In our little, local, gaming group Boffo is an intractable coot, Jobbers is painfully-prone to AP, Byll witters when he should be taking his moves and Smudge (frustratingly) doesn’t like PvP combat in games; none of this is of any consequence, however, because I love them all dearly…and, besides, I’m a volatile prima donna myself. Mind you, I don’t pretend that they are the bosomest of bosom buddies – we barely meet outside of a gaming context (if at all, in some cases) – but my life is most-definitely richer for having them in it.
In a wider world context, I have enjoyed the most excellent company of gamers since getting in to Magic: The Gathering in the late 90s: ‘Friday Night Magic’, Nationals, GP and PTQs; indeed, from 1999 through to 2001, halls up-and-down the UK would be filled with the same 128 faces. Since Surprised Stare Games, and my own evolution in game designing, have developed through the 2000s, the circle of acquaintances has exponentially – and Internationally – increased and its utterly brilliant: heart-swellingly, trouser-stiffeningly wonderful. If anything could be said to illustrate this best then it would be my experience at Essen 2016 (you can read a daily summary on my BGG blog) with every evening spent talking, laughing and breaking bread with friends old and new…no games in sight!
The downside is, of course, that real life likes to chip it’s oar in now and again; the cosy, colourful bubble that my hobby inhabits is pierced by the knitting needle of a cold and indifferent Universe – sometimes we lose people. Be these losses for personal, professional, criminal and/or mortal reasons, our gaming groups are ever-evolving; some, like mine, change tectonically-slowly while others are like one of those frenetic, time-lapsed clips of a busy railway station. So, I cherish my group – and its petty foibles – because the alternative is playing with oneself or (even worse) elitism; thus, I say:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you a starting hand (and set of wooden pieces in your colour). Take a Turn Reference card and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find I won’t crush you in your first game. For my jokes are cheesy and my boardgame is light.
(This article is dedicated to the memory of my dear gamer pal Peter ‘Greblord’ Armstrong – R.I.P)