Published on April 7th, 2013 | by Gregg Miller
Gregg Explains Things
All the things
If there’s one thing I’ve heard from others, and have observed observed about myself, it’s that I enjoy explaining things. Need the elevator pitch version? I can whip one up. Want the more deep seeded ins-and-outs that years of theory and pushing or breaking game rules has brought into the top notch playing arena? I can get into it. Need an analogy to help you relate to some new thing, that’s actually built on concepts that are so old, we forgot for a while they were there? That may be stretching it, but I’ll fake it until it works.
My gaming experience comes from a multitude of sources and styles. I may not have experienced everything, but I have a firm and varied grasp on many concepts, ideas, and mechanics that are tools to build enjoyable games. Rolling dice, figuring the strategies to deck building games, making and breaking alliances, or just being the cackling B-Team member, of whom everyone questions every seemingly random action.
Like many people, I grew up with an exposure to many simple and in a way, core board games. Sorry, Monopoly, checkers, chess, and more. I think the idea of actually learning a strategy first came when my uncle introduced me to a very old edition of Risk. I couldn’t tell you the printing, or date, but this set had wooden cubes for infantry, and weird triangular oblong pieces for the larger armies (I believe they were cavalry, but it’s been decades since I played that exact copy). At first, my brothers and I were getting a grasp on the idea that if you owned all of a continent, you’d start getting more armies on your turn. If I recall correctly, I was pushing for completing South America, one brother was “stuck” in Australia (In hind sight, they were unwittingly in the best position to win, but hey, we were little kids), while my Uncle had been working systematically in gathering his army, and striking in an unbelievable way.
Now my uncle wasn’t trouncing us like some upper-end League of Legends player against newbies, he was actually explaining strategies and the reasons he was doing certain moves, why we should do similar things on our own. But the turn after I secured South America he started to show us how his preferred tactic worked. In one continuous chain, he claimed all of Asia, then was stopped short of claiming Europe in one turn. The turn after that, he was only missing Africa and Australia. However, as his two turns progressed, he was explaining what he was doing, and why, so in the future, we’d know how to do the same, as well as explaining how you’d want to stop someone from doing the exact same thing against you.
I gained an appreciation for not just learning the hows, whys, and strategies of any sort of game, board or otherwise, but an appreciation of teaching and encouraging others to delve deeper and learn mastery, to play a game a turn or two ahead. Since then, I’ve always loved delving into a rule book, to find weird rare circumstance rules. That odd rule that doesn’t come up often, but making use of it to my advantage when it does. I’ve also found that more social games, where you negotiate and socialize with opponents, and team members, to be more fun. It’s one thing to play Monopoly silently with the base rules, but the negotiations that deepen and make a game go on for hours, that’s what builds fond memories, as well as a desire to play again.
As for a preference on games, I tend to like games where social skills are just as important as the cards you drew, the numbers you rolled, or the place on the board you occupy. Pandemic, Arkham Horror, Battlestar Galactica, Legend of the Five Rings, just to name a handful. I can’t claim to hold my nose up to games where it’s everyone against everyone else, but they don’t seem as appealing. The reasons can vary, from game-to-game. Another thing I get a kick out of is role playing within the game. It can add an interesting edge to things, help throw off or get people more in sync with the objectives in any given game.
So, what will I talk about in future posts? I plan on probably discussing what was played with my regular friends that week. Matt “The Favorite”, Derek “Why Don’t You?”, Dave “You’re on Maps”, Sam “I’m Not Drawing the Map”, Travis “Buuuuuuut Anyway”, and me, Gregg “The Explainer”. Most of the time, I’ll be playing a game with one or more of them, but if things fall through, I intend to write my musings on a game I’ve played in the past, or revisit something, and delve deeper on an aspect of a previously written about game.