Hobby of choice

Hobby of choice

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Writer_smallerSome points on Ireland

Actual yearly rainfall figures in Ireland run from 150-225 days a year. It just feels like a lot more.

It’s not news to anyone that Ireland has a reputation for alcohol consumption, and the sorry truth is the country does have a harmful relationship with alcohol. It is one that is ingrained in our culture, and unfortunately, one that does not seem to be improving. You never have to climb too far up anyone’s family tree to find alcoholism and related troubles, and yet the pattern continues, generation after generation, round after round. An economic crisis that has impacted the whole country, making this generation the first in history to be poorer than the last, is unlikely to help break the pattern any time soon. The depth of damage caused by the crisis, and more to the point, by the government’s handling of it, runs deep, and with no appropriate health and education support structures there to manage the damage, the effects will manifest in many ways, and for many years to come. This isn’t the place for political discourse, but honestly, things like this just make me so goddamn angry I have to get it out.

Now that it’s out of my system, back to the comic.

So, hurling.

Considered the oldest field sport in the world, it’s also said to be the fastest. The leather bound ball (think baseball) travels in and around 100MPH, belted from wooden stick to wooden stick by teams of 15 opposing players, who, other than a plastic helmet and facemask, wear no protective padding. It’s played on a pitch similar to soccer, just with a much greater chance of having your teeth knocked out by a tiny whirlwind of leather and danger. Or a man with a stick, for that matter, if you’re stupid enough to try and make a play for the ball. Because the stick he is carrying is a solid piece of wood carved from an ash tree, bound at the top with metal. In case you think I’m exaggerating, here’s a tidbit from Irishhealth.com:

“Around 96% of all hand fracture cases seen at the Waterford Regional Hospital casualty department were caused by playing hurling, the research reveals. Just one player out of 128 who attended the hospital with a hand fracture had been wearing protection on their hands.

Most of the fractures were caused by a blow from a hurley. They result from a blow on the exposed portion of the unprotected hand as it grips the hurley.”

You really have to see it though, in order to understand just how much I never want to enjoy it at a distance closer than our television.

I was going to leave it there, but a thought popped into my head, and I’m really very curious now: What got you into board gaming? If you want to join the conversation, I’d love to hear your story.

30 Comments on Hobby of choice
  • Frank Bromley

    it’s worth noting that like Lacross and Hockey Hurling (sometimes called Hurley) was created as a form of combat training

    • I know the game’s origins are literally thousands of years ago, but I had never heard that before.

  • Senno

    Holy crap that game looks scary to play and very entertaining to watch. I’d never even heard of it before. As for what got me into gaming – it was a fluke really. I collect pins, and I like to collect the Pinny Arcade pins. On the official forums I found another person who lived in my town and I off-handedly suggested we play a game together one night or go out one night – thinking that would be that. He suggested a gaming group, and I’ve been going there ever since. It had started only shortly before I joined, so I’m one of the old guard now – and it’s grown from strength to strength. And I’ve had a massive education in games since then – and we all have much larger gaming libraries that we like to share.

    • That’s a great story! I love that you just happened into it through another hobby and got hooked. Also found a gaming group and a social outlet. I’ve said time and time again, that’s what I love the most about gaming: it’s such a social hobby.
      And myself and Wayne talking nonsense for hours when we should be playing is exactly what everyone else likes the least about gaming 🙂
      Thanks for sharing your story!

  • tron

    My story is a combination of probably the two most cliché paths to hobby board gaming – much like yourself it seems, I had previously been a player of more ‘serious’ games like Magic, Warhammer, and AD&D. An old high school friend and I had both gotten back into Magic as adults independently of each other, and when we realised this we started playing some matches together. Eventually he asked if I’d ever played a game called Settlers of Catan, he was fairly into it and had another friend who was looking for a game and they needed a third and even fourth player, so he brought the game and the friend over to my place and we played along with my wife. It’s been a long trip down the rabbithole since then 🙂

    I’m still a big fan of Magic, generally buying a booster box of each new set, but don’t get much chance to play it anymore. With two young children at home, having a massive pile of cards spread out trying to get some deckbuilding done doesn’t work out very well. Board games are just much easier to set up and play with whoever might come over, needing less of a dedicated player base (though it would seem so many of us end up very dedicated to our board games!)

    • Thanks for sharing! Very similar to my own, I pretty much drifted sideways into it from the likes of Magic and Games Workshop, albeit after a long gap. AD & D is one thing I never tried, though. I am determined to try roleplaying games properly this year. It’s quite a gap for me, and I think it might be a lot of fun, given the right system and GM/players.

  • Stephen M. Schaefer

    We don’t have the same Seattle-esque levels of rain here in central Ohio that you do in Ireland, but we do have 250 cloudy days a year. That might be why Columbus has (arguably) the largest board gaming club (by membership) in North America, possibly the planet.

    • 250 cloudy days a year sounds so awfully dreary and dull. That is a LOT of cloudy days. How big is the club in Columbus?

      • Stephen M. Schaefer

        I don’t have the precise, current numbers, but the last I recall hearing, we were somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 paid members. The club meets nearly every weekend of the year and the meetings average about 100 attendees.

  • wr00t

    Just a random thing for me. Was reading a blog of our local video games reviewer and he posted about a game of Small World he played with his friends. I then went on Youtube and watched a few reviews, then a review of another game and another. Then a google search gave me a few local stores addresses and nearly a week after i’ve bought my first game (small card game at first). I brought it to work and showed to my colleagues. We had a blast. Then i’ve found Dice tower channel and it just snowballed from that point 🙂 It was like 6 years ago.

    • Dice Tower is such a fantastic resource. If I’m on the fence about a game, they are now the first site I will go to for a decent, informative review.
      Out of curiosity, what was that first card game you bought, and was it any good?

      • wr00t

        Saboteur. Can be considered a party game as it supports 8-10 players probably. Though we have mostly played it with 4 (same game which i have hooked my coworkers into board gaming with). Have played it once with 8 and it was even more fun 🙂 Nothing groundbreaking, the game play is very simple. So it is mostly the social interaction, bluffing, accusations what makes it a fun game 🙂

        • I’ve actually heard a lot of good things about that game, it’s one I’ve wanted to play for a long time. Seems like it would be a lot of fun.

  • The Rocketeer

    Just wanted to quickly say thanks so much for the funny. I just ran across your webcomic and it’s GREAT! Thanks! I think the better question might be…”What got me back into board gaming?” It simply had to do with getting my friends together one night every other month (or more) to simply shoot the shit and have a good time. It allows all of us to get away from our significant others and our kiddos and have some man time in our various man caves. We’ve been doing it now since 2008 and have had a blast at every one of our get-togethers.

    • Thanks for joining the conversation! It’s great hearing everyone’s stories. That’s a really, impressively long time to have a gaming group running for. I always find people drift in and out, move on, move out, etc. Having a reliable group makes all the difference in the world.

  • David

    Gaming of some sort has been around in my life forever, from card games as a kid, through D&D and other RPG, then CCGs (L5R was my drug of choice). But when we moved to North Carolina, there was a fellow gamer at work and we started playing a few games together. I put it at Puerto Rico as ‘the moment’ when board gaming took over. Though I played Catan with a German copy when I was at Georgia Tech in 1996-7!

    • I have never played L5R. Although at one point I did buy in and get a starter deck and some boosters. Just never actually played the thing. Same for Puerto Rico, actually. My brother got it for me for Christmas several years ago, and it still resides on the shelf of shame, beside all the other unplayed games.

  • Dan Roth

    I’ve never heard of hurling before…so I learned something new about another culture! This is why I like reading (or listening to music, or looking at art, etc.) from people in different parts of the world (I’m from North America). I think it’s pretty great what all of humanity has to offer, but it’s easy to get wrapped up in our own cultures–especially if you live in a large country.

    Anyway…I was a D&D player in high school and college. Some of my D&D buddies from high school got more into board games when they went to college, but we went to different schools, so I wasn’t really involved in that. However, when I got married (I met my wife playing D&D!), these guys pooled their resources and gave us a handful of games. They got us a nice variety: Dominion, Race for the Galaxy, Puerto Rico, Pandemic, and Arkham Horror.

    We were pretty much hooked on it from there.

    • Surprise education from your comics! We like to provide an all round service here at Tiny Wooden Pieces. Another person who started in a different area of gaming before arriving at boards. Seems to be a really common theme.
      Also, that is an amazing selection of games those guys got you.

      • Dan Roth

        I think surprise education is the best kind of education 🙂

        Yeah, it was really touching actually. My wife and I have moved to a different part of the country, but whenever we goback to visit, we get together for games.

  • Ben Thorp

    I live in the west coast of Scotland – similar amount of rainfall and alcohol abuse, but we have shinty rather than hurling 😉

    However, what got me into gaming was Tabletop. Or, more specifically, a video Wil Wheaton did talking about gaming with his kids growing up, and seeing it as a great opportunity to spend more time with my kids away from a TV. (And then, of course, I got obsessed 😉 )

    • That’s so sweet. That is literally the nicest reason I have ever heard for getting into games. I’m sure you’re kids are going to benefit hugely from both the hobby and real interaction time outside of television. Two thumbs up for great parenting! (actually, make that four, Aileen agrees as well)

  • JahmezJuicy

    I don’t really remember what made me want to get into board gaming. I had always been a video gamer. Then, I had a live-in relationship with my, now, wife. So, my gaming time got smaller and smaller. I may have seen Tabletop and got curious because the last board game that I had played was probably monopoly or something like that. I knew about magic and d&d and wargames, but… Wait, that is what got me into it… I was watching NBC’s Community. I saw the first D&D episode and it made me want to game so bad. (Especially as my video gaming time had diminished so much) So, I started to look it up. Well, I live in Oklahoma, and no matter where you are, that probably doesn’t bring up thoughts of “gaming nirvana”. My wife’s aunt would bring over Settlers to Thanksgiving and other family functions. I saw it, but didn’t really play it. So, I stumbled onto Tabletop and watched an episode. It intrigued me and I saved up a little money and bought A Game of Thrones: the board game. My wife and I went over to her Aunts and tried to play this game. It took 3 hours and we hadn’t fully set up the game. But I still knew that I loved it. We started a monthly board game group and have been going regularly ever since.

    • Wow, Game of Thrones. You really went in at the deep end, that’s impressive 🙂 You are also not the only person to watch Tabletop. I hadn’t realised what a big influence it had been in getting people into board games, and it is great to hear. I guess Tabletop was pretty significant for myself and Aileen. We were already dipping our toes into gaming for a while, but after seeing Pandemic on tabletop bought that, and we had never played anything THAT good or compelling. Pandemic was a big step for us, we were hooked after that.

  • Drew

    Imagine how wonderful Ireland would be if you replaced all the drinking and alcohol with boardgames?

    But to answer your question, I’ve always loved playing games, I used to love monopoly (before i knew better!) and video games. As a young teenager, my brother came home from university with a copy of munchkin, and me and friends played that for a bit, and again was pretty fun!

    I then went to university, and after university I moved to Newcastle. When i came home for Christmas, my brother and I went halves on Dixit to play with the family at christmas and was captured by how different a game it was to anything else i’d played up till this point.

    So upon my return after christmas, I found a local gaming group at my FLG and was hooked every since! It’s great to be in a more social situation and not relying on technology to entertain us… unless we’re playing xcom!

    • Dixit is such a fantastic game. It really shows how different and interesting board games are, and how far past the old stereotypes they have moved. I had been planning to get Dixit for awhile now, but I think it has been replaced on my wish list with Mysterium. Which, from what I gather, is Dixit but with added murder ghosts. It’s a win-win!

      • Drew

        Having owned both of them, I’d recommend Mysterium as the better game… although play with the original rules, not the english ones! 😛

  • Dexter Ó Thuithear

    It’s been a while since I played hurling, but the game, even at a junior level, has gotten to a point where I wouldn’t even attempt to take it up again, beyond a puck about of a Sunday. Still one for the greatest games in the world to watch though.

  • frederick123

    Nice comic. After I have spent half a year in the Ireland, I can confirm, that drinking is a BIG part of living there, as it is one of those things, you can do when its raining, windy and just shitty outside.

    What brought me to board games, was one random thought. In my last years at university, I had more time than usual, so I have decided to try D&D, as it seemed interesting, and have never had a chance to try it before. I have looked for a gaming group in my city, went to a meet, and after few game sessions I was hooked. When there was not enough people for D&D, we tried some board games to fill up the time (Arkham Horror, Pandemic), and that was it. I have found the hobby, on which I have wasted most of my money from that point in time. After that, I started to watch TableTop, and my board game collection just grew bigger and bigger. And now, as a good addict, I am trying to hook everyone that lets me. 🙂