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Runewars» Forums » Sessions

Subject: Playing Rune Wars with Cosima rss

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Julian Meynell
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For those of you who are not aware of what the title of the session report means, on Saturday June 7th, 2014 an episode of Orphan Black aired where the character Cosima gets involved in a game of Runewars. She finds the character Scott playing Runewars with three other people and joins in and runs Scott's side for awhile. This is going to be a weird Session Report, because it is a Session Report of pretending to play a board game and not actually playing a board game. I'm Youwish97 in the scene. I'm the older guy who does not get any lines and I was the Board Game Adviser in the scene. I'm going to write a bit about what it is like to be a board game adviser on a television show and then what I think it means for the Board Gaming Hobby that it is starting to appear on television.





Part I

The reason I became the Board Game adviser is the simple one that I am an old friend of John Fawcett who is one of the show creators and he is the person that I most frequently play games with. I have known John since high school. I have always played board games but it did not become a full fledged hobby until the mid 2000s when I was living in Halifax Nova Scotia where I discovered modern board games. When I came back to Toronto in 2007, I introduced John to them and he also entered the hobby and now has a good board game collection, so it became a hobby for him as well.

Because it is his hobby, he thought it might be interesting to put a board game in the show and have a scene where the character Cosima plays board games with Scott, so we started discussing which game we would use. John wanted a game which would be visually striking and also have a geeky theme. It also had to have incomprehensible board game lingo. We also wanted the game to be a good one. Naturally a lot of the games we discussed were Fantasy Flight games. We discussed Runewars, Descent and Twilight Imperium the most because they do not have other intellectual property that Orphan Black would need permission to use. We also discussed games that were not Fantasy Flight games primarily Eclipse and Mage Wars. In the end, Runewars was John's first choice because it met all the criteria, but most importantly because it is John's favourite game.

Fantasy Flight gave their permission to use the game. I worked with the writer to get some proper board game lingo in the game so that everything they are saying makes sense, and then following that I was told that I would be on set to set up the game and that then evolved into me being in the scene as an extra with the idea that I would be edited out completely if I was terrible. John wanted the copy of Runewars that we used to be the first edition instead of the second edition, because the first edition has the plastic mountains which are more visually interesting. We could not find a copy of the first edition in time, so the copy we ended up using is actually John's own copy of the game.

I was there two days in total. On the first day, we shot the masters and the close ups of the actors faces and on the second day we shot close ups of the boards and of hands using hand doubles. The hardest thing about the whole thing was making sure that the board game was set up the same way, because there are so many bits and pieces to Runewars. I ended up staying in the final edit because I was playing an anxious geek and I am a geek and was feeling anxious because I was on TV.

For those people who have never seen Orphan Black it is a clone show where Tatiana Maslany plays multiple clones. She has generally been acclaimed for her acting in the show including being nominated for a Golden Globe. I have briefly met her on a couple of occasions. She stays in character when you meet her, talking in that character's voice and she has a very firm handshake. She is actually a phenomenal actor and it was a pleasure to be in the background of a scene with her and watch her act. I did a little bit of explaining to her and the other actors what her lines actually meant. Interestingly, Tatiana struggled with the game lingo and said that it was harder than the science lingo she has to say. I think in the board gaming hobby we can easily forget how much terminology there is and how many concepts there are to wrap your mind around.

The set was very pleasant and friendly. They also feed you very well. If you ever have an opportunity to crash a set, I strongly recommend you do it for the craft services.


Part II

To the best of my knowledge this is the second show where a modern hobby board game is prominently featured. In the English sitcom, The IT Crowd, there is an episode where the character Moss starts his own board game review show. I know that the creator of that show, Graham Linehan, also plays board games. The fact that board games are starting to move onto TV is really a function first and foremost of the spread of the hobby, so that some people involved in the hobby are now actually television show creators or writers. It means that as the hobby spreads it will probably continue to make its way onto television as becomes less and less of a fringe activity.

Since I moved back to Toronto, I have watched the Hobby grow. There are more and larger board game stores now but the biggest change is the rise of the board game cafe. The first one was Snakes and Lattes which I think might have been the first board game cafe in the world, and now there are several cafes around the city. Board games tend to convert people. Obviously not everyone is suited for them, but they are an inherently good way to socialize. They also go against the trend of people interacting through mediating electronics. People are getting used to the idea of gaming through the spread of consoles, computers and most of all cell phones, but because board games are social and face to face, and because they are much better than they ever were, I personally have noticed an ever growing participation in the hobby.

Board games starting to show up on TV is part of the process of them moving into the main stream. Its really a symptom of their growing popularity. Over the last few years, geeky activities are moving out of a marginalized ghetto where they are seen as strange and incomprehensible into just other activities that people can be into. I suspect that board games will continue to show up in the background of scenes from time to time, because they can be used as ways of building character quickly. In the past, indicating the geeky side of Cosima's character might have been done through Star Trek references, or comic books or whatever. In Orphan Black it was done through board games.

Furthermore, Cosima is a very sympathetic character and in many ways she is cool. While I have referred to playing board games as a geeky activity and while the four people playing Runewars in the scene are standard nerds, Cosima is not. She is a cool, smart, pot-smoking character with her hair in dreads, tattoos, a funky fashion sense and a hot french lesbian lover. She is also represented as being better at Runewars than the four geeky guys, and the fact that she is skilled at it does not undermine the cool things about her, but is meant to be representative of it. Cosima may be a board game playing scientist, but she is one who listens to cool music and is not hopelessly naive or socially awkward. She simply isn't the standard geek we see all the time on TV. She is someone that we can imagine in a night club and at home in various situations. She is not like the standard science nerds that you see on shows like Big Bag Theory. She has generated a lot of lesbian fan fiction and as such is a sex symbol. The fact that she plays board games is one aspect of a complex personality and not emblematic of stereotypical nerdiness.

Finally, I am going to mention something that John said to me on the weekend after we shot the scene. We had speculated that the inclusion in the show might lead to a boost in the sales of Runewars. John said to me if “I get just one thing out of this scene, I would like it to be another expansion for Runewars.” So Fantasy Flight, if you are listening, can we have a five and six player expansion now?



Here is a picture of me setting up Runewars. Sorry it's sideways.



Here we are resetting the board between takes.

(Edited for minor spelling errors and to add the pics.)
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m Vlad
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Great session report!

I am waiting for a second expansion as well
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Bryan Thunkd
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Very cool.
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Very impressive. I would have never thought that one of the first modern boardgames that is featured in television would be such a niche product like Runewars. I'm pleasantly surprised
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Julian Meynell
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Thanks for the nice words.

Here is an article at Entertainment Weekly where John Fawcett talks about the episode including Runewars if anyone is interested:

http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/06/07/orphan-black-tony-transclo...
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Chris
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Spinoza1667 wrote:
Interestingly, Tatiana struggled with the game lingo and said that it was harder than the science lingo she has to say.


Great stuff.
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Pete Lane
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Great read. Having just got into the show, I can't recomend it enough to people. The acting is amazing!
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wolfkin
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Spinoza1667 wrote:

Part II

To the best of my knowledge this is the second show where a modern hobby board game is prominently featured. In the English sitcom, The IT Crowd, there is an episode where the character Moss starts his own board game review show.


I know a lot of people don't like it and I respect that but I was pretty sure they played a real board game on The Big Bang Theory once. I know they normally play video games, RPGs, and their Magic: The Gathering clone but I swore there was an episode where they played Settlers am I mistaken? I don't know if it counts and I haven't started watching the show yet but I did catch this cap showing a Catan mention on Broad City.



That said good report. Obviously I'm aware of board games but it was cool seeing it there and then asking my peeps on the reddit board gaming community what that game was. It didn't make me think any less of Cosima as a character and it did stoke a minor interest in finding out more about that game.
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Mark Bauer
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wolfkin wrote:
Spinoza1667 wrote:

Part II

To the best of my knowledge this is the second show where a modern hobby board game is prominently featured. In the English sitcom, The IT Crowd, there is an episode where the character Moss starts his own board game review show.


I know a lot of people don't like it and I respect that but I was pretty sure they played a real board game on The Big Bang Theory once. I know they normally play video games, RPGs, and their Magic: The Gathering clone but I swore there was an episode where they played Settlers am I mistaken?


Thats correct. With the typical "wood for sheep" jokes
By the way: I loooove Big Bang Theory!
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Matt Connellan
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Anduin wrote:
wolfkin wrote:
Spinoza1667 wrote:

Part II

To the best of my knowledge this is the second show where a modern hobby board game is prominently featured. In the English sitcom, The IT Crowd, there is an episode where the character Moss starts his own board game review show.


I know a lot of people don't like it and I respect that but I was pretty sure they played a real board game on The Big Bang Theory once. I know they normally play video games, RPGs, and their Magic: The Gathering clone but I swore there was an episode where they played Settlers am I mistaken?


Thats correct. With the typical "wood for sheep" jokes
By the way: I loooove Big Bang Theory!


They also played Settlers of Catan on an actually funny show, Parks and Recreation.



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Mark Bauer
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Pintsizepete wrote:


They also played Settlers of Catan on an actually funny show, Parks and Recreation.


Parks and Recreation is sooo not funny ninja
cheap rip-off/spin-off to the office which wasn't even that funny in the first place shake
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Matt Connellan
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Anduin wrote:
Pintsizepete wrote:


They also played Settlers of Catan on an actually funny show, Parks and Recreation.


Parks and Recreation is sooo not funny ninja
cheap rip-off/spin-off to the office which wasn't even that funny in the first place shake


Something tells me you've only seen first season episodes. They reinvented the series starting second season and it's nothing like the office, with the exception of the style of filming.
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Mark Bauer
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I guess I'm not a fan of this pseudo-reality filming with this "interview"-style all the time. Also a reason why the office isn't my thing.
Also I can't see why the Catan scenes are funny. They are playing Catan with only one guy who wants to play. Seems like someone forgot the punchline
 
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Matt Connellan
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Anduin wrote:
I guess I'm not a fan of this pseudo-reality filming with this "interview"-style all the time. Also a reason why the office isn't my thing.
Also I can't see why the Catan scenes are funny. They are playing Catan with only one guy who wants to play. Seems like someone forgot the punchline


You're right. Someone splice in Sheldon saying "Wood for sheep" and we have a crossover hit!
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Mark Bauer
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hey, wood for sheep is a classic ;-) and they spiced it up with some more puns I didnt know before. The catan game is a side note anyways and has nothing to do with the main story line. For that it does a good job.
But could you please explain whats funny about the PnR scene? Because I really cannot see any humor in it o.O
I know, explainig a joke doesnt make it any funnier usually...
 
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Matt Connellan
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Anduin wrote:
hey, wood for sheep is a classic ;-) and they spiced it up with some more puns I didnt know before. The catan game is a side note anyways and has nothing to do with the main story line. For that it does a good job.
But could you please explain whats funny about the PnR scene? Because I really cannot see any humor in it o.O
I know, explainig a joke doesnt make it any funnier usually...


I will in a private geekmail, not wishing to derail this topic any further.
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Mark Bauer
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youre absolutely right... sorry bout that..
 
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Scott "Tox" Morris
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That's pretty awesome! As VP of Arcane Wonders, I'm sorry Mage Wars didn't make it, but Runewars is an excellent choice nonetheless. I'm always happy to see more boardgaming brought into the limelight.

If you ever need anything from us at Arcane Wonders, feel free to contact me at ScottMorris[at]ArcaneWonders[dot]com and I'd be happy to help.

Keep up the great work!

Scott
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They call me Mister...
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Great to find this session report - this episode just aired on BBC3 last night and after a short search I found this very interesting read.

Great to get some back story.

Thanks.
 
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Julian Meynell
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Toxziq wrote:
That's pretty awesome! As VP of Arcane Wonders, I'm sorry Mage Wars didn't make it, but Runewars is an excellent choice nonetheless. I'm always happy to see more boardgaming brought into the limelight.

If you ever need anything from us at Arcane Wonders, feel free to contact me at ScottMorris[at]ArcaneWonders[dot]com and I'd be happy to help.

Keep up the great work!

Scott


Thanks. I'm sure that we will keep you in mind.
 
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todd peterson
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There is an episode of TBBT where they are playing Talisman. It's not part of the dialogue but they are playing while talking.
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What an awesome surprise! I am a huge fan of Orphan Black! We just recorded episode 50 of Not Just Another Gaming Podcast where I raved about the show. At the time I was only up to epiosed 109 but am just watching 208 now when the Rune Wars scene came up! I had to stop and search out if there was any info about the episode. All the lingo and shots of the game were great! DragonRune!
 
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Julian Meynell
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Hey Thanks,

I'm glad you enjoyed the show. Its neat to have been a part of such a good show.
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mike m
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Sorry to say, you've been duped. That's not Cosima, it's Sarah posing as Cosima. But others have been fooled too, so don't feel bad.

Thanks for posting this - eventually i picked up Season 1... and of course watched the whole thing in a few days. I don't watch much TV, but this really grabbed my interest. Starting Season 2 now, and seeing the game episode will be great with the backstory you have provided!
 
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SirWashington wrote:
...


Spoiler Alert!
 
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