Monday, September 19, 2005


This week I’ve decided to cover another subject so I’ve put several of my lighthearted and highly informative insider views of game store life on the shelf. Plus, I ran out of humor on some I’m working on because just remembering some of the total jerks I’ve had to deal with gets my blood boiling and makes me want to hunt those specific people down and whip the dog tar out of them.

Actually, I’m not exactly sure what dog tar is, but I guess if you whip somebody enough you’ll eventually find out.

I want to address Grognad’s perpetual criticism of Hasbro… or, as he prefers to call them, HASBORG.

All the ranting and raving Grogs does about Hasbro is pointless. He accuses them of a multitude of historical inaccuracies, he indicts them for being profit motivated, he slams them for glossing over little known and meaningless historical minutia, he even blames them for making cheap components. To top all that off, he actually ranted that the anti-tank guns in the new Axis & Allies Miniatures game have the wrong wheels… or was it tires?

So my answer to Grognad’s rant is this: so what?

It’s not as if Hasbro is taking an existing pool of gamers and reducing the total number of people in that pool. Is it? Quite the opposite in fact. Hasbro, along with its subcorps WotC and AH are increasing the number of gamers on our planet. Right? Ranting and raving about Hasbro making historically abstract games in a historically abstract fashion is the equivalent of accusing Ford of not making Porsches.

I also noticed our good Geek from the Frozen North chimed in and mouthed his displeasure at Hasbro as well. And when I followed the same thread on Boardgamegeek that Grogs referred to the harshest criticism of the new Axis & Allies game came from one or two people who hadn’t played the game, won’t play the game and therefore, the game sucks.

So despite the fact that Grognads and Coldfoot are two of my favorite Geeks, I want to go on the record right now and state very clearly: they are both wrong and they probably know it… deep, deep down inside their little gamer hearts, they know it. I think they’re just jealous because they didn’t make both the game and the subsequent millions that Hasborg…errr… Hasbro will make.


Next subject ~ Joe Gola and his Dicefest article

I liked that article quite a bit. Well done Joe, but then I expect anything you write to be well done. The article reminded me of the inherent chaotic nature of Dicefest games and the criticism they take. Joe highlighted that very well.

I happen to believe that games involving dice are, by and large, the best games made. I like dice. I like chance, I like the chaos and I like the fact that I can win or lose a game despite my excellent strategy and brilliant moves, because of a bad die roll.

I’ve looked at Gola’s game ratings on Boardgamegeek and while he rates many games high that I don’t care for I think we see eye to eye on the subject of chance in a game. I suspect I’m in a fairly unique position as regards Boardgamegeek and certainly here on Gone Gaming… that’s because I have probably taught and witnessed more games over the last 24 years than almost anyone you could think of. I have run literally thousands of game nights, taught several thousand people how to play several hundred different games and I’d guess I’ve personally played somewhere between 500 and 1500 different games myself. And one thing is crystal clear about 99% of gamers, they like dice. They like randomness.

So if you remove the twelve or thirteen people on Boardgamegeek who decry any game that has any sort of chance factor in it you’ll understand one of the most successful mechanics of any game is that the game ought to have some measure of chance in it, be it dice, cards or a random tile or chit selection.

Back in about 1967 I was living in St. Louis and an older guy I knew well was a master gunsmith and the National Benchrest Shooting Champion. We took some modified Ithaca shotguns out to a private shooting club on an Army base in Illinois and spent the day shooting Skeet and Trap with several other world class benchrest shooters. When the day was done I had shot consecutive sets of 24 and 25 in both competitions using this guy’s shotgun.

He was pissed off.

He blamed it on the wind. He blamed it on the load. He blamed it on the sun. He blamed it on the ambient light. He blamed it on the humidity shift between my turn and his. He ranted and raved the whole way back to St. Louis and I was pretty intimidated by his vocal barrage. But I believe he missed the whole point… which was that I had a particularly good day and he just happened to suck that day.

It may have been the ambient light for all I know. Maybe I was just lucky, eh?

Dice are good. Chance is good. I didn’t need Joe to remind me of that but I’m glad he did. Especially since I got creamed in two Axis & Allies Miniature games yesterday because I rolled such horrible dice. If it had been Grognads he’d have blamed his loss on the fact that the anti-tank guns had the wrong tread on the tires.

Right Grogs?


Last subject ~ Mary, Shannon, Yehuda and Alex

Thanks for inviting me on board here and thanks for such great articles. I mean it, everything from rants about box size to weird multiple personality stories to articles about how to bribe your family, it all makes sense somehow and it’s great to be able to see a slice of life from various gamers around the world.

Okay Grogs, I’m ready for your next excellent rant and I have also proved to Coldfoot that I look nothing like Curly, his local game store owner, by attaching a picture of me to this article.

Besides which, my dad never owned a Ford dealership. He did own a tote-the-note used car lot in New Mexico though. And I was his Repo man on and off for a couple of years. True story… I’ll get to it one day if I can figure out how to tie repossessing 20 year old Chevy's to the subject of games.


Shannon Appelcline said...

True story… I’ll get to it one day if I can figure out how to tie repossessing 20 year old Chevy's to the subject of games.

I suspect strategies that you learned in how to repo a vehicle could translate to games, or vice-versa.

Coldfoot said...

Actually, although I am disappointed by the new Avalon Hill output (Hasbro had dropped numerous hints that the new Avalon Hill was going to focus on "gamer's games") I am only that, disappointed.

I'm a capitalist. If Hasbro wants to concentrate on games with a movie tie-ins, games that are half a centry old, silly party games and such, I say more power to them. I wish I could run a company that made 1/1000 of the money they make. However, I reserve the right to comment on the uninspired nature of their products.

Larry and Curly were composite characters of game store employees that I have met, with a bit of fiction thrown in. The part about the Ford dealership was fiction. I am not familiar with your family history. No offense was intended.

I did know that you had a goatee. In the rough draft, which you may have seen, I tried to make a goatee/goat meat pun. I decided to take it out because 1) I didn't want to get give the mistaken impression that you were Curly, 2) I decided was way too much of an inside joke and, 3) it just wasn't funny.

Dame Koldfoot said...

If anyone is interested in see what Coldie really looks like, I will be soliciting bribes for the next 24 hours. The best bribe will receive a framed 8x10 photo I took of Coldie last night while playing around with the new digital camera. Let's give this an "Apples to Apples" twist. Make your bribe/offer/threat so that it will actually cause me to choose yours and disclose a photo of my darling hubby sitting around in his shorts. Coldie, I expect a dozen roses, a foot rub, nice dinner and lots of fabulous, gooey, yummy. . . chocolate from you to keep this photo secret.

Coldfoot said...

Did you download the picture?

I just threw the camera away.

Dame Koldfoot said...

Of course I downloaded it. I am a legal professional. I CYA all the time.

GROGnads said...

Well, and that's a deep 'subject' in and of itself, we'll just have to await and SEE just how these 'Minis' actually 'do', eh? I'm sure that there'll always BE someone who don't give a "rat's patootie" about what anyone says to dissuade themselves from anything, including 'suicide'! Still, I haven't gotten ANY sort of 'answer' as to WHY we here in the USA, aren't ABLE to obtain the 2nd-Half of that "RISK LOTR" game. It has several 'aspects' of which I looked forward to, but "so solly cholly". Got any 'excuses' on THIS, for 'them'? Besides, most of the actual FANS of the 'A&A'-franchise would have much rather that they CREATE another 'Game' along the LINES of the others, instead of what they're 'doing' with the 'Minis'! Just ASK them, and I belong to many other 'Forums' associated WITH the 'A&A' games, in which I see their "pleas" for such. So, what's their 'excuse' for THAT?
"Gee, they want other 'Historical Battles' based upon our 'D-Day' game, so let's NOT make that, but something IDIOTIC instead! woo HOO!"

Joe Gola said...

Thanks, D.W. I'm somewhat relieved that it wasn't completely incomprehensible.

Speaking of dicefests, have you ever tried Clash of the Gladiators?

Dame Koldfoot, I do want to help you extort Brian, but I think I would have a difficult time explaining to my wife why I am receiving photographs of half-naked Alaskanian men in the mail. Of course she might jump to similar conclusions if she found out that I was aksing some motorcycle guy from Idaho if he likes playing gladiator.

gamesgrandpa said...

DW -- Another great blog. I truly look forward to reading your latest-and-greatest each Monday!

Additionally, the comments on each blog are almost as much fun to read as the blogs themselves.

Thanks, again, to coldfoot for creating this blog and for selecting such outstanding writers for it. Excellent!!!

GrillTech said...

To start off, I want to admit A&A mini's aren't something I'm going to be playing. Thats for 2 reasons.

A - I'm just not a WWII mini player.
B - I'm not a Collectable gamer.

Although if they released a "modern" version I'd jump on it.

I think that what we "grognard" gamers are forgetting is that we are all getting older. The gamers I used to sell games to when they were in their teens, I now see with their own teens.

What A&A minis will do is introduce a new generation of gamers to our world of gaming. Yes, A&A minis is not something we old schoolers are going to want to play. But our hobby has to compete in the ADD (note thats ADD not AD&D) ridden world of preteen and teenage kids. These are kids that have grown up with over 200 channels to choose from on TV. More computer and console games then we had board games. This is a generation with the attention span of a cat with a ball of catnip.

A&A minis is a flashy way to grab their attention. The game doesn't take an entire weekend to play and has cool little peices to play with. Take a look at A&A minis on a table next to a game of Panzer Leader. One has little cardboard peices. The other has neat little colored tanks and men. Admit it, your eyes are going to drawn the A&A table.

What we need to do is use A&A minis (as well as a whole slew of games we "pure" gamers sneer at), as a "Gateway drug" to the world of gaming. Let them play it and get bored with it. Then show them what other games are out there.

Heck that kid playing A&A minis today may be the strategist that trounces you in a weekend long epic game of "Victory in the Pacific" tommorrow.

huzonfirst said...

There *is* one charge that can be legitimately leveled against Hasbro, but even that one refers to previous crimes, not present ones. That would be their single-minded acquisition of the vast majority of American game publishers. As a result, there was for a long time much less choice when it came to American titles--you basically accepted what Hasbro was producing, or you went without. The encouraging spate of new U.S. game companies has made this much less of an issue, but it doesn't diminish the censure of the original crime.

You can argue that U.S. law or the nature of capitalism or Avalon Hill's weak releases are also to blame and I wouldn't disagree. But it is also perfectly reasonable to blame Hasbro. No one forced them to snatch up all those companies.

huzonfirst said...

Next point: As one of the 13 BGG posters D.W. cited who dislike excessive luck in games, I'm here to say that there are more of us than his playful hyperbole suggested. Gamers come in all stripes; some like lots of luck, some like lots of chaos, and some like neither. I belong to the last group and, while it may not be the biggest group of gamers around, it's far from tiny. The games don't have to be no-luck abstracts or cerebral affairs like Stephenson's Rocket. But I like to control my own destiny and most uses of dice in games keep me from doing that. I do tend to greatly prefer the luck that comes from cards, as you usually can adjust to any bad breaks you get. But if you keep rolling ones in Risk, there ain't much you can do about it.

Ironically, I'm very fond of *pure* dice games. Pickomino is one of my favorite new designs and Can't Stop is an all-time classic. So it's tough to put gamers into too constrictive a classification, because we keep wriggling out of our descriptive bonds. Games with dice can be a lot of fun and I agree that most people favor them. But a lot of designs that limit chance and chaos are pretty popular as well.

DWTripp said...

Next point: As one of the 13 BGG posters D.W. cited who dislike excessive luck in games, I'm here to say that there are more of us than his playful hyperbole suggested. Gamers come in all stripes; some like lots of luck, some like lots of chaos, and some like neither. I belong to the last group and, while it may not be the biggest group of gamers around, it's far from tiny

You're right. there are more people than the 12 or 13 I mentioned. I'll revise my estimate upwards to, oh... 15 or 16.

In truth, if you consider classic games like chess and Go the total world-wide population that plays games with no chance is much larger. But then we are talking about a niche group of games and their fans.

I'm not at all certain that I see Hasbro as committing any moral crimes by buying the companies they bought. In fact, I think more good than bad comes from homoginized corporate megaliths. Truly creative minds tend to flee the corporate halls and start up their own companies. Not just in the high tech industry either. WotC alone has probably spawned 15 or 20 companies from former employees and TSR many more.

Hasbro likely will be the giant foot that squished out all sorts of creative minds into the hinterlands to make better games than they will ever be capable of.

Mister Johnson says it very well, games like A&A miniatures will, I think, have a trickle-down effect and end up generating a love of board gaming in many more people than might have found our style of game through other avenues.