Interview with a gamer no2: Ben

Interview no 2.

Please introduce yourself

Hi. I’m Ben, and I’m the co-founder and organiser of the Ross-on-Wye board gamers. We are a small (typically one or two tables) and very informal group. We tend to prefer mid-weight Euro games on the whole, but have been known to stretch our wings into other genres, and we’re never above a silly
party game. The bottom line for us is that games are a fun way to socialise and we’d never make anyone play something they didn’t enjoy.

How many games do you own?

My boardgamegeek profile suggests I own about 640, but many of those are
expansions, print-and-plays and other such throwaway stuff. I would reckon
about 500 is the right number. It’s a number that I have stabilised over
the last couple of years, trimming out games that are ‘the same but less
good’ as others in my collection, and buying fewer games on impulse. I am
baffled by the current Kickstarter trends, where people will pay money for
a game that hasn’t actually been built yet and is existing on a marketing
promise. How do people think marketing actually works?

How many of your games have you not played?

Currently, about 50-60, mostly due to lack of time. Me – and the group –
have quite a short attention span and will generally turn down anything
that is upwards of 90 minutes in favour of two shorter games. So 2-hour
games are thin on the ground anyway in my collection, and unplayed ones
will often get traded without any table time, apart from a few pet
favourites. My current policy is to try and at least SUGGEST something from
the unplayed pile every week.

What is your oldest game?

Um…would ‘chess’ be a really boring answer to this question? Scrabble?

My oldest ‘designer’ game that gets regularly played is probably Eurorails:
a classic of the ‘crayon-rail’ genre, where you literally draw all over the
board in order to create your delivery network.

Last game you played?

That would be Colonialism: a little-known and vicious card-driven area
control game. It got roundly slated on release due to its bleak and
uncompromising theme, which essentially consists of killing Third World
natives in order to steal all their resources. Underneath, though, we found
lots of interesting decisions and an interesting arc to the game as we
gradually cleaned up all the resources.

Best gaming experience?

Loads and loads: quiet nights on pub balconies with my wife; intense 5-6
player sessions at Ross-on-Wye; long weekends mixing tabletop and garden
games. Perhaps my favourite of all was introducing Cyrano to six vaguely
sceptical gamers at Midcon a few years ago. Cyrano is about as far from the
gamer stereotype as you can get: it’s a game where you write your own
poetry! I watched six faces go from polite bemusement to uproarious
laughter in about 40 minutes.

Favourite colour to play?

I don’t normally commit myself. The Ross-on-Wye group has one player who
always plays red, one player who always plays green, and one player who
always plays ‘a drab colour’. I’m happy enough with whatever is left over.
I don’t mind playing purple if it’s available, but it’s not a deal-breaker.

Favourite person / people to play with?

The core of the Ross-on-Wye group: Becky, John, Tony, Bill and Dave. We’ve
learned a huge number of games together and enjoyed at least 90% of it.

Your favourite game to play?

The undoubted champion of our group is Agricola, and it’s an outright
favourite for at least two of us. There are dozens and dozens of
worker-placement games on the market these days, but I would happily do
away with all but about half-a-dozen, all six of which are part of my Top
50 games.

Which game would you save if there was a fire?

Depends where the fire was. My games shelves surround our wood-burner,
which draws many an anxious glance from over-protective fellow gamers.

What game advice do you have for a new gamer?

Do not believe the hyperbolic reviews and ‘advice’, especially those that
think all the good games have been published within the last five years.
The best way to work out what you like is to play it. Don’t get suckered in
by Kickstarter campaigns and other tacky marketing. You can pick up some
excellent games in second-hand sales and trades (probably only about 40% of
my collection was bought new). Don’t worry about learning new games: these
days nearly every games table has at least one learner. Don’t be shy about
asking to sit down with complete strangers at conventions.

What type / themes / styles of games do you like to play?

So, as discussed, I am an advocate of the ‘Euro’ – those games that tend to
run short on theme and low on luck. What you gain as a result are
intelligent mechanics, and thoughtful decision-making and games that reward
successful strategy. If that sounds terribly deep and heavy, it doesn’t
have to be: good designers can cram a lot of good decisions into a
half-hour card game these days.

I also enjoy a good card game (I was brought up on Bridge) and have an
unreasonably large number of dexterity games. I’m definitely not a fan of
lazy stereotyped themes: zombies, dungeon-crawling and sub-standard sci-fi.

How competitive are you and how often do you win?

Quite a lot, and about average. There are plenty of games which I’m happy
to play just for the enjoyment of it (Terraforming Mars being a recent good
example of ‘more fun than strategy’), but if you’re not playing to win then
you’re not getting the most out of any game. Both me and my wife come from
unreasonably competitive families, so 2-player sessions can often result in
mild fisticuffs and swearing!

What would your ideal game session be, with whom, where and what game?

I’ve tried answering this before, but ultimately it’s futile. I don’t
hero-worship anyone – gamers, designers, or celebrities. I have favourite
games, but even sessions of those have fallen somewhat flat. You never know
when the next session might turn out to be a brainburning masterpiece or
hysterically funny, so you just have to keep your options open.

Finally what question would you want to ask of the next gamer to take this quiz?

How important to you is the theme in a game? 

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From the Core and back again. We’ve come so far, the first three Charity game day venues.

Our fourth Annual Charity Day is  nearly upon us. I’ve been looking back at our past events. All were successes and held lessons to learn little things to improve on and I like to try something new with each event.

Year one 2015

The first event was at The Core, which was an amazing venue, (we’ve back there this year) We had loads of space including a dedicated space for Molkky, although shiny floors make it far more challenging as they rolled miles!

The event ran smoothly and raised just under £500.

Lessons learned, the raffle went on slightly too long (too many separate prizes) and giant round tables aren’t great for board games.

Year two 2016

We found a venue which was free to hire, the function room of The Black Lion.  We packed this venue out with the event and raised just over £500. We formed Herefordshire Board Gamers shortly after this and this was our home for nearly a year.

We added an auction to make sure we got maximum money for the top prizes, this went really well. Our attendance was similar to year one we had yet to build a community and didn’t have the backing of The Core community.
Lessons learned, you need help to run and advertise events.

Year three 2017

The Imperial function room, which is the home of our Thursday night events.  The room is T shaped which allows us to move noiser or side events away to manage noise. The light could be slightly better but a great space, unfortunately not wheel chair accessible. Having the backing of the community in advertising the event and teaching the games helped loads.
Lessons learned. Secret / blind auction didn’t quite work and I think we could have raised more money with a traditional auction.  We added Artemis Starship bridge simulator as a side event. We also decided too many mandatory events or activities breaks up the flow of the event too much.

Final lessons learned I need to take better photos. I am normally so busy teaching and greeting, coupled with not wanting to intrude..

It is going to be great to be back at The Core, it also looks very different to the first photos, they have been on a great journey too and look vastly different. This is a great venue huge and more accessible 1 step rather than a flight of stairs.

We can’t wait to fill this space with gamers and games!

Kitchen and Tuck shop

Relaxing space

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Charity Prizes: Services! New for 2018

Charity day Auction prizes. Each year I like to mix it up, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t! This year we will adding services to either the raffle or auction prizes.
So far we have
Joanna Willett and Andrew Fraser will paint some models for you to ‘pimp’ up a board game. (We will add a limit, painting the 100s of zombies in zombicide is a bit much 🙂 )
I will host a game night for you, I will provide the games and teaching, you provide the location, snacks and players. We can arrange appropriate games. A great way to try some new games from  my collection and not worry about having to teach.
Rebecca Utting has offered to clone our lovely mascot, in the colours of your choice (ish). Lizard James is posing on our full sized flag, he is longer than a standard board game box about the length of Scythe.
Does any of this sound good to you? do you have any services to offer?

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Inteview with a gamer no1: Emily.

Welcome to the first of a new series, lets meet our gamers. (Small confession these were submitted nearly a year ago.)

Please introduce yourself

My name is Emily Beavan.  I am 43 years old and a relatively novice gamer compared to some members of the group.  I’m married to Rob, and have 3 children who are teens/adults now and we developed our love of gaming from introducing things like Carcassonne, Ticket to Ride and Pandemic to them as children and visiting the Board Game café in Exeter where my daughter is currently studying at Uni.  We play games regularly as a family and as my children are growing up its great to have a shared interest that we can still do together.  Our tastes in games has grown up too and we are enjoying very much learning about new games from the group and getting a chance to play them with likeminded people.

How many games do you own?

105. Rob made me make a spreadsheet.

How many of your games have you not played?

About 37

What is your oldest game?

A 1930s solitaire board made from Bakelite does that count?

Last game you played?

Walking Dead Card Game against Abi (of course)

Best gaming experience?

Playing  Dungeons and Dragons, in the 90s as a teen in a derelict Chapel by candle light!

Favourite colour to play?

Blue – Always Ravenclaw Blue

Favourite person / people to play with?

My kids

Your favourite game to play?

A new one.  The last game I played  is usually my new favourite. 

Which game would you save if there was a fire?

Um – None!  The Dogs!! But if the dogs were safe and I had time I’d grab my Harry Potter Cluedo as that edition is hard to find now.

What game advice do you have for a new gamer?

There are lots of different types of games out there – keep trying,  until you find a style of game you like.  Likewise there are lots of different types of gamers – some are more serious about it than others but don’t let that put you off!

You don’t have to be a Magic the Gathering Nerd or a Star Wars fan!  But if you are then it’s a great way to meet likeminded friends.

What type / themes / styles of games do you like to play?

I’m basically attracted to pretty artwork or games with cute meeples.  E.g. Yamatai, Kodama

I like to play games where you get to be a bit ruthless / competitive

But I love to play party  type games with friends like – Sushi Go, Snake Oil, Bring your own Book. Something that makes everyone laugh until snot comes out of their noses.

 I dislike long winded games like Talisman or things like X Wing where you have to keep spending money to buy another toy.

Can’t stand dice games or anything where you need to do maths as me and Numbers don’t get along.

 How competitive are you and how often do you win?

I am secretly SUPER competitive.  But I don’t sulk if I don’t win and still enjoy the game but play to win especially if playing against my husband Rob.

 Generally, I always win when playing against Rob – despite what he may believe

What would your ideal game session be, with whom, where and what game? Be creative

Hmm.  A party game like Codenames, Cards against humanity or snake oil at a social gathering somewhere cool – let’s say Hogwarts – and I’d  invite Stephen Fry, Barrack and Michelle Obama, Eddie Izzard and J.K.Rowling – just because I like to imagine they’d be my friends if we ever met!  

Have you any game and mental health / community related stories to share. Our charity this year is Mind and I think it is a great fit?

Playing board games with strangers is great if you suffer with social anxiety – like me.  Basically, we are a bunch of people avoiding eye contact and having fun, often pretending to be a different character.  It can be daunting meeting new people but board games provide a safe space and you have fun too.

 Board games are a great way to manage stress and depression – another personal experience.  It makes you re-connect and focus upon the now and the people in the room.  It’s hard to be worrying about life when you are busy finding a cure for a disease or trying to fit Vikings into a longboat with a chicken and a sheep….

Finally what question would you want to ask of the next gamer to take this quiz.

Card sleeves or no card sleeves?                                                                   

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One month until our mega charity day! 100% of proceeds goes to Herefordshire Mind

One month to go! The last three events raised £500 and we are on target to double that this year with your help. It is a great cause and will be a nice day out. 100% of proceeds go to charity with all costs met by donations or the club members.

New gamers can be introduced to the wonderful world of gaming and maybe meet new friends and discover a new hobby.

Established gamers can enjoy 12 hours of relaxed gaming with a large games library to enjoy as well as friendly teachers to introduce them to new gamers.

Families can enjoy games together or play separate games in a safe environment.

There will be raffles, auctions, cake stall as well as onsite café. There will be side events in the form of giant Tsuro and … **redacted** as well as informal quizzes to enjoy.

The Core is wheel chair accessible, spacious and well lit so it should be a great day out for a great cause.

Please share the event if you can (and like this post), Facebook controls and limits what is seen so sharing is key. Also do drag your friends along it is a great event, great cause and should be good fun for all.

Posters to download and share are here

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Charity event news; Sponsors 2018

Here are our sponsors so far!
Our main sponsor is Basically Wooden for the 3rd year running!
Excellent Board game retailers:
We are still after more prizes and this year we will be auctioning services as well… so if you have a talent or skill that we could sell please let us know! I’ll announce the services next weekend.
(Please note that is my terrible graphic design skills ruining Brendan Stephens awesome poster)
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