Reunited & It Feels So Good

Reunited & It Feels So Good

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Board Games; What's Not to Love

As we celebrate Valentines Day this week, I thought I would doodle about my love of board games. No matter what my wife thinks, it is a love that pales in comparison to my love of my wife and our three sons (Tammy & I will celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary this October).

Oh my lovely board games, let me count the ways..... It would be too easy to blog on my most favorite game that I love, or a grail that I hope to find this coming year. It is true, I love the art of the game, and the creative energy that releases as a game is brought to the table. I love the tension, the table talk, and the meta game between opponents. I love the companionship, and wonderful friends that I have made over the years. What I truly love the most are my cherished memories. Just this last month I have played over 20 games of Ticket to Ride with my wife. Just after my surgery in January, Paul and Pat came over to check on me while soundly defeating me in Agricola and Tzolkin. Even this past Sunday was a wonderful time as I taught Alien Frontiers to my friends Brady, Kat, and Dawson. Here are a few of my most loved gaming memories.

As my gaming interests grew, I was introduced to Risk while visiting a new boy who had moved into my school in 8th grade (197) Jim. I remember during a snow day, my mother drove me over to Jim’s house, where we played Risk for hours. He had a wonderful game collection that included Axis & Allies, and Broadsides. Eventually, I got my own copy of Risk, and I spent even more hours adding additional territories and expansion.

While playing cards and dominoes was a regular part of the Endres family tradition, each summer I would spent several weeks with my grandmother Endres in Wichita. During that visit, I would beg and plead to spend the night with my great uncle Walter. After dinner, he would set up the dominoes on his kitchen table. While playing, he would tune in a radio station on his world band radio. While I don’t remember many of the games outcomes, it was always a wonderful time.

My dad was the original card shark. He loved all types of card games. He kept a deck of cards on the first floor, his bedroom, and in all of his suit cases. During quiet times, I can still hear him shuffling the cards and dealing a hand of solitaire. Eventually, he taught me how to play Kings on the Corner. He was notorious for hold cards that he could play, or that would benefit me in any way.

My dad was a very hard worker, and my mother and I spent many evenings waiting for him to come home. When my mother’s chores/tasks were finished, she loved to play Scrabble. My mother was a very smart individual. Before marrying, she was an artist with Hallmark Cards. She insisted that we play without using the dictionary. It was her opinion that if you could not spell or think of a word, using a dictionary was cheating. I still have our scoring sheets in my childhood copy of Scrabble. A great treasure indeed!

I have taken all three of my sons to GenCon in Indy. Granted, when they go, it is a very different experience than when I go with just my buddies. I purposely pick games that I think they will enjoy. The requirements are that they must be easy to learn and teach. During Ryan (10) and Hunter’s (8) first GenCon, I convinced my wife to let me take Ryan to a late night game of Zombies by Twilight Creations. Ryan is so bright, that within a few turns, it was clear that he just might beat a table full of adult men. Subsequently, a few opponents also realized this, and began to plot against Ryan. As they cornered him (cutting off his path to win the game) I drew a card which allowed me to switch player token positions. I switched my token with Ryan’s, thus allowing him a clear path to victory. Several of the other players were annoyed with me as I “kingmade” Ryan. Ryan had no idea as he was proudly sporting a new Zombie t-shirt.

A truly break through game appeared in 1993 at the Origins Game Fair called Magic the Gathering. I was captivated (my wife would say addicted.) Eventually I stopped buying and playing the cards as it became overwhelming to keep up with the onslaught of new cards, game mechanics, and evolving rules. While I no longer follow Magic, I kept a dozen or so very playable decks. My very dear friend, Rob was introduced to Magic much later, and it became a bond between us. Several times a year, we have gotten together and found time to play game after game. We have played in restaurants, on-line, in an airport, and at our homes. His rats have attacked my slivers who attacked his goblins who were being attacked by my elves. While I am not nor plan to renew my addiction to MtG, I hope to play endless games in the future with Rob. I hate his rat deck!

While coming home from GenCon in 2005, Paul, Andy, Ryan and myself decided to host a winter gaming party (that celebrates mine and Pat’s birthdays.) Thus White Dragon Con was born. While not a huge event, we have had 20 or so gamers attend the past several years. The gaming swag is a pair of specially designed dice. During White Dragon in 2007, my father joined us and was enthralled with a dexterity game call Crokinole. It was my father’s last White Dragon Con.

Almost every game session with my youngest son Ian is a cherished memory. This winter I set up and taught Ian and two of his buddies how to play Angry Birds Star Wars. As the Death Star crumbled, they all cheered. Ian has been to three GenCons and all of them have provided wonderful times. During his second Gencon he sank two pirate ships with his British Lego Man-O-War. Last year he played King of Tokyo with the game designer Dr. Richard Garfield who is well known for designing Magic the Gathering. It was such a memorable experience for him that he re-themed the game into The King of Bunker Hill for his most recent Revolutionary War school project.


The cherished memories is what I love the most!!

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Monster Cafe
The Lair of the Dark Horde
Fortune and Glory Days

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  1. Nice post. It's funny how the stuff with sentimental value always tops the stuff that's worth big bucks. Same for me.

  2. Another great post this week, Gary! I didn't understand half the things you were talking about but it made me want to break out a boardgame with my boys (they're a little younger than yours). I'm looking forward to the days when my kids can hold their own in a long game of Risk with me.

  3. I never have anyone to PLAY boardgames with it seems... but I collect them all the same. Not to the degree you do of course, but whenever I find a fun-looking one at Goodwill, it comes home.