It was sudden and unexpected. Cleaning up the euro cards from The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game after a suprisingly-short solo game (I had one point to the AI's 5 at the end of Round 2), a feeling of levity surrounded me. It's true that it's been a while since I played my last game of this (more than 4 months ago), and typically I'd reset this quickly to exact my revenge against the AI...but instead I just stepped back and took it all in. It's as if the game itself smiled at me lightly, nodded its head, and slowly returned to its box after it had done its purpose.
Playing Board Games to Escape
The phrase "playing board games to escape" being mentioned so much loses all meaning to me. Perhaps that is because for me, it never became that escape I longed for. I never felt like I needed something that much to label it AS an "escape." That isn't to say there's no truth in the statement; with all that's going on in the world, this statement is more true than ever before. But, for lack of a better phrase, the meaning...well, escapes me.
And it's not like I haven't been playing board games before playing this one last night. I logged in more than 10 games of The Lost Expedition in my futile attempts to beat the game and survive, to no avail. But it did not offer that satisfaction I got last night. I play board games, but I play them for enjoyment. I look forward to engaging in the gameplay, the theme, the components...but not in a way to shut out everything else around me.
Board Games Help Me Escape
Sure, it's a slight turn-of-phrase of "playing board games to escape," which is more proactive; we can't take events in our live anymore, and actively must "escape" via board games to get away from things in a while. Sometimes, however, life grabs hold of you so strong that you can't will yourself to play. I'm in a state where my life is as busy as ever, and I can slot in board games between pockets of time - never in a state to escape, but merely just because there IS a pocket of time to myself that I can focus my enjoyment from.
There was some cathartic release when I played The Castles of Burgundy: The Card Game last night. Like meeting an old friend after a very long time for coffee, reminiscing about the good times we had, and sharing a laugh at memories we've cultivated over the last few games we played. We knew well the moves, the interactions, the turnaround plays of each other. We completed each other's sentences, lightly sighed, and just basked in each other's company quietly for a moment.
It's remarkably pleasant to be so familiar with a game that it takes you to a special place when you play it. Yes, I make it sound like I'm with a good friend, and in many ways it is. Perhaps this personification of a board game is a result of playing solo, perhaps not. But if it levels out my life in ways I find hard to describe, then I'd gladly shake its hand if I could. Board games are there when I need their help, and they're always a welcome sight when I have spare time on my hands.