Friday, June 13, 2008

How to Drive Yourself Crazy in One Easy Lesson

All is quiet here at Skunked Again because I didn't make it out to any gaming events last weekend and I likely won't be able to make it to any this weekend or next. I was poised to go out the door Sunday evening but there were threats of severe thunderstorms, and that plus the fact that I had had a poor night's sleep prompted me to stay home and take it easy.

Regardless, not being able to go gaming doesn't stop me from thinking about gaming, and in the long stretches between outings the topic that always brings the most agony and entertainment is "what should I bring to the next game night?"

I have two theories about etiquette, in case you care. The first is that I try to limit myself to one game, or at most one game plus a short card game. In my circles people are fairly intense about what they want to play; everyone has particular games they're excited about, not to mention their backlogs of games they've bought and haven't played yet, and so there are always stacks of games everywhere that people are anxious to get to the table. If eight people bring four or five games to a game night (on top of the hundred-odd games that the host owns), you're talking about quite a few cardboard boxes that are supposed to hit the table in only four or five hours' time. I feel that by bringing one game it sends the message that I've shown some self-restraint, channeled all my enthusiasm into one pick, and otherwise am ready to accommodate other people.

My other theory about etiquette is that if you're going to suggest a game, you should know the rules and be ready to teach with only a few glances at the rulebook for clarification. I find it aggravating when a person promotes one game to play over all the other ones handy and then makes everyone wait while he sits down and reads the rules.

Anyway, the inner dialectic that I am always faced with when picking a game for game night is, do I try to check something off my "to do" list or do I go from the gut? Now, depending on whether the reader is a non-gamer or a die-hard gamer, the idea of a "to do" list for game night will either sound ridiculous or all too familiar. The top of the to-do list are games and expansions that I own that I've never played, after which comes the games that I own that I've only tried once. Also on the list are games that I really enjoyed but for some reason set aside too soon to try out newer acquisitions (I have since slowed down the pace of my game acquisitions, by the way).

Being obsessive and a compulsive list-maker, I genuinely derive satisfaction from checking items off the list. It's progress, dammit! Also, I have this strange notion that when I clear away all these pesky unplayed games, I will no longer be encumbered by stuff and a golden halo of clarity will descend upon me. Even better, when I afterwards get the urge to buy a new game, I'll be able to do so 100% guilt free!

Of course, I could just throw away the list and just do whatever I feel like, and that is the other contentious train of thought running through my head. Why suffer self-imposed restraints? Who cares if I have unplayed games? It's just stuff, and you are only unencumbered when you choose to be unencumbered! "Let go, Luke!"

But, darn it, I paid for them, and I wanted to play them when I bought them!

And on it goes.

What makes the allure of checking stuff off the list so very strong these days is that I am actually within striking distance of achieving my goal of having no unplayed games in my collection. For the first time in years, I am down to only four titles. A mere five hours of playing time! Halo of clarity, here I come!

And yet for some unknown reason I have a perverse desire to chuck it all and just play Clash of the Gladiators. More on that later, perhaps.

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