Wednesday, 16 May 2007

Different Quacks, Different Hats, Part I

When I was in Junior High, I hung out with some guys that would have been referred to as "metalheads". When you're that age, you look for things to identify with, or to help you identify yourself; I listened to bands like Anthrax, Slayer, Metallica, Danzig, most of the "power metal" and "gloom and doom" type stuff.


Yes, some of us actually took something like this seriously...


One thing was obvious, though--once you'd "identified" yourself with something at that age, you were not allowed to venture outside of that boundary, generally speaking. You didn't try other types of genres for fear of disassociation; you often blindly and blatantly judged other genres, dismissing them out of hand. "Pfft! Top 40! I'd rather have my eyes gouged out!"


What I find funny now is to see this happening in the boardgame world, except this time with grown adults who have long since left Junior High and should know better. I'm no saint--I've been guilty of this myself--but it's too easy to fall into divisions and schisms, to look down on the "other side" without ever trying them. "Pffft! Party Games? I'd rather have my eyes gouged out!"

I was supposed to get "Bungee Jumping" from THAT?!



Which is a pity, really. I think even the driest of Euro player (such as those who would in all seriousness talk about "social contracts" in gaming) would be well-served to cleanse the palette with a night of heavy dice-chucking, yelling, and backstabbing. Just for something different--something raucous and removed from what they're used to.

"But wait!" I can hear you saying. "You're writing this from a blog focused on Ameritrash games. Isn't that hypocritical?"


Ha! I'm glad you (hypothetically) asked that question.

Ask any of us--"do you ONLY play Ameritrash games?" The answer will be a resounding "No!" I mean, I can't say that with absolute certainty, but from my own experience that answer holds true. Sure, our heart may lie with the plastic-filled smash 'em ups, but most of us have a soft spot for at least a handful of Euros, and I know for one I've been roped into plenty of Party Games in my day.

I'm supposed to get "Black Christmas" from that? Can I have another partner?


I think the difference for us, for gamers *like* us, is the need for us to wear "different hats". Let's face it--when we're not gaming, we're scheming how we're going to game next time. Every family gathering, work group, whatever gets our minds to churning about how we can work a game in. Hobbyists are usually at least slightly addicts by nature, and that's how we operate--looking for the next gaming fix.

Most of us learned a while back that not everyone will be into "our" types of games. Even on a site devoted to the hobby such as Boardgamegeek--not even in that subcommunity will you find everyone willing to play an Ameritrash title. It's understandable, to a degree; grandma isn't going to know what to say when you hand her a Marine card, two special power cards, some ammo tokens, and turn her loose in the bowels of hell in Doom: The Boardgame. Fact is, she probably won't make it past the cover with the beast slobbering and screaming at her. The uninitiated at work would take one look at Quest for the Dragonlords and think you've just invited them to join the occult--sort of a "Noontime Necromancers" support group, if you will.


So we're forced to look for games that fit those different hats we're often forced to wear. What games will fit in a lunchtime? What games have rules that won't scare Uncle Hank away? What games won't have my co-workers thinking we're going to ritually sacrifice them at the 5:00 whistle?

Over the next few weeks, using my own experiences as examples I'm going to detail the "different hats" that I often wear in terms of gaming. I'm also going to give examples in each instance of what did and didn't work, some short reviews and suggestions, hopefully something that you can use if you find yourself in the same boat and need some help finding the right hat for the right occasion.


And no, I will NOT have a "hat" for "Games to Play With My Wife/Husband/Significant Other". For those who have significant others who will game, consider yourselves very fortunate. The rest of us have seen this for what it is--folly. A fool's errand. I will speak no more of this thing.

Thanks for reading, be sure to check out the next installment--I'm going to start small with the "two-player lunch hour" stuff and work forward from there.





23 comments:

Michael Barnes said...

What the...first we turn into Ain't Cool News what with all the movie discussion, now we're like freaking Planet Haberdashery with all this hat fanboyism going.

I rather prefer a trilby, how 'bout you, Frank?

Always happy to see Danzig turn up, even if he hasn't made a good record since "Danzig III: How the Gods Kill". One of the best shows I've ever seen was the Samhain reunion, they played half their songs and then for the encore (which was the other half of their songs) they came out shirtless and completely drenched in blood, devillocks flappin' in the breeze.

Oh...I forgot to tell y'all. I went into the F:AT bathroom and there wasn't any toilet paper so I wiped my ass with that "social contract".

Pat H said...

Danzig was good. Misfits were especially fun. A couple of month's ago I caught a Slayer concert in Ottawa shortly after a 6 hour set from Steve Lawler in Montreal. I'm still not sure which act was darker and harder.

Which brings me to gaming. I'm not into the cross social appeal of gaming too much. All my grog buddies have moved away and I now game lite AT stuff with friends only. I joined a once a month game group a few months ago and am now introducing AT games to the euro crowd there. That is as far as it gets for me. I have little to no interest to try and introduce gaming to people who haven't done it already. I wasted much time years ago trying that and it isn't always fun.

I will get the kids into it as much as I can though.

I was speaking with the fellow who runs the game night I attend through one of the local game shops and he said to me:

"Bring that (Blood Feud New York) to the next night and I'll play, I never get a chance to try AT games with this group because they only play euro's and won't bother with these". I'll go this far because they are gamers and there has been a euro slant I noticed upon re-entering the hobby. The intro just needs to be made and my Fortress America intro went over well - I smell more converts this month.

Trying to get the folks at work to try a game at lunch would just suck the life out of me I think.

My wife plays whatever I put on the table though so I'm lucky that way (she doesn't always like the particular game but she'll try them).

Ken B. said...

Well, understand that I'll be coming at it from an AT perspective. I'm not about to suggest some dry junk--I'm going to focus on things that can be fun for an ATer even if he or she would rather be playing a massive dicefest instead.

Jack Hill said...

Regarding Danzig, we got a $2 copy of Black Aria II.

We were robbed.

As far as Hats, I figured that most folks just picked their hat, and declared every game they liked to be a clear example of Hat.

Like how Twilight Struggle is so obviously a Eurogame. And an AT game, and a wargame, and a dessert topping.

Ken B. said...

Twilight Struggle + Mr. Pibb = CRAZY DELICIOUS

Pat H said...

I look forward to your take Ken/Frank, whichever of you does it.

I'm always open to suggestions but am just jaded and tired of trying to keep people interested. Hell I bought "Awful Green Things from Outer Space!" for this express purpose. Works sometimes and sometimes not.

Ken B. said...

I AM NOT FRANK.


Please disregard Barnes' insistance on calling me this. It does not help that we HAVE A FRANK as a staff writer.

Pat H said...

I was just being frank....

Ken B. said...

Don't call me Shirley.

That's how we can get back at Barnes--let's turn this discussion into Leslie Nielsen's brand of comedy--is it art? Inspired bufoonery? Will the French rant and rave about "Naked Gun 33 1/3" thirty years from now?

Pat H said...

Sacre-Fils! Mon dieu arrĂȘte de faire la cochonerie!

Naked Gun is better than Potempkin.

Michael Barnes said...

DAMN YOU FRANKLIN COBB, I'LL HAVE MY REVENGE!

Ken B. said...

Nice beaver.

robartin said...

Ken, the duck thing has got to stop.

Michael Barnes said...

Seconded. What do you think this is, BGG?

Thaadd said...

Hmm. Maybe I should change my work name to Frank? I already get Mr. Thaadd Powell most of the time...

/Frank Powell

Mr Skeletor said...

You rang?

I'm the opposite, the older I get and the crankier I become the more niched I be. I'm just not interested in trying new Euros at all these days (I'll still play ones I already know.) I also find I can't fucking stand playing with 70% of gamers anymore - mainly newbies and people who take more than 1 minute to have their turn.

In short I'm becoming a game snob.

mtlawson said...

It's a nice name.

Robin Day's got a hedgehog called Frank.

Ken B. said...

Hmm...I guess this idea wasn't as popular as I thought it might be. I'll probably wrap this up in one longer article next week rather than stretch it out.

It's meant to be "Games AT fans can play when they're not playing AT games"--i.e. games that won't make your typical AT fan claw their eyeballs out. Some you've heard of, some maybe not, and others maybe you'd want to hear something about. Really, it's just an excuse to do some mini-reviews for stuff I don't feel like doing longer reviews for as well as giving you an idea how certain games have worked in certain settings.

Thanks for the feedback--incidentally, what do YOU guys play in the AT realm when you're short on time or playing in a mixed crowd?

Shellhead said...

Ken: Thanks for the feedback--incidentally, what do YOU guys play in the AT realm when you're short on time or playing in a mixed crowd?

If it's a big enough mixed crowd, Werewolf is a bit of a tough sell, but definitely fun once we get going. My dad will play Acquire anytime, anywhere with anybody, so I sometimes bring that to family get-togethers in case he didn't bring his copy. At least half of the adults over the age of 30 in my extended family have been taught to play Acquire by my dad. And Citadels is a good game to play with Euro-gamers or open-minded casual gamers.

Otherwise, when our regular AT gamers need a short game as a filler, we play Mall of Horror, Kill Dr. Lucky, or a cardgame called Gother Than Thou. I used to play Nuclear War a lot, but that somehow lost a certain fun factor after the Cold War ended.

ubarose said...

Ken B. said...
It's meant to be "Games AT fans can play when they're not playing AT games"--i.e. games that won't make your typical AT fan claw their eyeballs out. Some you've heard of, some maybe not, and others maybe you'd want to hear something about. Really, it's just an excuse to do some mini-reviews for stuff I don't feel like doing longer reviews for as well as giving you an idea how certain games have worked in certain settings.


I think it is a great idea. I often play in a mixed crowd. I'm always looking for games that have cross over appeal; games like Ursuppe that are easy enough for Nana to play, but let you attack and cannibalize other players creatures. I imagine their are many lesser known Euro games that ATgamers have ignored, and Eurogamers have dismissed for their ATesque qualities. I expect that the reverse is also true of some AT games.

Ass First Names Later said...

"Ask any of us--"do you ONLY play Ameritrash games?" The answer will be a resounding "No!" I mean, I can't say that with absolute certainty, but from my own experience that answer holds true. Sure, our heart may lie with the plastic-filled smash 'em ups, but most of us have a soft spot for at least a handful of Euros, and I know for one I've been roped into plenty of Party Games in my day.

This is exactly every gamer I've ever met on this site, or BGG, or in person. I think that's why everyone is confused by this Ameritrash/Eurogame issue. I could care less. Good blog.

ubarose said...

With regards to the fact that both Trashers and Eurogamers play and enjoy both types of games:

Ass First Names Later said...
This is exactly every gamer I've ever met on this site, or BGG, or in person. I think that's why everyone is confused by this Ameritrash/Eurogame issue. I could care less. Good blog.


Yes, but we still prefer different specific games within the two genres. I have found that what usually makes me like a specific Euro is exactly the quality that makes my Eurogamer friends hate it, and dismiss it as an inferior game. The same is true regarding my opinion of their favorite game. For example, F, a friend that I play with often, hates URSUPPE, which is my favorite Euro. She doesn't like the randomness, the long playing time, the variable player powers or the fact that my dudes can eat her dudes. F's favorite game is TORRES, which I hate. I find it dull, dry and predictable. We both like Euros. We both play Euros. But the specific Euros that we play are very different.

Finding games that appeal to both of us is not always an easy task. Until I was able to identify other Trashers, the way F and I found games was to go to BGG and dig around among the moderately ranked Euros looking for reviews or comments that gave the game “low marks” for some quality that I liked, such as “too random” or “too chaotic.” Now that we have this blog, I would like to see reviews of Euros that Trashers enjoy; games that both my Eurogamer friends and my Trasher friends can play and enjoy together.

Ken B. said...

You're in luck, ubarose! See my most recent blog entry for details.