John OwenUnited States
G.K. Chesterton wrote:The modern mind is forced towards the future by a certain sense of fatigue, not unmixed with terror, with which it regards the past. It is propelled towards the coming time; it is, in the exact words of the popular phrase, knocked into the middle of next week. And the goad which drives it on thus eagerly is not an affectation for futurity Futurity does not exist, because it is still future. Rather it is a fear of the past; a fear not merely of the evil in the past, but of the good in the past also. The brain breaks down under the unbearable virtue of mankind. There have been so many flaming faiths that we cannot hold; so many harsh heroisms that we cannot imitate; so many great efforts of monumental building or of military glory which seem to us at once sublime and pathetic. The future is a refuge from the fierce competition of our forefathers. The older generation, not the younger, is knocking at our door. It is agreeable to escape, as Henley said, into the Street of By-and-Bye, where stands the Hostelry of Never. It is pleasant to play with children, especially unborn children. The future is a blank wall on which every man can write his own name as large as he likes; the past I find already covered with illegible scribbles, such as Plato, Isaiah, Shakespeare, Michael Angelo, Napoleon. I can make the future as narrow as myself; the past is obliged to be as broad and turbulent as humanity. And the upshot of this modern attitude is really this: that men invent new ideals because they dare not attempt old ideals. They look forward with enthusiasm, because they are afraid to look back.I just wanted to start with a Chesterton quote. It's only tangentially related to what follows, in that I see a widespread shallow culture in gaming right now that praises games "as narrow as myself", thinking that this or that Hotness is significant only because they have failed to engage with the "broad and turbulent" past that is full of more terrible greatness than they could possibly bear. How's that for a hot take?
In 1997, I bought a copy of the newly released CD boxed set version of Harry Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music. It's not an exaggeration to say that this CD set changed my life. It opened me up to the past, not as the past, something we're done with, but the past as something that is with us always, something that is the very condition for the present that we enjoy so much, if we do.
Being exposed to such a large sampling of American Folk Culture all at once allowed me to see "past" the current culture that was being marketed at everyone. It is an irony that I was presented this preserved past through the medium of recorded music, one of the very things that helped to destroy and suppress the past. Recordings of your mother singing off-key lullabies that her grandmother taught to her do not sell units. Nevertheless, these songs build cultures. The songs we make ourselves and share with one another, face-to-face, voice-to-voice, are the ones that matter. If I had to choose, I'd trade the entire past century of recorded music for a copy of Ruth Seeger's American Folksongs for Children and some children to sing those songs with. And if I had to choose between the collection of folk songs and the children, I'd choose the children and we'd sing "la de da" and make our own great songs, just for us, of course. And we'd share those songs and we'd listen to the songs of others.
After discovering Harry Smith, I became obsessed with Alan Lomax and looked to him as a hero figure. Somewhere in my basement are several cassettes of "field recordings" that I made in college. I would record strangers and friends playing music, telling stories, jokes, whatever. I would go to events and record lectures and concerts, open mic coffehouses. I'd record strangers on the street. All with a cheap pocket cassette recorder. High Tech. Primitive. Sublime and pathetic?
[My friend Joel would tell the funniest sketch of Lomax in the fields chasing down rare farts.]
Lomax's primary resistance to commercial/artificial (imposed from without instead of nurtured organically from within) mass media was to use the tools of technological culture (insert something smart about Ellul's idea of la technique here) against itself, putting those tools in service of preserving and transmitting folk cultures that were rapidly in danger of extinction.
And here's where we finally get to games, which is why we're all here on BGG. And some of us are using the internet and BGG to... talk about and play... old card games and even older board games? Yes.
arguedasserted in the past that all games worth playing are, in some sense, folk games.
David Parlett, in one of his books, maybe in all of his books, argues that it is not the rules that make a game, but the players that enforce the rules that make a game.
It's something that Parlett has explored further in his essay, "Rules OK":David Parlett wrote:The most basic level of experience suggests that the rules of a game are something inherent in the game itself - or, more accurately (since a game is essentially a mode of behaviour), an abstraction existing in the minds of all its players. They are expressed in words every time someone describes a game or explains how to play it. Not everyone will have exactly the same understanding or grasp of the game, so they're unlikely to transmit their knowledge in exactly the same form of words. These rules are therefore not a known quantity but an average of all the understandings of all the players. As such, they may contain inconsistencies. The totality of rules of all but the simplest games are not exactly a cloud of unknowing, but could be described as a cloud of fuzzy knowing. In telling you how the game is played, they serve to establish its identity formal . Huizinga, in Homo Ludens, says "Every game has its rules"; but I would go further and say "Every game is its rules, for they are what define it".I've tilted at the idea in the past that games are similar to plays (this comment and especially following comments interacting with Samo), scripts that are acted out, with the best of them simply being blueprints for grand improvisation.
But Jeff's recent post reminds me that rules are also like sheet music, both designed to be "played" in order to be experienced fully.
Before the advent of recorded music, music was shared in one of two ways, either through a performance that could be appropriated through practice and mimicry, or through reading/studying a written text (sheet music) that could be interpreted and performed.
Both required an instrument.
The most democratic instrument for making music was and is the human voice. Natural talent varies. Training and skill vary. But barring disability or injury, everyone can sing.
Idea for future post: Song is glorified speech. Games are (can be? are not? might be?) glorified play? Song is structured speech? Games are structured play? I'm not sure where to go with this.
Anyone can sing. Anyone can read words and make up a tune. Whether it's a good one or not, it's possible to do. Someone can hear a song and repeat the song. Someone trained to read written music can read a melody and sing that melody.
Musical instruments are an extension of the human voice and/or, in some sense, the spirit. The same breath/spirit that is expired in song is communicated/extended in many instruments. That this spirit can find expression through the fingers in stringed instruments and percussive instruments is remarkable. The materialists among us can disagree with me, but I don't know how to account for music or play apart from spirit-talk. That's an aside.
Asides usually mean that I'm rambling too much, out of focus.
The point is that individuals received the information to perform the song themselves using an instrument, whether that was their own voice or a piano or guitar or banjo or drum or whatever. If you didn't perform the song yourself or have anyone around you to perform the song, you didn't experience music.
Prior to the last hundred to two hundred years of commercial manufacturing, if someone wanted to play a game, they read the rules and then used the instruments at hand. Not musical instruments, but ludic instruments.
Like song, many popular games could be used with just the human voice or just the human body. See the rise of popularity of parlor game books.
Many popular games were physical. Grab a group of mates and a pig's bladder and you've got something to do in the afternoon. The marked ground and the ball become an instrument for the rules (and thus the players) to express themselves.
As for table games, the most popular instruments were tables (backgammon), a board with grids and unique easily reproduced and distinct pieces (chess, go, tafl), and... a deck of playing cards.
The truly remarkable thing about the deck of playing cards is what a versatile instrument it was and is. Like the piano in the parlor, one instrument could play sonatas and swing music, folk ditties, hymns, and complex jazz improvisations. One instrument could play Skat, Whist, Scopa, Go Fish, Poker, Jass.
Like learning a style of music, one could learn a style of game. One could play that game as they learned it, or, like any living tradition, they could make it their own by adding their own variation, usually best done, to greatest effect, after mastering the basics of the tradition. There can be no improvisation without previous mastery. They could use that instrument to make their own song, their own game, informed by what they have learned from all previous songs, all previous games, all previous play.
What was lovely about this pre-commercial, pre-industrial play is that there were common instruments and people were taught to play common games. Commoners were common in the best possible way. They had common sense.
Our current "hobby gamer" culture is the opposite of this sharing in common. There is innovation and there are unique songs, but they are pre-packaged and commodified. When someone writes a new song (creates a new game), they also require you to learn a new instrument. You must buy a brand new instrument to play their song, because their song only "works" on the instrument that they have designed for it to be played on. You can play both Beethoven and Boogie Woogie on a piano. You don't have to build an entire new instrument every time. That's not the case with contemporary board games. If you want to play a certain song (let's say Wingspan), you buy a package that lets you play that song. If you want to play a different song (let's say Carcassonne), you buy an entirely different package.
We've left behind the instrument (the deck of cards, in my example, but also common boards and bits) that allowed for "standards" in the first place, that allowed for the preservation and transmission of a world in which anyone could have a common musical (or ludic) language.
So, back to Jeff's Standards analogy. Not only do we no longer have shared Standards. we have a situation "in the hobby" in which it is impossible to have Standards. A commenter on Jeff's post suggested that maybe mechanisms are equivalent to Standards. Yeah, kinda? But you've still got everyone trained to "play" those Standards/mechanisms on their own instrument, which usually involves a level of complexity that requires commercial production or a culture of players willing to put the effort into a "print'n'play" version. Either way, the "instrument" played is unique to the "song", which is different than how it was done in the past.
I tend to think this situation, while allowing for some lovely developments, is largely an inferior culture to the previous culture, precisely because of the way in which it is eminently Modern in elevating the Individual over the Common Good.
There's still more I could respond to specifically from Jeff's post. This was more me riffing and rambling with that post as a starting point. A lot to think about. I wish I had the time to sit and reflect and write a properly focused essay. For now, you all get scattershot thoughts. Thanks for humoring me. As always, writing is just a way of finding my own thoughts. Any pushback/feedback is always welcome.
But now I will tell the lineage and the names of the heroes, and of the long sea-paths and the deeds
Just another bgg blog about playing games.
Archive for Fools tread in...
Whist Twenty Twenty-Two, a new lyric set to a new tune, "whiskers on a milkmaid saw I never nane", to be played on The 52, for the enjoyment of young and old.
07 Feb 2022
- [+] Dice rolls
I'm on Discord. I think I'm trawlerman#6154. Invite me to all your things. I've dabbled in Discord in the past due to the influences of friends, but I haven't been active in a long while. I guess I'm back. Maybe for a day or two. Maybe for a week or more. Maybe longer.
Part of me wants to get involved in more online gaming/shenanigans. Part of me wants to unplug entirely.
The MORE part of me is currently winning. Maybe. At least for the moment.
It's such a silly struggle. I only share this because I think it's a common silly struggle. Online. Offline. I think that what is in front of us matters most. What is in front of us should not be a screen. Ouch. Are there good screen things? Am I here chasing them?
I recently got a delivery of cigars from Cigar International (enter code SA8362 to get the deal). I'm craving Coiffeur-Jass. I know there are others out there who feel the same. Online sessions (which I acknowledge are real-in-some-way sessions) could happen. It's only my own limitations holding me back.
Sigh. I think I'm okay with virtual cards if I get actual smoke, I think, I think...
- [+] Dice rolls
On the way home from work today, I bought some new-to-me beer. Why? It's time to celebrate tonight.
I'm hard at work adding these right now before Sean can change his mind.
What beer did I buy to fortify me in these efforts? Moosehead, of course.
Since I've just read the rules to Cowbell Vira and re-read the rules to Moosehead, both today, here's a "selfie" of my own fat cow face drinking a Moosehead lager. The first photo I took was fuzzy. This was the 2nd. No polish. No filters. Just a tired, overweight middle-aged man enjoying a Canadian beer while trying to photograph himself. It probably could have been even more unflattering, but I hope it's bad enough. I can't wait to post a photo of this same face with a cow hat on its head after my inevitable failed Vira bid.
I'm also looking forward to logging my own first gaming purchase of 2022: a cow hat and a Cowbell. What hobby is this???
- [+] Dice rolls
My friend Mike sent this photo to our group Hangouts chat this morning:
6 playing pieces, 2d8, 2d10 and a thimble inside of a plastic baggie. Also in the drawer but not in the photo: 1 pen.
The challenge is to design a game using only these components. If you don't think you can manage without a board, you're also allowed one piece of paper, but you'll always know that you couldn't design this game without a tree dying for you.
Throw out some ideas. I'll be thinking about this at work today. I'm inclined towards some sort of race game, but I think that's only because I've been thinking about race games lately.
I can't promise anything, but I'll try to get Mike to play a game using whatever rules get proposed here.
- [+] Dice rolls
Um, so, what happened while I was gone?
Please leave a comment summarizing the last three months on boardgamegeek. So that I can catch up all at once. Only the really important stuff. Thank you.
- [+] Dice rolls
Now try the Crates Challenge, laugh out life jocosely, and the like which he had heard from the lips of Diogenes, desiring nought but how to kill desire.
05 Oct 2020
You say I am repeating
Something I have said before. I shall say it again.
Shall I say it again? In order to arrive there,
To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
-T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
Hence it was that Crates the famous Theban, after throwing into the sea a considerable weight of gold, exclaimed, “Go to the bottom, you evil lusts: I will drown you that you may not drown me.” But if anyone thinks to enjoy keenly meat and drink in excess, and at the same time to devote himself to philosophy, that is to say, to live in luxury and yet not to be hampered by the vices attendant on luxury, he deceives himself.
-Jerome, Against Jovinianus
Diocles relates how Diogenes persuaded Crates to give up his fields to sheep pasture, and throw into the sea any money he had.
-Diogenes Laertius, Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers
Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.
-Proverbs 23:5, KJV
To reach satisfaction in all
Desire its possession in nothing,
To come to the knowledge of all
Desire the knowledge of nothing.
To come to possess all
Desire the possession of nothing.
To arrive at being all
Desire to be nothing.
To come to the pleasure you have not
You must go by a way in which you enjoy not.
To come to the knowledge you have not
You must go by a way in which you know not.
To come to the possession you have not
You must go by a way in which you possess not.
To come to be what you are not
You must go by a way in which you are not.
When you turn toward something
You cease to cast yourself upon the all,
For to go from the all to the all
You must possess it without wanting anything.
In this nakedness the spirit finds its rest,
for when it covets nothing
nothing raises it up and nothing weighs it down,
because it stands in the centre of its humility.
-John of the Cross, Ascent of Mount Carmel
The same may be said of the poetry of Crates; and it would be well if you were to read the ‘Praise of the Lentil’ in a party of free-livers. The Cynic humour is, for the most part, of this character. Such jests, in fact, play the part of maxims and admonitions.
-Demetrius of Phalerum, On Style
Thou blind man's mark, thou fool's self-chosen snare,
Fond fancy's scum, and dregs of scattered thought;
Band of all evils, cradle of causeless care;
Thou web of will, whose end is never wrought;
Desire, desire! I have too dearly bought,
With price of mangled mind, thy worthless ware;
Too long, too long, asleep thou hast me brought,
Who shouldst my mind to higher things prepare.
But yet in vain thou hast my ruin sought;
In vain thou madest me to vain things aspire;
In vain thou kindlest all thy smoky fire;
For virtue hath this better lesson taught,—
Within myself to seek my only hire,
Desiring nought but how to kill desire.
-Sir Philip Sidney
But Crates with only his wallet and tattered cloak laughed out his life jocosely, as if he had been always at a festival.
-Plutarch, Moralia, On the Tranquility of Mind
There are two ways to get enough. One is to continue to accumulate more and more. The other is to desire less.
-attributed to G.K. Chesterton (but I've never seen a source)
Hail! divine lady Simplicity, child of glorious Temperance, beloved by good men. All who practice righteousness venerate thy virtue.
-Crates the Philosopher
These arguments and the like which he had heard from the lips of Diogenes, together with others which suggested themselves to him on other occasions, had such influence with Crates, that at last he rushed out into the market-place and there renounced all his fortune as being a mere filthy encumbrance, a burden rather than a benefit. His action having caused a crowd to collect, he cried in a loud voice, saying, 'Crates, even Crates sets thee free.' Thenceforth he lived not only in solitude, but naked and in perfect freedom and, so long as he lived, his life was happy.
John here. Are you still with me?
Probably everyone reading my blog is also reading Demetri's blog. If you're not, you should be. I've been inspired by a lot of people, ideas, things, over the past few years. One of those people has been Demetri as he has embraced and explored the Cardboard Diogenes Club, pursuing less things instead of more things. If you read that post, you'll see that Demetri was inspired by others (and you should follow the link and read Michael Heron's post, then after reading that, follow the link to the post that inspired Michael; keep in mind that none of this is new, but an impulse for depth that is deeply human, seen throughout the centuries). A positive chain of inspiration. I have also been inspired and challenged by the BGG Minimalism Guild. I've been a member since the beginning, over two years now, yet my K-Index is still 0 (or really double digit negatives). How can this be? Am I so slow to learn?
Like a lot of people, I'm overwhelmed by stuff, metaphorically (and often literally) fat and lethargic with over-consumption. I need to make changes. Even this year, when I've been "mindful" of my spending on games, what it has taught me is that I'm still buying too many games, mostly games that I do not need, that are not bringing me any greater happiness than the games I already own. I know this, and yet I still want more games.
Making the mental shift towards enjoying a standard deck of cards has been beneficial (though it has also led towards increasing desires for the newer games that build off of traditional games). The same is true of playing more abstracts with a printed and laminated hexhex board.
Discovering Babylonia has given me the multi-player "Euro" (does this word have any meaning any longer?) that I want to explore far into the future. I might go so far as the gonzos who are saying right now that it replaces T&E for them. Because maybe it does? So much is dependent on game groups and circumstances. I've played T&E 19 times in about 14 years. I've already played Babylonia 14 times in about 6 months. T&E was for me the perfect Euro/German game for a long time, tied in my affections only by K/K's Tikal, which is another game that I love that I also kinda see being replaced by Babylonia. Is this merely infatuation? Madness? Some sort of infectious disease that I've caught from lionel_ritche? Then why was I already feeling symptoms before he began the outbreak?
In 2018 and 2019, I had already begun the process of giving away games locally. I gave away a lot of games. I have tried to continue that process. I've sent out games to fellow users in the last year when I've thought that it would be a good thing. I have been giving away games here on the blog. I'm going to continue to do this. As a pathetic modern day Crates, this is my attempt at "throwing into the sea [of BGG] a considerable weight [of games]."
This "Crates Challenge" that I'm making up right now is to simply continue doing the same. Throwing games into the sea. Today is October 5th, 2020. I am announcing my intentions to purge my collection of all unloved and unplayed games. I intend to do this by October 5th, 2021. I need to do another in-home games count, but I'm fairly confident right now saying that my number of unplayed games in the house is 60+. "A considerable weight of gold" indeed. The priority is the unplayed (reminding me that I should also give a shout out to Sam's Great Unplayed, which you should not take as a model in how to get rid of games). I'm making the crazy promise right now that the number of unplayed games in my collection on this day next year will be ZERO.
Here are the rules of the challenge.
I. In order to get rid of 60 games in a year, I'll need to get rid of 5 games a month. I will do this.
II. I need to be more restrictive regarding new games coming in. I am not prohibiting all new purchases. I'm not even going to follow Diogenes in limiting purchases to a maximum of 1 per month. What I will do is:
a) I will not purchase any of the following: wargames, Cole Wehrle games, cube rails games, 18xx, Magic and/or Keyforge, DCC modules, Hollandspiele games (with the exception of the Xmas sale and specifically a purchase of TFotCoG; and maybe Russel's new train game? kinda breaking the no cube rails above). These are the games that I really do enjoy, but that I just don't have the groups to play regularly. If public gaming opens up again, I'll be able to play 1846 a few times a year, and Pax Pamir 2e a bit more regularly, and Soo Line and Irish Gauge, etc. I still won't have a group to play Age of Steam because for whatever reason, no one here in my local area has ever been half as enamored by it as I am. The point is that I do not need to buy more iterations of games that I like but that I already have limited chances to play. Why buy new games that are competing with the old games that don't get played enough? Even when I'm back out at public gaming, I'll just be happy to try others' new games instead of pushing my own newly purchased games.
b) I will cancel my Button Shy subscription in December. That will have been a full year of supporting Button Shy (and getting great stuff in the mail for doing so). I still think that Button Shy is one of, if not the most, exciting publishers working today. If less is more, Jason Tagmire and his small crew are currently the reigning champions of design in the industry, which I believe they are. I will definitely miss this subscription because some of the best Button Shy games have not been their big hits, but the little "throwaway" micro-games that have come in the packages, stuff like Adder and Earthshine, that I would have never played otherwise.
c) Here's where I get wishy-washy. I'm leaving myself broad discretion in purchasing whatever I want to purchase in the next year, but all purchases must be according to these guidelines:
1. The game must be good first and foremost for family play. This can mean abstracts or card games, but there is no universe in which I live in which this ever means war games or heavy economic games.
2. I'm always allowed to purchase family-friendification versions of traditional games, like Boon or Doublehead Kids, or Anglicized/Internationalized versions of Shogi/Xianqi/etc.
3. Following #1 (family friendly), I'm allowing myself a free pass in obtaining any new Knizias, but also games by other classic German designers (such as favorites Kramer/Kiesling), even classic American designers (it's rare that I can resist trying a new Garfield), and even new games that look like they are designed in the same spirit. I will still attempt to be pretty strict with this, spending a lot of time researching a game, reluctant to make any purchase. For example, I have not pre-ordered K/K's Renature, even though it looks pretty good. I'm not convinced that I need it. But if it continues to get a good reception from others whose opinions that I trust, then I may end up picking it up. So, to be clear, this point does not mean that I necessarily will buy every Knizia game or game by other designers that I love. It only means that I may.
4. I will always keep in mind that the ideal month means giving away games and playing the games that I love. It is not ideal at all to bring in new games. Strive for the ideal. I am allowing for my weaknesses and my confirmed designer loves above, but this buying of no new games is still the ideal.
5. If I do buy a new game, I will play it immediately upon receiving it, within two weeks (and I'm only giving myself two weeks as a generous allowance for the fact that sometimes life is so busy that to do anything immediately is difficult). If I don't play it within two weeks of receiving it, I give it away unplayed immediately, driving to the thrift store that day if I have to.
6. Trades are still allowed, following the same guidelines as purchases outlined above.
III. I will keep a sense of humor throughout all of this. I picked Crates as a role model, not because of the reports of his unashamed copulating in the streets (my wife would disapprove), but because all of those who commented on him, positively or negatively, commented on his good sense of humor. When the giving away of games becomes a drag (throwing games into the sea would be so much easier than dealing with modern shipping), I will remember to be of good cheer. I will remember to be satisfied with lentils. The other obvious reason that I picked Crates was that he was a student of Diogenes, which I thought was appropriate. Also fitting is that his name is Crates, fitting right into the "Milk Crate" challenge that was all about identifying the "essentials" (esslentils?) that would be great at any time, covering any gaming occasion.
IV. I have already commited to the Babylonia Century. Part of this next year will be an intensive effort to play through the unplayed games in the house, but I will also strive to do much more playing of the games I already know I love. This will be obviously be easier once I'm no longer weighed down by new games I "must" try, but I want to do as much of it as I can right now. At the very least, it would be nice to finish all 100 plays of Babylonia by next year. That's something that I wouldn't have even considered as possible a few years ago. The fact that I can now think of it as a very real possibility means that I've made some progress along this path.
V. I'll figure out a way to not be on BGG so much. It's undeniable that time spent on this site inevitably leads to time spent thinking about new games. Earlier this year, I did a full month logged out. I may return to that idea. Right now, the fall, is my favorite time to be on BGG, so I won't be leaving any time soon. I'll probably continue to be on more frequently. But maybe I'll figure something out for the winter solstice. Maybe an entire winter break (Dec 21 to Mar 20) logged out from BGG? Could I do that?
Unrelated to gaming, but related to self-discipline and eliminating excess, I'm also going to eat better and exercise more. As a matter of fact, instead of refreshing this page ten times in the next hour, eagerly looking for your thumbs and comments, I'm going to go out for a long walk right now. See you later.
Unbound, unbent by
Their queen's immortal
Freedom whom they love.
- [+] Dice rolls
I was "moderated" for the first time today. I don't believe that anything I did was a personal attack or antagonizing. I took user comments and commented on them, highlighting dissenting voices and mostly saying that the opinions were fair. As far as I can tell, someone was just upset that I used the word "sucks" in the title, a title which was meant to be a stupid, ironic joke because, you know, I actually do love the game!
I really don't get it. I was not saying that these individuals were stupid to rate the game low. I really was just posting dissenting opinions and interacting with them in what I thought was both a positive and fun way.
I did respond to the moderation, asking for more details. I'd love to know more specifically what was so offensive and why.
It is pretty disturbing and also a wake-up call to realize that at any moment any BGG admin could lock my account and wipe out my 15 years of contributions to the site.
- [+] Dice rolls
07 Sep 2020
I bought another game the other day. Fine. Fine. Whatever. It's not a problem. Really, it's not. Except it kinda is. I know that I don't need any more games. I have already spent too much on games this year with very little to show for it. Probably my best gaming purchase of the year was not a game, but the card table that I'm sitting at right now while typing this.
Last week, I did another big trade. I'm pretty happy with the result. I'll keep trading a few times a year.
I'm sure that Paths of Glory, Sekigahara, and Lincoln are all good games, worthy of time and attention. They're just not right for me at this moment in my life.
Onitama is a game that I tried to like, but just couldn't do it. Some card combination of powers were more interesting than others. Some just led to cautious and circular play that made the game drag out. I did slightly prefer the game the time that I played with the wind expansion with a friend.
I played Hunt for the Ring once with my oldest daughter because she's a LotR fan. She liked it more than me. The 1 play was enough for me. It's a neat cat and mouse hidden movement game. Just not my thing. I offered it to my daughter for her to keep as hers, but she ultimately didn't like it enough to care to keep it. She has played very heavy Euro games and can play anything, but when she is playing with her friends, she tends to default to social stuff. She's a mean Werewolf moderator!
Rheinlander was good, but uninspiring. I'd rather play something else.
The games I got in exchange?
A few more Knizias. A few Kanais (yes, that's three copies of Braverats). The meatier games are LYNGK, Ethnos, and Monolith Arena, three games that I have wanted to try since each were released. I've never played Neuroshima Hex, so Monolith Arena sorta counts as that for me as well.
As evidenced by my parting with a few war games, I'm going to try to start being more ruthless in culling the games that are not getting played, that have been sitting on the shelf entirely unplayed for longer than a year. If I couldn't find the time to play them already, it's not likely that I'll make time to play them in the next year or into the future. Certain games that I have played are grandfathered into the collection even though I haven't played them in many years. Yes, I can see Unhappy King Charles on the shelf as I type this.
Trades are still good.
But I've also got games and game-related stuff that are not really trade material, but I still no longer feel the need to hold onto. So, I'm getting rid of them. By giving them to you!
Here are the rules for The Great and terrible Games Give Away of 2020.
I'll name a game in a blog post. I'll tag the game in the post. You'll see the post.
If you want the game, leave a comment below stating that you want the game. By leaving a comment that you want the game/item, you are pledging that you will play that game sometime within the next year. If you fail that pledge, you must pass the game on. Honor system. I'd love to have people come back to this blog and leave comments about the game played, but that is also completely unneccessary.
One week after the post, I'll randomly choose a person to give the game to by rolling a die.
The person who wins the game agrees to pay shipping. This helps me from losing lots of money in being too stupidly generous. It also allows me to ship games internationally without being afraid of those shipping costs. If you're willing to pay for international shipping, I'm willing to otherwise send the game to you for free.
After I choose the winner out of any comments, I'll send a geekmail to get a shipping address. Once I've shipped the game, I'll send another geekmail with my paypal info so that the new game owner can pay whatever the actual shipping costs were.
If no one leaves a comment wanting the game, then I'll just throw it in a box for the thrift store. No "backsies" for me. Once I say I'm going to get rid of a game like this, it's gone.
That's it, I guess.
Let's start today.
Today, I'm giving away two game-related books.
The Ricky Jay book is used and has been read a couple of times by me. I bought it new, so it's almost embarrassing how beat up it is now. It's still in good shape. It's just not in great shape. The Knizia book, on the other hand, is still in Very Good to Like New condition. I browsed and skim read passages, but mostly it has been safe on a shelf since I bought it.
These books are yours if you want them. Follow the rules above. Leave a comment. Agree to pay shipping. I'll randomly select someone in a week.
Milk Crate Challenge
The background and the rules to this challenge can be found here.. Basically, I came across Demetri's old post and thought that the challenge looked like fun, so I went ahead and did it.
Here's my full crate:
Size of the crate is roughly 15x12x10.
Here's an overview of what's in it.
And here's the itemized breakdown:
A few years ago, I was gifted a full 19x19 board (with nice bowls and stones) by an old friend after he found it for a good price at an estate sale.
My first thought was to fit the 19x19 board into the milk crate, but it wasn't meant to be. It wouldn't fit. I already knew how large the board was, but I guess I wasn't fully aware of how big it was until I tried to stuff it in a milk crate and it wouldn't fit. 19x19 boards are definitely meant for those settled in one place, not for traveling nomads hauling a milk crate full of games from place to place.
So, no 19x19 board. That's okay. I've only ever actually played a couple of games on that large board. I'm still very much a beginner, and, as such, am happy to play on a 9x9 or 13x13 board. Fortunately, I have one of those and it kinda fits into the milk crate. It sticks out over the top, but as I understand the rules to this challenge, that is allowed as long as I don't try any crazy balancing of games over the height of the milk crate walls. I've got stones for this board separate from the slightly nicer stones in the bowls, stuffed inside plastic baggies inside of a cloth bag.
Why Go? Because it really is the perfect game. If I have one other player who also wants to play Go, then I would rather play Go than any other game (except maybe Shogi).
Before the current, ongoing social restrictions, I had looked up what I would need to do to start a local chapter of the U.S. Go Association. It's not much money and not much work with the reward of establishing a local community of Go players. I've already put in the time and energy to start one local public group. What's one more?
The 9x9 board (which is, of course, 8x8 square) and stones also gives me access to many games played on an 8x8 square board (
excluding thestacking games; edit: see below):
Yavalath (really, a HexHex5 board)
Those go stones will also be serving double duty. I printed out and laminated this hexhex5 board last month and have already seen a lot of use from it.
Here are the games I have played:
Here are lists of many more games available to me with the same components:
And eventually I'll print out larger hexhex boards. I haven't done so yet because to get the sizing right, I really need to go to a professional print shop instead of printing at home on 8.5x11 paper.
Sometimes I'm in the mood for Go. Sometimes I'm in the mood for Chess. I'll still happily play western chess, almost anytime, but I think I'd always prefer to be playing Shogi, which is why it gets this space in the crate. My Shogi set is nothing pretty to look at, but I love its functional aesthetic and I'm happy to have a set with the moves printed on each piece. It takes away a huge barrier to entry in teaching new players how to play. Almost anyone could get started immediately with this set after learning a few rules (promotion, drop, pawn placement restrictions). I recently listed Shogi as my #1 game of all time. It was definitely true the day I made that list. If, today, I'm giving a slight edge to wanting to play Go more at the moment, that's still no slight to Shogi, a desert island (milk crate) game that I adore now and always. Having a full Shogi set will also give me access to smaller Shogi variants that I also enjoy.
Traditional Card Games
The Penguin Book of Card Games
A deck of cards. I may be late to this party, but I'm happy to be here. I love playing cards. I'm also throwing Parlett's book in the crate because I love it. I just think of it as a huge rules omnibus for my tiny deck of cards.
This deck gives me access to many games that I played for the first time this year, ranked in order of preference:
And, of course, hundreds more to explore.
Then, in addition to the standard deck is the Sticheln deck. I've only played Sticheln once. I liked it, but didn't love it. But maybe I will love it after more plays? It doesn't matter. It is here in the milk crate because of its versatility. I mean, with this deck, I immediately get two more of my favorite Knizia card games, Lost Cities and Schotten Totten, without either one of their bulkier boxes. Elements is another game that I enjoy that could be played. Plus, many other games to try, though my version is the German fifth edition, which has the reduced suits (0-14).
High Society is currently my favorite auction game. I have now played it at all player counts, and think that it's just fantastic. I was surprised by how well it played at 3.
Babylonia is my 3 or 4 player game of choice right now (and I also enjoy it 2 player). It is a satisfying amalgamation of everything I love in a Knizia game, with bits and pieces from his previous games, definitely, but also feeling fresher and more original than anything else. There is no crud on this design. 'Elegant' used to be a word that I would see more often here on BGG. I guess it has fallen out of favor. But I don't know any simpler way to describe Babylonia. It is an elegant game.
There are several other "big box" board games that I could have picked to jam into this crate. I picked Irish Gauge to deliver my train/cube rails fix and Bus to deliver all the meanness I can possibly lovingly share with my friends and family. It might be a little bit of a cheat, but I also get The Soo Line with Irish Gauge because I threw away the box to that one and store it in Irish Gauge.
Dungeon Crawl Classics
The Legendary Guys
I almost cheated by only throwing in a set of dice, but then relished the challenge of fitting DCC into this crate, edging out other worthies for the sake of imaginary dungeon deaths. The rulebook is huge, the large majority of the text being page after page of spell tables. I love it for this, but it also means that most of the book is rarely needed most of the time. For convenience, it is much easier to print out all relevant tables and any known spells. And even though I have the print rules and many modules, I also have it all as pdfs on my tablet. I considered just putting my tablet in the crate, but decided that anything battery-operated is excluded from my tabletop crate on principle. Anyhow, for the purpose of this challenge, I included the print core rules, and the "trapper keeper" I use with printouts and two modules in it that I'm planning on running next month, . I'm not putting every module I own into the crate. I've been trying to make this as close to a 'my absolute essentials' crate as possible, but I'm also assuming that the challenge allows occasional access to a bookshelf back home where I can swap out modules. I could also put a few more in the "trapper keeper" without bulking it up much more.
The Legendary Guys could have been photographed with the other 'party' games. It's essentially a very light party rpg game. Stupid storytelling fun from rules that fit on a postcard.
In Vino Morte
These are my favorite Button Shy games and there is no reason not to include them in a challenge like this. They take up hardly any space at all while offering big fun in small packages. Sprawlopolis and Nytelife will take care of any rare solo itches I have. Hierarchy is a great 2p puzzle match. Adder is silly realtime table slapping for 2, while In Vino Morte is the only party game I need (though I would have also included Telestrations if the crate were larger).
People love dexterity games. I must give the people what they love. Push It's box is just its bag now. Cockroach Poker just barely made it in the crate because there was a snug Cockroach Poker sized hollow in the top corner of the crate. It was meant to be.
The original Milk Crate Challenge rules state no games inside of other games, everything in its original box, and I've tried hard to abide by that. So, this is a bit of a cheat, maybe? My Hnefatafl set actually came packaged with a book about Vikings that I purchased almost twenty years ago. I don't know what happened to that book. The glossy folded paper board and the plastic/rubber Hnefatafl figures made their way into my copy of Bladder, a game that I love, that I will still sometimes name as my favorite game of all time, because it's just true that I always want to play it if someone else around wants to do so. The problem is how rarely this happens! So, Bladder is a must. Hnefatafl, even if it weren't bundled with Bladder, would probably make the crate on its own merits and also because my set just does not take up much space. I love that there is no single codified set of rules for Hnefatafl, that instead many folk variations have been allowed to flourish. Any tafl set is almost its own games system at this point, with many variants available.
Tak made the cut because there was room for it and because I really do like it. It's probably my favorite connection game, a type of game that I'm not very good at and often get frustrated by, but still keep exploring. Having this Tak set also gives me stacking pieces for the 8x8 board above as well as providing a 5x5 board for even more options: https://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/198276/5x5-game-system
Target Arnhem: Across 6 Bridges
Morgan's a' Comin'!
The Fury of the Norsemen
Battle for Moscow
This is my small collection of small wargames. Each of these has a small footprint with low counter density and fairly simple rules. All of these were ziplock games except for Fury, which does still have its small box. I keep all of these games together in a single ziplock bag.
That's all of the games. And they all fit in one milk crate. Nothing left to do with my evening but stare contentedly at this milk crate full of games.
- [+] Dice rolls
I did 20 two years ago.
50 last year.
I figured I'd finally go for the 100. The ranking is almost arbitrary, but it is based on desire to play again right now and not some notion of how objectively great the game is. Yes, this year I once again include games that I haven't played in a decade, but I think I'm getting better about this. They're on the list to prompt me to play them. If I repeatedly don't play them, they'll likely leave the collection and leave the list.
The Compleat Gamester - trawlerman's Top 100 Games, May 18th-19th, 2020 Edition, to be completely revised on the morrow, weather permitting, and if he gets out of bed.
- [+] Dice rolls