Gaming for a Cure

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Jodie's Blog

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Master of the Game

Posted by gamingforacure on January 19, 2012 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Wow, has it already been a year since I posted a Blog Entry?!?!? So, I am a bit off on posting an entry every month!

Lots of things have happened over the past year. Marriages, games come and gone, friendly gatherings, but all of this is moot. You came here looking for the goods! Gaming Goods!

Well then, I guess I can not disappoint you. . .

This entry focuses on the Game Master, or the person who is in charge of running the said game on any given game night. Who is this person? Who should they be? What do they do? Who cares?

When Hosting any game, wether it be a board game night with the family, or sitting down to your first game of a long running RPG campaign, the Game Master is the most important individual in the room. Not only are they responsible for most of the work, but they must have a firm hold of the game rules and be able to engage and entertain those there to play.

I have Game Mastered my fair share of games over the years, most of which were probably horrible... In fact I remember one D&D session in college where we very nearly destroyed the World of Greyhawk by invoking the name of Vecna and Iuz, then proceeded to break out their stats and dual it off to see who would win...(but that is a story for another nerd filled time)!

What I learned though from my years of GMing was that you must have a good imagination, you HAVE to be flexible and you must be willing to laugh. Putting on a good serious game is one thing, but sooner or later one of the players is going to say something like, "Sweet! Are we getting super powers now?!?!" or "I attack the calmness settling over the room" and if you, as Game Master, don't take it with a grain of salt, things could go south real quick. Games are designed for us to stretch our imaginations and for us to relax after a long week of work and stress. A little laughter during a game is good for the soul.

All in all though, the biggest job of a Game Master is being a good Storyteller. Being a fanboy and wannabe writer, I have read countless books, aritcles and websites on how to be a good Game Master ( or for the lack of a better pun, how to Master the Game...) Some of them were bad... real bad, but some of them were fantastic references on how to deal with everthing from player boredom to random items you might find in a dungeon.

If you are as a big of fan as I am, you will know the urge to become a better storyteller and entertainer. Little things like changing the tone of your voice when describing a "bad guy" to dressing in period clothing can make  the hack -n- slack drudgery turn into an event to remember! So to help you grow in skill, remember to prepare ahead of time, laugh a little and don't be afraid to live a little!

Below are some links to a varity of items and websites that I found helpful in my gaming career. I hope you enjoy them as much as I have!

And if you happen to be in Northern Michigan on Feb 4th, 2012 please take this as a personal invitation to Gaming For A Cure WinterFest. Directions and more information can be found on this website. Thank you for your continued support.

Until next time, Game on!

Paizo Publishing's Game Mastery Guide

Wizards of the Coast D&D Legends and Lore articles

Kimberly Chapman's Words about Being a Good Game Master

And one of my favorite Monte Cook interviews from Critical Hits.com

The time is nye!

Posted by gamingforacure on April 20, 2011 at 12:22 PM Comments comments (0)

Sorry that the blog has been so lacking lately, things have been very complicated around the offices here. I have been planning for a wedding and in the process of purchasing a house. Our Webmaster Don had fallen very ill and is slowly climbing back to health in Ann Arbor. So as you can see things have been kinda crazy!

But fear not the gang here at GFAC are working hard to bring you another great event this year! We have a lot of sponsors from last year that are continuing their support and a variety of new sponsors as well.

Updates for both the Cherry Capital Con and our Main Event can be found on the front page of this website.

Now on to the real reason we are here. To bask in the glow of the Founders Words of Gaming Wisdom! Or rather the Random Ramblings of a Fanboy...

 Lately I have been infatuated by board games. They have taken on a new level of amazingness over the years and I for one am very excited about the possibilties of board games in the future. In my heyday as a gamer during college we all enjoyed games like Axis & Allies, Risk, and Stratego. I remember one game of Risk that lasted for 5 days! Which was great when you had the time and space to leave a game in progress for so long, but now that we are older and have full time jobs, families and responsibilites those are luxuries that we no longer have. But there is no reason we should give up quality games.

Yes we might at times spend an evening playing Shoots and Ladders with our family, but we as Gamers need more involved gameplay and serious competition, even if it is among friends.

One company that has peeked my interest over the past year or so is Fantasy Flight Games. Their group of designers and artists are second to none. Every game they produce combines beautiful components, in depth game play, and extremely well crafted pieces. Case in point, a few months ago Buddy, one of our fellow gamers here at the local FGS, brought in his copy of the Horus Heresy Boardgame and was looking for someone to play with. I was one of only a few people in the store and while everyone, including myself was not in the mood for a game, I caved anyway and agreed to give this MASSIVE game a try. As usual, once the box was open and the components began spilling out, I was in Gamer Heaven. Everything was beautiful and masterfully crafted. The 3D board really brought a cool new feature and once all of the hundreds of figures and cards were in place I nearly peed myself in excitement!

While Buddy gave me the crash course on the rules, I had to admit that I was hardly listening as I was entranced by the pagentry of it all. Finally we got underway and the game came to life! The guys at Fantasy Flight really captured the feel of the Final Battle of Treachery that is a pivital moment in the Warhammer 40,000 universe. I felt the rush of anticipation as my demonic forces crashed in to the outer walls of the Imperial Palace and then the stress of battle as Horus' ship was infiltrated by the Emperor himself and the Final Showdown took place.

All in all it was a great time and we had many onlookers who were cheering for both sides (well maybe not cheering, but they differently had their favorites). Fantasy Flight definately gave me an afternoon of fun and fantasy, which has also come from many of their other titles as well, including Talisman, Battlestar Galactica, Sid Meyer's Civilization, and City of Thieves.

All have extremely well created game components and endless replayability. Try a few out, check out their fantastic reviews on www.boardgamegeek.com and come see them played on July 16th at our Main Event.

More information about their games can be found at www.fantasyflightgames.com

Until next month, Enjoy life and Game On!

~Jodie~

GADD (Gaming Attention Deficit Disorder)

Posted by gamingforacure on February 16, 2011 at 10:31 PM Comments comments (0)

I recently heard an NPR program about new studies into Attention Deficit Disorder and what some doctors now think might be the root cause of said disorder. The doctor that was interviewed said that our world is been bombarded with so much technology and advertisement all of which is aimed directly at our heads 24 hours a day.

Buy this product, use this phone, join our bank, sell your junk here, etc. We have a constant stream of info smashing the frontal lobe of our brains making our adrenaline producing glands work on overload, causing us overdue stress and unnecessary complications. The good doctor provided this analogy:

“Picture yourself as a caveman. You are our picking berries for the evening meal, when over the hill comes a saber-toothed tiger! Your brain tells you that you have 2 choices. You can both stay and continue to pick berries and become the tigers dinner, or you can run the heck away and live to pick berries another day! When this situation happens the brain sends a quick burst of adrenaline to the brain, helping to speed your decision making process.”

Now picture yourself as a citizen of just about any country of the world today. You are walking down to the corner store to grab a burrito for dinner when you are assaulted by the sound of a car driving by at high speed, blaring its radio. A homeless gent asks if you can spare some change, and a would be politician hands you a flyer imploring you to vote for him this election day. Once inside, the food vendor pushes a high calorie and delicious treat, one of forty some choices.

See the difference?

The situation is fundamentally the same. You are given a choice, and in the later scenario, many choices. The brain does not differentiate between the two scenarios, it only knows that decisions need to be made and they need to be made quickly. So for each decision it releases a blast of adrenaline to speed up the process. In the first example the adrenaline boost is very beneficial, in the second… Too much of a good thing might be too much. Doctors have found that after a certain amount of time the brain begins to crave the adrenaline it gets from the decision process and drives the body to seek some form of “excitement”. This causes us to become bored very quickly with everything and anything, which is why we have developed a multitude of ways to sate our ADD! Researchers also agree that our older generation may be passing this deficiency onto our children, explaining why so many kids are diagnosed with ADD and ADHD each year.

This applies to the gaming community as well.

In the 1980’s gaming was going strong. RPG’s like Dungeons & Dragons were powerhouses of the industry, developing their own brands and filling a variety of different venues. Saturday morning cartoons, specialty shops, bookstores, etc.

Today our shelves are overflowing with a multitude of games and expansions, counters and add-ons, most of which, sadly, won’t survive the year. Our ADD has infected the gaming industry in good and bad ways. Adversely, we have grown bored with the same old, same old so we have demanded companies to produce more stuff. Some original, most based upon other media properties. Some, like Pokemon, have become great successes with good game design to back it. Others, like Star Wars (while a mega media property in its own right) have failed to hold any long term games associated with it. The sad part about this influx of games coming out is that most of them suck. They are quickly produced with minimum of thought and creativity behind them. Most don’t stay in production for much more than a year, or get swallowed up and forgotten by the giant game juggernauts that can out produce the smaller scale operations.

The upside is that as gamers we live in the greatest era of gaming! I know, I know. I just got done saying that we were being barraged by crap, well hear me out. Try to suppress the adrenaline impulse to go do something else and keep reading.

While there is a fair share of crud out there, we also live in a day when the sky is the limit. With the internet and our growing share of electronic devises, games are now easier than ever to get and take anywhere. Some games, like Magic The Gathering, take only a small area to play on and can be seen played in most public areas. Other games that may take more space to play, such as BattleTech (this plug’s for you Tom), and Axis & Allies can be found at most retailers across the world. And even games like Settlers of Catan don’t need to take any space at all, since you can now play online!

It’s true that we may be surrounded with a maelstrom of bad game designs, but we also have unprecedented access to so many games wherever we may be. And no matter what genre of game you live for, it’s a guarantee that out there somewhere is someone who loves it just as much and therefore you are never without a friend. Heck, with online games like World of Warcraft you can log on and meet people who don’t even share the same language as you!

So in summary, embrace your GADD and enjoy the typhoon of games and media. The world has never known this many gamers and the era has just begun!

To Paint, or Pre-paint, that is the question.

Posted by gamingforacure on January 3, 2011 at 2:06 PM Comments comments (0)

Welcome everyone to the first, of hopefully many, of the GFAC blog posts. I have been thinking long and hard about how I wanted to do this series of columns, and how to appease Charlie (since this was his idea)! I have decided to make it part of my New Year’s resolution to bring you a monthly installment of news from both Gaming for a Cure and from across the gaming industry.

This month’s entry is about Miniature Tabletop Gaming, and the big debate of playing with pre-painted or paint yourself figures. As I am a gamer and also a Bookseller, there are many similarities between the gaming and the book world at large. Let me explain. Over the course of the past Holiday season e-book readers, such as the Borders Kobo, the Amazon Kindle, and the Barnes & Noble Nook, grew to new heights of popularity. The ability to have at your fingertips 1000’s of books at once is hard to pass up for many bibliophiles, but amidst the hubbub of e-publishing and digital downloads there are still that core percentage of the reading public that refused to give into the new-fangled technology, and an even smaller group who (like me) preferred and saw a benefit to blending the two medias.

This sort of mindset also applies to those of us who enjoy pushing “dolls” around on the tabletop. The lure of playing “straight out of the box” with pre-painted minis, in games such as Dungeons & Dragons and Wings of War, is indeed and incentive to many who want instant gratification and the need to get onto the table as quickly as possible. This was indeed the fact two years ago at the 1st annual Cherry Capital Con, located at the Grand Traverse Resort. Charlie and a few of our other volunteers had broken out this new game Wings of War and had begun flying a few missions to kill time in between passing out flyers and talking to Con-goers about the organization. Inadvertently this drew a huge crowd by day’s end. Both gamers and non-gamers wanted to get in on the action! Fortunately for us, Jeff and his crew from Wargames North, out of Cadillac, were located in the booth next ours and had Wings of War planes in stock. This started a huge influx of new players who were able to grab a new painted airplane, and other opening the box and placing the plane on the stand, were able to begin playing in seconds. A giant plug for those pre-painted games!

Then there are those players who may have been gamers for decades or just those newer folks who prefer more depth to their experience, other than playing. These are the hardcore Paint and Play gamers. Games such as Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000, Flames of War, War Machine, Hordes and a new personal favorite of mine; Heavy Gear. All of these games, while not required to paint (in some circles), do take some assembly and modeling skills. This breaks the games into 3 distinct hobbies: Modeling, Painting and Playing. This can bring great enjoyment both on and off the table. Games like Warhammer give the flexibility to be creative and to develop new painting skills and techniques, while games like Flames of War bring about historical research into camouflage patterns and the color of German gun straps post 1943. All of which brings more meaning and depth to the playing experience. And there are those of this group that are adamant about have the figures painted and fully based before they hit the table (you know who you are!), all of which can take weeks of planning and preparation, a fact that can easily drive away a casual gamer.

Then there is the hybrid group, who like in the previous example about e-readers, are, all in all, gamers to their core. Those who enjoy the game for the games sake. To paint, research and model are all well and good and are fun avenues of the hobby. However they are more than willing to grab a pre-painted bi-plane, or 5th level barbarian/sorcerer and hit the table around which are seated friends and fellow countrymen, at a moment’s notice. They come out on any given day for the camaraderie and fun, and usually find it!

All in all, whether you place yourself in the category of strict Paint and Play or the Quick Play Pre-painted categories, just know that there are always others of our kind out there and will be for long times to come. Enjoy the game, for the enjoyment it brings, and the friendships it builds. Raise your glass, can, horn or other preferred drinking vessel, and salute the games you are playing, for it is a great time to be a Gamer!

Be sure to mark your calendars for February 5th, 2011 for the Gaming for a Cure Winter Fest being held this year in our new location at TC Paintball and War Room, just North of Chums Corners. I hope to see you all there.

~ Jodie P. Brandt ~


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