Thursday, March 23, 2017

It's your turn

This week always seems to shape up to be a big one. We are about one month away from The Chits and Bits Marathon, plans all come together, details get finalized, the last big batch of raffle prizes get collected. There are a ton of things happening. We just had a very successful benefit night at Otto, a local pizza restaurant. Lots of people came, some of them because they saw the event on Facebook or heard about it from someone. Which is very reassuring, our network of friends does a great job of sharing and spreading the word. People really do like us!! We have two more events between now and the big day. So much going on!!!!

And yet here I am, working all alone. Jamison has whisked away for a Sunny four days in Florida. Spending time with all our friends we met last year at ELU. Working hard to win money for Extra Life. They are all there having fun, while I freeze at home organizing.

Mike, Dave, Steph, Harrison, Tanya, Jay, Nolan, Shonagh, Kate, Joe, Sean, Lora and Jamison. I hate you all.

Don't take that the wrong way. I don't hate them because it's warm there and cold here. Not because they are having fun and I'm working. Not even because they have a chance to win money for their respective hospitals, and I don't have a shot from my couch.

I hate them because they are in the same room. ELU last year allowed us to meet all these amazing people and get to know each other over a busy jammed packed four days. Four days that I will never forget.  Four days when I got to meet who I consider some of my closest friends.  Four short days full of Stories, Laughs, Tears, Hugs, and of course Games. Sure we have stayed in contact for the last year, Twitter, Facebook, Twitch, phone calls, a few Cons. We've shared more stories and tips for fundraising. We've celebrated the birth of a new Extra Life baby (Hi Samantha!) We've donated to each others pages. We've played games online. But that doesn't quite cut it.

One of the best parts of board gaming is sitting down across the table from someone. Looking them in their eyes. Making that connection that you can't get over a screen and a headset. Sharing a bag of chips. Hell, even setting up and putting away a game is fun. And that is the reason I hate them, because I love them.

Good luck everyone, I miss and love you all. 
Make sure that you get lots of people to give Jamie hugs. The more strangers the better. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Travels

I'm currently sitting in the airport in Baltimore, waiting to catch the second leg of my flight to Orlando. I'm on my way to reconnect with friends, new and old, at Extra Life United. I'll be playing games, with hopes of bringing home some prize money for The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital.
Last year, my first, was a roller coaster of emotion. I was, at times, happier than I could even express and then overcome with the enormity and emotion of the whole experience. I heard the amazing stories of children from across North America and how their struggles had been successful against some of the most awful diseases you can imagine. I met these kids and their families and was in awe of their unflappable attitudes and gratefulness for the Children's Miracle Network and Extra Life.
And then I was immediately struck with how many kids lost their struggle, their families devastated and grieving and yet still able to tell their story and cling to the moments of joy.
Extra Life has brought me some amazing places. It has given me a chance to interact with people and share my passion for gaming. Most of all, it has been a balm for my soul. The world is a tough place, all we can do is try to make it a little better. It has lit my darkest days, knowing that maybe I helped put a smile on a kid's face despite all the pain and fear they have to face hospital time.
Wish me luck. Stay tuned to www.twitch.tv/extralife4kids to see the action.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Game Mechanics: Player Elimination

One of the things that Rob and I want to do with this blog is get into our gaming habits and preferences a little more in depth. I had the occasion to play some games Sunday afternoon with some friends that I don't often get to game with- the guys from Booze & Board Games. They're a great group of guys (and we kind of poached Mike from them), but we just don't get to sit down and game with more than once every few months.

It's always interesting when you sit down with a different crew from your normal group. As often as I game with Rob, I generally can tell when he'll like a game or what style of game he likes more, and vice versa. I know Rob doesn't like co-op's and he knows that I'm not a fan of deck-builders, so a lot of the games stay in the middle ground of what we both enjoy. There's nothing wrong with trying new things and pushing your boundaries, but if you KNOW someone isn't going to like that game, sometimes it's better to just go to something else.

The point of all that was to establish that I was playing games with a group who's tastes I'm only marginally aware of, and as such, we played different games than my norm. It's the first game of the day that I want most to talk about - Zombicide: Black Plague. It's a dice-rolling, character building zombie game, with lots of miniatures. The game looks great, and the minis are good quality. The guy who brought it had backed the Kickstarter and had some of the primo upgrades for it, so it was even nicer.

I did not enjoy Zombicide: Black Plague, and there was one major reason. About 1/3 of the way through the game, my character died and I was eliminated. The same happened to another player shortly thereafter. When it happened, I wasn't initially concerned because usually, when one or two of the players get killed, the rest die quickly and the game is over. This time, however, through some good dice rolls and strategy, the remaining players ended up playing for another hour or so and winning. I helped move zombies on occasion, and watched the action as it unfolded. No big deal. But it did make me think a little about the player elimination mechanic as whole.

Player elimination is a mechanic that I don't particularly enjoy (as if you couldn't tell). I feel like if you get a group together to play a game, it should engage the whole group for the entire time. PE makes me think back to the older style board games like Monopoly - I remember playing with the family and getting eliminated early, and then going into the other room to watch TV while the rest of the family continued to play. Not a very good way to spend a "family" game night, right?

Most modern game designers address PE, at least in my experience, either by letting the player get back in the game with a new character, or switching roles (like if my character had then become a zombie and fought against the other PCs, that would have been fun). Additionally, it's only usually a specific style of game, where PE is possible - the dice rolling, Ameri-thrash style of game, which is definitely not my style of choice.

What are your thoughts on PE? Do you think it has a place in modern board games? Post your thoughts in the comments!

-Jamison


Thursday, March 2, 2017

What the heck?

Okay, so we've made some changes. After some discussion, Rob and I decided to consolidate our efforts and our branding to just Chits & Bits, dropping the "Random Acts of Gameness" moniker. The look will be a little different, but the topics will remain much the same. Rather than try to create something that celebrated and tried to tie in with our charity effort, we figured why not promote both at the same time? So here we are: Chits & Bits - The Blog. I'm sure Rob will hate that I called it that, but hey, what else could I call it? Seriously, if you have ideas, post them in the comments.

On to current events. As Rob pointed out to me today (which made me feel sick to my stomach), we're about 60 days from the Game Marathon on April 29. There has a been a flurry of emails, donation requests, games and prizes showing, swag for our marathon gamers (if you'd like to join us as a gamer click here) all coming in and going out over the past few weeks. Rob has been busy keeping track of everything and posting some of the great sponsors over on our Facebook page.

We had a great person/company step up to the plate and offer to be our PREMIER sponsor for this year's event. Varimax Fitness is sponsoring some of the cool stuff we'll be using to promote Extra Life and Chits & Bits in general (NO SPOILERS). The most amazing part (to me) is that Varimax is based in Sacramento California. So despite the fact that he (Greg, the owner) will probably not get much traction out of his sponsorship, he was very selfless in his giving us his support. Greg is from Maine originally and still has ties here, but to support us is a great boon to us, and incredibly generous of him. If you know anyone in the Sacramento area, please have them say thanks to Greg at Varimax Fitness! More info on the Varimax sponsorship coming soon.

Keep an eye out for more updates, there is some cool stuff still to be announced!!

-Jamison

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

The Golden Geeks part 2: What may have been.

While Jamie touched on the announcements of the Golden Geek nominations (Here), I think I'll take a different approach. He picked out his favorites in a few categories also highlighting some of his other top choices. I'm going to take a look at some of the games I wish I'd had the opportunity to play. Starting in the Board Game of the year category is Great Western Trail by Stronghold Games.


Stronghold has had a HUGE couple of years, pumping out some amazing games. Fabled Fruit, Animals on Board, Coal Baron, Diamonds, The Dragon and Flagon, Terraforming Mars (which is far superior to Scythe). How could their next game disappoint? I wanted so badly to try this game at BGGcon last year but the stars didn't align. Deck building and tile placement have this game pegged as a great intro game, but the reviews repeatedly show how much depth and decision making this game really has packed in. I really hope to be able to play this in 2017.

Next up, getting nods in the categories of; Card Game, Cooperative Game, Family Game and Thematic Game is Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle. I originally passed on this game due to the cooperative name tag it wears. But after seeing it and hearing from a few people, it has the one feature that I enjoy in a co-op game. The game actually fights against you. The reason I don't like co-op is generally, you win or you lose. It comes down to the choices the players make, but when the game actually throws you curves and makes it harder and harder to win (a'la Robinson Crusoe) I'm all in. I have recently acquired HP and can't wait to get it to the table. ABERTO!


And I'll leave you with one more game that I hope to finally get to play this year. Roll Player, nominated in the Innovative Game category. Roll Player takes what is arguably the most boring part of RPG games, character creation, and making a game out of it. Dice rolling, Drafting, Set collection, Races , Classes, Equipment , it's all right here in the box. The reprint is coming soon (March) and an expansion is slated for a Kickstarter campaign later this year. Now I have to decide, buy when the reprint is available, or wait for the Kickstarter and get the whole package? Either way I'm getting it. This is the game currently at the top of my want to play list. and I'm not sure how much longer I can wait! -Rob


The Golden Geeks

Every year, BoardGameGeek.com (the website for board game reference material) compiles a list of the best of the year for board games, with a number of different categories of games, as well as the best podcasts. All of the nominees are chosen by the users of BGG, and winners are chosen the same way.

The nominees for 2016 were announced this morning, and looking over the list, it made me look back at the last year and realize how great a year was. There are some amazing games on the list, and a lot that Rob and I haven't had a chance to try yet. I'm going to go over some of my favorites that were nominated, and maybe we can coax Rob into doing the same. You can find the list here.

Board Game of the Year - Of the fifteen nominees, I've played Captain Sonar, Quadropolis, Scythe, Star Wars: Rebellion and Terraforming Mars. This one is a really tough choice for me. Scythe and Terraforming Mars are two of the best games I've ever played. I think that I'm going to give the edge to Scythe. There's a ton of depth to the game, lots of variability in strategy. I've played it more than 10 times and each time, the game plays out differently. Plus the game is gorgeous. The artwork by Jakub Rozalski is awe-inspiring (Scythe was also nominated in the Artwork & Presentation section).
Look at this-I want this on my wall!
Terraforming Mars is nearly as good, which made it a tough call. It's a solid a game as I've ever played, with lots of interesting card interactions. The fact that the card art is all from NASA photos is such a cherry on top of a really good sundae. It's amazing, it's great, but it's just not quite as good as Scythe for me.

Innovative Game - I've played a few on this list too - Nominees that I have experience with include Adrenaline, Captain Sonar, Fabled Fruit, Mystic Vale, and Scythe. We've already talked about Scythe, so let's go with Captain Sonar and Fabled Fruit. Captain Sonar is a great game for this category. If you haven't played or heard of it - you're basically playing submarine crews trying to hunt each other down. There's a Captain, 1st Mate, Engineer, and Radio Operator on each side, each with a different job. It's a blast to play, but it really shines with the full player count of 8, which can be tricky.
Captain Sonar!

Fabled Fruit is going to be my choice for this category. It's a very simple card game to learn and teach, and it evolves as you play it, adding rules as it goes along. Fabled Fruit is sort of a campaign style game, where you can save your spot and come back to it in subsequent plays. I've played it with three people and five people, and it's solid with either. This one hasn't made it to our collection yet, as it sold out quickly but Rob is supposed to be picking up a copy from an auction soon, so I'm really looking forward to playing it again. Fabled Fruit would be a great addition to a family game night, since it's very easy to start and evolves slowly enough for kids and non-gamers to understand it.


Fabled Fruit. It has anima-meeples too!

Those are just a few of my favorites from the year. Take a look at the BGG list and let us know in the comments what some of your choices on the nominees are!

-Jamison

Friday, February 17, 2017

Update from the field

Wow, it's been a while. Thanksgiving was our last post. Lots of things in the world have happened since then. Christmas happened, a new year dawned on us. Things politically are kind of a mess, which is upsetting a lot of people (myself included). Rob and I went to BGGCon, and had a blast. Things in my personal life have been a bit rocky, and I haven't had as much time as I'd like to do what I like to do best- play games.

Things have started to settle down, so here I am, providing an update. Chits & Bits 2017 is starting to gain steam. Rob has been contacting game publishers and donors, and prizes are rolling in. I've been working on some of the "behind the scenes" stuff, looking for sponsors, getting swag to give to our marathon players, working with Mike to update our website - stuff like that. Rob has definitely been doing the lion's share though. Seriously, this thing we do, wouldn't be as successful as it is, without him. I'm eternally grateful for that.

We've got a lot of new things planned for the year as well. Chits and Bits is definitely growing to be much more than just the game marathon. Once again, I'm going down to Extra Life United to compete for BBCH. I'm hoping that I can bring home some prize money again this year. We've got another game day we're working on at a different location later in the year, so we can spread our footprint a little (details to come as we get closer). Stay tuned to our Facebook page for these events as they get scheduled.

Beyond Chits & Bits, Rob and I have both started to spread our gaming wings a little. Rob has teamed up with Red Raven Games, as part of their new ambassadorship program. I've done the same with another company, Stonemaier Games. This will bring us to some different events, teaching and demoing those company's games, one of the things both of us love to do.

I'll be updating this blog on a regular basis, with our comings and goings. Our plans as they unfold. Details about what we've been playing, game reviews, etc. I hope you'll indulge me and follow along.

-Jamison

Time to wake up!