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Subject: Games Suitable For Military Stress Reduction Clinic rss

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I just saw a segment on CNN Backstory where they showed the inside of a stress reduction clinic on a military base in Iraq. The main room was rather bare, with a TV, a couple of couches and two folding tables surrounded by chairs where they gather for stress management discussion and therapy. The camera crew then walked behind the tables to a large bookshelf that offered the only color to an otherwise drab space. The bookshelves were filled with games for the soldiers to play so that they could take their minds off their troubles for a while.

The games available were what you might expect, Clue, Risk, Yahtzee, etc. As the segment ended, it dawned on me that the BGG community could probably come up with a perfectly tailored list of games that might offer more therapeutic value, or at least a bit more fun. I live near the largest base and military hospital in Europe, and I've been thinking about volunteering in some capacity there. If I get some good suggestions for games, I may donate them and perhaps volunteer in some capacity. If you make suggestions, please explain why you think the game is appropriate for this audience. I'm not entirely sure what I'm looking for, but the game should probably be:

1) appropriate for non-gamers,
2) not confrontational or stress inducing
3) easy to learn

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
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Ralph T
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I don't see what's wrong with the games there. Just donate more of the mainstream, like Monopoly, that's the most bang for your buck.
 
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.308 Jake
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Coloretto and Carcassonne are pretty relaxing.
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bran mcmillin
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Zombie in my Pocket, Micropul, Cheese Chasers (my design), and Free Trader are all GREAT PNP games. Quick to assemble, cheap to print out, solo games if they can't find other folks to play with.
 
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Chris Ferejohn
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Dominion seems like a good choice. It's quick, easy to learn, and some people find shuffling a good distraction (something to do with their hands). "Relaxing" was actually the exact word my wife used for it...
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Mark Webb
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Playing cards... I've seen places like Sam's Club or Costco have a box of about 12-15 decks for cheap.

Traditional card games can be very social, or very challenging depending on the game played and the group playing it. There are countless games, and it is likely that soldiers would know the rules by heart to their favorite games.
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Ralph T
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bran wrote:
Zombie in my Pocket, Micropul, Cheese Chasers (my design), and Free Trader are all GREAT PNP games. Quick to assemble, cheap to print out, solo games if they can't find other folks to play with.


I don't think PnP games are a good choice for giving to the troops. 1. Looks cheap, having no box and printing on whatever you can find to print on, and 2. only gamers are going to be attracted to PnP games.
 
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bartman347 wrote:


That is a completely inappropriate attempt at humor in a very noble, well-meaning thread.

Now that I got that off my chest, to the original poster, how about something like Ticket to Ride, or perhaps abstracts that have a puzzle like quality, such as Ingenious.

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Denis Maddalena
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Hey guys,

I'm actually at that base... it's Camp Liberty, right next to the airport. Funny thing is, that story shouldn't have been on the news at all! The reason for this, and the thing the media doesn't seem to understand, is that it's much better for the unfortunate families of the deceased to learn about it with all the respect it deserves instead of being tossed up on TV by some reporter who doesn't know the full story.

Despite my fairly ridiculous game collection here (two footlockers stuffed full!), there are few who will play games outside of Spades or Euchre - even the guys here who play Warhammer 40K don't seem to touch anything other than their "comfort zone", despite my constant urging. And those games they showed on the TV... well, if you open them up, I guarantee you'll find a ton of mismatched pieces, if even a full set. I've played on some mass-trafficked chess boards here, and you'll get things like pawns of varying heights and designs, the occasional knight shaped like a camel, graffiti on the board... all kinds of stuff. I, personally, hoard playing cards decks that come in and distribute 'em throughout the base as I walk around. It's cheap, and everyone's got that familiarity with them.

So while it's all well and good to donate cool games, I would suggest picking up a couple cheapie ones at the thrift store instead of a 50 dollar Dominion set... something with easily replaced pieces that are too unattractive to get stolen!

*Edit: Coincidentally, if you DO want to send a game, I can probably figure out an address for ya. Send me a geekmail and I'll see what I can find out - we can't just be posting that stuff up all over the message boards, you know?
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Thanks for the suggestions everyone. I'll contact Denis and see if we can put together a care package. It dawned on me after the first post that for soldiers abroad, familiarity with a game is probably more important than really cool strategic options in game play. Anyway, if anyone has any other suggestions, feel free to post them.
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Kenny Jenkins
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Nice to hear that you are trying to make a change. But you might want to reconsider your priorities. I'm wiling to agree that life must be hard for the soldiers serving there, but this (to me) really seems irrelevant compared to the situation of the iraqi people (who didn't volunteer to be in that situation, and are also not paid for it..).

UNICEF wrote:
Priority issues for Iraqi children

* Education rates are falling. The number of primary-age children not enrolled in school has climbed from under 800,000 to over 2 million since 2005 (Iraq MoE). School closures have been reported in Baghdad, and many schools have been caught up in violent attacks.
* Children are regularly orphaned by violence, and the number of female-headed households is rising as more families lose their primary wage-earner in the conflict.
* Stresses on children witnessing violence or living in fear of violence are increasing their risk of psycho-social problems, abuse and exploitation. Street children and substance abuse are increasingly visible phenomena in Iraq’s central cities.
* Health services such as routine immunization are in decline in many areas. Routine immunization rates in some districts in Iraq are under 50%.
* One in five Iraqi children shows signs of stunted growth, indicating long term nutritional problems. Diarrhoea rates are also high because of safe water shortages.
* Pregnant women are have limited access to ante-natal services and potentially life-saving emergency obstetric care.
* 1.5 million Iraqi people were displaced inside Iraq between 2006 and early 2008. Displacement has unbalanced social services and left many communities struggling to cope with the influx of new people.

Source: UNICEF

Perhaps a little donation to your favorite charity (e.g. http://www.supportunicef.org) would be more helpful...
 
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Quote:
Nice to hear that you are trying to make a change. But you might want to reconsider your priorities. I'm wiling to agree that life must be hard for the soldiers serving there, but this (to me) really seems irrelevant compared to the situation of the iraqi people (who didn't volunteer to be in that situation, and are also not paid for it..).

UNICEF wrote:
Priority issues for Iraqi children

* Education rates are falling. The number of primary-age children not enrolled in school has climbed from under 800,000 to over 2 million since 2005 (Iraq MoE). School closures have been reported in Baghdad, and many schools have been caught up in violent attacks.
* Children are regularly orphaned by violence, and the number of female-headed households is rising as more families lose their primary wage-earner in the conflict.
* Stresses on children witnessing violence or living in fear of violence are increasing their risk of psycho-social problems, abuse and exploitation. Street children and substance abuse are increasingly visible phenomena in Iraq’s central cities.
* Health services such as routine immunization are in decline in many areas. Routine immunization rates in some districts in Iraq are under 50%.
* One in five Iraqi children shows signs of stunted growth, indicating long term nutritional problems. Diarrhoea rates are also high because of safe water shortages.
* Pregnant women are have limited access to ante-natal services and potentially life-saving emergency obstetric care.
* 1.5 million Iraqi people were displaced inside Iraq between 2006 and early 2008. Displacement has unbalanced social services and left many communities struggling to cope with the influx of new people.

Source: UNICEF

Perhaps a little donation to your favorite charity (e.g. http://www.supportunicef.org) would be more helpful...


This is innappropriate. The same argument you made could be used to invalidate any sort of charitable action because there are "more important" issues. While I might agree with you if the question of the thread were where to do the most good with a board game donation, it isn't that. So to insert political considerations into a thread about a very specific question is nothing more than hijacking the thread for your own satisfaction. We all have causes that speak to us for specific reasons and it seems to me absurd that someone would take it on themselves to police what other people feel is worthwile generosity.
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Kenny Jenkins
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It strikes me as a little odd that you accuse me of policing... I merely made a suggestion. How about contributing something useful yourself, instead of attacking and arrogantly lecturing me?
 
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Ralph T
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By the sounds of it, poker sets with chips would be the best thing to send.
 
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Lapppi wrote:
Nice to hear that you are trying to make a change. But you might want to reconsider your priorities.


I’m sorry my initial post led you to believe that I started this thread to discuss worthy charities or how we can work for positive change. My intention was to get advice about which board games might be appropriate for a particular audience. If you have a recommendation for a game that is pertinent to the subject of this thread, I’d appreciate you sharing that knowledge with me.

What I don’t appreciate, however, is that you feel you know me well enough to comment on what my priorities should be. Do you have any idea what my relationship to UNICEF is, or where I rank them on my priority list? Do you know if I support them, or to what extent? Of course you don’t. Your post was presumptuous and not particularly helpful within the context of this thread.

I don’t know you, but you seem like a thoughtful person with their heart in the right place. I would just ask that in the future you try to take a positive tone as people will be more receptive to your message, especially when that message is as worthwhile as reminding us of the great work that UNICEF does.

Now I’ve gone off topic and given you a lecture. That makes me foolish, a bit thin-skinned and a hypocrite, so I encourage you to take me to task for that. Then, let’s back to talking about board games.
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Kenny Jenkins
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Phirax, Sorry about that. My intention was to take a positive tone, this obviously didn't quite work out. I just for the life of me can't understand why you would want to donate anything to a bunch of people who could easily afford to buy just about any game they want themselves...

Bohnanza would definitely be a good choice.
Hive might be too competitive and aggressive.

Edited for grammar
 
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Denis Maddalena
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To be honest, it's not so much buying it for ourselves that's the issue... that's too easy. But knowing people care about us back home matters more than anything else. Confirmation people won't be spitting on us when we return home (as has happened to a few of us so far) is priceless. It's easy to get a little mentally lost out here, and forget the entire reason we're trying to do anything at all - you just work for the sake of working, because it becomes the norm.

So thanks to all of those who keep us in your minds. If it weren't for civilians, well, there'd be nothing worth coming home to at all.

Oh. And to anyone of English descent... your soldiers are the absolute funniest guys I've ever met!

 
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eypyeash wrote:
It's easy to get a little mentally lost out here, and forget the entire reason we're trying to do anything at all - you just work for the sake of working, because it becomes the norm.

That sounds much like most of the jobs I've ever had. How come no one ever sent any free games to me?
 
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Denis Maddalena
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Heh heh... true. Very true. That's why, despite the offers for free games, I always make sure I send something back. I don't really think my job is any easier or harder than any other... it's just a job that you can't get out of without upsetting the government, and tend to have no control over. Everyone has their reason for joining initially, but patriotism is contagious, regardless of what your original thoughts coming in were. Probably the biggest thing is the easy friendships brought about because you know there are these other men and women ready to die for you, so you'll do the same for them.

I dunno. I enjoy it... but it certainly is stressful at times, and not seeing your family for long periods while dealing with 12+ hour work days, getting shot at, and my personal average of 4-5 hours of sleep a night does drag you into a bit of a slump.

I actually plan on donating games to policemen or any other underappreciated job that suits my mindset upon returning home.
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eypyeash wrote:


Oh. And to anyone of English descent... your soldiers are the absolute funniest guys I've ever met!



Its the way we tell em
 
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Bohnanza is a great suggestion, just what I was looking for. Wasn't there a list a few months back of board games that give you a warm and fuzzy feeling, or something like that?
 
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