I am and pretty much always have been a big ol’ geek. I was big on video games when I was younger, and on comics. I devoured sci-fi and fantasy novels and had a special place in my heart for Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman, Robert Rankin and Jasper Fforde. I got into tabletop wargames when I started secondary school and spent countless hours in my then-local Games Workshop store.
My interest in board games is more recent and I can track the start of it back to around the same time I met my wife. These two things are wholly, completely, utterly unrelated. Like, really. Really, really.
The thing about my wife is, she really was not a geek at all. She’d never read comics or seen a superhero movie. She’d never watched a Star Wars movie or seen an episode of Star Trek. She’d never played board games, beyond the usual mass-market stuff like Monopoly or Cluedo.
Over time, that’s changed. She’s now a lot keener than me to see the latest superhero film. She has stopped referring to Princess Leia as Princess Layla and actually likes Star Wars. She particularly enjoyed Episode 1…
She’s also come around on the issue of board games. At first, she just rolled her eyes at me as large boxes of cardboard and wooden pieces arrived at the house, but over time she became a lot more open to trying out some of the games. Caravan holidays were a big part of this, as we’d spend the evening playing round after round after round after round after round of Dominion, interspersed with a few games of Carcassonne. She also took to Ticket to Ride, Catan, Codenames and just about every deckbuilder we could find.
In the early days, I tried too hard to push for bigger, more complex games which were just no fun for her and which put her off the whole idea of playing these games. Lighter games with breezier themes were more her thing. Euro-style games were frequent hits. Games where she could set up satisfying combos. Miniatures were out – these were too much like those miniature wargames I played and she didn’t like the look of those.
The exception to the miniatures rule came with Star Wars: Rebellion. She agreed to help me get my head around the rules in advance of my breaking the game out with a friend. Unexpectedly, she took to it really well, picking up the rules quickly, enjoying the ebb and flow of play as she tried to outsmart me and keep her rebel base hidden from my imperial agents.
This was great! Finally, we had a “big” game we could play, too. This will, I hope, open up yet more options for play as we go on. She has some of her own games now, with both the Harry Potter deckbuilding game and Ladies and Gentlemen being the starting points of her collection. Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle has been particularly fun, as during our first playthrough she insisted on playing through as many years as possible right there, that morning.
I don’t know that my wife has significantly changed since we’ve been together, and obviously I’d love her and want to spend time with her regardless of whether or not we shared these interests, but it’s great that this person who’d had so little exposure to geek culture in the past has been so ready to immerse herself in it. It’s great that I’m lucky enough to get to play games with my best friend.