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Tribute to Guy Stuff Gamers
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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I've played games since I was a wee tot, but my entry into designer games came about largely thanks to the fabulous Guy Stuff Gamers, led by the intrepid Mark Edwards (aka Dangermouse) and backed up by the Usual Gang of Idiots.

How'd I get involved in GSG? A friend and I were playing Lost Cities, a game I had randomly purchased (Knizia who?), at a Magic prerelease tournament between rounds. A passerby asked if I was familiar with Unity Games. Before I knew it, my Tuesdays had been staked out as game night at GSG, and my collection went from a handful of random items to a beefy 600+.

I moved to Concord, NH in September 2005, so I won't make it to GSG much anymore, but thankfully I'll see many of the group at day-long Unity Games events, Lobster Trap, the Gathering, and even the occasional Tuesday night meeting should I indulge in a long drive for selfish reasons. That said, here's to good memories over the past two years.
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1. Board Game: Ra [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:95]
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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Mark "I'm so losing" Edwards

To anyone who knows Mark it will come as no surprise that my first game at GSG was Ra. Mark owns English, German, and Dutch versions of the game and is itching for the new Uberplay release so that he can play separate games with both hands and both feet.

Mark's collection was an inspiration to this newbie: "You mean there are really this many games you consider worth owning?" Okay, thirteen of them were Acquire, but he still had hundreds of different, non-Acquire games on tap and I sampled them as best I could.

Although I started on Ra, I mostly associate Mark with Quandary, the Milton Bradley game with the most amazing bits ever. Mark loves to intimidate newcomers to Quandary with his carefully selected pile of scoring sheets. "Why, Mark, it's like you never lose this game. That's amazing!"
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2. Board Game: Magna Grecia [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1515]
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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Phil "I'm so hosed" Alberg

Of all the GSGers, Phil's taste in games most closely matches mine. From Goa to Fifth Avenue to Reef Encounter to Age of Steam to Magna Grecia, we both get hot and bothered by dense, engine-type games that start the brain matter sizzling.

Another thing Phil and I share is a methodical approach to rules explanation. Both of us take great care to present a game in an organized fashion so that newbies can absorb everything they need to know without being overwhelmed. At one overnight gaming event I explained rules for eight games. Everyone was amazed that my explanations were so clear, but I think Phil gets the credit for teaching me the importance of clarity in rules explanation.

Phil is also the GSGer most likely to discover this Geeklist since, like me, he spends time here answering questions from confused newbies.

Start playing after 10pm, and you'll have a leg up on Phil as his body shifts over into snooze mode.
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3. Board Game: A Game of Thrones (first edition) [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:190]
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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James "Tumescence" Torr

James has loved A Game of Thrones since its release, but I managed to avoid playing it for more than a year. I'd always head for the kiddie table to avoid getting stuck in a three-hour-long fantasy game.

Why the ostrich approach? I'm not sure since I dig Age of Steam and am never bothered by its length. (I even endured a miserable first game of AoS in which I was out of contention by the third round, yet still came to love the game.) Over time, I built Game of Thrones into this elaborate, "Library of Babel"-style game that would induce nausea if I ever thought of actually playing it.

Finally, though, I bit the bullet and promised to play it, hoping at the same time that we'd have seven players on hand for every game session afterward, so I'd never have to fulfill that promise. I read the rules at least three times, and the game still seemed a muddle -- but perhaps I was merely finding confusion to justify my fears.

When the day finally arrived and I was given control of the house in the north, I bungled my initial orders so two of my three moves were wasted and failed to protect my lines so badly that Mark won the game by turn four. Did I sabotage myself unintentionally, or was I merely clueless? Maybe I'll play the game again in five or ten years and find out.

Thankfully, James and I hit it off much better on almost every other game, especially Tichu and Maharaja.

James and his wife Berna (see next entry) split for Minne-fabulous a few months before I left GSG, but with luck we'll meet again in Ohio.
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4. Board Game: Around the World in 80 Days [Average Rating:6.57 Overall Rank:984]
 
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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Berna "Can we stop talking about my bum" Torr

I'm a compulsive straightener -- cards, pieces, rules, whatever is on the table, I'm likely to straighten it during the game. Mark is a tad OCD the same way, so thankfully I had a partner in making sure all the Power Grid houses were aligned just so.

Berna, on the other hand, loved to play cards every which way just to see my eyebrow twitch. During one gaming session at her house, she practically waved the cards from Around the World in 80 Days before me to make sure I saw her placing them on the pile UPSIDE DOWN! Oblivious at first, I turned the cards around each time, but once I finally realized that she was purposefully trying to provoke a meltdown, I did the only thing I could -- continue to turn the cards so that they all faced the same way.

Perhaps she was merely trying to help me overcome this tic and not completely sadistic. Perhaps...
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5. Board Game: Saint Petersburg [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:153]
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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Bob "Then they ran off the road and died" Sumner

Bob is one of several GOBs at GSG. And what is a GOB, pray tell? A grumpy old bastard.

The acronym served more to indicate his long history with wargames as opposed to any actual grumpiness or bastardticity. Bob's always up for any game -- even Ra in recent days, although he still prefers the shrunken Razzia. (Mark naturally has a copy or two of that as well.)

That said, Bob did start bringing St. Petersburg with him time and time again, yet the game rarely reached the table due to numbers or the mark of Mark, who is less than enamored of the "engine" games Phil and I love. Week after week I promised Bob, "Next time we'll do St. Pete," only to have those plans messed up by having six gamers on hand.

In my final weeks at GSG, we did get to St. Pete twice in one night. I won a three-player game, with Stephanie playing the other fall guy, then Bob creamed me in a two-player match while four other goobers cranked away at Friedrich for untold hours. Well, I did ask to play...

Bob also brings treats every week, and we usually forget to thank him.
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6. Board Game: Intrigue [Average Rating:6.38 Overall Rank:1373]
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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Brian "I know we played this last week, but can we go over the rules again" Stormont

Within my first few months at GSG, Brian taught me a valuable lesson about not playing randomly. I was playing Intrige for the first time and thought I should randomly screw one of the other players, despite the big bribe he offered. I thought this might convert him into the whipping boy and take him out of the game, thus upping my odds for winning.

Hoo, boy, did I have the wrong idea about how to play this game! Instead of kneecapping him, I received the blows and ended in a distant fifth. My random play showed that I couldn't be relied on to play fairly, so why should anyone offer me bribes over the bare minimum?

Brian, on the other hand, played with his usual evenhandedness, apologizing for exiling players but pointing out that they had offered less, so they had to go. He won by several tens of thousands, thus forcing me to rethink my psychology of game-playing.

In late 2004 I started bringing a fellow karate student with me to GSG, and this saucy female helped me convince Brian to start taking karate. He dove into karate with everything he could and has largely disappeared from the GSG scene. Sorry, guys!
 
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7. Board Game: Breaking Away [Average Rating:7.39 Overall Rank:1282]
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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Bill "Get Bob" Romaniecki

Another GOB with a history of wargames, Bill introduced me to great games that I would have likely never discovered otherwise, most notably Breaking Away and 6 Tage Rennen.

Learning about Breaking Away was a real find because it knocked the desire for good bits down a few notches. Sure, pretty bits make a game more fun to play, as I noted about Quandary above, but the game itself must be solid -- and Breaking Away is a fantastic design, especially for a large group.

Bill's game collection must be immense. He once donated four BAGS of games to the prize table at a day-long Unity Games event. He regularly brought games that no one else owned (such as Hoppla Llama) only to have us play once before he buried the game again in his collection. Breaking Away, for example, was introduced by saying that he had owned the game for five years or so and had yet to play it. This statement seemed astounding at the time, but my collection seems headed down the same path if I'm not careful.
 
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8. Board Game: Buzzword [Average Rating:5.80 Overall Rank:5132]
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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Bruce "Why would I want to do that" Whitehill

Bruce is a real life Jughead Jones. He has no obvious means of support, yet somehow he keeps himself clothed and fed while amassing an incredible collection of board games created over the past 150 years. Bearing the handle The Big Game Hunter, Bruce writes about game manufacturer minutiae that would completely baffle 99.98 percent of the population.

Despite his longterm interest in games, Bruce is pretty much a newbie in the field of designer games. Every time he showed up at GSG, he'd be sporting a supermarket basket filled with comp games like Fact or Crap? and Spicy Dice -- games that no one wanted to open, much less play.

Every so often, though, he'd get one of his games to the table, and whoever showed up late was banished to the kiddie table for a "Bruce game." Thus we all relearned the value of being on time so as not to suffer during game night.

Bruce also had the interesting habit of asking opponents why he should make a particular move. He wanted consensus that this move would best advance his position. We instead urged him, with steadily increasing volume, to just do something -- anything! -- to keep the game moving.
 
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9. Board Game: Show Manager [Average Rating:7.13 Overall Rank:648]
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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Jeremy "Oh man" Paquette

One of the current GSGers to join after me, Jeremy always seems like a man trapped in a car that's heading over a cliff. He seems to worry and fret and twist his eyebrows into knots as he puzzles out his next move.

Jeremy was always at his expressive best in Showmanager, a favorite game for many a GSGer. Clear the board, or buy? Clear the board, or buy? He sat puzzling until his puzzler was sore, and then...
 
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10. Board Game: O Zoo le Mio [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:945]
W. Eric Martin
United States
Apex
North Carolina
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Stephanie "I'll play whatever" Paquette

Jeremy's wife was open to any game you would suggest, but she did push one game on the group once: O Zoo Le Mio. She taught Linda, Bob, and me how to play -- then wrecked us. We didn't have a chance from round one, and through the next four rounds, her lead just grew and grew. (I suggested a rematch the following week and managed to win, so I guess I learned a thing or two from the thrashing she gave us.)
 
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