Category Archives: Games and Gaming

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.

Promote! Promote! Promote!

I attended a small gaming convention in Kamloops this last weekend. I had a pretty time, but the con was smaller than it ought to have been. There was not enough promotion.

I found out about it because of a poster. The poster had the place and dates. It did not have the time, the cost, or a contact for further details.

A lack of promotion is one way to cut the legs out from under an event. A member of the general public is unlikely to stumble into your event by chance. If he knows about it, he might attend. If not, he almost certainly will not since there are a lot of other things he could be doing that he already knows about.

Many times, people get into an us vs. them mentality. People can too easily cop an attitude that their group is special and make others subtly unwelcome. The very fact that someone else does not know about the group’s event can be used against others. Someone not in your group might not know about your group’s event, but would be interested if only he knew about it.

Point-of-view is also an issue. Why should the group have to say anything about the event as the members already know about it? But you are in on your group’s plans. Non-members are unlikely to know. Make sure that they do.

There are a lot of messages out there. If you do not communicate, others will not know. Promote, promote, and then promote some more. Then, you stand a chance of attracting others to your event and new members to your group.

Meta-Effects in Games

Some games proceed through their steps of play without interference. If you are playing Snakes and Ladders, you know that unless another player wins on his next turn, you will get another turn.

Other games have mechanisms that can change the normal sequence of play. It might be player A playing a card that forces player B to miss his next turn or that gives player A another turn.

This is extremely powerful. This is not appreciated by many game designers.

It appears that it is simply letting player A do something, but there are actually two things being done. Player A is doing something, AND player B’s play is being disrupted.

Player A is naturally going to play the card when it will work best for him. In effect, Player B gets ambushed.

This makes meta-effects in games more powerful than other effects. That is why meta-effects should be toned down some. Taken to extremes, the target player might not even get to play.

Back when I was playing Magic: the Gathering, another player related a game that he had played using several meta-effects.  He had the first play.  Through various meta-effects, he got six extra turns.  He was then built-up enough to win the game.  His opponent did not get a single turn.

If you are designing a game, please do not let meta-effects swamp the rest of the game.