My Gaming Near-Misses
Theron Seckington
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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It is May, 2012. I am about to get into boardgaming. I do not know that I am about to see Shut Up and Sit Down's review of K2 which will change the course of my life.

It is 1990. I am five. I am about to watch the movie Tron, which my mother taped while we were at church as she does for every Sunday Morning Matinee on TV62.

It is still 1990, two hours later. I am filled with a lifelong fascination with games and gaming, something I know is a deeper fascination than just going to my friend Steven's house and playing Battletoads.

It is 2006. It is 2004. It is 2001. It is 2012, but I haven't learned enough yet. It is 1995. I have had many near-misses with the gaming hobby leading up to my indoctrination. These are some.
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1. Board Game: Ticket to Ride [Average Rating:7.46 Overall Rank:125] [Average Rating:7.46 Unranked]
Theron Seckington
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"Alright," I say, picking Cave Troll off the shelf, "I know I want to play this one, so you pick one and we'll play yours first."

It's 2008. I'm a few months into what will be the most trying three years of my life, earning a master's degree in Nebraska. Emily, who in 2010 I will thank in my thesis paper for her friendship, has guardedly agreed to drive me to "the nerd store" so I can buy a new Savage Worlds book.

"They have a bunch of board games here. Can we try one?" she asks. Of course we can, she drove me here. "Let's both pick one," I suggest. Emily don't go in for that nerd s*** much but I had seen an ad for Cave Troll years back in Dragon Magazine and the name stuck with me.

Cave Troll was fine. Emily indulged the playthrough. "That was fine," she said, hurriedly packing the pieces back in the inlay. She does not want to discuss the game. I came to respect Emily for her insights and criticism during theater history, but Emily does not enjoy confrontations.

It is 2013, and I am writing this, and I don't think Emily liked the game very much.

It is 2008 again and within minutes we have trains, route cards, and the board is primed and ready for play. Emily wipes the floor with me, always a step ahead, as I struggle to complete impossible routes which would require wormholes to finish on time.

"I liked that," she says, as the last train goes back in its baggie. "I don't think I've played anything like that before. I really liked how there was a little depth to just making lines of trains."

"That was fine," I said. I am rereading the instructions. A major point had just flown right past me but I didn't know it wasn't in the rules.

It really is fun to just make lines of trains.
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2. Board Game: Mouse Trap [Average Rating:4.09 Overall Rank:15337]
Theron Seckington
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I was always jealous of Steven. He always had the GI Joe toys, the video games, and the freedom I felt I didn't. The jerk also had Mouse Trap.

I didn't play the game until much, much later, maybe 1998 or so, when I found it in a garage sale. In 1993, though, when I was eight and wearing bright sweatpants and a matching sweatshirt every day because that was the most fashionable thing I could imagine, the fun of Mouse Trap was setting up the trap over and over again and watching it go.

It is 1998 and I am reading the rules for the first time and somehow I know this game is going to take forever. I have that instinct.

It is 1993 and Steven and I are winding a crank to snap a boot to kick a bucket to roll a marble to send a ball to hit a diver to cause a ruckus that will send a trap hurtling down to catch a mouse. We do this over and over, catching Hot Wheels and weapons that belong to He Man action figures and yes, even the mice from the game.

It is 1998 and after hours I catch a mouse. I am playing by myself, a pattern I will start to repeat in 2012 when I buy my first "real" boardgame. The trap, I realize, was the whole game.
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3. Board Game: Heroscape Master Set: Rise of the Valkyrie [Average Rating:7.42 Overall Rank:270] [Average Rating:7.42 Unranked]
Theron Seckington
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It is 2005. I am in Columbia's Wal-Mart. I am fresh off Christmas break and flush with cash. I know what I'm after; I've been eyeing the Heroscape Master Set for months.

It has the best miniatures I've ever seen.

It is 2005 and in seven years I will get into boardgaming. In the meantime, there is Savage Worlds.

I have an all-female role playing gaming group, no income, and a pressing need for excellent miniatures. It's time to find a diverse group of minis for my Savage Worlds games. They usually involve zombies so the Marro are a great fit and between that and my HeroClix I have enough decent minis to push around a chunk of Whitney's dorm room's carpet with terrain marked in masking tape.

I never did play Heroscape. I think I threw away everything except the minis.

It is 2012. I am just getting into the hobby. Tom Vasel is talking about HeroScape on the Dice Tower Podcast.

It's 2012 still. The Secret Cabal is talking about HeroScape.

It's 2013. Tom Vasel and Eric Sommerer are praising HeroScape on the Dice Tower Podcast.

It is the present day and I am beginning to think I missed something.
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4. Board Game: Tammany Hall [Average Rating:7.27 Overall Rank:573]
Theron Seckington
United States
St. Louis
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Kickstarter --> tabletop games --> What's Popular? --> I open every tab.

"Nah," I say. "I'm not interested in games that don't have orcs or spaceships."

I close the tab.

It's early 2013 an I am interested in every story a game can tell. I have to choose between Archipelago and Tammany Hall.

I choose Tammany Hall. Who knows when that thing will go out of print again?

It is the first "hobbyist" purchase I've made in that I chose based on future rarity.

It is the prior few months. I am playing Tammany with my brother and his friend from college; they form a power bloc while I'm in the bathroom and I lose. It is just after; I am brewing beer with my friend Pete and he has thrown me under the bus while his roommate fights for dominance of the North Side and Ash and I accidentally split the vote among voters in the South and East.

It is 1849 and the Astor Place Riot is taking place between fans of Edwin Forrest and William Macready. It is 2013 and I imagine the men and women killed as I place my instigators, ward bosses, on the board.

It is the present. I now understand any story that can be simulated can be told through a game.
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5. Board Game: Dominion [Average Rating:7.67 Overall Rank:72] [Average Rating:7.67 Unranked]
Theron Seckington
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"I play the Chapel and trash these Coppers." Neil does this, cleans up, then ends his turn. It is 2011 and I am completely baffled.

"Why would I want to do that?" I say, looking at my hand of Pirate Ships and a Black Market and a Laboratory, which I only bought because Neil and Vineet are grabbing them up like they was candy and I am trying to stay competitive.

"It makes you deck more efficient," says Vineet, patiently. "You'll be able to draw your better cards faster."

I play my Pirate Ship and smash a couple Coppers out of the hands of Neil and Vineet, making their decks more efficent so they can draw their better cards faster.

I lose. I have a good time losing. We play again with completely different cards, a fact that blows my mind. I remind myself: Dominion, it's called. If I ever see one I'll pick it up.

It is 2013. I am on a date. I am on the top floor of a coffee shop I love on South Grand and the woman I am with wants to take some steps at being a nerd.

"I play a Chapel," I am saying, "and trash these Coppers and Estates."

"Why would you want to do that?" she says. She is not confused, the way I was when I first saw that. She is eager.

It is two months later. Our long distance relationship continues. We are both theater professionals and this arrangement is not new to either of us. After several long weeks, she shows up in her orange coupe and we kiss and I help her carry a suitcase upstairs. "Can we play Dominion before dinner?" she asks.
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6. Board Game: Diplomacy [Average Rating:7.06 Overall Rank:500]
Theron Seckington
United States
St. Louis
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It's 2002 and Travis wants me to hang with his dumb intellectual friends after school. "You negotiate with people and bump them out of countries until they're destroyed."

I'm a lot more interested in flirting with Jennifer. Plus, I have to get ready to audition for "Harvey," the play this semester. Plus, I think Travis is an academic blowhard.

It's 2013 and Travis and I are talking about how to represent emergent gameplay mechanically. He paints miniatures for Warhammer 40K, a hobby he blames me for.

It's 2002 and I'm memorizing a monologue. I do not play Diplomacy. Travis and I are not yet "friends" in the traditional sense.

It is 2013 and I am cursing the time I wasted not being Travis' buddy.
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7. Board Game: ZombieTown [Average Rating:5.36 Overall Rank:14707]
Theron Seckington
United States
St. Louis
Missouri
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It is 2007. I buy this game choosing over literally every other game available because ZOMGIES!

In my defense, zombies are not yet a "thing."

It is 2008 and zombies have become a "thing." I am annoyed.

It is still 2007 and I have forced my girlfriend at the time to play. The game is...

It's 2013 and I have a hard time remembering what the game was like. I text my now-friend. "Did we ever play Zombie Town?"

"Was that the thing we played at...CeCe's? Took place in a mall? The Nerdhaus guys were there?" Nerdhaus was what a bunch of my friends called the house they rented.

"No, I think we played in my dorm, and you had fireworks and zombies wanted to break into your home."

"I don't remember."

"Neither do I."

It is 2013 and now I realize theme isn't everything.
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