Friday, January 9, 2015

Be The Special

Board gamers, can you imagine a moment in your life when the whole hobby looked completely foreign to you? When all you knew were the Hasbro and Parker Brothers roll-and-move games, when everything was simpler and more widely accessible? Now, in that moment, think...what was the catalyst that started you on your journey into this wonderful hobby? Who was it that reached out to you, invited you into their circle, and introduced you to the bevy of goodies that lay before you?

For me, I can recall three pivotable moments in my life.

First Time Game Night

In a previous job, I noticed a few co-workers sitting at a round table in the kitchen, all hovering a board game that looked like a bunch of hex tiles covered with wooden components. Everyone had a hand of cards, and I heard one asking to trade some wood for sheep.

It wasn't long for me to ask that they were all playing Settlers of Catan. But there were no places to move. How was data being handled in this game? It seem all so confusing and puzzling, watching people interact with each other in simple gestures and card trades. What was that wooden component he put down on the board? What are those long wooden pieces? What's going on?

Because I always entered the kitchen during a game's session, I never bothered to join in. It looked all so confusing anyways. Then, a few other co-workers were planning to play some games during lunch - something else called Dominion. With lunch in hand, I joined in.

A few months later, we have successfully made a weekly game night, playing games from Dominion, Munchkin, Formula De, and even started some thematic Wings of War campaign in which I flew my plane up King Kong's butt in a fiery explosion.

To me, this was the first time I ever got to enjoy board games as a collective and consistent group. It was my very first board game group, and I still talk with most of them to this day.

First Time Role Playing

I wasn't expecting much. I always thought role playing was something you have to bear through, while people read you stories and spin tales of what your actions are. So, when I sat down with 2 other people, while the third acted as DM, I really didn't know what to expect.

Our game wasn't your typical D&D campaign, though. It was Robotech, and we played two players apiece to form a 6-man unit, controlling our mech suits to investigate a floating ghost ship in space. My characters were a scout and engineer, probably the two weakest characters when it comes to combat. While their stats were already set, I, at least, got to choose the names. Thus, the engineer Sparks McFinnegan was born. I forgot what the other scout name was.

While the DM told the game's intro and set the theme, it wasn't until I hear my commanding officer's loud booming voice when I really felt I was immersed in the action! All of a sudden, I wasn't playing with a friend, but taking orders under a captain, and we had to plan out where we were going to search and how to deal with enemies.

I can't recall all the events that transpired, but I do remember two things.

At one point, I (the engineer) had to assist my fellow man and attempt to shoot at the enemy, After rolling a very poor roll, the DM exclaimed, "You just did +5 damage to the floor. You forgot to draw your weapon first." Now, I'm certain that's not specifically written down somewhere word-for-word, but to add blunt humor to an otherwise terrible situation made light of the terrible roll, and, overall, made the game that much more amusing! Of course, at the same time it brings me the shame of not able to draw my weapon properly.

The other moment was when I was in hot pursuit of the enemy, and I (still the engineer) had to take aim and fire. I rolled a natural 10. "You killed it. You got him right between the eyes," my DM said, with a smirk. Holy crap! I took down an enemy! A lowly engineer with very little combat abilities took down the enemy!! I had both fists in the air, brimming with pride!!

In the end, the mission was a success. And I learned that I quite enjoyed role playing! To this day, however, I haven't done anything like this again. BUT I would most certainly be open to it again!

First Time Playing Miniatures

At this point, I've played a few board games, and I'm familiar with the hobby overall. But there had always been a section in my FLGS that's always been unknown to me - the miniatures section. That section full of 40K figures, terrain, and the like. It looked like the biggest time-and-money sink, and I didn't see the appeal of having to actually measure precise distances to determine attack and movement.

While I haven't played anything as complicated as that, I've come close when my friend brought over Super Dungeon Explore. Argue what you will, but it still involved miniatures, with some strategic elements. Sure, the game arena is more of a grid, but for the first time I saw something other than wooden meeples and pawns on the field. Without the game starting, the visuals were already rich in detail!

What transpired was nothing short of wonderful. For the first time, I actually see characters move around, in active stances, taking down hoards of enemies and looting actual treasure chests. It was a blast of the senses, as my party made its way through to the final boss. It's very shallow of me to say, but the miniatures really made the game feel alive!

Making the First Move

From all three moments, all it took was one person to ask me if I wanted to join. And, sometimes, that's all anyone needs. That one moment where you go, "hey, do you want to join us and play this neat board game?" Because, odds are, most people won't know anyone else that has board games. They'll forever look but never interact. All it takes is a friendly wave and a "come hither" to get them interested.

Because you are the Special. Be the one that invites another over for game night, to get their feet wet in some board games. 

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