Category Archives: Games and Gaming

Brick and Mortar Also Build Community

Many people do things through the Web. This can be very useful. It can save time and money. It can also short-change the local area.

A friend (Duncan) and I play board and card games at a local hobby store (High Octane Comics & Collectibles (their Facebook page). I might not have met Duncan otherwise, and he suggested another group (our next meetup) that we now both game with.

If Duncan and I were playing some on-line game, we might not have any other contact. Duncan is great for playing quite a few different games with.

Kamloops is not a large city, and it is nice to find people to game with. It is also very useful to be able to see games before purchasing them.

For the past few years, we have had had a gaming convention in Kamloops: Attack-X. This got going because of local contact. I met the head of the convention at High Octane.

High Octane and other gaming stores are very useful for meeting people. It is one reason why I give them business.

You can enjoy good company with people in your own community.

Very Bad Rules Call, Very Good Writing

One of the on-line strips that I follow is Weregeek. The author-artist, Alina Pete, has a very good grasp of gaming (mainly roleplaying games) culture.

She has just recently concluded a story line where a gaming session went very very badly. There have been a lot of comments from people arguing and discussing what happened in the story. She definitely struck a chord (and nerve) with gamers. While I cringed at the situation, it was very powerful writing.

The strip deals with a circle of friends both in-game and out-of-game. It has plenty of pathos and humour (including some of the best/worst puns I have ever encountered).

If you are interested in gaming, check it out.

Bad Rules

Have you ever played a long game where two players are competing fiercely and a nasty rules argument gets going?

If you ever wonder why gamers can be so picky on rules, this is part of why. Ambiguous rules make for horrible arguments, and they will happen right when it really matters.

As a gamer, it is not fun to play a long game and get into a situation where two players both think they are right about a rule interpretation, each was counting on his interpretation, and it turns out that both interpretations are valid.

No one ends up happy. If you write rules, please make them as clear as possible.

Odd Language #181: When After?

“Ongoing: After the first time you play an action each turn …” – instruction on Jason card in Smash Up.

The issue: Does this mean 1) immediately after the first time you have played an action in a turn, 2) only the second, third, fourth, etc. times you play an action in a turn, or 3) as in point 2 but immediately? I suspect that the first was meant, but all three are possible.

Smash Up is a game by Alderac Entertainment Group. It is great fun. It has fairly simple mechanics, but there can be some tricky side effects. This means that clear language is a must.

Important Games

I like playing board games. They are a lot of fun. Working out how to use the rules effectively is good, mental exercise.

Not everyone agrees with me. I sometimes run across people who do not particularly care about the rules. A common line from such people to excuse their behaviour is “It’s only a game.”

Try that line on one of their games, and watch the explosion.

Games do have rules. In the interests of peace, if you are playing a game, play by the rules. Do not give someone else a hard time for playing the game correctly. If you really do not want to play the game, then do not play it, but please do not ruin someone else’s game.

Sideswiping Oneself

Sometimes, you just “know” that things are a certain way. And they turn out not to be. You might never find this out, because you did not check.

I had an example of this almost happen to me just recently. I was up in Grande Prairie, Alberta. When I am out of town, I like to check out the local game stores. I did a cursory check on Saturday, but did not see anything near the hotel I was staying at. Monday, I wanted a slushy. I already knew that the local Esso did not sell them and found out that the Petro-Canada did not either. I asked where a 7-11 was. It turned out it was 24 blocks away. I almost did not go. When I got most of the way there, I found another convenience store that does sell slushies. I wanted a BIG one, and the biggest size was not that big. (I thought that if I was going to walk all that way, I was getting a BIG one.) I continued walking downtown.

And saw a game store. It turned out that within one block, there were three game stores and a game cafe. I spent time checking them out. It turns out that Gande Prairie has a very active gaming community. A relocatee from Edmonton (Alberta’s capital) said that Grande Prairie has a better gaming community than Edmonton.

As it was around 5 P.M., I also thought that they would be closing soon. It turns out that the game stores are open late every weeknight, and the game cafe is open until midnight. I am used to game stores closing at 5:30 or 6:00 most days.

And to think that if I had not been so pushy about getting that slushy, I never would have walked downtown. And if I had not decided to check anyway despite the hour, I never would have known about some excellent stores.

Analysis Paralysis

Given two choices, A and B, which would you pick? Some people pick C by not making a choice.

If one can not decide, one can go back and forth between A and B without coming any closer to a decision. This is called analysis paralysis.

I once saw this happen in a game. One player had analysis paralysis very badly. It did not show at first, but as soon as the game got involved, he slowed right down. The other three players would be done in five minutes or less total, and he would take much longer.

Finally, they went off and played a game of the same game with another set. They finished their entire game, and the slow player was still puzzling over his turn.

Sometimes, decisions are not made, because it would mean losing somehow. Suppose that there are two ways of doing something. A and B each have their advantages and disadvantages. If either A or B were clearly superior, the choice would be easy. However, if the two are close, neither set of supporters may be willing to “give up”. Thus, C (doing nothing) happens.

Not making a decision is almost always wrong.

Go ahead. Decide that I am right or that I am wrong, but please decide!

Scream and Leap

In his Known Space setting, author Larry Niven had the kzinti, a race of ferocious rat-cats. They had a strategy(?) of scream and leap. That did not work so well in war against the furless monkeys (us).

But it is a good idea in a lot of areas.

The weekend before last, in one of the gaming groups I play in, the GM burnt out. We might have played board games instead.

I had been thinking of getting into GMing again, but I do not know the current systems used very well at all.

I did scream and leap and volunteered my services.

It went quite well, and now, my campaign will be going every other Sunday.

Sometimes, a bit of boldness really works.

Group Activities

For two weeks, I have mentioned the importance of promotion in connection with gaming conventions and other activities.

The convention that I was at two weekends ago was great, but there was a time Saturday evening where no one was interested in playing board games. I decided that it would be better if I were playing rather than not playing so I asked if I could get into a game of “The Mutant Epoch” roleplaying game that was about to start. (URL: http://www.mutantepoch.com/)

It really was not the sort of game that I would have picked up myself, but I really had a good time. I was playing it again last weekend.

Sometimes, good company is more important than a good game. If you have both (and I did here), it is great.

Invite someone to do some activity with you. Maybe, you will get a convert.

More Promotion

Last week, I wrote of attending a small gaming convention in Kamloops that did not promote much. There was another one this last weekend. This one did better at promotion.

It was mainly a wargaming convention. There are wargamers who travel to gaming conventions. The con organisers were very good at promoting to those people. One attendee came from Edmonton, AB. That is about 500 miles away.

They did not promote much to the general public. They did get some newspaper coverage in the week before, but that was about it. As a result, few, if any, members of the general public attended.

I ran boardgame demos in a room with others who were demoing Infinity (a tactical wargame) and Mutant Epoch (a roleplaying game set in the future). Mutant Epoch is written by Will McAusland of Kamloops. (URL: http://www.mutantepoch.com/) I played both games myself and had a great time.

I did get to meet some people I had not met before, but I would have liked to have been able to introduce some gaming newbies to some of the wonderful board games I have.

Kamloops, being a city of about 90,000, has a lot of things to do. In order to be noticed, you have to promote broadly and often. Get your message out there and often.