly over 35,000 Magic cards and I’d say about 20-30 more games of board and card format. I also probably own about 10-15 different decks of playing cards, all of different designs and sizes.
What is your favorite type of game to play?
I’m not sure I prescribe to a particular genre. Any game that requires thought and strategy is always a good time, but that’s not a requirement. The important function of a game is that it also allows a certain level of social comfort. Any game that I can sit down with friends and enjoy with social interaction is enough for me. That said, I do tend to play rather competitively with most games, and I always enjoy the strategy of a game, since each game has its own inherent one.
How do you feel about Monopoly?
I love Monopoly, and it can be a great game if you play the game with like-minded people. Monopoly is all about risk versus reward, and even then you have to leave a lot to chance. The most important rule to playing Monopoly is that you’ll ALWAYS have to give up something to get something. To really enjoy the game, you have to be prepared to take chancy sacrifices and not take it too seriously. If you play a game of Monopoly, and the game has stalled entirely because nobody is trading property, then you’re missing the point of the game.