Chasing the Dragon

Thirty years of playing games

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The Thursday Group

Rob Doupe
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Microbadge: RealistMicrobadge: I love games with direct player interactionMicrobadge: I play games while I drinkMicrobadge: Cooperative? This is Sparta!Microbadge: Casual wargamer
The Thursday night game session was set up by fellow BGGer Don Smith a few months ago. He wanted a chance to play games that weren't palatable to his long-time Saturday euro group: longer, conflict-heavy, and thematic games. Don hosted for the first couple months, and then I took over when we moved into our new house. We start at 7 pm, and we typically have three to five players. Beer, wine, tea, and leftover Halloween candy are usually on-hand in generous quantities.

The Group

Gord Newis

In grade four, Gord had the best collection of army men and Star Wars figures of anyone in our school. Today, he has a vast collection of pulp fantasy and history pocket books. However, Gord doesn't own a single boardgame. And he never reads rules. In 30 years of playing D&D, I don't think he ever did learn what HP bonus a 16 Con gives. Gord is always asking us to reiterate rules, clarify his options, and count up his scoring total. And he wins more often than anyone at the table. Yeah, he's that guy.

Don Smith
Don Smith
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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The grey eminence of the group. I met Don 12 years ago when I did an article on euro gaming for our local arts and entertainment weekly. Don has a regular Saturday euro group (which includes gold-rated session reporter Norbert Chan) that I dropped out of three years ago when the kids were born. He's also a recovering grognard, who retains a huge collection of games. He's a gaming guru, rules expert, and all around good egg. Don does the rules explaining these days, which suits me just fine.

Big Kenny

Anyone who attends boardgame clubs or conventions in Calgary probably knows Kenny. He's the big gap-toothed guy relentlessly crowing with delight when he's winning. He's infamous for his impossible dice luck. His attempts at diplomacy and misdirection are comically self-serving and transparent. A session doesn't go by when I don't want to jam a handful of dice down his throat. But his enthusiasm at the table is infectious.

Gary Baziuk

Another long-time grognard, and gaming partner of Don's for 30 years. Gary is the guy who conceived of and perfected the non Guns of August strategy for Paths of Glory, and took on all comers on ACTS for a couple years. I would be wary of such a superior gamer at my table, but he and Don has such an enduring rivalry that they typically cancel each other out.

Me

I host and make the game nominations. I have so many rules sets rattling around my brain that I'm usually befuddled at the table - before the beer even kicks in. Catastrophic, game-losing oversights are my forte.

This Week
This week's game was Fire and Axe: A Viking Saga. We played our first game of this last week, so everyone was primed and ready for some raiding and settling. I got ahead early on the Denmark sagas, and never looked back, also taking the Bloody Axe VPs. It was a resounding win - rare for me. I really enjoy the theme and feel of Fire and Axe, and in a couple games we've uncovered some of the subtleties of the game's narrative arc.

Looking Forward
We discussed the need for a 60 minute closer for the sessions where we don't have time for a repeat of the main course. Candidates include The Downfall of Pompeii, which some of us have played before, and Iliad, which none of us have played yet.

Ken also lobbied to get a game of Successors together soon, after an enjoyable session at StratCon last weekend. We bandied around the merits of face-to-face versus online play for long multiplayer games like Successors.

On the same subject, Don expressed his interest learning Here I Stand, which I've played once online and once face-to-face.
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Sat Feb 12, 2011 11:26 pm
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Middle age

Rob Doupe
Canada
Calgary
Alberta
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Microbadge: RealistMicrobadge: I love games with direct player interactionMicrobadge: I play games while I drinkMicrobadge: Cooperative? This is Sparta!Microbadge: Casual wargamer
"Of middle age the best that can be said is that a middle-aged person has likely learned how to have a little fun in spite of his troubles."
- Don Marquis


In September, I moved into a new house - the one we intend to raise our kids and then retire in. It has a gaming room in the basement. The shelves are set up, my games arranged. I host a regular weekly group session, and fit in a couple 2-player sessions a month. And then there's the beer and pretzel (mostly beer) group on the occassional Saturday night. And the wargaming club.

Thirty years after puzzling over the D&D Holmes set as a 10-year-old, it's the high summer of my gaming life.

So why chasing the dragon? Because, like a lot of gamers, I have a want list that adapts and grows and transforms faster than I can keep up with. I'm never really content; not with my collection, or my latest game, or my latest game session. I'm still chasing the dragon.

But now, in middle age, my disconent is tempered, I hope, with some wisdom, patience, and a sense of perspective. I know what I like. What I don't like. I appreciate that I'm playing more games, better games, in a better group, than I ever have. And I look forward to the prospect of playing with my children soon, if only as an excuse to buy more games (can I plausibly buy DungeonQuest to play with three-year-olds?).

So this seems a good time to start a blog. A reflection on how I got to where I am, and sundry musings about the gaming landscape in the here and now. As a game ominivore*, I hope these musing will have broad interest.

* I enjoy everything except abstracts. And deck-building games (or light card games in general). And miniatures. And co-operatives. And party games. And particularly dry or mathy euros. Other than that, I'll play pretty much anything.
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Thu Feb 10, 2011 8:41 am
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