Friday, December 16, 2011

Considering Gaming Resolutions

It's almost the new year, at least for everyone using Common Era reckoning based on the solar astronomical calendar, and so time for me to both consider how well my gaming resolutions for 2011 came out as well as come up with some good resolutions for next year.

I'm starting to think about next year's resolutions, but I'd like to get suggestions (serious ones, please) about what resolutions to shoot for next year.

First, though, a recap of how my resolutions for 2011 went and what I learned from the experience.

  1. Learn and play ASLSK/ASL. This went better than I suspected, but worse than I hoped. This may be a standard refrain for all of my resolutions! Thanks to my good friend Ken I got in two ASLSK scenarios, all of which involved small-arms, no ordnance, and no vehicles. This was by design. Because Ken is an old ASL hand, we mostly relied on his understanding of the game for the rules rather than using the ASLSK rules per se. That said, I enjoy the game but I need to decide if I want this to be a focal point in the future. I am certainly incapable of teaching this game to others at this point (a rarity for me), so it will be difficult to enlist people within my existing circle to play against unless they are already familiar with the system, so it will probably remain an occasional game I play unless I decide to make it my "lifestyle" game. I consider this goal a measured success.
  2. Attending an out of state gaming convention. This was an unqualified success - I attended BottosCon 2011 just south of Vancouver, B.C., and had a wonderful time, even meeting a couple of people (including Rob) that have been invited to our annual WBC West nanocon in late spring. Surprise high point was, as long time readers know, my first exposure to Fortress America! I plan to attend this again in 2012, in no small part because Rob does such a great job of building community. 
  3. iOS Game Development. I consider myself to be a good programmer, at least based on the limited coding I've done over the years, most of it in the 80's/90's. With iOS coding, I ran into a bit of a problem - to code for iOS, I need to know Objective-C or Java (which I don't, although I know C and some C++), and I also need to know the XCode environment. Apparently all at once. I'm taking advantage of the iTunesU Stanford classes on iOS coding, but it moves along quickly and assumes a good amount of object-oriented coding knowledge that I don't really have, although the concept is right up my alley - I considered my coding strengths to be in data types, and with OOP the entire process is about setting up data types and how you can interact with them. This will continue on into 2012, but it's slow going with some big gumption traps in the early portion. Definitely a failure although with some small success, but I expected as much.
  4. Classic Euros on the Table. A success, with only one session all year that didn't have at least one "classic" euro played (as defined by me), and that was when we had nearly 10 people show up to game over the summer. With one session left this year, I'm declaring this a complete success that was not only met but accomplished exactly what I wanted it to do - give me a chance to revisit some great games I haven't played in a while. 
  5. Long Term Study of WW2. My intent was to start learning more about all of WW2 chronologically, including gaming something about that period. I actually finished a fairly interesting book on the Spanish Civil War, although one that was clearly intended for the classroom, and gamed a bit on the subject with GMT's Spanish Civil War, Firefight/Decision's Arriba Espana, and MMP's Guadalajara. AE seemed like a game that was SCW themed more than a simulation, TSCW was very interesting but required a lot of tracking of what hex belonged to which side, and Guadalajara had some systemic issues because of the operational lines dictated between the Italians and Spanish (there wasn't much reason for the Republicans to fight the Spanish as there were no objectives on that side of the line). This is not to say that the games weren't good, or that I wasn't informed by setting them up and whatever small amount of play I devoted to them, just that this is a difficult goal to do on your own. Much better to have a small group, even one other person, with whom you can discuss what you've learned and game with. Solitaire gaming continues to be a difficult thing for me to sustain as I'd much rather play against a live opponent. While I will continue to work my way through a reading study, the game component is just not likely for me to try to continue. It's not like I own any games that involve Poland anyway. A failure with some elements of success, but it was also a very experimental goal.
  6. Play A Fleet Game Multiplayer. This one was a complete success, played out at WBC West in May 2011 with Chuck, Alex, and Matt. We played a largish (but not full-rules) scenario that took us the better part of the day, and both sides learned a lot. Next year we hope to get the Indo-Pakistani War scenario from 5th Fleet on the table, perhaps with up to six players. I still think a full-scale campaign game is more than we can take on, but this makes for an excellent multiplayer game where the old axiom "the more the merrier" holds true. 
  7. Play out the Runebound Campaign scenarios. I got through two expansions and the Isle of Dread, leaving two box sets and four expansions unplayed. Part of my problem was trying to extrapolate Mr. Skeletor's solitaire adapations to the regular ruleset, which almost merged up with the normal rules. I like the modified threat track idea, but I spent too much time trying to figure out how to retrofit the solitaire adaptations and what to do when the adaptations didn't address other issues with the scenarios. I think these games are probably going to spend a bit of time on the shelf until my granddaughter is old enough to play (and I'm hoping that's in about three years when she's six). Again, I'm finding that solitaire play is a much tougher row to hoe for me, and that's making it harder for me to work up enthusiasm for playing the entire set. 
  8. There is no 8! Or 9 or 10! Take that Vasel! ;-) Seriously, 8 is almost always "give back to the hobby" and this year I did it in a different way by donating nearly 100 games and expansions, largely from Avalanche Press, GMT's Great Battles of History, and old AH/Smithsonian games to the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund auction on BGG in November. I got into it a little late, and I was slightly disappointed at the relatively low bids made, but I did generate $1300 for the fund and (only slightly more amazing) managed to ship all of the games to 18 different recipients spread around the world. As I write, most of the people have acknowledged receipt and no one has complained that the games didn't arrive. Teachable Moment: Don't try to ship more than four or five packages at once. Without an Excel spreadsheet, this would have been a disaster. An entire bedroom became a shipping point for three weeks trying to get all of this stuff out, and I spent well over $100 for shipping materials. Also, thanks to the great people at BottosCon and my group in Portland who also helped out by buying some games in advance that contributed to the total.
The main thing I learned this year is that solitaire gaming, while appealing intellectually, is not nearly as satisfying an experience for me. As such, I'm going to focus more on face-to-face gaming goals next year, as well as one surprise goal that may be the most foolhardy yet. And another that may be the most difficult goal I've ever attempted - put a hard limit on what games and supplies I purchase in 2012. Stay tuned for the 2012 resolution list!

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