Monday, February 10, 2014

Print-And-Play - A Little Hard Work for a Lot of Fun

I guess Print-and-Play (or PnP) was an early moment in my life. When I was younger, I couldn't afford games like Monopoly at the time, nor could I even get a deck of cards. So, what was my solution? Making them myself, of course!

PnP in My Childhood

No really! I started cutting/ripping out same-size rectangular pieces, gathered 52 of them, then marked each and every card of a typical deck until I had a full deck. With much pride, I attempted to shuffle the flimsy deck, and crushed them from its sides like a wad of tissue paper.

Okay, it wasn't the brightest idea in the world, but I was making do with what I got. PnP back then wasn't a novelty to me, but an escape from my youth's blandness. It was a way for my creativeness to explode, to keep my hands busy making cool things for myself. I remember how I found a nice piece of cardboard, meticulously measuring all the spaces on the board, and essentially make my own Monopoly board. I even wrote up all the property cards with their own rent! But it wasn't really played; I made the set for myself after playing the game from a cousin's house, and I just didn't have the game. So, at least until I owned my own copy, this served as a placeholder in my life.

My Return to PnP

Fast forward to a couple of years ago, roughly before my daughter was born. The age of video games in my life was waning as I strived for some gaming that didn't require parking my keester in front of a screen for entertainment. I reminisced on my Magic and Yu-Gi-Oh days, when I went to my local FLGS for tournaments. From those memories, I recalled seeing weird games in plain ziplock bags; games that appeared to be printed out in black and white, all from Cheapass Games. I knew what I had to do.

As a result of my mental rabbit hole, I went online to see if Cheapass Games was still around, and was happy to find their site online. I perused their games with child-like vigor, scouring their selection for something - anything - I could print out and start playing. And then I saw it...Timeline. What better game to try out for a time-travel fanatic like me? But if I'm going to print it out, I'm going all out.

With the memory of crumpled paper in my head, I went out and discovered card stock paper. So thick, so sturdy...I knew this would not crush under my post-puberty man-grip. I quickly went home and printed out my new game for myself, scissors at the ready. After all that's said and done, I stood back, admiring my handiwork.

There it was. A full game. Completely printed at home. Ready to be played.

This was phenominal! What else did I need to play this? Markers? Well, off to my local FLGS! It had been years since I last went there, so I was very happy to see it still there when I arrived. And, after so many years, my first purchase since I returned were these class tokens.

And while I didn't really get to play with anyone, the simple accomplishment of printing a game for myself was a nod in my own self satisfaction. It's certainly cheaper than buying a game that you won't play enough - printing one out is so much easier. There's just something so gratifying about printing a game to play that makes my creative side cry out in joy. The only thing that went through my mind is what my next PnP would be! And with this rejuvination, I'm starting to embrace more projects, some of which are the following:

Airborne In Your Pocket

Putting aside the negativity this KS Project has accumulated, Airborne In Your Pocket was an interesting game when I printed it out. It was also one of the more successful double-sided color printouts I did (though I probably wasted a lot of ink in my failed attempts). The gameplay is quite sound. Using modular square tiles, you play a soldier that lands in enemy territory, making their way to the bunker to destroy the turrents. And every action you perform dwindles down your time marker. So, while you may want to find more items or search around aimlessly, doing so will waste more time.

What made it great was the ease of setup, and the gameplay was quick. Also, the final maps after each game are unique every time. Some times, you'll find lots of enemies around the field and never find the bunker. Other times, you'll find the bunker quick, only to find it full of enemies. What made the game even more fun for myself was that I used a Lego figure as my soldier! Probably one of the best things with PnP is that you can use anything as your markers! It personalizes the game more, making it distinctly yours.

Oddball Aeronauts

A game thoughtfully over-exposed in my twitter feed (Largely by @TheOneTar - I highly recommend following her) like screaming "Beetlejuice" 3 times in quick succession, Oddball Aeronauts caught my attention quickly for being a table-less game. Created by Maverick Muse (@NigelPyne, also follow!), Oddball Aeronauts (currently on Kickstarter - fund it here!) re-sparked my PnP urges again. With what little time I have to myself, I pushed out printouts to quickly cut them out.

One important aspect of PnP is having the right tools. It doesn't hurt to have a really good pair of scissors (Fiskars is my preferred brand), as well as some simple paper cutter as well. The one I purchased takes up very little room, and works diabolically well.

These go a long way...

From here, it's a short trip to sleeving them and trying it out! If you want to know more about the game, there are some awesome video reviews up in BoardGameGeek.

You Want More?

Still have that ream of card stock paper handy? Well, there are still plenty of PnP games to find at the ever-popular BoardGameGeek, but if you want to have the hipster attitude of "I played it first," check out the games at UnPub Games! You'll find plenty of aspiring or well-established game designers exposing their ideas out like an open wound, accepting healing and harsh critiques and feedback. And if you have some game idea aspirations yourself, it's a welcoming place to submit your own works of art for others to test! I can't wait to post up my game about cleaning port-a-potties at different venues!

Don't know where to start? I'll give you a starting point - check out PollenNation, by @RMBLees. (you know the drill) I've yet to try this game out, but it's all about bees! And the word pun was pretty clever.

Still Here?

I guess, if you haven't picked it up from this article, I'm apparently on twitter now. If you want to hear non-sensical gaming ramblings from a first-time parent, feel free to follow. If not, I understand. :P

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