Wednesday, August 10, 2005

The Yellow Brick Score Track

I assume I got into this hobby like many other people did--looking for a little harmless fun. I didn't know the power of what I was dealing with; I didn't know the allure would be so overpowering.

It was an innocent purchase--Lost Cities, to fill that "Christmas game" slot one year. After reading the rules, which is my job in our family, I thought, "Hmmm, doesn't sound like much", but after one play I realized that there was more here than meets the eye. This simple set of rules could lead to some difficult choices; there's luck here but maybe I can do something about it.

Carcassonne was next, so different from my idea of what a game was; then Puerto Rico, an eye-opening game with so many important choices. I had taken that first step on the Yellow Brick Score Track and could not turn around, pulled toward the Emerald City of Games.

At first I placed this new breed of games along side the mundane games from other years--Risk, Yahtzee, The Farming Game, Aggravation, Rack-o, Crack the Case, Perquackey and Boggle--but I soon outgrew that space. Using my female powers of Organization and Rearranging, I freed two shelves in a small closet to house my quickly-growing collection, the tangible proof of my obsession.

A few months later, I was well on my way down the Track and the closet was full; I needed a stool to reach the top games. A new bookshelf was added to the library, filled with games from all genres (Except war games. Those would come a little later). They ran the gamut from fluffy, fun games to the heavy-thinking gamer games; there were games for just 2, games that are best with 3 or 4, and one game that acomodates up to 10 (6 Nimmt). I made some games you could print for free and mocked up some others because I couldn't find them.

Through this period of trial and error, I learned the types of games--the mechanics, complexity, depth of play and amount of interaction--that appeal to me and, more importantly, to my family. I still buy a lot of games, but now I do it with a better understanding of what to look for and what to side-step. My biggest problem now is that I've nearly filled the bookshelf so it's time to don my superhero cape once more and find some way to make room for future additions to my collection.

I'm still traveling the Yellow Brick Score Track with my gamer friends. I don't know if it's possible to reach the Emerald City of Games, but I do know that once you set foot on the first brick on the track, there is very little chance you'll ever turn back.

Fjordes is a new game at my house and I have to tell you, my husband and I really like it. I know I shouldn't because it has that whole luck-of-the-draw/can't-place-ANOTHER-damned-piece thing going, but I can't help myself. It's like eating potato chips--you know there's better things in the kitchen you could choose like fruit, yogurt or those frozen pork eggrolls (come on, there's veggies in them!) but you're drawn to the greasy, salty chips.

I've tried to figure out why I enjoy this game so much and I just don't know. Maybe I'm too stupid to be terribly annoyed with its quirks, or I'm so brilliant I can see past them to the clever game underneath. I know I have an unnatural attraction to map-building so that may account for some of it. I also like the 'Go' half of the game, deciding on the perfect spot for that first field piece but, unlike 'Go', you don't have to see several moves ahead. In any case, the more we play it, the better it gets.

The last game we played (3 rounds), we didn't have as many pieces that had to be set aside. In fact, one round was played without one unuseable piece being drawn. Were we lucky or can more careful planning of tile placement create a more accessible board? It also seems that I had more chances to make useful plays rather than being forced into just one position. Again, was it luck or does a bit of planning pay off?

Finally, let's not ignore the fact that it plays quickly and my husband will play it without too much whining on my part. No matter what the reason, Fjordes is sitting on the kitchen table, ready at a moment's notice to entertain us for 40 minutes or so.
Miscellaneous Ramblings

The back porch rebuilding is going well. Yesterday we tore down the old one and got the framework for the new one up. Today, the decking, stairs and railing are on the agenda. How nice to have a porch that doesn't creak and wobble. Tucker, our Corgi, isn't too thrilled right now, though, since he can't get out the back door.

Now for something on the serious side of life: last Thursday, 4 days before the official beginning of the Sturgis Rally, the first motorcyclist was killed. Most years see the death of 4 or 5, sometimes as many as 10, and it's often due to inexperience, especially as they ride through the twisting canyons of the Black Hills. But not this time. A Colorado man was sitting at an intersection waiting to turn onto a state road when he was rear-ended by a drunk driver in a pickup truck.

My heart always goes out to the friends and family who waved good-bye with wishes for a great vacation. When the phone rings, are they expecting to hear from their loved one only to hear the voice of an unknown police officer?

Don't drive when you've been drinking. I don't care how well you handle alcohol, or that you think you're not drunk--you're fine. It's just not worth the risk you take. And it's not worth a few years in prison for manslaughter.

So until next time, safe gaming to everyone.


Coldfoot said...

In recent weeks we had something like 3 DUI fatalities in 4 days.

One was a man who ran over a kid. He got out of his car drug the kid off the road, got back in his car and continued home. A passer-by followed him home and contacted troopers on his cell phone. When the drunk got out of his car at his home he offered the passer-by a wad of cash to just forget about the whole thing.

Not sad enough? How 'bout this. The kid's 8 year-old little brother hid in the bushes along the road and watched the guy hide his dying brother body.

Only idiots drink and drive.

Coldfoot said...

I forgot to add:

More recently the lady who got a DUI shortly after retrieveing her car from the impound lot caused another big stir. She collected 3 DUIs in a week.

Happily, she didn't kill anyone.

She has a history of DUIs, I want to know why she was out of jail after the first one of the week, much less the second.

Melissa said...

Ahh the lure of the ever-increasing gamespace. I'm in the process of converting our spare room from a total disaster area to spare room (pretty well there now) to games room (give me another couple of months).

And the DUI stuff? I just don't understand why people do it. I like a drink as much as the next person, but it's not hard to (a) stop or (b) not start in the first place BECAUSE YOU ARE DRIVING A DEADLY WEAPON. Morons.