Two Nights And A Day At Sea

Tuesday Night – 2nd May 2017

The VCSB Tuesday night meetup is anchor of my gaming week. There are other gaming opportunities, but the Tuesday group has a solid rhythm that allows people to return after an absence and seamlessly fit back in again. The size of the crowd at Tuesday night does fluctuate, yet the group size is large enough to absorb seasonal variations while still enjoying a wide variety of games and gamers.  Having regular meetings is critical to the formation of a new group, and Tuesday night gaming was a key reason for the initial stabilization, and then the continued success of the VCSB meetup group.

Last Tuesday was no exception to the pattern. We had one newbie join us, Paul, and Eric rejoined us after a long absence. A variety of new, and old games were played. Ted is still fixated on Terraforming Mars.

Terraforming Mars
Terraforming Mars

Games played included: Concordia, Clank, Terraforming Mars, Bora Bora, Impulse, Smash up!, Blood of an Englishman, Navegador, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Shakespeare, For Sale, You are the Maniac!, and Codenames x2.

 VCSB 2nd May 2017

VCSB 2nd May 2017

VCSB 2nd May 2017
VCSB 2nd May 2017

Wednesday Night – 3rd May 2017

Wednesday evening is at Carrows in Ventura, some 20 miles away from Newbury Park. While some of the Wednesday night crowd also go to Tuesday nights, most of the attendees are different. This means the Wednesday night crowd have their own personality and preferences in games. Recently,  I have been able to attend the Wednesday night at Carrows on a more regular basis. This has allowed me to get to know some of the characters a little better. Each group has it’s own mix of gamer personalities, and it takes a few sessions before you truly see what type of gamer personalities people have.

Pax Rennaissance
Pax Rennaissance

The Saturday before, on Table Top DOG, Brian had wanted to play Pax Renaissance. I wanted to learn the game so we arranged to play it on Wednesday night. This would give me a chance to read the rules before tackling the game itself.  The designer, Phil Eklund, is renowned for intriguing and unusual game topics.

As Brian was going to be a little late, I needed a game that would be short enough in duration, and be appealing enough to get some takers. Knowing that April-Lyn wanted to play Clank!, this made it a good choice.

Clank!
Clank!

After teaching Clank! around a dozen times, I had learned that no matter how many times I have stated the rules about artifacts, someone will ask the same stupid questions. Once these experienced gamer’s started to jokingly refer to the correct rules I knew I had impressed on them the important points. It is good when you can explain a game to experienced gamer’s and they actually listen, even when they don’t appear to be intently listening. So many game rules are similar, it is key to clearly state the differences, or the exceptions, so that people remember these traps.

After not-winning Clank!, I went to watch the end of New York Slice.  For such a simple game, I was not sure if it was trying to be too serious. I could see a major cause of analysis paralysis when trying to determine how to split a pizza, while dominating the different sets of pizza pieces.

With Brian now available we stated on Pax Rennaissance. It is very much an Eklund game. It packs a lot of history into a small package, and borrows some mecahnics from previous games Pax Porfiriana , and Pax Pamir. There is a lot going on in the game, with multiple victory conditions, and tons of variability. This is a game where you learn the mechanics and then realize that you still have little idea how to actually use this mechanics to reach the various victory conditions. I look forward to being puzzled by the game again.

My tableau in Pax Renaissance
My winning tableau in Pax Renaissance

Games played: Foretold, Anachrony, Clank, And Then We Held Hands x3, New York Slice, Codenames x2, Pax Renaissance, Sushi Go, Isle of Trains, Among the Stars, Fugitive and Evolution Climate.

3rd May 2017
3rd May 2017
3rd May 2017
3rd May 2017

 

Sunday on the USS Iowa – 7th May 2017

During last months GMT West aka The Weekend at the Warehouse the subject of getting new people into the wargaming side of the hobby was raised. With both Karl, and myself in attendance it was not long before the Wargame Bootcamp was raised. We soon made a new contact in John Tiehen, who was a relatively newcomer to GMT West. John was keen to include us in a new hobby event on the USS Iowa, in San Pedro near Los Angeles. We had gamed on the USS Iowa last June, for the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland, so we aware of the location.

Gaming in the mess on the USS Iowa
Gaming in the mess on the USS Iowa, June 2016

Even though the event was on my birthday, I volunteered to help Karl. It was only afterwards that we found out that we would be located outside, on the fantail deck, and the weather forecast for that day was for rain. After previously being located in the enlisted mess with it’s small tables and fixed pitch chairs. The thought of spending a day on the windswept deck, with a high probability of rain, was not very comforting.

Flyer for the 1st Annual Collectors Expo
Flyer for the 1st Annual Collectors Expo on the USS Iowa, 7th May 2017

The event flyer looked promising, there were a lot of interesting hobby events, and they were predicting a good turnout. Thinking ahead, we planned on coming prepared with folding chairs, tarpaulin’s, ground sheets, an extra canopy, and lots of games. I even selected games that would fare better in a windy environment, including plastic miniatures that would be more moisture resistant than cardboard counters. With a 60 plus mile drive, and lot’s of accessories to setup I woke very early at 5:30am, too early, for the long day ahead.

Setup was easy after we dried the tables from the overnight moisture. My two picnic ground sheets were subbed in as rather brightly colored tablecloth’s. We played a few games of W1815 as a demonstration game.

To entice the lookey-lou’s, we setup some games on the table, spreading out cubes, cards, rules, and counters to create some visual appeal.  Fields of Despair especially gained a lot of attention due to it’s blocks, and attractive map. Among the hobby people in the crowd there were a few of the normal “is that Risk?” comments, but it was good to find a few people who had gamed in the past. Some were presently surprised to hear that board gaming was still going strong.

At 1:00pm, and again at 1:10pm, the day was interrupted by the firing of one of the ships 5inch guns. The firing noise  was impressive, but not as much as it’s echo. It was loud but I am sure they were being safe by handing out ear plugs. Now, if only they would fire the 16inch guns 😉

People trickled by all day, although the crowd seemed smaller than expected, probably due to the overcast day, and sporadic light rain. John demoed a naval game, and the Panzer tank on tank board game. Most people were just browsing the booths, so we were happy to just answer questions about board games, and simply give out information.

One young lad, Jimmy, was very keen to play a tactical game. Karl cracked open Combat Commander Europe and setup the Fat Lipki scenario. With his girlfriend and younger brother watching, Jimmy had a fun time learning the game. He picked up the game rules quickly, showed a good grasp of small unit tactics, and it was sad that he had to leave before finishing the game. Before he left we told him about the local game shops. Job done!

Things started to wind down once the band started playing barely 10 feat away. By 5pm we were packing up, and schlepping all our stuff back to the cars. The drive home was not as easy as the drive there. It was a quiet day overall, I was glad it was not hot, but the wet weather did unfortunately keep people away.

Jimmy being taught Combat Commander Europe
Jimmy being taught Combat Commander Europe by Karl. Note the tarpaulin fixed to the canopy to act as a wind break.
Lots of stalls on the fantail of the USS Iowa
The fantail was busy with booths, and the kiddies rock band XYZPDQ
A Dodge Command Car
A Dodge Command Car from nearby Fort MacArthur
A Dodge Command Car. Note the radio antenna on the near side.
Note the antenna on the near side
The radio in the Dodge Command Car
The generator for the radio in the Dodge Command Car
Games on display
W1815 being played, with Fields of Despair acting as a wind break.
Karl under our bootcamp setup
Karl ready to demo games
The setup on the fantail of the USS Iowa
Our location on the starboard side of the fantail

 

 

 

Board Gaming As A Social Solution.

Although is article may seem to be focused on my demographic, i.e. middle aged men. In fact it is aimed at showing the positive social benefits of board gaming as a modern leisure pursuit.

Middle Aged Male Loneliness

A recent article by the Boston Globe highlights a number of problems that afflict middle aged men. There are the obvious health threats like cancer, heart disease, or obesity. The one issue the article highlights is that of loneliness, or isolation. The gist of the article is that most middle aged men have to focus on their work and home commitments at the expense of their own social life. As a result, old relationships drift apart, regular social events stop being regular and people become more isolated. And a side affect of being isolated is that it is bad for your health.

“That’s why Schwartz and others say the best way for men to forge and maintain friendships is through built-in regularity — something that is always on the schedule.”

Let us first look at the regular social activities that would appeal to middle aged males.

Common Middle Aged Male Pursuits

It is hard for a busy adult to justify taking time away from their responsibilities. For arguments sake let us look at some examples of leisure activities for might appeal to a middle aged man.

  • Go to a bar: The negatives here are obvious, booze. Booze is costly, too much alcohol is bad for you. Let alone the negative social aspects of using drink as the center of a social activity. As a cause of spousal friction, this one is one of the worst options for a regular social activity.
  • Fantasy Football/Going Fishing: Regardless of the excuse, the activity is to consume booze with the boys. This is similar to going to a bar, booze is the focus.
  • Eating out: Food is the excuse, getting out is the goal. Food costs money, and it is probably not very healthy too.
  • Reading: Do not get me wrong, I love reading. I have many books that I want to read. Reading is a nice distraction, but it is not being social.
  • Online Games: These are a fun distraction. Along with booze this will probably a big cause of spousal friction. Online gaming may give a semblance of social interaction, it is not the same as interacting with a real person face to face without a computer.
  • Take up a hobby at home: Just like reading, this is good ‘me‘ time. This has a number of downsides; space, cost, and the lack of social interaction element that is apparent with solo activities. Do not under estimate the benefit of having time spent away from the home.
  • Work, church, family: For many people these are the extent of their social circles. We meet up with mostly the same people, and do the same things. There may be a lack of variety in the people, and the activities these group undertake.

While there may well be pressure to spend time with the family, and to concentrate on our responsibilities. I hope you would agree that middle aged men need regular social activities for their emotional, and physical, well-being.

Not Just For Middle Aged Men

Are they the only demographic that can feel isolated due to the hectic modern way of life? I think not. Targeting just middle aged men with 2.3 kids is losing sight of how out society has changed. An ever growing social issue is the narrowing of the social lives for many adults. With our lives being more hectic it is harder to maintain wide social circles.

Social isolation is not just a problem for middle aged men.

Board Games As A Solution

Board games have now become another reason to get together with people. The board games are the focus. For me they have become my go-to excuse to have quality time interacting with people who I enjoy spending time with.

Enjoying a drink, or some food, is a perfectly fine accompaniment to many social activities. This includes board games. They do help to lubricate and promote social interaction, just remember two things. Keep the food and drink to a reasonable amount. Secondly, keep the food and drink away from the games.

spilled drink
Spills happen!

Board Games Is An Inclusive Hobby

Board games are not just for children, they never were just for children. Nowadays there are so many board games there are enough choice there is something to appeal to everyone. There are games for all ages, and experience levels. What comes as a surprise to many is the variety of choice in modern board games. The board game related website BoardGameGeek.com has a database of over 89,000 board and card games.

It is hard for a busy adult to justify taking time away from their responsibilities. Instead of feeling guilt at taking time apart is is possible to make gaming time into shared time.

Having a board game night with some food and drink is also a way to bring along the spouse. The gamers can get together and play some games while the non-gamers can mingle. With the inclusion of some fun, lighter or party games it is possible to appeal to the gamers and non-gamers alike. A great way to involve all types of people is to play a fun party type game like Telestrations.

Modern board games can appeal to everyone.

What never ceases to amaze me are the variety of different people who enjoy modern board games. The ages, races, religions, and professions of gamers are extremely varied. The glue for these people spending time together is their shared enjoyment of board games. This allows people to interact with others that they would normally not socialize with.

I believe it is very beneficial to socialize with people outside of the standard family, work, and church social circles. Board gaming is a great way to socialize.

The Other Benefits of Modern Board Gaming

The obvious benefit of playing modern board games is to have a fun time interacting with other human beings. What will surprise some people are the other, unforeseen, benefits that people can derive from playing modern board games. Here are some of these hidden benefits:

  • Interact with a wide variety of people.
  • Challenge yourself to do well at the games.
  • Polish your interpersonal skills.
  • Form new social relationships.
  • You will make new friends.
  • Time spent away from the digital devices.
  • Share fun times with other people.
  • Family game night with games that are actually fun to play.
  • Teach your kids life skills. For example: how to win , or lose with grace and dignity.
  • Learn analysis, or negotiation skills.

Board games have a lot to offer people. The image of board games is that of simple children’s games that have little place for grown adults. This is not the case. They have benefits that are very relevant to today’s society. Join a game group, or form you own. Find out for yourself.

Tim

20th March 2017

Note: Do not misunderstand me on a few aspects that I mention above. As a social introvert I need my alone time, my ‘me’ time. People need time to recharge themselves; introverts  need to do that alone, and extroverts need time around other people. See an article at the bottom for a great graphic on the subject. The key point is knowing what works for you, and then making sure that you get the type of ‘me’ time that works best for you.

Secondly, as any one you knows me will attest, I also like to enjoy the odd drink. When I look back at my younger days I realize that drink was the excuse to be sociable with people. Having a drink as the motivation then forces people to drink more. And we all know that is not good for many reasons.

 Other Articles

Know an introvert ? This is a interesting article on how introverts, and extroverts, recharge. The graphic below is a great visual representation of the differences.

how_to_live_with_introverts_guide_printable_by_sveidt-d5b09fj
The Introvert Files