Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Techniques to Recruit The Non-gamer in Your Home

1-Withholding sustenance. "Supper will be served after a quick game of ______." Note that this only works if you are the chef. This can also backfire when the target non-gamer has access to the checkbook and the car keys.

2-Hide the TV remote. This is a good choice if your target is a couch potato. Better yet, secretly unplug the TV and say it's broken. If TV isn't your only technological competition, you could put in a supply of candles and flashlight batteries and throw the main circuit breaker.

Note that the last suggestion only applies to people who live in secluded areas otherwise the target non-gamer might look out the window and marvel at the lights in all the other houses.

3-The Trade. In exchange for a specified amount of time playing a game with you, you promise to do a chore of equal duration such as wash the dishes, vacuum, or watch that horrid movie you promised yourself you'd NEVER watch again.

4-The Gift Exchange. "Instead of buying me that Makita 18 volt, cordless drill with an extra battery and carrying case, how about spending the day playing games with me?" This is a desperate measure since you're giving up the chance for a nice present on your birthday or other gift-related holiday in exchange for playing games. This technique is not recommended unless you already own all the power tools, kitchen gadgets and useless crap that you want at this time.

5-Pouting/Moping combination. This is often effective but takes time, especially for women since men will immediately assume it's just "that time of the month". You must use a delicate balance of heavy sighs, sitting motionless with a faraway look in your eyes, and wandering around the house aimlessly with an occassional stop at your game collection to touch a game or two, wistfully.

6-The Demonstration. If you have a few friends that would agree to gather at your house to play, this is a great chance to demonstrate what fun games are, what stimulating conversation can ensue, how much those friends can eat.

7-The Solo Demonstration. If you have no friends, you can still use the demonstration technique. Set up a game and play by yourself, laughing loudly, congratulating yourself on brilliant moves and jokingly berating yourself for stupid moves.

Note: This should only be attempted if you already have a history of odd behavior, otherwise you could find yourself in a very small room in need of a game where hand mobility is not required.

8-Ask for Advice. This is a variation of #6 which takes less acting ability but more mental agility. While playing a solo game, ask your target non-gamer their opinion of a strategy you're thinking of or a rule clarification. If you can keep the discussion going, this will draw them unwittingly into a game and before you can say, "Meeples Rule!", you'll be congratulating them on a game well-played.

9-Blackmail. This is a last resort and should not be used lightly. "I know what you did with the body" is subtle yet effective in getting their attention, while at the same time reminding them that Junior would be emotionally scarred if he knew the truth about his long-lived hamster.

10-Begging. Let's not even go there; it's too undignified for a Gamer.

I recently got Architekton and have played it 10 or 12 times, mostly trying to figure it out. Not that it's a difficult game, in fact it's extremely easy; but in trying to figure out why there doesn't seem to be much of a game here. There seems to be very little strategy required beyond the obvious--forcing your opponent to pay when he hasn't enough points--and a great deal of luck in the draw of the tiles is required for that.

You can try to squeeze your opponent by playing on both sides of him in hopes of forcing him to
remove houses, but the luck can turn this tactic against you and leave you with nothing but a split force. You can try the end run but this becomes boring as you play on your side of the board and he plays on his, trading points back and forth. Again, luck must be your partner.

The last few turns don't even require luck as you're usually playing to protect any buildings that have only 2 tiles adjacent to them. If you do get lucky, you could score another house. The final plays, rather than being full of tension, are anticlimactic.

Luck can also favor the beginning player if he's able to place 2 "clean" houses on the first turn, so we tried a variant where the first player can only play 1 tile, which helped with that problem but I still find the game to be not much more entertaining than playing a good game of solitaire.

It's not a totally mindless game, since you always have to check the available tiles for your best move and take into account what you're leaving for your opponent, it just doesn't feel like much of a competition because you're at the mercy of the tiles.

The leaves are starting to turn yellow on the walnut trees and the nights are dropping into the 50's here in the foothills of the Black Hills. You know what that means...we've wasted a summer and have a lot of work to do before winter gets here. Those home improvements that kept getting put off and the cords of wood to cut, split and stack are higher on the list of things to do than playing games. Damn, I hate when life interferes with having fun!

Until next time, remember: Half of being clever is making certain you're not being stupid.



huzonfirst said...

Great list, Mary! Very funny. I only hope you can get some good mileage out of your Hamster blackmail!

You have some good company in your feelings about Architekton; for example, both Ben Baldanza and Stuart Dagger gave it a thumbs down in the latest issue of Counter. But there are also some notable gamers who like it. I may have to hunt down a copy and see who's telling the truth!

Rick said...

What Trippy said, Mary. ;)

Melissa said...

I hope you've already got that drill, as it sounds like you often do this :)

Coldfoot said...

Yes, Grog, we do have walnut trees. Yes, they are a mess to deal with. And the stupid nuts are so hard you have to run over them with a steam roller to crack them. Of course, this leaves nut mush--so not very useful. Some kind of giant moth also thinks they're great for laying eggs so most summers find the leaves decimated by ugly hairless caterpillars (would they be just green worms, then?) as big around as your thumb and up to 6" long.

Dame Koldfoot said...

I always know Coldie is up to something when I hear the "do you want foot rub?" or "gee, your ass looks great in those grungy sweat pants," or "no, you sit and let me do the dishes" line. Whenever I hear those I know he either really wants to play with the guys, but promised to do something around the house (like fix the siding by the dog house) or he has bought a new game and playing it with me will justify the purchase. Gotta love the guys.

Coldfoot said...

Steve, I don't usually do the formal "meal is served" thing. I was raised with "come and get it or I'll throw it to the hogs", but prefer a simple "it's time to eat, get your butts in here".