Monday, April 1, 2013

International Tabletop Day

I was fortunate enough to participate in International Tabletop Day over the weekend, and I had a great time. One of our local gaming stores was running an all-day open gaming event, and I was able to try out a few games I've never played before:
  • Tsuro is a light, quick, visually-attractive strategy game. I think I played it three times, though I was never able to develop my own strategy beyond "meander around in the middle of the board until I run out of room, and then spend the last three or so turns just trying not to get forced out." Presumably a more dedicated player would start to learn the tactics of positioning and planning ahead.
  • Ticket to Ride is a fairly popular and successful game about building cross-country trains. At first glance it doesn't look substantially more complex than Candyland, but once you start playing, the rewards of proper planning and competitive play become more apparent. It took longer to play that I expected; I think we were at it for an hour and a half, though some of that could have been due to floundering about trying to interpret the rules.
  • Zombie House Blitz is a real-time, zombie-themed card game that just barely squeaked over its Kickstarter goal this weekend. I didn't really fully grasp the rules while I was playing, and as I've mentioned before, I really don't need to see any more zombie-themed products, but the players who knew what they were doing seemed to be having a good time. (The Kickstarter page seems to suggest that no physical copies of the game are going to be produced for anyone besides Kickstarter backers; possibly the game art and rules will be made available for print-and-play purposes later.
The overall event organizers over at Geek and Sundry were transmitting an all-day live stream of games they were playing, with occasional videos from gaming stores all over the country (and beyond; I know I saw some footage of gamers down at the South Pole). The scope and reach of participation in this event really amazed me. So many people in the world spend a great deal of time and effort trying to find ways to be jerks to each other; the Geek and Sundry team just wanted to get people around the world to play games for the fun of it, and I find that inspiring and refreshing.

My only problem with the event is that I find a crowded basement full of gamers to be a challenging environment in which to learn a new game from scratch. Noise and confusion aside, I personally am terrible at explaining the rules of a game to people. I tend to explain the rules as they become necessary during play, which means that I don't really talk about the victory conditions until the game is done, which means that everyone who didn't already understand the goals of the game is pretty much screwed at that point. Learning these games would have been less stressful and more effective in a nice, quiet, relaxed living room somewhere.

Still, Mary Lynn and I had a lot of fun, and I'm already looking forward to participating again next year.