Why Basic Dice are way Better than those Fancy Polyhedrals…

Alright I can see the angry mob in the distance, I know you guys are coming for me with the pitch forks and the burning stakes and the fire and the angriness. Ready to set me on fire and burn me as a heretic for saying anything bad against the precious dice! I’m sorry. But this is what I believe. This person is as annoyed as me…

Look how mad she is! Furious. Que esTalla 7! That probably means something really bad and I have no idea, I just posted it because it looked funny. Oh heavens.

Fancy dice are just plain bad though. They suck for many many reasons. Here are those reasons:

Reason 1: How u read?

Oooo how very lovely and nicely designed dice… except that the NUMBERS ARE ILLEGIBLE. Please at least make the numbers white or something. How is a visually impaired person supposed to see that let alone a normal human being with normal functioning eyes. The d20 is especially horrific.

Actually scratch that, what I really love  doing the most is spending half of my time playing any tabletop game  scratching my head and peering at the dice through my hipster monocle. Look I know you love artisan bread and artisan books and artisan food and wooden everything, but seriously. Make some dice I can read quickly yo.

Or I guess I could have got the wrong dice mixed up and this could have happened:

Reason 2: Some materials are just straight up not good for rolling

You know, like metal for example. Heavy metal dice are the least fun thing.  And I don’t mean dice that are themed on Metallica and Iron Maiden, although I wish I did. When you roll them they briefly play a snippet of a song, because that’s a cool thing that could be definitely designed in real life. I mean who wouldn’t enjoy random blisteringly loud  interjections of ‘Number of the Beast’ during a tense conversation with a friendly guy called Geoff in the tavern. It would be the opposite of annoying.

Reason 3: Science

Yep that’s right folks, it all comes down to science in the end, as everything in the whole funky wide universe always does. Those scientific folks got it gosh darn right this time. Well I’ll be blowed… blown? Nope, definitely not blown. Moving on…

Ok I’ll spill the science alright, sheesh, patience my young padawan. Or… reader I guess. I’m far too unwise to be teaching anyone the ways of the jedi.

The science is this. The more generic your dice are, the lessed biased they will be against you. True science fact. That I made up. Still science though,  I assure you, or maybe I’m thinking about this too much… I’M IN TOO DEEP.

Reason 4: Having your own polyhedrals is a gateway drug

To so many terrible and unspeakable things. One of which is a not too recent phenomenon (actually I have no idea how recent it is, this has probably been happening from before I was born knowing me… probably before cameras were invented even).

That phenomenon is DICE SHAMING

Ok so this person clearly has a very amazing life. Anyone who is SO ashamed by the numbers that appeared by luck on a piece of geometrically shaped plastic must have it PRETTY GOSH DARN GOOD ALREADY.

I’m talking gaming room, gaming kitchen, gaming pool (for all that gaming underwater action) and even a gaming ride on lawnmower. Hash tag life mother flipping goals. Talk about rolling a natural 20 at life AMIRITE!? No? Ok sure, don’t laugh at my joke, I’ll laugh at it MYSELF.

No Dice

Is a cool heading to summarise the post.

My summary is this: buy dice you can read, and that don’t hate you.

Easier said than done…

Yours randomly,

Chris

How to get your friends into Dungeons & Dragons

Something that is even more difficult than defeating the demogorgon! Well, not really. Still pretty difficult though.

I hope those guys played D&D. I bet they had a good time.

Convincing people to actually play D&D if they don’t already is no small feat. One of the reasons for that is that when you start talking about D&D, or any tabletop role playing game for that matter, you automatically start to use words like ‘feat’, ‘skill check’ and ‘staff of unfathomable power’ in normal sentences, and that sounds weird.

I have some words of wisdom for you though. A prophecy of power that is brought to you from BEYOND THE GRAAAAAVVEEEeEEEee…

Ok I’m doing it again. Some of us didn’t have childhoods like this video ok?

So how do you convince people to give D&D a try you ask. Well not like that, but perhaps… like this?

Remove the complexity (lower the barrier to entry)

One of the things people initially dislike the most about D&D is that on the surface it seems really complicated…

And it is!

So many unnecessary numbers and letters and weapons and armour and provisions and alllllll of the things. It can seem tedious when you start out.  All of those stats and pieces of paper with numbers scrawled on them can make your new player feel like this…

So keep the complexity down! And if you can’t do that, well then roll a character for them, and just set all of the boring stuff up in advance. Finally, the chance you always wanted to get a bard in your campaign!

This all leads neatly to my second recommendation though…

Be the DM… And  realise that the most fun comes from player failure

The one thing I’ve learnt from all my times character rolling, game running, and failed dungeon crawls… is that those failures create the most memorable stories and some of the funniest experiences.

Your job as DM is not only about creating and interesting and engaging story around your players, but giving them opportunity to fail, horrifically. It only makes the success all the more sweet! If you succeed that is…

Put your players on the spot

Following on from simply being a tip top DM, one of the things you MUST do always, especially when introducing a new player, is remove as much analysis paralysis as possible by putting your players constantly in a spot.

This is the difference between; ‘you see a werewolf, what do you do?’ and; ‘the werewolf picks up pace as he sprints in your direction, mouth open he lunges towards you, a bloodthirsty rage in his eyes, you have little time to react, what do you do?’.

Let’s say it’s just like FORCING your players to react, but in a constructive way, that lends to the encounter or story. Keep doing this constantly, and in creative ways to engage your players, and the story telling and role playing will come naturally to them, even if they havn’t played D&D before.

Ride the success of ‘Stranger Things’

Well if your friends STILL aren’t convinced well then I’m not sure what to recommend. Except for the fact that one of the biggest TV shows of the ENTIRE YEAR (last year), had a storyline that was basically entirely focused around D&D and one of it’s most feared monsters.

Just say that you’re copying the kids in Stranger Things. Guaranteed they’ll give it a go.

Well not guaranteed. I’m pretty sure though, I think.

Yours dungeonily (what?),

Chris

Why Board Games are like Sports

For some reason my brain equates everything  to sports. Even board games. It’s probably because I watch sports. That would make sense. All those cliched things sports commentators and sports people say slowly work their way into your head, and stick around as part of a subconscious interpretation of life for years to come.

“Oh yep, it was a tough loss today but we’re just gunna go away, analyse what we need to improve and just focus on the next game and move forward.”  Seems rational.

“Oh no, what they need to really do is just focus on making less mistakes at the critical points in the game, and protect their key players better when they have the ball.” No analysis there that just sounds like a good way to function in any team…

Board games are even more like sports than you think though. And I have the exact scientific (read: definitely scientific…) reasons why.

Reason board games are  like sports 1:  The best words are made up

Winningest team? The most bouncebackability? Yes.

I genuinely love these words. No joke. And just like in sports, the best words in board games  are the ones you god damn diddley just make up. I didn’t make up diddley, and it’s nothing to do with board games, but it does have a red squiggly line under it when I typed it out, so I’m gunna say that I did…

Brickanwood for a brickansheep? Ok so you wouldn’t make that trade in Catan but you get my point…

Reason board games  are like sports 2:  Change always means opportunity

Ah yes look at the wonderful field of Windows XP goodness with the word ‘opportunity’ written over it there. Except a random man’s hand is picking out the ‘o’… what is this, some sort of weird reverse scrabble game? What does he even need with that ‘o’? And what does ‘Opprtunity’ mean. It sounds like one of those hipster Scandinavian band names where they’ve removed a random handful of vowels for seemingly no reason at all. Or at least replaced them with more consonants… And next to the stage put your hands together for ‘Opprtvnity’, an experimental electronic pop outfit from somewhere that it’s really cold for most of the time! Wonderful.

Change in board games though means something different is inevitably gunna happen. And usually that means someone will not realise, and screw up. THIS IS THE TIME YOU’VE BEEN TRAINING FOR. OPPRTVNITY. Listen to them and win this game.

Reason board games are like sports 3: People always LOVE a true story

Because life is like a real story, that we live every day. But board games are like a story that is made up, and is way more exciting than that boring ‘real life’ story. They are better themed, have cooler characters, and when you die it doesn’t mean you ACTUALLY die, which is nice I guess.

People always love a story. It’s like those films which have the sticker on the dvd case saying ‘based on a true story’. Who buys DVDs any more though, and who even reads those stickers on the box, they’re probably not even a real thing. Pretty sure I just made that up…

Reason board games are like sports 4:  They are about overcoming an enemy, and achieving victory

It may sound silly but for a lot of the more geeky among us, board games and role playing games were a way to achieve a sense of accomplishment without throwing a ball through a hoop. Or kicking a ball in a goal. Or throwing a ball to another person. Or hitting a ball with a metal stick in a hole. Or, well, anything with a ball really. Sports usually have balls in them… fun fact.

Some Harry

Because we all need some harry in our lives. Obviously. More harry please! Wait, who’s harry again? Harry Potter? Oh no I meant the other Harry, y’know. The other one.

Even I don’t know what I’m on about this time…

Harry agrees with me though. I have it on good authority. Just think when you’re next playing board games; ‘How can I play this more like sports’, and you will win.

Every time, guaranteed…

Yours sportily,

Chris

My Board Game Wins are all Fluke (Why luck is important)

Lady luck is on my side tonight! Well, every night actually. Somehow I have a strange knack for either fluking wins or just plain doing the right thing by accident. Although now I’ve said that everything is gunna go to shit.

Oh pop up pirate! What a laugh! A ‘barrel of fun’ you could say! Or at least the advert did…

Are you a lilly livered landlubber? No? Thought not. Not even sure what that means. I think it roughly translates from pirate to ‘A scared person who happens to live on the land and is not the seafaring type.’

Impressive that they got that down to 4 words that all alliterate then really.

Pop up pirate is an example of a game that is PURE LUCK. This is not good, I mean at least it’s short I guess. Luck based games maybe great for kids, but allowing your players to have some semblance of control over the outcome makes the game endlessly better. If you want something like pop up pirate just get jenga instead…

Also, and I’m gunna spoil your childhood here if you played Pop Up Pirate at all, but it was ALWAYS THE SAME HOLE THAT POPPED HIM UP.

I know right, absolute dream smasher…

This article is about luck in games though, and why some luck is important, but not all luck.

Reason luck is important 1: It keeps everyone in the game… usually

You know, unless you get like, SUPER unlucky and either everyone ends up going for you. That or your rolls are terrible all the time, or someone you play with cheats, or someone you play with weighted the dice so that when you roll it it always lands on a 1, or someone you play with blackmailed you into playing badly and loosing on purpose. Either way, some luck is good.

It helps people who suck at strategy to actually stay competetive! Like me!

Reason luck is important 2: It keeps people on their toes

Y’know, their metaphorical toes, not their real ones. That would be weird. Just a whole bunch of people eagerly anticipating a dice roll huddled closely round a table and also standing up… on their toes. Painful for the toes really, that’ll play out badly in the long run…

Reason luck is important 3: It adds an element of humanity

And we could all do with feeling a bit more human I’m sure. It’s like when in Catan I can never get any 2 for 1 trades done, because my bartering skills in real life ACTUALLY suck. Or when no matter how high my charisma is I still can’t succeed on a skill check for persuading that giant dragon to just chill, let’s sit down, have a heart to heart and reminisce on past times, when we used to bicker and fight all the time and how he always wanted to burn me and my friends to a crisp, oh the fun we had and how we laugh about it now, hahaha!

Planning for randomness is an important and very human part of luck in games though. I mean hell, even Puerto Rico has SOME element of luck to it, and that game is strict AS…

Luck of the draw

GET IT. BECAUSE IT’S LIKE DRAWING CARDS AS WELL AS DRAWING A GUN. I’M SOOOO FUNNY.

Yeah it’s a bad joke I know. A play on words if you will. Will you? I hope you will. Please will! Will!

Luck is important though. Like how lucky I am that all of you wonderful thousands (read: 3) people are reading this, oh how lucky!

Yours luckily,

Chris

Top 5 ways to loose friends over board games

Yep, that’s right, absolutely no idea!

Well that’s a bit of an exaggeration, I have SOME idea, SOME of the time. I’m kinda halfway between all the gear and no idea, and gear and idea.

Sometimes though, people get right up my nose about stuff. That’s the expression I’m sure. I’m not an angry man in any way, but there are some table-flip worthy moments I have when it comes to board games.

I don’t actually flip a table by the way, although that would be very satisfying… What I really do is just  pretend to flip the table in my head, and actually just make a ‘tut’ sound in real life, whilst looking disapprovingly at the other players.

SO passive aggressive… doesn’t it just MAKE you want to play board games with me. Of COURSE it does! Right?

Way to loose friends 1: Take it WAY too seriously…

You know the friend. It’s this guy…

Either that or they’re consulting the rule book for the 15th time to try and figure out a way to explain that the move you just did was not allowed, and that the strategy you’ve been planning for the last hour and a half is actually impossible in the mechanics of the game. JUST LET ME BREAK THE RULES OR THE TABLE GETS FLIPPED OK?!

Oh gosh I’m the guy…

Way 2:  By playing any version of Monopoly at all

This game is just the actual devil, in board game form. It’s a game based on luck, where 1 or more players get left out half way through and the person who wins literally makes it rain money over everyone else whilst wearing sunglasses, standing on the table and thrusting in slow motion.

That’s how it happens in our house anyway.

Way 3: By always guessing the same thing EVERY TURN in Cluedo

Mrs Peacock with the dagger, no Rev Green with the dagger, ok… Miss Scarlett with the dagg…

I’VE SHOWN YOU THE DAGGER CARD LIKE 5 TIMES IN A ROW STOPPPPPP. I can literally see the pencil mark crossing it off your sheet. Not that I was cheating or anything…

Way 4: By always choosing the same person as the werewolf

IT’S DAVE AGAIN I KNOW IT. He’s the werewolf. He looked at me funny for real this time. It’s the crooked smile and the yellow teeth and the eye-patch and pirate hat that gave it awa… OH MY GOD DAVE IS A PIRATE?! Did you guys know? You did… Oh. Guess I’ve just not taken the time to get to know you that well Dave, I’m so sorry, please accept my apologies and let me get you a drink. Wait scratch that just let me take you out for lunch tomorrow, that cool? No? WELL how RUDE, and no I will NOT walk the plank. How dare you. Right! That’s it I’m leaving!

Pretty sure that explains that one fairly clearly…

Way 5: Playing D&D and not role-playing your character

Last but not least it’s the classic D&D problem. Or classic D&D problem… Well maybe it’s not classic but it IS still a problem.

I mean it’s a role playing game after all, don’t play it if you’re not interested in playing a role. I’m not asking for much here, just when you next talk to Doris (the great grandma of Lucy the tavern owner, of course) as she offers you a tea and a biscuit, be polite and do a little funny character voice so that everyone laughs and we all have a wonderful  time and the other players celebrate and rejoice at the role playing hilarity, showering you with praise and champagne and gold and gift certificates. I mean really, is that too much to ask? It is? Oh. Ok no worries, in which case forget all of that then…

Go straight to jail

Apparently that’s a good strategy in the end game of monopoly. Just go to jail. It’s safer, you don’t have to pay all that money for staying at either fancy or non-fancy properties in various areas of London! Ah what a damning indictment of the modern day housing situation. Or something. Shame on you monopoly! Again…

Just don’t do any of the things on this list I guess. Or try not to? Especially not monopoly… don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Yours friendily,

Chris

How to master farmland in Carcassonne (not really though)

Farmland. It’s something we all struggle with on a daily basis I know.

Honestly have no idea what that image is going on about, it just said the word ‘farmland’ and kinda looked fun. Super relevant content alert.

So girls just wanna have corn ok. It’s a very valid point and the image does well to explain this. I want corn as well though, come on lets share the corn around. We can be corn buddies and live in a beautiful, wonderful world of corn, where we frolic amongst the sheafs and bath in the corny corn of the field of corn aaaaah corn.

That’s basically a rough idea of my train of thought whilst playing Carcassonne anyway, or at least, my face says; ‘carefully planning a strategy here, please do not interrupt,’ whilst my mind is all like; ‘CORN CORN CORN YEAAAAAH,’ whilst the statue of liberty lady in the gay pride dress dances with me and we have a great time. Bet you’re jealous now eh.

When it comes to farmland though, here are a few strategies I use, so I’d take a bet that they’re not that well thought through and probably don’t have a high success rate. Take this advice at your own gaming risk!

Keys to farmland 1: Get it around the start and end of the river

Ooo the river.  A wet and powerful ally (if you are playing with it… ok gross that came out wrong…), one whose grandeur is only superseded by proceeding to take all the farmland, and then coming back from 30 points behind to win the entire game.

Though wet and powerful though, the main bits I focus on are the first and last tile. These are the tiles that connect to the most surrounding land, and often link up with castles on BOTH sides of the river. That’s more than 1 side! It’s 2! Hah!

Then once you’ve done that just build stuff around those tiles, tada!

Keys to farmland 2: Use multiple meeple as a scare tactic

Oh we’re getting into some dark shit here my friends! Some dark shit indeeed!

Ok, again with the grossness, nobody needs to know that. TMI, sheesh…

So those little wooden people are your friends. Your fun, colourful and inanimate friends. Sometimes I talk to them at night, they whisper to me oh so gently. “O Christopher when will you play with us again, play with us, go on.”  and I tell them “NO! Stop it meeple! I never liked you ok?! Just get over it and move on already, this isn’t about us anymore!”

It’s a pretty fucking weird relationship, not gunna lie.

Here’s the trick though. Once you have a potential farmland just DOUBLE DOWN ON THAT. Go straight in with another meeple on the same farmland and all the other players will be like; ‘Better not go there, no chance I can win that!’

At that point it’s in the bag… just one more thing.

Keys to farmland 3: Be a dick

It sure is random guy on a meme! It sure is.

A big castle looking jaggedy penis. Painful.

It’s easy to be a dick with farmland though! Join up a tile to something not connected, farm that land, and then before you know it; ‘Oops, oh what a shame, I’ve just connected to your farmland, guess we’ll just have to share the points on that one then! Oh what a shame…’

I mean I call it a dick move but really it’s JUST THE RULES OF THE GAME. No dickery here. That’s definitely a word. How do you think they got away with the nursery rhyme ‘Hickery Dickery Dock’ eh? And guess where the mice in that rhyme came from, yep that’s right, a FIELD. And fields make up farmland.

Just blew everyone’s mind right there. I am a conversational wizard.

Harvest Suggestival

Because what’s better than having a good harvest huh? JUST TELL ME THE HARVEST WAS GOOD OK! I don’t care about who died in the night.

Different game there, my bad. This is not werewolf. Although Carcassonne probably had werewolves. And no doubt that is already a Carcassonne expansion… there are just. too. many.

Whether it’s in the werewolf expansion (not real) or just the plain old vanilla game (definitely real), hopefully these tips will aid you in your quest for farmland! Just don’t forget about castles.

You can forget about roads though, those things SUCK.

Yours farmily,

Chris

How to affect change successfully (The art of baby steps)

Everybody habitually hates change. I don’t know if that is a fact but I just made it up to shock you into reading the rest of this article. Hope it worked!

Yes tiny boy child ghost from the film that has that plot twist at the end. Change IS scary.

Think of the last time someone made your tea the wrong way without you knowing and then try and tell me change ISN’T scary.

But what scares us Chris? If change is so scary why do we do it?

No idea… errr, yup!

So how do I create positive change. Is potential positive progress probably possible? Potentially…

The key is to not do what Dr. Evil is doing here by masking real stuff with fake air quotes. The key (I think… so probably wrong) is something like this…

Key to change 1: Keep it short and simple

Some people call this ‘KISS’, which I think is stupid. I’m not stupid, stop calling me that! And I’m certainly not going to go around calling other people stupid. That’s just mean.

It should be ‘KISASS’ instead. Keep It Simple And Super Short. Ok so maybe not the best acronym…

So yeah I just posted a picture of a fish, there is a link though, bear with me (no bear pic, soz). Like this fish though, people nowadays have very short attention spans. This is something I have talked about before on numerous occassions, followed by making a joke about my mind wandering off into the distance.

Not today though! I’m too focused. It’s another attribute I share with the goldfish. My razor sharp focus…

Also, this bit about keeping it really short and simple, has actually gone on for quite long. Yes I am a hypocrit. And yes I probably have made that joke before. I’m a hack and a hypocrit!

Key to change 2: Keep it consistent and iterate frequently

Oooo look at you, using such a fancy word there. Who’d have thought it. Yep; ‘keep’. Far beyond my vocabulary level…

We are human beings though, creatures of habit. We like routine and structure and subconsciously crave it. If you want to make a big change you have to take it slow, keep it consistent, and keep making small iterations as you go along.

Big change makes people scared and wary. Small change make people feel part of a process towards progress, if they have involvement with it that is.

Put that on an inspiration instagram why don’t ya. Cringe. I’ll excuse myself, the vomit is making it’s way up. Back in a sec!

Key to change 3: Don’t be afraid to admit it doesn’t work

Oh what an idiot! Haha, I can’t believe they would make that move oh what a stupid chess play!

I actually have no idea if this is good or not I just googled ‘board game bad play’ and that’s what came up. Doing my research proper y’know…

Failure creates  a psychological win win on a team though. If you succeed, you win. If you fail, then admit failure, set a good example of accountability for your mistake, fix the failure, and move forward, therefore also winning. I believe there is always chance to turn failure around into an opportunity, either for yourself or others.

The only true failure is if you fail and then DO NOTHING. Profound, I’m sure… (read: definitely not profound)

Changing of the guard

Yep, it’s just a phrase with the word ‘change’ in it, absolutely no relation to the article.

There you have it though. A full proof (read: absolutely not full proof) way to affect change um… wherever you want to affect it. Go get that change my little changelings. Weird nickname, I take that back… go get that change my fellow human people! It’ll do you good. Or bad I guess, either way it’ll do something!

Yours changingly,

Chris