Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Holiday Gaming Cheer

Despite an overly hectic holiday season overshadowed by a week-long pilgrimage to visit family in New England – tempered with a nice persistent head cold – I managed to find some solace amid the chaotic drama and logistical nightmare of traveling at this time of year. My family and friends were quite generous bringing gaming goodness to brighten this darkest time of the year and the bleak winter months (and I’ll admit I treated myself, too). The season offers a reason to indulge and invite others to indulge my adventure gaming interests. This year was no exception. In the past I’ve discussed how the December holidays seem a magical time perfect for such escapist pursuits as board and roleplaying games with friends and family. Although this season was fraught with chaos, I appreciate the game-related cheer that brightened my holidays.

Armies in Plastic Order: Right before the holidays I took advantage of the Armies in Plastic year-end sale to fill out some forces in my collection. The last time I treated myself to their excellent 54mm plastic miniatures was two years ago, so I thought it was high time to add a few more units for some larger-scale skirmishes I’d like to try using Daniel Mersey’s The Men Who Would Be Kings rules published by Osprey (which I’ve featured before here at Hobby Games Recce). A few packs of Gordon Relief Expedition camel corps, enough for one unit of mounted infantry and a few pack camels as scenario goals and a few more Ansar horsemen for a full cavalry unit of Dervishes.

Ia Cthulhu! Two Cthulhu-related books arrived as gifts before the holidays. An old friend sent me a sweet hardcover compilation of H.P. Lovecraft stories, complete with bookmark ribbon and shimmery foil octopus artwork on the cover. I have 30 year-old paperback versions of most of the relevant pieces, but this volume is a keepsake. Another friend ordered a copy of Alone Against the Dark, the reprint of the classic Call of Cthulhu solitaire adventure.

Adventure Dice: To aid me in my solitaire dungeon delving my wife got me two packs of DungeonMorph Dice, the adventurer and explorer sets. These oversized six-siders present interlocking dungeon sections with different themes, perfect for randomly determining adventuring spaces to explore.

Books: For me the holidays wouldn’t be complete without a small pile of books to curl up with on Christmas day (or after whenever it is we open presents these days). This year was no exception. Of course the aforementioned tomes brightened my season, but I also received other game-related volumes. My brother got me Osprey books on the Battle of Hastings and Pearl Harbor, both fueling my gaming interests in those periods, having backed Daniel Mersey’s Battle Ravens game on Kickstarter and explored the attack on Pearl Harbor as my son has pursued his curiosity about various historical periods (with potential game activities...). My parents got me two books: the Star Wars Yt-1300 Corellian Freighter (Owners Workshop Manual) Haynes manual and Dungeons & Dragons Art & Arcana: A Visual History. The latter gave me nostalgic goosebumps as I perused the first third of it reliving my earliest days immersed in D&D in high school. It’ll find a hallowed place on my bookshelf of adventure gaming hobby history.

Liberty: My brother also got me Columbia Games’ block game Liberty: The American Revolution 1775-83. I missed out on the Kickstarter of Bobby Lee years ago, but it introduced me to the concept of block games with its logical fog of war approach. As I’m also interested in the American War of Independence (AWI in wargamer parlance) I figured Liberty would serve as an engaging introduction to block games.

Doctor Who Games: If games had a theme this year, it was Doctor Who. I’ve always enjoyed the series, both as a kid with the classic episodes and as an adult with the snazzy new productions; my son is also going through a Doctor Who phase (again), immersing himself in several boxed sets for the 11th and 12th Doctor he received as gifts. In our stockings Christmas morning we found a set of Doctor Who-themed Rory’s Story Cubes to share. At the first comic/game store we visited our travels – That’s E in Worcester, MA – we bought Gale Force 9’s Doctor Who Time of the Daleks game (alas, I didn’t find any classic D&D material I was hoping for), finding its cooperative nature particularly appealing. In our other game store stop – Gamer’s Gambit in Danbury, CT – we picked up Doctor Who Fluxx, continuing our Doctor Who kick. I’ve never played any version of the ubiquitous Fluxx games, so this seemed an appropriately themed introduction.

So I have plenty of fuel for my 2019 gaming endeavors. What’s on the horizon? Alone Against the Dark offers one more venue in my continued exploration of solitaire gaming, both in the roleplaying and board game formats. The DungeonMorph Dice will offer inspiration to any solo delving I pursue. Although I’ll test out Liberty as a solo wargame to familiarize myself with the rules, it will come in handy in the fall when my son’s class begins exploring Virginia and early American history. Other gifts enhance my various endeavors, whether it be miniature wargaming with Armies in Plastic 54mm figures, reading about historical periods and gaming’s golden age, or getting in the mood for Cthulhu gaming. With the vast expanse of games I view from my office desk I feel obliged, if not encouraged, to revive our weekly Family Game Nights. We’ve slacked off in recent months, but I feel it’s a good activity to bring the family together for a fun, shared experience and a chance to unplug from tablets, cell phones, and laptops, even for just an hour or two. Certainly our influx of Doctor Who games provides an engaging theme to excite potential players.

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