I was raised a gamer by my parents, playing chess and UR with my father at 5, learning Pinochle and Tripoly at 12, and losing more games of Monopoly, Careers, Life, and PayDay than I care to imagine.
When I left for college, I discovered new card games like Hearts and Spades, rediscovered old favorites like Risk, and found the social games of Cranium and Werewolf (before there was a card version).
When I left college, I moved in with two bachelor roommates where video games ruled the night, but Magic: the Gathering became the obsession of the day. Then we discovered Lord of the Rings cooperatives...
I met my wife, and my gaming style shifted. My time was spent getting to know the lovely lady who would be my lifetime gaming partner, and I began weeding out the games that she didn't like. MTG was sold for just short of what I invested in it and Risk went back on the shelf. But everyother game I could get my hands on hit the table... It didn't take long to realize that her Game upbringing was different than mine.
We had been married for about three months, and had a long term game of chess on a side table. I took one move before leaving for work. She took the next sometime during the day. Evenings we might make a move each.... Checkmate! and I made the misstep. I asked her to lay her King down. She was shocked. I explained it's ettiquette. (What did I know?) She laid her king down... then the queen. Then every peice she still had standing. She told me her people were loyal to their King and if he was humiliated, they all would be. I loved this woman.
We played Axis and Allies for three nights straight. I won as the Axis powers. She told me that she never wanted to play a game for three days again and lose. I should have seen the writing on the wall. but I pressed forward.
We tried to play GO. She had gotten it for me for Christmas and I really wanted to give it a whirl. Understanding the rules took an hour. Then she placed her first white stone, and burst into tears. I was dumbfounded. What? What went wrong?
So, we had our talk. She told me how playing games with me made her feel so stupid. And this little game of Go with it's simple white and black stones just pushed her over the edge. She is an intelligent woman but somehow had managed to lose every SINGLE game we had played for the three months straight since we had been married. I reviewed. She was right. I had a problem.
"We will not play another game until you find a game that has enough luck that I can beat you, and enough strategy that you won't throw the game. If you throw the game, Help me, I'll know, and we will never play again!"
She would know too...
So I went to my local FLGS, "M. Foner's Game Emporium" in Lemoyne, PA. I posed the dillema. Marc saved my marriage. He gave me... FLUXX. Now I know that some of you hate this, but this game turned it all around. I couldn't win no matter how hard I tried and it gave my wife the confidence to try to kick my tail in other games.
What I discovered is that my father had raised me to think about the games. He had introduced abstracts and multiple win scenarios. My wife was not a stupid person, nor was it hard for her to understand the game. She was just not used to thinking in this way...
But she is now.
We built for the last seven years on Fluxx. Carcassonne; Lord of the Rings with expansions; Lord of the Rings Risk; Settlers of Catan; Pirateer; Alhambra; Cheapass Games by the dozen; Gipf Series; Lost Cities; Pecking Order; Puerto Rico.
Then we our first kid... Time was tight. Energy was tight. Brain power was tight. We both felt stupid. I watched my gaming time slipping away. Who has time to setup Puerto Rico when you just got the kid to sleep? Who can keep track of where you were in a game of Settlers when the baby might wake up any minute? Who wants to clean up the Carcassonne tiles before the game is done because the baby just knocked everything over and you can't remember where anything went anymore?
And about when I found the Geek. I found one of the many geeklists on "how my wife became a geek" and I excitedly told my wife that our gaming life was not over. We had the answers in our own shelves.
So we rediscovered Lost Cities, Starship Catan, Ticket to Ride: Card game. Pecking Order and a simplified version of many of our games started to get played...
And three years passed and my wife became very good at beating me.
We just had our second kid. And I returned to the Geek, this time becoming a much more active member of the community than the lurker I had been before.
I discovered that the games we went to first were actually a part of this KOSMOS series thing! And my current collect-them-all addiction began.
For us, it’s about five things:
• Plays well in a short window of play time including setup/cleanup
• Allows for conversation between players other than “Hey, it’s still your turn!”
• Can be easily returned to if interrupted by crying toddlers/babies who should really be asleep anyway
• Contains a balanced element of Luck and Strategy with replayabilty
• Tension of competition does not override the pleasure of the playing
My hot list is our current made for two players specifically favorites. The top ten is our favorites regardless of when we have time to play them. I need a third list for the solo games I've learned to love as well.
If you really want to know more than that, then check out my postings. They seem to tell it all.
And I still haven't brought GO back to the Table.
Thank you to my Secret Santa!!