Even though 2020 was a year for terrible hair/beard decisions, or the fisherman look as some friends described me, the name Unfringed actually has roots (pun maybe intended) right back to the first time I visited a board game cafe.
Growing up, like most families, board games were always an enjoyable part of seasonal holidays or rainy weekends. Again, like most families, this usually meant dusting off my parents childhood copy of Monopoly, eagerly anticipating turning the lever in Mouse Trap or crossing my fingers for the Veterinarian career in Game of Life. I hold these memories dear to me and these games will always have a special place in my heart for that reason. However, there is an argument to be had that a lot of these more traditional games aren’t always fairly balanced, don’t introduce gameplay mechanics that have much depth or strategy and sometimes leave you with a bitter taste in your mouth.
In my teenage years I was introduced to Magic the Gathering and had my first real taste of the opposite end of this spectrum but that’s a story time for another time. Unfringed’s origin sits more in the middle of this and the world of tabletop games that lie between Scrabble and Magic, that I was first introduced to with a trip to a board game cafe in Oxford.
Around the year 2014/2015, with some friends who had visited the weekend before and were eager to go back, we headed to Thirsty Meeples in Oxford. First thing that struck me was the sheer number of boxes filling the shelves that lined the walls. I had no idea so many different games existed and was further surprised when the game attendant at our table mentioned they only had about a 1/3 of their games on show with the rest in storage! Detecting our beginner vibes he suggested that we start with a game of Carcassone. Maybe it was how excitably the staff explained the rules or maybe it was the delicious cake we had to accompany our first game but I was immediately hooked. Why hadn’t I heard of this game before? Were all these other games as interesting, strategic and as engaging as Carcassone? After 2 games we had Revolution suggested to us and with the excitement and intrigue of private bidding I knew that this wasn’t going to be the last time I explored this new world.
Even though a lot of my life had revolved around video games and gaming in general I had somehow missed out on tabletop games that brought and continue to bring so much enjoyment for me. Games that were somehow on the fringes of the mainstream. And hence Unfringed was born. To create and make these kinds of games the games that we grow up playing, enjoying, laughing over and dusting off for future generations. Making fringe gaming accessible, or.
P.S. Some of you will be glad to hear the beard monster has been tamed since the feature picture 😉