Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Forget 2020, Look to the New Year

 “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

Seneca

The new year begins in only a few days. Although we want to forget the dumpster fire of 2020 and put it well behind us, its ruinous effects on various levels will unfortunately continue wreaking havoc with life as we know it well into the new year. For some it has and will continue to plunge them deeper into physical and economic hardship, a malicious result of America’s reliance on cruel capitalism for the masses and corporate welfare for the privileged few. In past New Year’s holidays I’ve waxed nostalgic about the prior year, reflecting on one as we stumble into the next. Looking back on what the world has lost in 2020 offers little comfort, especially knowing that the first months of 2021 hold more of the relentless challenges and upheavals we’ve endured since March. We must all reflect on how the pandemic has affected and will continue to impact our lives, communities, and world in our own way. Although I’ve looked back at how the pandemic has changed my own life, especially as related to the adventure gaming hobby, I take some comfort looking forward to the coming year when we can appreciate some of the adjustments we’ve made in these unprecedented times and anticipate an eventual return to cherished activities we suspended to survive the Year of the Pandemic.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

The Light within the Darkness

 The universe is monstrously indifferent to the presence of man.”

Werner Herzog

The light and the cuddly darkness;
Vader the cat relaxes by our
faux fireplace.
Most holidays this time of year focus on the theme of a tiny light within the universe’s vast darkness. The candles on the Kwanzaa kinara. The twinkling lights on the Christmas tree. The procession of candles on the Hanukkah menorah. The Diwali lights in oil lamps, candles, and lanterns. The Yule log and bonfires. Finding hope in this especially bleak time in the Plague Year remains a challenge...and yet with the development of vaccines we find renewed hope amid a devastating pandemic. With the advent of this hope for humanity – as well as the hope in the light within the darkness we celebrate during this season – we can reflect on the bright spots that have kept us going. I expect I’m not alone in saying the adventure gaming hobby has certainly helped sustain me through America’s hellscape response to the covid-19 pandemic.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Skirmish Wargame for Kids

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.”

Carl Jung

I’m off on another game-design diversion. Frequent readers know I’m a proponent of games suitable for kids and gaming newcomers. Goodness knows I’ve developed a few of them myself, most notably Valley of the Ape and Panzer Kids. This time I had some new motivation from my son, who has collected a few wargaming minis of his own. In my own gaming I often settle for playing with the toys I have, though I collect and try painting more to expand my options. In this vein I often have to compromise in the battles I fight, choosing smaller engagements. I’d explored a few skirmish games in the past; instead of a base or crowd of figures representing units like companies and regiments, each individual figure represents one soldier. These seemed like the perfect format for playing games with the wargaming toys my son already has...and will receive as part of his Yuletide holiday hoard of presents.

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Exploring Thousand Suns

For one of my many pandemic diversions this year I picked up a copy of James Maliszewski’s Thousand Suns roleplaying game. It’s lingered on the periphery of my gaming radar for a while. I’m an admirer of the author’s T├ękumel fanzine, The Excellent Travelling Volume, as well as his Grognardia blog. Having enjoyed classic Traveller back in the day – my “Golden Age of Roleplaying” in the early and mid 1980s – Thousand Suns’ allure of “imperial science fiction” appealed to my gaming nostalgia. So I ordered a print-on-demand copy of the second, more generously illustrated edition and started reading.