I have received your messages and I am very excited to see what is on its way. I'm sure that whatever is waiting for me will be wonderful. Between that and the couple of kickstarters I am waiting on, my mailbox will hopefully be very busy soon!
I read your message this morning and it was like a ray of warmth and sunshine, which is very welcome these days. Winter has fully arrived for us here (it was -20 degrees Celsius last night without wind chill), and it is getting darker by the day (the sun only bothers to come up at 7:30 and is down again at 5:00). Sun and surf, eh? Sounds wonderful, although if you had kept your base of operations up north I'm sure you would be able to find help in your workshop from all of the unemployed oilfield workers around here. I suppose it might not work out though, you'd probably end up with game boxes made of welded steel plate and considerably more flammable plastic components
I hope that you don't think that I have asked for too much. The wishlist that you saw is the same one that I keep for myself as a way of tracking what I might like to get in the future. I understand that you do have a workshop filled with elves making toys for all of the good boys and girls in the world, but I (and my shelves) really don't need every game on that list. Furthermore, even though I did list 4 different audiences for the games, it by no means was meant as a demand for 4 separate items. I meant it more as a way of explaining the variety of my wishlist and giving a bit more insight into my gaming life and how any individual title would see play. I would much rather find a great title that I could enjoy with my wife and/or kids than a pile of middling games to fit every situation or to have you feel obliged to put too much under my tree when your elves need to be working on all of the other boys and girls around the world.
Best wishes, and stay warm!
To My Secret Santa:
Hello, and thank you in advance for participating in this event! I look forward to whatever is in store. I have a more lengthy autobiography below, but the short version is that I am married with three sons, aged 5, 8, & 10, I live just outside of Calgary Alberta, by day I am a mechanical designer/draftsman, and my whole family are complete nerds. Both my wife and I love all things Science fiction and Fantasy, notable licensed properties include but not limited to Doctor Who, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Tolkien, Narnia, and Game of Thrones. I have been board gaming for around a decade now, and although I haven't physically played everything that is out there, I have heard enough podcasts, read enough rulebooks, and watched enough runthroughs to have a decent idea of what is out there. Feel free to take a look at my wishlist and my existing collection to get a feel for what I would appreciate, and the sort of games that I already have. I do apologize if it seems somewhat all over the map in terms of theme, mechanism and complexity, but that is largely because when I game, it is often in very different circumstances. If I end up playing a game, it is usually in one of only a few settings:
1. With my Wife
My wife and I don't often get a lot of time to spend at the game table together. Far more often we are both worn out from the day and more likely to watch something on the TV, or our schedules are conflicting, but when we do get together we both quite enjoy a good game together. Generally, in this setting, a good light to medium weight euro is the right pick, especially one without direct conflict, although blocking and passive aggressive conflict is fair game, especially since I can be more analytic than her and it allows her to mess with my plans. As best as I try when we are opening up a new game, there is always some degree of miscommunication with the rules, since I have likely already read the rulebook online, watched a runthrough on youtube and scoured the forums for any f.a.q.s or information and she is hearing it for the first time and we are in a rush to get started. Consequently, anything that uses familiar mechanisms or has easily explained rules would be better received at the table.
2. With my Kids
I also end up playing games with my kids quite a bit, and I smile a bit inside when they ask if they can play a board game, especially since I doubt that any of their friends are aware that there is anything beyond roll and move. All three of my boys are very much into anything AWESOME!!! and their biggest interests at the moment are Dinosaurs, Knights and Dragons, and Monkeys, respectively. They are also very interested in (in no particular order): Superheroes, greek and nordic myths, historical/fantasy warriors, animals of any kind, rockets/space, Minecraft, art, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, Harry Potter, Star Wars, pirates, etc., etc. When I am playing a game with them, theme matters above all and anything high adventure would work. One of them reads very well, one is reading very simple books, and the other is only able to identify letter sounds and short words but is just happy to take part, so that has to figure into the complexity as well. The followings are titles that have worked well before: Prophecy (although we have never finished a game the adventures along the way are always fun), Mice & Mystics, Evolution, Blokus, Dungeon Roll, Flash Point Fire Rescue, Forbidden Island/Desert, Sushi Go, Cardline: Animals, Hero Kids (a print and play dungeon crawl), Dixit, Say Anything (Family Edition), Picture charades, Catan junior, Carcassonne (with simplified house rules), and King of Tokyo. Any of the kids games on my lists I blame on them, and even though they may not be titles that I would pick for myself, they are the ones that are most likely to see the table.
3. With my regular D&D Gaming Group
For a several months a few years ago, I met with a group at the local hobby store for board game Wednesdays, where I would be able to try out the newer and more heavyweight titles that I couldn't play at home, but one night of particularly low attendance I joined a table that was running an old school Dungeons and Dragons game. From that night on I have campaigned with that same group and we have been meeting regularly every other week for over two years now. D&D is really the only game that gets played at those meetings, and we have recently started a 5th edition campaign and another old-school game over skype. I already have the first two rulebooks for fifth edition and don't plan to get the Dungeon Masters Guide, but I would certainly welcome it, or any of the other sourcebooks or accessories such as custom dice, miniatures, etc.
4. At Family or social events
There are certain times throughout the year when my extended family all gets together at my parents' house for a holiday or a birthday, or just because. When that happens, I invariably try to bring a game that would work for the group and it has proven difficult to find a good fit so far. Ideally, the perfect title would need to: accommodate a large number of players (at least 6), be easy to learn and pay attention to, have either simultaneous turns, or some other way to keep people interested (there tend to be a lot of distractions and short attention spans, and often there are imprecisely measured rum & cokes as well), and hopefully still be a quality game. Ticket to ride worked well, as did Bohnanza. 7 Wonders failed miserably due to its apparently incomprehensible iconography, and lately we have just resorted to card games such as rummy, canasta or wizard.
Although there may be quite a few games on my wishlist, please don't feel either overwhelmed or limited by it, but instead use it as inspiration or a jumping off point, a way to get a general feel for what our tastes are. If there is a title that you are passionate about that seems like it would line up with what I already have in my wishlist or my collection, then by all means share what you love. Also, don't feel like since I have listed multiple gaming audiences that all of them need to be addressed. My RPG group is the one that I game with most regularly, but they are also the ones that are least likely to play something new, and the rarity of family gatherings paired with the size of my current collection means that it's not essential to have anything new for them either. At the end of the day, it is up to you what you decide, and I would be very grateful with anything that ends up on my doorstep.
All my life for as long as I can remember, I have been a Gamer. Whether it was monopoly junior, checkers, scrabble and all of the staples of childhood, or playing Wing Commander and Day of the Tentacle on the 486 when I was a little older, or Risk tournaments, Goldeneye and endless rounds of "President" in the library during high school, there were always games going on around me. It didn't matter if it was a board game, a video game, or just a puzzle that I found that needed solving, I loved the notion of playing with a purpose.
Fast forward to, oh let's say 2004. At that point, my opinion of board games was that it was either something childish and mundane that I used to do or that is done at family gatherings, or that it is for things like Risk or Axis and Allies that geeks play together. But I had lost contact with my friends from high school, my wife wasn't interested in the conflict inherent in wargames, and I felt like I had outgrown the general mass market games. Then one day, I was reading a webcomic, probably Penny Arcade, and they are talking about some new "German" boardgames that don't suck. I hear about Catan and Carcassonne. Knowing that we need something to do in the evenings that isn't just watching TV, I get carcassonne and bring it home to my wife, who loves it and we start playing regularly. Catan is 3-4 players and that doesn't work for us, so I bring home the 2-player Bible themed Settlers of Caanan. That goes over well until we solve the map. More and more, it seems to me that when I play on the Xbox, it is something that I do on my own, but when we play boardgames it is something that we do together, and we can enjoy each other's company, having something at the table between us instead of an awkward "what do you want to watch tonight". From there I pretty much went down the rabbit hole.
I found ASOBrain and spent all my lunchbreaks and off-time on it learning all of the subtleties of "Explorers" and "Toulouse". I found BSW and muddled through it enough to learn Stone Age and San Juan. I found Boardgames with Scott and learned just how good some of the rest of these games are. But most of all I found the Geek. Through the reviews and commentary I have read and listened to and watched over the years my collection went from just a few new and exciting games to dozens of boxes that are making the shelves sag. On top of that, I have developed a wishlist that is at least equal if not double the number of games that I currently have, and the number of Rulebooks that I have saved and read is easily double that again. Once I got a smartphone and bluetooth in my car, I plunged into the world of podcasts and I listen to as many of the boardgaming podcasts as I can. I have learned about more games than I will ever have, I have more games than I play, but when do I play them, I love doing it.
In general, I play with one of either three groups. The first is a group of friends who get together every other week to slog through a D&D campaign. The second is with my wife who enjoys games without a lot of direct conflict or excessive complexity, but still likes to trounce me when she gets the chance. The last group is with my three sons, aged 10,8,and 5 who love dinosaurs, knights, monkeys and everything that little boys usually do. They are just getting into the ages where they can see the connections between the rules of the game, their options and the end goal, and it is a lot of fun watching them grow into little gamers as well.