Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Yuletide Game Reflections

On January 7 we slip past the 12 Days of Christmas and back into the cold, dark, drudgery of the New Year, facing numerous tasks postponed by a month-long holiday preparation and celebration plus the inevitable disappointment when we break our New Year’s Resolutions (a ritual I’ve long since abandoned). It’s easy this time of year to descend into the depths contemplating the misery of reality, to allow the real-world anxieties to wash up over our temporary yet festive bulwark of holiday jubilation. So forgive me if I reflect on the fun game-related bits of this passing yuletide celebration in a futile attempt to prolong the uplifting spirit of the season.

Right before the holidays I had an unexpected treat: the copy of Trilemma Adventures compendium I’d supported through Kickstarter arrived. I stole glances at this beautiful gaming artifact on the few occasions I had free time during the holidays. I was impressed not only by the wonderful cutaway location illustrations and exotic elements for each setting – all of which I’d seen before at the Trilemma Adventures website – but at the amazing production values behind the hardcover book, including full-color, endpaper maps, bookmark ribbon, and high-quality paper. A limited number of these gorgeous books are still for sale; you can read the adventures online for free (or download them as individual PDFs), but the compendium combines them with additional material in a truly keepsake package.

I remain grateful I have so many generous people in my life who help me enjoy the adventure gaming hobby. A friend looked up my Amazon wish list and sent along a Cardassian ship for Star Trek Attack Wing as thanks for the stollen I send him annually. My family gave me a host of game-related gifts, including Osprey books on Midway and Wilderness and Spotsylvania, a French Indian War expansion for the Hold the Line American Revolution game I got last year, Steve Jackson Games’ Cthulhu Dice, 5-Minute Dungeon, the Cruel Seas starter set and PT boat box, and Ravensberger’s cooperative board game of Universal monsters, Horrified.

After the holiday proper I realized I had some Amazon gift card credit, so I used it to buy some Japanese MTBs for Cruel Seas, Scott Malthouse’s Romance of the Perilous Land roleplaying game (recently given a professional release by Osprey Publishing), and another Cardassian ship for Star Trek Attack Wing.

(As frequent readers might suspect, I’m bound to feature some of these new games here on Hobby Games Recce as the inspiration strikes me.)

The games are already making it to the table. I’ve already tested out the Cruel Seas rules in a few solo scenarios with unpainted ships (I can already hear the wargaming grognards crying “Blasphemy!”). Once I get more Japanese ships I might be able to tempt a friend who likes WWII Pacific history to give it a try. My son’s studying Virginia and American history this year, so the Hold the Line games are ideal for providing some experiential context. And we’ve already given Horrified a few plays to familiarize ourselves with the rules and play against our favorite monsters.

We spent our holiday celebrations quietly at home, with a friend over for Christmas and New Year’s for good food, fellowship, a few games, and binge-watching The Mandalorian. We managed to see Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker twice. For once it was a relaxed experience to look back on fondly – beyond the mere materialistic acquisition of presents – as a peaceful, bright time in the midst of the dark chaos of the universe. I hope everyone had a wondrous holiday season filled with fellowship, good food, and plenty of gaming goodness to provide a positive start to the New Year.

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