Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The future?

The future of Random Acts of Gameness?
 It's been a bit between posts, our apologies for that. Life has a way of getting away from us, we get busy, and suddenly it's been 4 days since you last wrote a blog post. But we do have some exciting news to talk about, so here we go.

Last night, Rob and I met with a friend of mine. I met Jerry about 5 years ago, when we started playing D&D together at Crossroad Games. I left the group a few years back due to scheduling issues, but Jerry and I still cross paths at the store. One of these recent chance meetings, Jerry mentioned he was looking for people to work with on video projects (that being his background) and I told him about this blog, and what Rob and I were thinking of doing with it. We ended up talking for a good bit and decided to have the three of us sit down to see what we could put together.

Well, last night was that meeting. Rob and I had been discussing exactly which direction we wanted to take our foray into board game media, but neither of us had a really solid idea of where to start. This blog has been doing great, and we were very cognizant of not rushing into something that we didn't think would be good. Jerry helped narrow our focus tremendously. Once we had the chance to sit down with someone that knows how to produce and has the access to the equipment that we don't, we were able to come up with a solid game plan.

We have a pretty unique opportunity to work with Jerry, he brings a lot to the table. He's an accomplished TV producer, and he has a fully functional studio for us to record in. That means we can put out well-shot, well edited and consistent videos. We're going to start with a series of short 3-5 minute reviews on some of the hot hits and our favorite games. Last night, Jerry did a little screen test of us talking and interacting over The Grizzled, and he told us he liked what he saw - so here we go. Look for the Random Acts of Gameness YouTube channel to go live in the next week or two. We're excited for this new direction. Stay tuned and follow along with us!


Saturday, September 17, 2016

Fresh Cardboard

Sometimes opening a game can be almost as enjoyable as playing it.  Tearing off the cellophane. Dumping and sorting the bits just the way you like them. The endless struggle to unwrap the cards. Being the first one ever to unfold the board. And don't even get me started on the smell of fresh ink.  I'm not sure if it's a real thing, but I may be addicted to opening games.  I've always been an impulse buyer, every thing I get into, I go into head first.  Comics, movies, Lego's, action figures.

None of them give me the same joy as opening a new game.  Games have scratched my collectors itch over the last 6 years or so, I want to open more, more, more. It's great to be the first one on the block with a hot new game. The current trend of sending promos out with the first wave of a game doesn't hurt the addiction either. Kickstarter aside (I am a junkie) I have picked up around 3-5 new games in the last month or so. The excitement on the ride home is overwhelming. There it sits in the passengers seat staring at you longingly in the eyes.  "Open me", it whispers.  Yesterday I picked up two games that I have been very eagerly awaiting the arrival of.
Terraforming Mars and Codenames: Pictures
I kept getting a glare in my eye off the shiny packaging on the way home. I kept picking up the promo cards and holding them in my hand, the desire to open them building with every mile. Then the worst possible thing happened. I got home.  Today there is no time to free these beauties from their plastic tombs. We are headed out to go camping for the weekend with some of our closet friends. The woods are no place for fresh cardboard. It should come into this world in a safe and warm environment. One free of bugs, puddles, sticks, and the grossly tacky hands of a S'mores covered child. Soon my friends, soon, I will set you free.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Gearing up

The temperature has started falling a bit here. Nights are cooler and while the sun is still out, most of the humidity has gone. Fall is nearly here, and its my favorite time of the year. This year has been an amazing one for us. We had the life-altering experience of attending Extra Life United, we met new friends from all over, and then transitioned quickly into a full court press for the game marathon. The event went off to a huge success.

As fall approaches, Rob and I have to get our game faces back on. We're about 6 months away from the next marathon, and now is when we start. That may seem like it's a little extreme, but with the successes we've had this year, we don't want to lose our momentum. We want to get bigger and better, and that takes a conscious effort. So we'll start sitting down on a regular basis and putting together a plan. There are a long list of donors to contact, changes to the website to be made, people to talk to, emails to write, and a long list of little things to try to nail down.

At times, the amount of work can seem overwhelming or impossible, but as soon as we step back and look at the reason we're doing it - the reason behind everything, the focus snaps back into place. Logan (our CMN Champion last year) stopped by at the store with his grandmother, Heidi, a few weeks ago, and I played some games with them. Logan is an amazing little kid, he survived childhood cancer (neuroblastoma) and is in full recovery now. We might not have the pleasure of getting to know him and his family without the services provided by Children's Miracle Network hospitals like The Barbara Bush Children's Hospital.

Logan, Maine's CMN Champion, from Extra Life United
BBCH and CMN depend on us to make treatment and care possible. Helping kids like Logan are what drive Rob and I to put in the hours. The smiles and gratitude from his family every time we see them balance out the hard work. It's not just us alone either, we have the support of our friends and family, and that makes a world of difference. We are stronger and more successful by the network of support we've built. Thank you for helping us.


PS if you haven't seen it yet, we had the chance to talk about Chits & Bits in an interview by Granite Game Summit, an event we're attending next month. Check it out here. Get some tickets if you can, and come play some games with us!

Monday, September 12, 2016


I don't really expect you all to be sitting there clicking the refresh button, waiting for our new post. It would be cool if you were, or if it ever gets to that point. For today though, let's just talk about what I, we, and you ARE waiting for. I'm currently waiting for my son to get home. Jamie is waiting for work to end. You? Well you'll have to let us know what you're waiting for, we can discuss that next time. I'm waiting for Wednesday and the arrival of Terraforming Mars. Then, down the not so distant road, Codenames:Pictures, New Bedford, Villages of Valeria, and picking up some Dice City Expansions. Jamie on the game front, was waiting for Retreat to Darkmoor, which arrived today, as well as future pickups of, The Scythe expansion, Mystic Vale expansion, and the Arkham Horror card game

Collectively we have a bunch of games we are waiting to get to the table. Either for the first time or for repeat plays. The North Sea Trilogy is high on our list, as well as City of Iron, Ancient World, and Artifacts Inc, all by Ryan Lauket. Captain Sonar, I think will hit the table again very soon. More Pokemon TCG is in the near future. And we still haven't broken out The official version of Secret Hitler.

Soon my friend, Soon.

We also can't wait to attend Granite State Game Summit on October 22nd. It's shaping up to be an amazing day of gaming. Math Trade, Auction, Some old friends, and we will be spreading word of our charity efforts. Hopefully we will make some new friends, and get a whole new group of gamers to attend next years marathon. 

Then we have more Brews and Boardgames nights planned. More Five Guys Benefit nights planned. And the big finish; BGG Con in November. Which I can personally not wait for, just so I can give some friends long overdue hugs, share stories since the last time we've seen each other, and try to make Jamie uncomfortable and cry. Which I know he can't wait for either. Oh, and I bet we'll probably play some games there too.. I can't wait!!! -Rob

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The Game of Life, Second Edition

Rob's life- juggling a lot of balls.
We all choose to play the game. I've chosen the role of the Juggler.  Jamie and I love to fight, well at least I do.  Everything is a competition, even me buying a couple packs of Pokemon yesterday caused him to buy a couple, just so he didn't get left out.  This was right before our Brews and Boardgames night, where we played games with another great group of friends both old and new.

We use these nights to build up friendships, spread the word about Extra Life and try to raise a little money.  Last night pushed us even closer to $23,000 for the year. Unbelievable!!! Man am I tired, but it's all worth it.  We spend a good amount of time planning and attending events both for fun and for business.  I have a four year old at home, who is always in the go.  My family loves to go out Four Wheeling. I play Disc Golf on a regular basis. Two dogs to feed and play with.  Plus work, chores, hobbies, and hanging with friends who don't play games (shame, shame).  It never lets up. But I make the best of it. Always full of energy, a quip in the holster ready to fire.  Thankfully I get a ton of support from my wife, whom I think just loves to sleep with the bed to herself.  Last night was the sixth night in a row up way past my bedtime. On a school night none the less.  I think that today requires a nap. So I'm going to pass this turn, and when it gets back around to me, look out. I'm gonna be ready to go.

 Rob definitely has a lot more on his plate than I do, so I guess I can put up with him being a little whiny about being tired. I mean, I was up just as late as he was last night, but I was perfectly fine when I got to work at noon. No big deal. Rob is also right, he does like to fight. He's very much the instigator, I think he really just likes to stir the pot. Which can be good from time to time. I believe I referred to him as a "Machiavellian bastard" the other day, when he was pitting our buddy Michael and I against each other in a text war.  It keeps me from getting complacent. You always need to be on your toes when you're around Rob.
How I feel when I'm writing sometimes

 So yes, Rob has a lot going on, I have a lot going on, as well, but my obligations are by choice rather than situation. I write a lot of stuff, which I'm hoping will turn into a career sooner than later. Let's see - a novel, this blog, contract work for FASA Games, posts for Crossroad Games where I work, stuff for EL national and our local hospital from time to time, and entries into multiple writing contests. I usually also work out the actual details and logistics for many of our events. Most of my time is taken up by those things. The nice thing about filling your time by choice is that I can back off when I feel like I need to.

One of the things we've noticed as we've started doing more and more stuff for Extra Life, and all of our extra-curricular activities, is that we've lost a lot of our actual time to play games. Last night at Brews & Board Games, it was nice to capture that feeling again. Sometimes it's easy to forget what brought us to this place we're at. But as soon as we sit down at a table, it all comes flooding back. Our next Brews & Board Games event is October 5th. You should sit down with us, grab a drink, and we'll play some games.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Game of Life

Rob and I have an interesting dynamic. We're very much at odds most of the time, vying for control. As he just told me, even when we're not playing games, we're playing the game of life. Most of it involves verbal sparring, insults and his attempts to physically touch me in awkward ways. And as he adds from across the table, his constant quest to try to make me cry. Our friends are constantly egging us on, which leads to more and more ridiculous interactions. Here's what a few of our friends have to say about out our interpersonal struggles -

"The only thing bigger than their hearts is - oh, wait, nevermind. They have big hearts" -Sean Rooney, our pal from Extra Life United

 "Two great tastes that taste a little funky together..." Mike Oliver, another friend from ELU

And our personal favorite - "Rob and Jamie are like the delightful, definitive duo act of our board gaming community. Think of your favorite classic team-up, something like Newman and Redford, Calvin and Hobbes, or Han and Chewie. Now imagine sitting around a table playing a long-beloved (or maybe a new favorite) boardgame with them. Think Bert & Ernie, if it were directed by Kevin Smith." - Matt Keith, long time friend.

The last bit of Matt's quote nails it right on the head in our eyes. We have a very brotherly relationship, and it's most of the time completely inappropriate. We strive to make our friends laugh, but we balance it with our desire to look out for them - well at least most of the time. If they're going to do something stupid and we'll get a laugh from it, we usually just let it happen. We'll totally help them recover, but we're laughing in their face the whole time.

 We're gearing up for our 2nd Brews & Board Games event tomorrow night at Sebago Brewing in Scarborough. We talked about the last event and what a big success it was after the fact. We found a bigger space, so that hopefully more people can show up and play some games. Many of the people that showed up last time will be returning, and as they get to know us, they'll get a taste of what we're all about. The good ones will stick around and take part. We do a good thing, and it's for a good reason, but there's always room for laughter. And we are always funnier after a few drinks.

-Jamison & Rob

Sunday, September 4, 2016

It's Back!!!!!

Jamie has called it a "Board Game Renaissance". A lot of people are discovering the hobby of board gaming. At almost every event we attend there is always at least one new face, who in turn brings a new face to the next one. Some people aren't "new" to gaming just new to the modern age games. We've all played Chutes and Ladders, Dominos and Monolopy at some point in our life. Those things come and go when you are a "legacy board game player". We never stopped playing, I've never stopped playing. I started as a young kid, playing the usual kid games, Ant in the Pants, Sorry, you know the ones. Then I got older, Cribbage, Hearts, Tock. Then I was introduced to MtG, Catan, and some of the party games like Scattergories and Balderdash. Now today we are fighting zombies, collecting gems, and conquering space. Games have evolved ( see what I did there? You will.) People jumping into gaming now think they have it made. They get all the new shiny games delivered right to their door. Or even worse download them to their "device".  But they've missed out on so many great games over the years. So many great interactions across the table.

Today one of those games from the past is coming back with a frenzy. Pokemon (now you see what I did). Pokemon is taking over the world, much like it did when it came out in the 90's. Kids are wearing the shirts, backpacks, and lunchboxes. The original episodes are on Netflix.  The new Pokemon Go app has rekindled the love with the older crowd, My crowd. And the 20th anniversary of the franchise has spawned another set of The Pokemon Trading Card Game.

I've talked to few local comic and game store owners and they all say the same thing "it comes and goes in phases" "A few years it's popular, then it dies off again"  Then, like a HO-OH from the ashes it rises again. That's just what happened yesterday for me. Jamie never played Pokemon before, he was a game snob when it originally came out. So he missed out on the craze of collecting, trading and evolving them all. Thanks to his job, he has started the journey to became a Pokemon Professor.

This got Jamie the basic how to's and what for's. Then a magical thing happened, I climbed up into the attic and pulled out my old cards. I went through them remembering all the fun times and fun people that I played it with. It was time, Lets play this. I threatened Jamie that we were going to play. He seemed onboard, a little.  But then he played a few games at our FLGS's Anniversary Party. Then he bought some cards.Now it's really time. He has setup at the store a Pokemon Play Day. I decided to go. So did some of the people I used to play with. There I was, a 38 year old playing Pokemon. Some of the kids that came to play were like 12 when I last played with them. They're way older than that now. But the real funny thing is, Some 12 year old's came to play too. 12-41, that's the age range of people that sat for hours, playing this game, a game from the past. I literally had to wipe dust off of my stuff, and here I am shuffling old cards with new. Old players with new ones who just learned how to play, the same day. So I played, for 6 hours I played. I lost, I won, I traded, I made a new deck. Just like old times. The vibe in the room was great. I can't wait to play again. I think Jamie can't wait to play again. He had a rough start to it, He lost a couple games (cough 4) then I revamped his deck for him and the sparkle in his eye came out. Or he was starting to cry cause he finally won a game. I'm not sure, but either way, we had a really fun day.  -Rob

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Brain Storm!

Last night, we (Rob & I) got together, ostensibly to play some games. We did play one, The Ancient World by one of our current favorite designers, Ryan Laukat. It was quite good, there was a lot to absorb the first time through. Very much a game that needs a few more plays before I can really relate where it falls on my list of games. I already know that it hasn't supplanted Laukat's other more recent games Islebound and Above & Below. Those games are quite high on my favorites list.

After I managed to eke out a win against Rob at The Ancient World, things turned- as they normally do- to all the things we have going on. We were well into our cups, which always helps with the creative process. We have a lot planned and we're starting to get down to crunch time. Extra Life is always high on the list of things we talk about. There's still 3 months of the year left for our fundraising efforts, so we made some plans for returning to Five Guys Burgers, which was a lot of fun when we did it in the spring. Look for an announcement to come soon on that.

From our Extra Life talk, things turned to this adventure that we've embarked on. We reviewed some of the topics from the blog, and talked about the format and frequency of our podcast. By nailing down some specifics, we're actually ready to start recording content! This is really exciting to both of us. We did some Twitch streams before the Chits & Bits game marathon, and after Extra Life United, we did some guest spots on a couple shows. We enjoyed it thoroughly, so the prospect of doing our own is both exhilarating and terrifying.

We want to cull the best topics from this blog, and talk about them further. Rob and I have a lot of stuff lined up to discuss, some special guests and ideas. We want you, our audience to tell us what you'd like US to talk about. We're looking to build a community of active listeners that we can inspire to do great things, and in turn inspire us. What are you looking for in a podcast? Share your thoughts, we want to hear them.

We start recording this coming week, and we'll be doing that for a few weeks. Look for our first episode to drop around the beginning of October. We'll keep you posted on our progress!


Thursday, September 1, 2016


As most of us do, I spend a lot of time cruising Facebook and Twitter, checking out the latest news from friends, acquaintances and people that I have something in common with. A lot of the things I read directly correlate to my interest in gaming and charity. I get to see the latest news from designers, publishers, and thoughts from other gamers. I follow the fundraising efforts of my fellow Extra Lifers. and often piggyback on their ideas.

Much of what I read inspires me. Never has it been easier to share your talents and passions with the world. Every well written piece I read makes me strive to improve my own writing. I've written more in the past year than I have ever written in my entire life, and that alone makes me feel good. Putting yourself out there, taking a chance on something that you like to do can serve as an inspiration to others. This is evident in our Extra Life events- we would not have the success that we do without the help of others, which in turn inspires us to try to do better. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy, if you strive to do great things for others, they will strive to do great things for you.

I know that some of our friends have picked up the mantle of blogger, hopefully in some small part from that same inspiration. Reward them for their efforts - give them a read, give them some feedback, and maybe pick up some inspiration of your own. What inspires you? Share something in the comments!

Here's some suggestions -
FezFlip - A few friends of mine including my hiking partner CoinFlip started this blog just recently, about gaming. They have some good insights, and I look forward to seeing more from them.

100 Days of Comics - Our buddy Nick Shaw has been writing this blog on comic books, it's a good way to pick up some ideas for stuff to read.

Everything's Lacey - Our friend Lacey writes this blog on her life and experiences. It's a really good read, and I look forward to seeing more from her!