A Conversation With…Ken Coble


Today I am joined by Ken Coble, super gamer. Ken is a friend from the Hypermind Boardgamers. He is also a fantastic role player and a great guy all around.

Tomg: What is your gamer cred?

Ken: Not sure I’ve got any – if I do, it’s that I’ve been doing this
since I was 11 or so; however the huge chunk of time between undergrad
and a few years ago where I didn’t get to play has to cut into that
somewhat.
Boardgames? even less – I only started seriously playing them about 2
years ago, and that was almost entirely due to Steve Wallace hounding
me to go to game night (and I’m glad he did!)
Tomg: Do you prefer to GM or be a player?  Why?

Ken: Probably being a GM barely edges out player, since I really like
fiddling around with world/campaign design.  However, with the newer
games that put some (or lots) of narrative control back in the
player’s hands, player might be pulling ahead!
Tomg: What makes a good player?

Ken: Wow, I’m not sure.  I might be better at saying what makes a bad
player!  One thing that goes a long way towards making a good player
is someone who’s engaged with the game – ideally with the world, the
other players, and maybe even the game system itself.
Tomg: What makes a good game?

Ken: RPGS: Once upon a time I’d have said a great background/setting and
then as long as the system wasn’t obtrusively bad I wouldn’t care.  I
still think that good background is important, but I’m growing to like
games where there’s some real thought going into making a system that
works both as a game and as a framework for RP.

Boardgames: as much as I love heavy theme, I’m rapidly starting to get
impatient with overly bloated, hyperdetailed rules in games.  Am I
turning into a Eurogamer?
Tomg: Tell us about your favorite character so far.

Ken: Hmm… maybe the Dwarven Battlerager I had in that AD&D (2ed, I think)
campaign Chris ran for us in high school where I specifically made him
all unreliable and nuts so I wouldn’t wind up being the party leader
by default, as tended to happen back then.  I wound up having to be
the party leader anyway, so I wrote out an oracle the character could
consult by flipping 5 coppers and used it to make every decision I got
forced to make for the party.  Good times (and of course, no one in
the play group ‘learned their lesson’ from this, so I went back to
being the voice of reason in our next group like always).
Tomg: What is(are) your current hot games?

Ken: RPGs? Diaspora for sure, and I’d really love to play some Rogue Trader
(a much more traditional style RPG, but I love the 40k setting and I
think RT is one of the best ways to explore it)

Wargames? well, I’ve stalled out on our 40k league at the store due to
a variety of reasons (not least of which is differing expectations
from many of the players), so the nod has to go to Flames of War.
Britt and I are planning a big campaign based on the Eastern Front in
the winter of 43, and I also snuck and ordered enough stuff to make
two small 600pt armies for North Africa/Tunisia, which I intend to use
for some games with Chris N (since he mentioned some interest in FoW
earlier) as well as anyone else at Hypermind who wants to learn!

Boardgames? That might be a tougher call, just since there’s so much
stuff to play and so many things we don’t manage to get to the table
on Tuesday nights!  I certainly want to play some more Tribune,
especially now that I have my own copy!  I also really liked the one
game of Thurn und Taxis I got to play with Chris I and a few other
people back at the beginning of the summer.  I’m thinking pretty
heavily about getting Denise to order me a copy.  Otherwise, I’m still
wanting to play Macao and Agricola every game night; only problem is
the time/player commitment, as well as my desire to try something new
all the time as well.

Tomg: Thanks for the interview Ken. The Diaspora game is uber awesome.  Thanks for getting it started.  It is always fun to talk to you. See you on Tuesday night for some gaming.

So, how is this going?


I’m well into my interview series with many more to come. And I wanted to know how are you liking them? Any suggestions? Anybody you want me to interview?
Up and coming interviews include Jason Morningstar of Fiasco and Grey Ranks fame, Eloy Lasanta of Apocalypse Prevention, Inc. and Third Eye Games, Michael Mindes of Tasty Minstrel Games, the guys from The Spiel and Game On! with Cody and John, and Tom Vasel of The Dice Tower.

A Conversation With…Doug and Shelley Garrett from Garrett’s Games And Geekiness


I’m joined today by Doug and Shelley Garrett of Garrett’s Games And Geekiness.  Doug and Shelley are avid gamers and prolific podcasters.  It is a pleasure to have them on Go Forth And Game.

Tomg: Tell us about Garrett’s Games and Geekiness, your very interesting and fun podcast.

Doug:  Do you want a bit of history?  If so, here’s a brief rundown:

After listening to podcasts like Mark Johnson’s Board Games To Go and GeekSpeak from Derk and Aldie of BGG, I thought it might be fun to try my hand at podcasting too.  As a Mac user, Apple had just come out with some tools like GarageBand back in late 2005 that made creating content easier, and I thought it might be fun to try.  As a teacher, I also thought I might bring what I had learned into my high school English and Journalism classes.  The first podcast went up in late January of 2006.

The show really began to work when I followed Mark’s model and did a “Wife Show” with Shelley.  I think the reason the show continues to work well is because of our interplay; rather than one voice, you have a dialogue, and unlike other boardgaming podcasts you have a woman who knows a lot and enjoys playing most of the games.

Shelley: Doug is tech savvy and he decided to get into this endeavor of podcasting.  I thought it would be just his thing, and I would just be playing games.  But, Doug asked me to be on the podcast…and foolishly I said ‘OK.’

Just kidding.  I like having a conversation with Doug on the podcast.  He knows so much about games and I enjoy hearing the explanations of the games again.  Revisiting games verbally is as fun as participating in the game initially.

Tomg: I really enjoy the show.  It is unique among the gaming podcasts.  Your podcast is like sitting in on a conversation with you.  It’s fun to visit your home each week.  I appreciate your weekly schedule too.

What makes a great game?

Doug:  I think we both would say that long games do not equal good games necessarily. I love a game that plays in under an hour, has solid, clear rules, and gets me thinking.  China and/or Web of Power is my favorite game, and we can play a game of it in under 30 minutes; but the entire time I can feel the tension and love the planning of possible options as I wait for my next turn.

Shelley:  I agree with Doug’s sentiments here.  A great game should have many paths towards victory, but be streamlined enough so that I don’t have to memorize too much.  Simple icons and player aids can make a more complicated game feel more straightforward.  I love a good think, but I don’t want to have to have a bionic memory of what others have and I don’t want to have to use a calculator to keep score.

Tomg: What makes a good player?

Shelley: I prefer to play with a person who doesn’t take the game too seriously and realizes the primary goal of playing is to have fun.  Efficiency of play and not over-analyzing each move to death are also important qualities.

Obviously, playing with someone who is not overly critical or judgmental about the plays I might make is important.

Doug: As we have talked about on the podcast, those who suffer often from Analysis Paralysis frustrate both of us.  As Shelley said, we’re here to have fun, compete a bit, but not let that competition overwhelm what should an enjoyable social occasion.

I think you also have to realize that there are times when you shouldn’t push a game on others.  We have friends who are gamers, but often the meal, the conversation, the camaraderie…those trump gaming.

Oh, and though I love teaching games to others, it IS nice when I don’t have to do it all of the time.  So if someone picks up that slack, I enjoy the experience as well.

Tomg: Tell us about your most memorable gaming moment?

Doug: I don’t know that I can pick just one.  I look back with fondness on playing Rummy with Shelley in Venice, playing a nail-biter of a game of Starship Catan as we waited for a plane to take us to England the year after 9/11 (when we weren’t sure how long we’d need to be at the airport), learning Settlers of Catan for the first time (which propelled me into this hobby/obsession), helping to plan Kublacon (a local convention) and convincing the organizers that Aldie and Derk should be special guests… all of these experiences have enhanced my life.  It’s hard to pin one down and say, “that’s the one.”

Shelley: The above-mentioned experiences would be mine as well.

Tomg: What is your current hot game and why is it hot?

Doug: Well, as our listeners know, and given that we are a weekly podcast, we are trying new games almost every week.  “Hot” therefore is a game that sticks around, still has my interest, and begs to come back to the table ASAP.  Right now that’s two games – Fresco and Egizia.  We reviewed them both within the past couple of months and I’m not done exploring them.  I want to try them with all of the possible numbers of players to see how the games change with fewer or more participants.

Fresco, which I have played more, comes with three expansions in the box and I love the way in which they are seamlessly integrated into the design.  The mixing of paints to repair the fresco of the title works thematically, as do all aspects of the game, and I appreciate that elegance.

Egizia, with its “boat placement” (a variation on worker placement), changes substantially with 2 or 4 players.  With 2 it’s a much more friendly game as you can’t be blocked out of areas.  With 4 you have to forego items you may want for things you have to have.  That tension is wonderful.

Shelley:  Again, I would have to concur with Doug.  We have very similar likes and dislikes with games.  Also, since most of our game play happens together, what is “hot” with one of us would be “hot” for both of us.  If one of us felt we loved a game and the other one was just so so, we would play the game again and look at it with new eyes.  I remember the first time we played Golden Compass and I thought there wasn’t too much there and I was surprised when Doug loved it.  After the second play, however, I understood the mechanics and I loved it too.

Tomg: Both those games are on my need to play list.  I’m glad to hear that you like them.  I remember the Golden Compass podcast.  You liked the game especially some of the mechanics as I recall.

Doug: Golden Compass is a race game, but with a couple of nice twists that always makes it a close finish – you have to plan out what movement cards you will take because after a certain point you can ONLY play cards in the colors of players who are ahead of you in the race…only playing YOUR cards if you are in front.  I like that planning bit.

Tomg: Are there any games you would like to see reprinted?

Doug: Actually, I’m happy to see so many companies out there making sure older titles are coming back into print with possible updates to make them more relevant and playable for the Euro-gamer crowd.  It’s sad that China/Web of Power is not currently available here in the US due to the demise of Uberplay, but I’m sure that something will be done about that in the near future.  Eric Summerer of Dice Tower fame has built his own copy of Merchant of Venus, but his talk certainly has pushed up interest in that game! J

Companies like Fantasy Flight, Valley and Stronghold also seem to be looking at classics and seeing what they can bring back into the market place.  I wish them all luck and success.

Shelley: I don’t know that much about games before 2001.  My gaming experiences before that were really limited to Sorry, Clue and Rummy.  I was not a gamer, so, unfortunately, I am not very knowledgeable about the far past.  However, I agree that China/Web of Power should really be in print.

When we went to Essen last year, we were searching for a game that was out of print and we found two copies of it at a used seller.  We happily purchased Himmelssturmer.  This is a game that should be in print since it works well with a large group and has really cool hot air balloons in it. He also found Heimlich & Co., which I think might be out of print, and it is a fun game.  I remember Doug’s excitement over purchasing Astron, another game with awesome bits.  If you haven’t seen a copy go to BGG and look at it.  The board actually wraps around a cylinder that you twist to change the flying path of your metal space ships.

Sometimes the hunt of finding an out of print game is a “game” in itself.  Also, I think that the gamer community has to be happy that Loopin’ Louie came back in print.  Thankfully what is one person’s garbage is another person’s treasure.

Tomg: China is a very fun game.  Astron sounds fun.  More information on Himmelssturmer would be welcome.

Doug: I made a vow to myself on my birthday that I will play China at least once a month for the next year – if it’s my favorite game; it needs to hit the table!

Himmelststurmer is also called “The Great Balloon Race” on BGG.  Part of its ‘cool’ factor is the bits, which are 2-3 inch tall plastic hot air balloons.

Tomg: What’s on the horizon for you guys, game wise?

Doug: I’m not sure how to answer that, as we just keep enjoying the games that I research and buy.  I’m lucky enough to have a wonderful life partner who accepts and willingly participates in my hobby/obsession.

I still really enjoy doing the podcast, so I also don’t see that going away anytime soon either.  Heck, it’s an excuse to sit down for at least 30 minutes each week, sit across from my wife, and have a fun conversation.  Not that we don’t talk otherwise, but it’s another fun way of hanging out together.

Shelley: I again have to agree with Doug.  We plan on continuing to play games, obviously and to discuss them with our friends.

Tomg: I really enjoy the show. It is unique among the gaming podcasts. Your podcast is like sitting in

on a conversation with you. It’s fun to visit your home each week. I appreciate your weekly schedule too.

Doug: Having a weekly schedule is a bit difficult at times, but keeping it consistent means I have a goal for each week.  Also, it means that we need to sit down nearly every week and play at least one game so we have something to say – scheduled fun, if you will.

Tomg: Lastly, where can we find you on the web?

Doug: We have a website – www.garrettsgames.com – on which every episode for the podcast is posted.  Also, we have a Guild on Boardgamegeek.com (#350) where listeners and I have conversations about the episodes.

Tomg: That was fun guys.  Thank you for being my guests on Go Forth And Game.  I look forward to the next podcast of Garrett’s Games And Geekiness.

A Conversation With…Jason Corley


Today we are joined by Jason Corley. Jason is a regular co-host on Pulp Gamer Out Of Character and an rpg enthusiast.

Hi Jason. Welcome to Go Forth And Game. Thanks for joining us today.

Let’s get started by finding out a little about you.

I’m a lawyer who lives in Tucson, Arizona. I’m a co-host of Pulp Gamer’s Out Of Character podcast, an occasional freelancer and a long-time gamer.

Well let’s get right to the questions.

What is your current ‘hot’ games and why are they hot?

FATE is the hot game for me right now. The Dresden Files version of it really explained things in a clear way. I was interested in FATE ever since Spirit of the Century, but the stunts there sort of overshadowed the Aspects system, in my view, and I never really got a hold of it. I’m currently running a FATE game set in the 1889 Paris of the sadly-defunct pulp game Forbidden Kingdoms.  It’s a combination of adventure and horror, good stuff.  I even slimmed down the Dresden Files rules significantly to make the core of FATE really shine through. It’s knocked me out with how good it is, and how quickly I can use it to make cool conflicts to motivate the players and characters.

I am currently running FATE games – Spirit of the Century and Diaspora – in my game groups. I really enjoy aspects and the compel/invocation mechanic and the character generation of those two games.

Why do you play games?

Because they’re fun and creative, and I want to be a fun and creative person.  I think that’s about it.

What is your take on the whole GNS/Big Model thing?

It’s got some good ideas. For example, the idea that everything that happens in roleplaying is subsumed in the social interactions between the players is really good and not something I’d thought about before.  I also agree that there is such a thing as a “creative agenda”, that means the aesthetic preferences of the player, primarily expressed through play.  You’d have to be a dope or have your eyes closed not to agree that that exists. I think the GNS grouping of those creative agendas is fundamentally unsound, and the remainder of the theory, which relies on that to make value judgments about the customization of games by players, is complete nonsense and has been thoroughly discredited.

You’re known as the best GM in Tuscon, why?

Well, science has proven it to be so, and you can’t argue with science, right?

In all seriousness, I had just gotten done running a really good game and I was psyched about how well it had gone. I decided to invent it as a fun bit of trash-talk to spur both myself and others into improving their play. By saying you’re the best at something, you imply that improvement is possible.  It’s worked really well so far. Others have said they want to unseat me, and I try to improve myself to stay ahead of them. As I often say, “Even Michael Jordan had to practice basketball a lot.”

What makes a great player?

A great player actively listens to what everyone is saying and doing.  Active listening is what psychologists call the technique of listening to what someone says, and repeating it back in your own words. In a roleplayer’s case, you repeat it back in your character’s own words, or sometimes actions. If the GM says, “A red dragon lurks on the hoard,” the actively listening player says, “By the gods, this sinister beast has a pile of gold and jewels such as I’ve never seen!”  Which is saying exactly the same thing (especially the connection of the words “lurk” and “sinister”) that the GM just said, but reinforcing it.  An active listener is supporting what others at the table are doing, not just passively accepting it.

A great player also has a clear goal in mind for their participation in the game, beyond “to have fun”. Of course everyone wants to have fun. But if they have a goal like “I’m going to learn this system” or “I’m going to practice bantering with Tom” or “I’m going to see if I can get a good technique from this GM” when they sit down for a session, they will be a lot more alert and energetic.

Your idea of coming to a game with a goal is an interesting one. I’m going to try that with the next couple of games.

What out of print game would you like to see reprinted?

I’m not the kind of guy who wishes that there were reprints of things I already own – after all, I already own them. And if I don’t own it in some form, I usually don’t know enough about a game to make any kind of evaluation about it. But if I had to pick one, I would say Al-Qadim, the Arabian Nights adventures and supplements for AD&D.  Curvy swords, poofy pants and vests with no shirt, what’s not to like?

Oh, you mentioned that you are an ‘occasional freelancer’, I know you wrote something for Alpha Omega.  Tell us about that.

I wrote a short story for them, “One Ten Thousandth”, which is now available to buy: http://www.alphaomegathegame.com/index.php/permalink/one_ten_thousandth_now_available/
I’ve been doing some editing work on upcoming products, and I have a more extensive project that hasn’t been announced yet. Should be fun.

You can hear from Jason in most every episode of Pulp Gamer Out Of Character. He also recently was a guest host on The Game’s The Thing. And check out Jason’s story for Alpha Omega and keep an eye out for his name on future works.

Fantastic. Thanks for the interview Jason.

A Reivew of No Thanks!


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Review: No Thanks!
Designed by Thorston Gimmler
Published in English by Z-Man Games

The Basics:
No Thanks! is a card game in which players pay a chip not to take a card from the middle of the play area. Each card has a certain amount of points on it. By taking the cards from the middle players add points to their ‘hand’. The idea of the game is to have the fewest points at the end of the game. So you must pay to keep your point total low.

Components:
The game consists of 33 cards numbered 3 through 35 and 55 playing chips. That’s it.
Oh, and a rules sheet.

Setup:
Deal 11 chips to each player. Shuffle the cards. Deal 24 cards face down to the middle of the play area. The remaining cards are not used this round and are placed back in the box.

So How Do You Play No Thanks!?
The first player turns over the top card of the deck. He has the option to either take that card or pay a chip not to take it. If he chooses not to take it, he places a chip next to the card and play moves to the next player. This player has the same options – take the card AND the chip or pay a chip not to take it. Play continues until someone decides to take the card. This player takes the card and all the accumulated chips. He then flips another card from the deck face up. He now has the same options – take it or pay. Taken cards are placed in front of the player. Taken chips are added to that player’s pool. One twist to play is that consecutive sequences of cards score only the lowest card in the sequence. Also if a player has no chips he must take the card in play. Play continues until all cards are taken. Players then calculate their final score by adding up the points on the single cards and then adding the points from the lowest card in each sequence. Then they subtract a point for each chip they still have.

So How Do I Like No Thanks!
This is a very fun and surprising game. The rules are so simple yet the strategy involved with keeping your point total low, trying to get sequences, and keeping some chips makes for hard decisions. I like this. The fact that you do not use all the cards ensures that you can’t card count as you never know which cards are in the deck and which are in the box out of play. This is a good mechanic. There is a take that element in the game that is fun. You can drive play around to the guy who has no chips left, forcing him to take the card in play. You can take a card to keep it from someone need it for a sequence. You can take a card just to keep the next players from getting needed chips. All of these tactics come into play to add fun.
My group was very surprised by this quick filler. It has unseen strategy and tons of fun. It is a regular filler at Hypermind and one I will be teaching at work soon.

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A Conversation With…Chris Norwood


I’m happy to be joined by my good friend Chris Norwood. Chris is the mind behind GamerChris.com, one of the best gaming blogs on the internet. Chris is an avid gamer and advocate for gaming. He is the organizer of The Hypermind Boardgamers, our local FPLGS game group. Welcome to Go Forth And Game, Chris.

1. Gamerchris.com is what you are best known for these days.  Tell us about how it came to be and your vision for it.


1)  GamerChris.com came from two different places.

First of all, from the moment I started the Hypermind Boardgamers, I’ve been keeping a record of our game nights online.  Originally, I wrote a series of Geeklists over at BGG, but that always involved editing and posting pictures in advance to the actual game galleries, because back then, there were no individual profile galleries .  And that worked pretty well until my daughter was born and I completely ran out of time.

And somewhere in there, I kind of got to liking having an “online voice” and wanted a place that I could talk about things other than just our weekly game nights.  The final push I needed was an episode of The Metagamers (possibly the best boardgame podcast ever made, unfortunately now pod-faded) about luck and chaos in gaming.  I wanted to respond, but my comments were too long and involved for just a comment on their site or anything, so I went ahead and pulled the trigger on the site, which I’d been thinking about for a while.  From the get-go, I bought the gamerchris.com domain from GoDaddy and used it to host and manage the site.

Eventually, I decided to fold the weekly reports into gamerchris.com as well, and now it’s where you’ll find pretty much everything that I do online.  I’ve had a couple of articles on Boardgame News and contribute to the Thru-the-Portal ezine, but those are strictly sideline projects to my site.

As far as my “vision” for gamerchris.com goes, that’s hard to say.  There’s definitely an element of wanting it to be a community-building thing for the Hypermind Boardgamers.  And of course, I love the idea of having some impact on the larger gaming community out there.  The best thing I’ve ever done on the site was to write my Boardgame Basics series aimed at people new to the hobby, and the Introduction to Modern Boardgames article is consistently one of the most read things on my site.  But more than anything else, I write the blog for myself; to have a voice in the hobby that I love so much.  And since that’s my primary motivation, I don’t care so much about aggressively trying to grow it or monetize it.  It’s a labor of love, not a business venture.


2. You ‘started’ and organize The Hypermind Boardgamers.  How did this come about and tell us about the group?

2)  Let me start with a brief rundown of my gaming history.  I’ve been a diehard roleplayer since I was about 9 years old.  All through middle school and high school, I played D&D, Vampire, DC Heroes, Rifts, and a ton of other RPGS.  Then in college, I got into the CCG craze with Magic and (my favorite) the Babylon 5 CCG.  Eventually, I dabbled again with some 3/3.5 edition D&D and got into the D&D collectible minis game.  Both at the All Fun & Games store in Apex and at Hypermind (after I finally discovered it), I participated in their DDM communities, but also started to get more and more interested in the plethora of gorgeous modern boardgames that both stores offered.

And something amazing started to happen at home as well, because for the first time, my wife Gwen actually showed some interest in playing games with me.  First Ticket to Ride and then Settlers of Catan, and eventually things like Pillars of the Earth and other games, and her interest fueled me buying and exploring more and more of these games.  So when the DDM group completely disintegrated in late 2006, I started talking to Denise Shepherd (the owner of Hypermind) about starting a regular game night to play all of these new boardgames that I’d been buying.

We started on January 16, 2007 and, predictably, played The Settlers of Catan.  In addition to Alton and Mark (who had been playing Pirates of the Spanish Main on Tuesdays before that), I also looked on BGG and found a couple of other local gamers (Chip and Ian) and invited them as well.  It went over well, and we’ve been going strong ever since.  Chris Ingersoll came to our third week, and he hasn’t missed a single week since, and Gwen joined us most evenings until we got into the fertility treatments to have Samantha.

We started our Game of the Month! program in April 2007, and have had celebrations on all three of our anniversaries so far.  But for the most part, I don’t actually have to do much “organizing” of the group any more.  We usually have somewhere between one or two dozen people each week, and we have up to four tables of games running most of the time.  People come from as far away as about 40 or 50 miles, and we play until usually about midnight every week.

More than anything else, though, I just think that we’ve put together a really fantastic group of people to play with.  They are good natured, friendly, open to newcomers, willing to teach and learn new games, play relatively quickly, and like to have fun.  And with all honesty, I’d say that my game night friends are now some of my best friends in the world.

3.  What makes a good player, for each boardgames and rpg’s?

    Good players are, first and foremost, people who want to have fun.  But they can’t just try to have fun at the expense of the other players, because we are all responsible for making sure that everyone at the table is having fun.  And you know, I could get into a lot of other details, but that’s really the heart of it.  As long as you come into a game looking to have a good time and make sure that everyone else does the same, then you’re probably a good player.

4. What make a good game?

4)  My ideas about what makes a good game have definitely changed a lot over the last few years.  And the way that I’d describe my current “big picture” about games is that system matters.  The rules of a game need to support your fun.  It’s not good enough to just have an interesting situation or theme and then expect the players to run with it and make up their own fun.  A game should be well-designed and provide the system and structure to enhance and empower the things you want to do.

Specifically for boardgames, I want mechanics that work and are interesting.  I enjoy games with multiple viable strategies or paths to victory, where I can explore my options and try out different approaches to play.  And I also like games where you have to be flexible and respond to challenges thrown at you either by the game or the other players.  I like nice theme in a game, but at the same time, I am no longer willing to put up with sloppy, clunky games where you’re expected to deal with things that don’t quite work just because they spent so much time working on (or paying for) the theme.  But in the end, I’m pretty much a game slut.  I’ll try any kind of game (as long as I’ve heard decent things about it), and I like to try and find the right game for any crowd that I’m in.

For RPG’s, my tastes are currently very much in the “indie”/story game category.  I’ve played traditional RPG’s for most of my life, and had fun with most of them.  But the experience that you get from them tends to be very one-dimensional (fight things, and usually take their stuff!), unless you disregard the system completely and just free-play in the “world” that the game sells you (in which case, you’re not really playing that game anymore).

Story games, on the other hand, tend to actually provide mechanical support for the story that you want to tell.  And there’s so much innovation and exploration going on there that it really stimulates my “gamer” side, which really likes to see and explore all the new systems and mechanics.

5.  What is your take on GNS?

5)  I’ve actually come into the whole indie RPG world pretty recently, so I missed all the glory days of the Forge and all the early thoughts on RPG theory.  Looking back on GNS though, I find it to be pretty obvious and mostly useful.  All theories or methods of taxonomy like this, of course, tend to over-generalize, and that seems to be where it’s gotten into most of its trouble.  But in general, the Big Model that flowed out of it is a great way to think about roleplaying.  I guess the bigger question is whether or not we really need to have RPG theory at all…

As far as how I’d categorize myself, I’d say that I am, and have pretty much always been, more of a Narrativist.  I can certainly slip into a Gamist mode at times (particularly when playing 3/3.5 edition D&D), but as a life-long GM, story has always what’s been most important to me.

6.  What are your current hot games – board and rpg?

6) For RPG’s, my hot games are definitely Diaspora and Fiasco right now, but I’d really love to play some Dogs in the Vineyard, Dirty Secrets,  Don’t Rest Your Head, Primetime Adventures, and a ton of other games if I had the time.

With boardgames, it’s a lot harder (since I play so many).  My all-time favorites are Pandemic and The Princes of Florence, but my current “hotties” would probably be Macao, Catacombs, Forbidden Island, Notre Dame, Peloponnes, Cyclades, and (with Samantha) Go Away Monster!


7.  Include any links or sites you would like people to visit.

7) http://GamerChris.com (obviously)

Hypermind BoardGamers Geeklists: http://geekdo.com/geeklist/22813/hypermind-boardgamers-meta-list

My first real article on gamerchris.com (Luck and Chaos in Gaming): http://gamerchris.com/2007/04/21/luck-and-chaos-in-gaming.aspx

The Metagamers (where you can still download their old podcasts):  http://themetagamers.com/

GNS at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNS_Theory

The Big Model at Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Mode

That was a great interview, Chris. I’m really interested in playing Dogs and Don’t Rest Your Head soon. And everyone knows that Fiasco is my current go to game. Notre Dame has risen high on my list thanks to being our GOTM last month. I have a copy on Princes of Florence on order.

Again, I appreciate the interview.

Join me here again soon for another interesting interview.

Go Forth And Game!

tomg