Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Happy New Year

The Jewish holidays are upon us. Starting Monday night and going until Wednesday night is Rosh Hashana (the new year). That's why I'm posting this blog entry early.

Next week we have Yom Kippur, Wed night to Thursday night. After that, Monday night to Tuesday night is the "first night" of Sukkot (Tabernacles to you Latin speakers; outside of Israel, the "first night" is two nights instead of one, and therefore goes until Wed night) and the following Monday night to Tuesday night is Shmini Atzeret/Simchat Torah (I won't translate that one for you. Suffice to say, a strange combination of praying for rain and dancing around semi-drunk; again, outside of Israel, two nights.)

The JSGC is hosting a Game Day on Oct 23.

God willing, the day after Simchat Torah, Wed night, Oct 26, I am headed for Dallas, in order to be at BGG.con. While in the U.S., I hope to get a chance to pimp my game. To whom ... I'm not exactly sure. I hope, at least, to get a chance to talk to the publisher currently interested in it. I will have other copies to play at the con and to send to game groups and reviewers who may be interested, in the hopes of generating some combination of critical feedback/good review in order to spur on publication.

Contact me if you want a copy.

I will also be bringing complete sets of the best/most interesting of my Puerto Rico buildings (while I'm making mockups of my game, why not print these at the same time? I asked myself. Why not indeed? I replied.). Contact me if you want a copy.

So, what is it about cons? I've never been to one. The closest I ever came was back in the days when my information about the gaming world came from Dragon magazines. I really wanted to go to Gen Con. I lived in NY, and Gen Con was in Ohio. The only person I knew who could drive and might be interested in going was Gary, otherwise known as "The Prince of Darkness". He said that it wasn't worth it - he calculated the cost of the trip based on how many speeding tickets he could expect to receive every 100 miles.

That didn't stop me from planning what I would do at Gen Con down to the last detail. The Gen Con supplement in the Dragon had a list of every scheduled game session, according to module type, game system, DM, and who knows what else. It must have been 20-30 pages of information in teensy script. I made this huge calendar and went through every single session description looking for the most normal, and therefore the most interesting games, to me. No wierd systems, no "humorous" games - just adventure, thievery, hack-and-slash. Straight AD&D.

The exception was a good game of Cosmic Encounter, which was occasionally scheduled, if I recall correctly. I was always up for that.

I filled out the registration form, making sure every block of time, morning to night, was filled with exactly what I wanted to do and play. I just never mailed it. Sad.

I must have had tons more fun preparing for the con then I ever would have had actually going. How much do we actually experience while something is happening, anyway, compared to the anticipation of it happening? I remember my first wedding; actually, I remember the blur that was my first wedding.

My D&D campaigns were the same. It didn't matter if I was the player or the DM. As the player, I read and re-read the Player's Guide a dozen times, looking for every little rule in the equipment (including making my own), the spells, and the languages that never came into play. The alignments - yeesh. As the DM, every page of the DMG and the MMs: I, II, and the FF. Every potion chart. Every word about weather. Of course, I then went on to design dungeons with an endless series of 30 by 30 rooms and random monsters and treasure. Sure, playing was fun. But think of all the enjoyment I got off-hours.

That must have been why, when the nineties came around, Magic was such a natural fit for me. A game that required preparation. Yes! I never had tons of money to spend, and frankly, I never really cared. I bought maybe a few dozen starters and boosters, traded for a few hundred commons, and inherited a few thousand commons from a friend (all of which I gave away to others to help them start their own collections).

I built and rebuilt decks. I scoured and read every major site on Magic strategy and deck building - The Dojo, MTG-STRATEGY-L, r.g.t-c.m.s, etc... I never had any of the key cards in the major tournament decks, except by some accident (I had a Necro or two, an Armageddon, etc...) I had no desire to go spend more than 10 cents on any card. Never did. Never will. I had no desire to play competitive in the cons. I played with my friends.

We played constructed deck maybe five or six times when we first started, because that was what the rulebook said. Then we began mixing cards together and played draft games, and we never looked back. The building, the preparing, the playing - they are a lot of fun. Beating someone because I have better cards than they do isn't.

Now I have a game group. I read tons of web sites. I buy very few games. Before I play, I read all the rules, try to make everything ready before people come. More preparation.

And preparation for the con. I still don't know what is going to happen, but I scour web sites looking for things to do, people to play with. And I will be missing half of it! I will be staying near the Valley Mall, about 8 miles north of downtown on Willow, so from Friday evening until Saturday evening I will be unable to play. Unless some kind souls want to travel up to the house I'll be staying in, in which case I can play with you there.

And how do I budget my time? Do I plan on playing all Thursday night, possibly missing gaming on Friday, or sleep Thursday night and play on Friday? What about Saturday night/Sunday? Will there be a place for me to drop off in the hotel, since I won't be staying there? What is going to happen? Panic in the streets!

This brings me back to the New Year. The Jewish New Year is one of repentance, and looking forward to doing better in the coming year, kind of like New Year's resolutions times a thousand. From the outside, it looks like Rosh Hashana is one (two) day(s) of preparation for a year of activity, but that is incorrect. We spend thirty days before Rosh Hashana preparing for one/two days of prayer and transformation. That transformation is then supposed to carry us through the year, because afterwards we are supposed to be better people.

So which is it? The preparation? The doing? Both? That kind of tension is what makes life interesting.



sodaklady said...

Happy New Year, Yehuda. And have a wonderful time at BGG.con.

Anonymous said...

I'll echo sodaklady's wishes!

Also, I used to really get into preparation for AD&D and M:tG, too. However, since the advent of BSW and other online gaming resources, I now greatly prefer games with less out-of-session prep time needed.