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Archive for Boardgaming Thought for Friday

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Boardgaming Thought for Friday - Episode 8: Thin Line Between Love & Hate

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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It's back! Having let this one slide for a bit (since May actually) I had something of a semi-original thought that perhaps warrants being dropped into the blog under this banner.

I don't know about you but I've found in my time in this hobby that my mood has risen and fallen around gaming. I'm not talking about low mood / the blues / depression in general, I mean specifically my attitude towards games and gaming. I also don't mean anything about how having had a rough time at work / home etc has influenced my mood toward gaming (although I imagine that undoubtedly how I'm feeling about life influences how I feel about gaming and indeed anything else). I just mean that my tolerance for games, especially "new" games has waxed and waned over the last few years.

There have been times when I've felt pretty pissed off about playing games. Sometimes it's been the lack of opportunity, sometimes it's been the stress brought on by having purchased so many games in a short time that they're not getting played, sometimes it's been because the people I've been playing with haven't wanted to play what I have wanted, and sometimes it's been because I've felt a little burnt out or over indulged on games.
I've been playing games for long enough to have recognised this in other people too.

On the flip side there have been many, many times when I've felt excited to play new things, ecstatic because I've been gaming 3 or 4 nights in a week, thrilled to be playing at home with all the family, glad to be able to teach games to newcomers and happy to be taught a game by someone who loves it and knows it inside out. And I've seen all this in other people too.



Like many hobbies or interests your level of enthusiasm will have peaks and troughs. What I've recognised is that I need to adapt what I play and where I play to compliment my gaming state of mind or mood.
At the moment I'm feeling very happy with games and gaming in general and so it's perhaps it's no surprise that I've recently enjoyed games that I would've never considered playing previously. I'm more open minded and more receptive to new and different experiences at the moment. And when my gaming mood inevitably dips again in the future it might be a good idea to go back to playing those old favourites, and games that are more dependable and consistent in the level of experience that they produce.

Right now has proven to be a good time to try out Exit and Kemet and Robinson Crusoe and perhaps Time Stories should hit the table soon, it's also a good time for me to teach and to be taught; when I'm more of a grumpy gamer again I will probably feel better playing games I know well like Saint Petersburg and Agricola (tbh anytime is a good time to play 'Gric) and Ticket to Ride and for me to play them with others who also know them well.
Playing games at the "wrong" time can cloud your judgement as well as the at table experience and something that you might've loved could easily be something detested if you weren't in an open frame of mind.


Not sure if this is a one off return for Thought for Friday or the start of a new stream of them. We shall see. Hope it gives you some food for thought, let me know what you think in the comments.

Have a great Friday.
(And as someone who is on the cusp of 2 weeks holiday I have quite the Friday feeling myself I can tell you!)

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Fri Aug 4, 2017 6:25 am
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Boardgaming Thought for Friday - Episode 7: "All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us"

Stuart Burnham
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Abingdon
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Amongst gamers I hear a lot of comment about not having enough time to play games (indeed I have heard it coming from my own lips on many occasions). There are a myriad of reasons as to why this state of affairs is as it is for individuals but they might not all be good ones. I'm only too aware that life, people, circumstances and events necessarily intrude into our leisure time but there are plenty of spells where the problem isn't because something specific is getting in the way.
I don't want to turn this post into a slew of quotes but "nobody is too busy, it's just a matter of priorities" can be apt in many situations.
I often respond to "what would you wish for" questions with the answer "an extra hour in the day" but that's not going to happen (ok pedants, once per year it is!)



So heed the advice of that imaginary wizard in the post title and actively decide what to do with your time.
Want to play games? Then play them, dedicate a bit of time, make a little effort - invite someone round, go to that game group, ask your partner/ parent/ flatmate if they would be so kind as to join you at the table for a game of something.
We, I mean that in the sense of my family, often fall into the trap of getting stuck on the sofa inadvertently watching whatever happens to be on the telly - and what with the name of this blog as well! - but it only takes a modicum of effort to change this.
Last night this almost occurred again but instead we all decamped to the front room and Mrs B and I played Stone Age whilst Billy was shooting things on Overwatch and Charlie sat on the sofa chatting to all of us.
An hour much more agreeably spent for all of us.
You can do it too!

Tick, Tock...

"All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us"

Tick, Tock...
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Fri May 19, 2017 6:25 am
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Boardgaming Thought for Friday Episode 6: It Was All New And We Were All Young Once

Stuart Burnham
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Abingdon
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Have you ever sat and talked to someone old?
I mean properly - how are you still here - old.
And I mean properly talked, not just the usual pleasantries but a conversation about what they used to do, what they learned, what you could learn.
If you have, if you do, then good on you. Marvellous isn't it? The passing on of knowledge, the insight into where someone came from, how they lived.
If you haven't then for goodness sake engineer a situation today, tomorrow, sometime very soon where you can do this! In will enrich both of your lives.

Mrs B's Grandad passed away recently. He was a regular Cribbage player at his local pub. I know it's not a difficult game to learn or play and I always wanted to talk to him about it, understand it, share his experience of the game. I never did. It was never 'important'. What a shame, to miss out on a lifetime of tales about a game (and Brian certainly could tell a tale!).
A work colleague, some way past retirement age, left abruptly yesterday. Nothing untoward, he just kept it all quiet and very few people knew that he was off. Someone else who I always wanted to talk more with and am unlikely to get the chance to now. He was an engineer, a mechanic (not dissimilar to Mrs B's Grandad actually), the type of guy who could fix anything with a couple of screws and a few curses, but away from work he had a love of riding horses and, I discovered much later, playing Backgammon.
Oh for the chance for one more natter with either of them...
I love that my son Billy plays Chess once a week with his Grandmother after school, I think that's just a wonderful thing for them to do together.

In this hobby many of us are so preoccupied with not just the "here and now" but increasingly so the "what's next". But there are so many things from the past that were and are wonderful things to learn about, experience and share. There have been a few lists and threads recently about what the oldest game you still play, the oldest in your collection and so on are.
Take a moment this weekend to look over your games and find something older, something really good, that you loved, and teach it to someone newer to the hobby. Or take a moment instead to speak to someone older about the games that they liked to play, Dominoes, Rummy, whatever. It was, and we were, all young and new once, remembering and sharing those things and those times are a precious joy.

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Fri May 5, 2017 6:30 am
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Boardgaming Thought for Friday - Episode 5: The People Who Play Them

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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It does sound a little trite, that line on the Dice Tower podcast "a podcast about board and card games but most importantly, the people who play them."
But it really is true.
Games are excellent things, often beautifully made and intellectually stimulating, but they don't really come alive until they are played with other people. Don't leave them on your shelf, unplayed; show them, share them, experience them.
Pick up the phone and call, text, tweet, Facebook message someone and set up a game. Do it today. It's Intenational Tabletop day tomorrow, and whilst that might be too soon for some people, why not the next day, or the next weekend? (or Monday, which is a Bank Holiday in the U.K.)

Get something arranged, especially if you've not seen someone for a while.
Have some fun and play some games. It's what they're made for.
And what people are made for is spending time enjoying each other's company.
Go on!




And to practice what I'm preaching here I'm going to get in the car this evening with Mrs B and Billy and we're going to drive 90 minutes or so to go and play some games, but most importantly, to see "the people who play them."
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Fri Apr 28, 2017 6:35 am
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Boardgaming Thought For Friday- Episode 4: Let The Wookiee Win

Stuart Burnham
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Abingdon
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I don't think I need to spend too long spelling this point out - you don't have to win, or play to win, every time. Games are designed to have winners and losers but they are primarily designed to be fun. You might be playing with your children, or just with people who are less familiar with the game than you are - you don't have to crush them; try an obscure strategy, play sub optimally, get way behind on the VP track and see if you still can make it close by the end, show them the pitfalls that experienced players shouldn't get caught out by but are amusing when they do: in short, try to place the fun, of everyone, above your desire to win. When you're with your gaming peers then the gloves come off, of course, but it polite company be, well, polite.



This thought could also be extended to other people's choice of game - I don't think it's polite to flat out refuse to ever play a game that someone else really wants to; case in point - tonight Mrs B and I are going to a social gathering / dinner party where others are really keen to eat, drink, be merry, and play Cards Against Humanity. I intend to smile, join in, try to have fun and use the opportunity to chat about similar games that are more, well, games rather than simply refuse on "gamer principles" or join in and just trash the thing that they see as a fun game.

Compromise your need for victory and desire to be "right".
Let the Wookiee win.
Sometimes.
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Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:34 am
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Boardgaming Thought for Friday - Episode 3: Downtime

Stuart Burnham
United Kingdom
Abingdon
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Everything is on, all the time, in 2017. Data and distractions are but a tap away. If you were to be a fly on the wall in the living room of my house on any given evening you'd see what is a pretty typical family - 2 parents and their (almost) grown up sons are sat on the sofas, half an eye on the the television and half an eye on the phone / tablet that is in their hands. On those digital devices they are flicking between all manner of social media, websites, games and email amongst many other things.
Even when we're supposed to be unwinding we're "on".



This is where boardgames are a fantastic help for me, as someone who is one of the worst proponents of distracted and divided attention. A boardgame demands that you sit and concentrate, maybe a little, maybe a lot, and engage with it and, to varying degrees, with those you are playing with.
It helps you to slow down and spend time in the world at a more relaxed and agreeable pace. Much like taking a walk instead of dashing in the car, or leisurely baking a cake instead of buying one from a shop, it is good for your soul. Slow down, relax, luxuriate in the modern world extravagance of taking your time over one single thing.
This is the downtime that boardgames bring to us, it's important and good for your well being.

"An hour spent reading is one stolen from paradise"; well, so is one spent playing boardgames in my opinion.


I don't know what Easter entails in other parts of the world but for many in the UK it means (at least) four days off work and ample opportunity to take your time over something you enjoy doing.
Have yourselves a very Good Friday.
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Fri Apr 14, 2017 6:31 am
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Boardgaming Thought for Friday - Episode 2: Everyone Has to Start Somewhere

Stuart Burnham
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Abingdon
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It was late July 2012 and as a family we were about to set off on what would turn out to be a lovely holiday in Yorkshire. The boys were 10 & 12 and had outgrown the children's games that littered their respective bedrooms and the only things that were not a traditional board / card game that we owned were Blokus and PitchCar.
I took the boys to the Cowley Road in Oxford (an area that could be charitably described as "vibrant") for something or other and we called in to a shop that I knew did games and things to see if I could find something "new".
And thus began my journey into this hobby.

On a busy and boisterous road, nestled between a pizzeria and Chicken Cottage(!) the venerable Gameskeeper has been trading for well over 30 years and has been a permanent fixture in this chameleon like part of town. On that day the owner Carol greeted us warmly, asked questions and recommended that we tried this game called Carcassonne. It captivated us, me especially, on that holiday and remains part of my collection to this day.



I wrote last week about why I play games, and this post serves as a follow on, or perhaps a foreword, to that post. There are many things that gaming gives me, but it all started with a chat with the owner of this FLGS, she gave me the gift of playing modern board games - yes she made a sale, but that conversation was not simply a customer / business transaction. It was full of friendly advice and encouragement on the wider world of family gaming.

Everyone has to start somewhere. There will have been, and will still be, times when you are someone's first point of contact into the wider world of wonderful gaming; try to meet their questions with enthusiasm and if you have the opportunity to sit down and play something with them then grasp it with good grace, whatever the game, and perhaps you will be the person that they thank for opening the door for them.

On Thursday I made a point of travelling back to that store to give my sincere thanks in person and to relate this tale. It put a spring in my step and a smile on my face for quite some time.
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Fri Apr 7, 2017 6:30 am
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Boardgaming Thought for Friday - Episode 1: Why Play?

Stuart Burnham
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Boardgaming Thought for Friday - Episode 1: Why Play?



"Why do you play games?" is a question we're all probably asked by family, friends and associates at some point or other. I was asked this again the other day and instead of a bland platitude along the lines of, "it's fun, it's just a hobby that gives me something to do" I expanded and spoke from the heart.

I play games because I find the actual games themselves, the rules, the challenges, the parts all tremendously interesting and very engrossing and stimulating. I get a similar buzz to when I am enjoying a well written story in a book or a film. I get a deep enjoyment out of trying something and succeeding and more importantly I learn something when I try and I fail. I can improve and my understanding grows. I am reaching a part of my brain that, as a man in his (early) forties with a humdrum job, doesn't get much use in the normal passage of life.

I play games because I get to meet and engage with a whole range of people from different backgrounds who are, generally, smart, funny, friendly, willing to try something out, willing to teach me something, happy to chat about life as well as games and who I would never, ever have had cause to speak to otherwise. I have met people 15-20 years younger than me who are incredibly bright and academic and fiercely competitive in these mental exertions; I have met people of a similar age and background with whom I have far more in common than just a love of tabletop gaming; I have met young kids and been accepted as "someone" rather than just being another blank middle aged man; and I have met people of advanced years who have given me great hope that it's possible to be social and active at that age and not just with people of the same age. I have sat a game table and been simultaneously, a peer, a youngster, a wise old bloke, a fool, and, most importantly of all, a friend. I can be all of these things by just being myself and sitting down to play a game.

I play games because it is something that my wife and my son(s) enjoy doing with me. It has given us a great excuse to spend time conversing, competing, co-operating and coming closer together.

I play games for all of these reasons and others besides.
You ask me "why do I play games?"
I ask "why on earth don't you?"
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Fri Mar 31, 2017 6:15 am
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Boardgaming Thought For Friday

Stuart Burnham
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If you are British, and at least out of your teens, then many things about Radio 4 will form part of your identity; be that the Today programme, Test Match Special, Woman's Hour, Gardeners Question Time, The Archers, The Shipping Forecast and, what I am about to appropriate here, Thought For The Day.



I quite like the idea of having regular "segments" on the blog, to give it and me a bit of structure rather than sitting down of an evening (or morning at the weekends) and thinking "errr, what do I write today then?"
If (if? ha!) I go to game night on a Tuesday then I'll write that up on Wednesday evening to publish Thursday morning and it's quite comforting knowing what to do there.
So I'm going to start a Friday feature from this week (I, erm, only decided this at 10:30 Thursday night so consider this a trial run!) which will be a pondering upon something in the gaming world, hopefully with an optimistic angle. I've also had a very rough go at altering the 'Thought for the Day' logo, but I'll sharpen it up before next week.






Friday 24th March - Boardgaming Thought for Friday (episode 0)


A comment on a blog post of mine from a few days back (from Trevor Taylor) which was part of a friendly exchange really resonated with me;

negatrev wrote:
since I can change the games I play, but not whom I play with, the logic is fairly simple.

Most of us have a fairly small circle of potential gamers with which to play, outside of occasional conventions and gaming away-days. It might be just one or two friends, perhaps only a partner, or you might be lucky and be living in an area with at least one regular public game night. It can be difficult to get games that you are interested in playing to the table regularly; perhaps those with whom you game aren't into long heavy games, maybe it's social deduction that's not to their taste, or even that you never have a suitable player count for that game that really needs 5.
It's easy to get frustrated, and it's tempting to try and encourage, cajole or force your associates out of their comfort zone and get them playing what you want.
But maybe that's a mistake.
Persisting with something that others really don't enjoy, or find too difficult or too light, or maybe that just doesn't click mechanism or theme wise might become like trying to push water uphill.

Play the games that the people you play with enjoy.
Try not to lament what they won't play, take pleasure in that that you can get to the table. There are many people who struggle to get any type of regular gaming at all, so if you have a loved one, a group of close gaming buddies or a loose collection of likeminded souls that will play then count yourself lucky and have fun playing.
If "that" game that you heard about, read about or watched on You Tube and then dropped £40 on isn't enjoyed within your gaming circle then maybe you should just change the game rather than trying to change the people you play with.
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Fri Mar 24, 2017 6:30 am
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