Anthony BoydellUnited Kingdom
Many years ago - more than I should care to remember, really - some pals and I would play boardgames on a Wednesday afternoon and evening.
This was possible because
a) I was working nights at a Petrol Station (10PM until 7AM) and
b) the others were either Students or out-of-work.
Our routine would usually be something along the lines of
- 3.00PM: arrive and play Ikusa
- 5.30PM: break to visit the chip shop to get supper and return in time for
- 6.00PM: Watch Star Trek - The Next Generation on BBC2
- 6.45PM: Discuss merits and worth of ST:TNG
- 7.00PM: Play something else - possible more Ikusa or, if feeling particularly belligerent, an aggressively-accelerated Diplomacy
We really came to love Ikusa, preferring it to Risk in all ways - so much more to think about! Eventually, however, we began to get niggly about aspects of this otherwise splendid game and came up with a group 'set of rules changes'; these were:
 At the start of the game, following the initial dealing of province cards to players, each player is allowed to swap up to ONE card with each other player. This allows for more cohesive starting positions, rather than watching some poor schmuck diddled out of resources because they were dealt a massively-distributed hand!
 New Hire Ninja action to prevent the first free attack of a fortification when attacked 'from the sea'. The free attack is a killer bonus and there was no way round it apart from 'attacking from the land instead') - thus, why not get a Ninja to sneak into the Castle and kill all of the lookouts?
 The movement route from Awa to Kii now re-drawn as Awa to Shima. For more interesting play - especially as it stops Kii being such a bloody bottleneck!
 The introduction of an event deck that affected recruitment, sword drawing, provinces, some die rolls, movement etc. Just to mix things up a bit, none of these were catastrophic but they certainly offered more thought when allocating Koku in the planning phase!
I even put together a mini-rule book exactly aping the style of the original - complete with a photo-copied version of the front cover.
These changes were borne out of respect for, and familiarity with, the game and theoretically constitutes my first proper foray into games design* which is, as Lewis Pulsipher remarks in his recent Blog post (http://www.boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/2325/so-youre-going-to...): 'Often the best way to start...make a variation of an existing game, because it takes a lot less time and work to get to the point where you can play it'
I'm not sure I can remember doing this, or wanting to do this, with any other game. It was only a few years later (years of drought WRT games and gaming - in favour of first proper job, first home and *gulp* marriage) when I discovered Magic: The Gathering and that had enough 'changes' to keep me occupied for the next 15 years, dammit!
I recently discovered my copy of Ikusa, un-played because we'd always used Rob's copy, being a thrift store bargain from Y2K:"Three of your English pounds for a mint copy, you say? Where would you like me to plonk my dobber, sweet Master?"
Unsurprisingly, people are tweaking their favourite games to this day (some nicely with genuine love, others as an excuse to criticize and corrupt); the more astute designers/publishers, of course, make use of 'the map' as a method of propagating (un-)official expansions.
(*thinks* Maps for Paperclip Railways? *thinks*)
So, following this extended hiatus, which game should I have a go at fixing next?
Final note: Are there any LaRP-ers out there? Copies of a basic LRP rule-set for my (then) young Brothers-in-Law surfaced in Rob's bequest (he and I worked on it together, co-ordinated the players and monsters, ran a few scenarios in the Forest of Dean etc) and I'm thinking of scanning the lot in to become a freebie download: Glorious Fortune, it was called.
*albeit in cahoots with a bunch of friends