Thursday, 5 June 2014

miscellaneous: the game bringer

I didn't realise that my fellow players always think of me as the game bringer until they mentioned it recently. In hindsight, it is very obvious. It's just one of those things you don't really think about, like how the sky is blue. Whenever I go to, I almost always bring something (or somethings) from my game shelf. I can always find something that I'm in the mood to play. If no one suggests any game to play, I'll take out what I have brought and teach the others to play. Better that than wasting time browsing the shelves to decide what to play, and sometimes having to struggle through half-remembered rules. On a recent visit, I didn't bring anything because I was in a hurry, and when I asked my friends what we were playing, they all looked at me and asked me - didn't you bring anything?

I tend to plan ahead what to play, as opposed to going to game night with the expectation to play, but with no idea at all which games to play. Having something in mind makes me look forward to the session, and I like that feeling. I'm not insistent about what I want to bring to the table. I just want to have a Plan B when Plan A is "let's think of something to play on the spot".

I feel blessed that when I stand in front of my game shelf I can always find something I want to play. This is completely unlike those first-world-problem-joke ladies with a full wardrobe complaining about having nothing to wear, and guys with a full shelf of PC games DVD's complaining about having nothing to play. It's already June, and I realise so far this year I have only added two games to my collection - Race for the Galaxy: Alien Artifacts (an expansion), and Love Letter (a home-made copy). I have reached a saturation point. There are still so many games in my collection that I'm eager to play, that I have little urge to try new games. I do still read about new games, just that not many of them interest me. I don't resist playing new games, just that nowadays I'm much less proactive in seeking them out.

This is an old photo. For reference only.

I recently taught Sinbad, Dith and Zoff (not sure of spelling) Thebes, a game about archaeology. One of the mechanisms in the game is, of course, digging for artifacts. You do this by spending time units to draw a number of chips from a bag. Some chips are blank, i.e. you only get dirt, while some chips are artifacts or other goodies. In this old photo above, I drew 10 chips, only to find two items of value. In my recent game, I drew 11 chips, and all turned out to be dirt! And this happened while the dig site was still quite fresh, i.e. other players have not dug many artifacts from there. That day was really not my day...

In Thebes, one card type that players can collect is conference cards. The more you collect, the more they are worth. If there is only one player collecting these, it can be very dangerous for the others. If all the others are reluctant to spend effort to hinder that single player attending conferences, i.e. no one wants to "take one for the team", then the single player may end up laughing all the way to the bank. This situation happened in our game. Dith was first to go after the conference cards. Zoff followed suit soon afterwards, and Sinbad and I eagerly urged him on. Zoff was suspicious and felt used, and later decided screw you guys I'm going for something else. He went on to do very well at the digs - the complete opposite of how I fared. We all thought he was going to win. When it came to the final scoring, we were shocked that he lost to Dith by exactly one point! We could not stop laughing and screaming we told you so! There were a few times during the game that even Dith himself advised Zoff he should grab the conference card to prevent Dith himself from claiming more. I don't think I have ever had so much laughter over a game of Thebes.

This is another old photo.

After Thebes, I taught Sinbad, Dith and Zoff Lord of the Rings. I have always liked this game, and I enjoy teaching it to new players and watching their learning process. This is a cooperative game, so I try not to tell them what to do too much. It would be like telling people spoilers while they are watching a movie. I try to only guide them gently. However during this particular game there were a few moments when I could not resist telling them "I think we gotta run". I felt like Gandalf at Moria ("Fly, you fools!"). They were quite adamant about collecting the sun, heart and ring tokens, so that they didn't have to become corrupted at the end of the scenario. However I think it is OK to miss a few, because staying on a scenario board for too long is very risky. If a few events occur one after another, it can be disastrous for the fellowship.

Overall we did quite well. Two of us hobbits did get quite corrupted and got quite near Sauron. However we never really got into any life-and-death situation. Even if these two hobbits got killed, the ring was safely with another hobbit which was still a decent distance away from Sauron. After we won the game, I broke the news to them that we were playing at the easiest difficulty level. If we had played at normal difficulty, then you, and you, would be dead.


Aik Yong said...

Game Bringer haha, I did realise it as well, mainly because I'm not the one suggesting games to play anymore. I'm just content to 'help' others run through their 'to-play' list.

Besides, I don't have a 'to-play' list, which means I won't be reading any rules to games. I'm also starting to think most games nowadays are really good, anything that's brought to the table will be new and exciting to me.

Hiew Chok Sien 邱卓成 said...

I think of Kareem as the Game Bringer. He brings many interesting new games. I tend to bring old games ha ha...