Thursday, 12 July 2007

great experiences

I have had a lot of great experiences playing boardgames. Some are quite memorable.

The Settlers of Catan - Oct 2003, Hong Kong (if I remember correctly). I had just started working on a project in Taiwan, and I was using one of the company-paid flybacks to visit my friends Ah Chung and Ben in Hong Kong. I visited the Wargame Club at 8/F, 678 Nathan Road (I always remember this address), and bought The Settlers of Catan. That night, we started playing at 11pm. One game followed another, until the sun came up (around 6am). We had played 6 games straight. The game came with a dice shaker (this is the Chinese version published by Capcom, a Japanese company). By the end of the night, the transparent plastic dice shaker had started to crack and already appeared blurred due to wear and tear.

Ca$h n Gun$ - I home-made this, because it was difficult to buy and also very expensive. Instead of the cartoon characters wielding guns in the original game, I used photos of Hong Kong actors wielding guns. This is a game about gangsters splitting their loot. Over 8 rounds, players point "guns" at each other to either scare them into backing off from sharing the money of that round, or to really shoot at them so that they cannot take a share during that round. If you get shot 3 times you are killed and automatically lose, even if you have accumulated the most money from previous rounds.

In one game that I played with Ricky, Cin Yee, Chee Seng and Alicia in Kuching, I was falling very far behind in terms of money collected. It was getting quite hopeless when we reached the last round. Then I noticed that all of the leading gangsters already had two injuries, i.e. if they got shot again, they would be killed and would be out of the game. I had no bullets left and could only bluff. The good thing was that since I was very very far behind, I was not perceived as a threat. So when it was time to point fingers (guns), I put on my most fearsome and vengeful look and pointed mine at Ricky. All the leading gangsters pointed at one another. No one pointed at me. When it was time to back off, everyone did so except me, so I was the sole winner of the remaining stash of money, and I came from last place to win the game in the very last round! Ricky could have won had he not chickened out in the last round.

Another memorable moment was when we played another game adding the undercover cop variant. The basic game is the same, except now there is a secret undercover cop, who tries to win by calling police headquarters for backup three times, and then surviving until the end of the game. The real gangsters have to prevent this from happening, in addition to trying to get the most money. I was a real gangster. By round 6 or so, everyone had deduced that Alicia must be the undercover cop. So there was always someone pointing a gun at her, to prevent her from calling police headquarters for the third time. So we reached Round 8 safely, and guess what... someone had called police headquarters in Round 8, and we were surrounded by police! Chee Seng was the real traitor! Not Alicia! I still wonder how Chee Seng managed to pull this off, how he managed to divert all the attention to Alicia. I had thought my deduction process was very logical and the conclusion was worked out perfectly. Poor Alicia, being targeted by everyone and unable to do anything. Well, probably she made Chee Seng sleep on the couch that night.

Saboteur - This is another game with a traitor element. Players are dwarves try to dig tunnels to find gold. The secret traitor(s) among them try to prevent this from happening. The dwarf who finds the gold gets the most reward. Other good dwarves get a smaller reward. But if the traitor foils the plan, he/she is the only one to get gold. The game is played over three sessions and whoever accumulates the most gold nuggets wins.

3 Sep 2006. Saboteur with Chee Seng, Jeanne and Simon.

In one of the games I was the saboteur. I pretended to be a good dwarf and played many good cards to help the expedition. I sowed mistrust among the good dwarves by openly suspecting whether Simon was the saboteur or Chee Seng. (Jeanne was the 4th player in the game) In this game, there is still some competition between the good dwarves because the one to reach the gold does get a bigger reward than the others. So sometimes there is an interesting tension among the good dwarves, struggling between cooperating and competing or hindering each other. I acted so well that no one suspected that I was the saboteur until when we almost reached the gold. It was then that I started playing all those bad cards, collapsing tunnels, creating dead ends, damaging others' equipment. Oooh... I feel a little ashamed that I lied so well, in order to win.

Blokus - The games themselves were nothing spectacular. What makes them memorable was the fact that we managed to persuade my father to join us to play. He is usually a serious person and is not interested in boardgames. Somehow that day he agreed to play with us. So, my father, my mother, my sister and I played Blokus together. I remember it was the Sunday after Shee Yun's first birthday party. My father even commented that Blokus is a game about international diplomacy and politics.

5 Mar 2006. Blokus with my father, my sister and my mother.

Lord of the Rings - This is one of my favourite games. It is a cooperative game where the players are hobbits trying to make the journey to Mordor to destroy the One Ring of Sauron. So everyone is playing against the game system. In this game, bad things keep happening to you, and you just try to survive to the end. Most of my games are very exciting. There is some randomness and luck element in the game, which makes one game different from another. It is fun to try to work together to achieve the common goal. There are some games that come down to that one last event tile draw - if a bad tile is drawn, we would immediately lose the game. After so much effort and pain going through many obstacles, we come to that one decisive moment. The tension is so high, and you are almost reluctant to turn over that decisive event tile. When you win these kind of games, you just feel like standing up and cheering.

2 Apr 2006. Lord of the Rings with Jeanne, Simon, Joey and Yeong Shin.

Playing boardgames is not only about special memorable moments, although they do make good memories. They are a bonus. What I like about playing boardgames is the mental exercise, strategising and planning, the maneuvering to better your opponents, the exploration of the game mechanics and the strategies. When I play a game and can do all of that, that is a great experience.

No comments: