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Musings of a Green Gamer

The meandering thoughts of an enthusiastic newbie to the great hobby of gaming.

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The Best Board Games to Play, when you're a "Green Gamer"

Brian Hazzard
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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Recently I posted to my official blog a post about "The Best Board Games" (http://brianhazzard.com/recommendations/2013/04/28/the-best-...). In actuality, this post is aimed at people who are new to our hobby. I left out the "for newbz" bit because I didn't want to turn away nascent gamers with snobbery. I thought I would explain some of my reasoning for the games I chose here, where folks are likely to be anything but "green".

So first, my choices:
- Ticket To Ride
- Dominion
- Pandemic
- The Resistance
- 7 Wonders
- Stone Age
- Space Alert

Most of these fall squarely into the gateway game category, but I think there are a couple notable exceptions in my list: The Resistance, and Space Alert. So why did I throw those in? They both are the most thoroughly engaging games I have ever played, and I figure that if a new gamer experiences that sort of immersiveness, they will know quickly if this is a hobby for them.

My hope would be that new gamers experience these games in an order like this:

- Pandemic first, so they can be hand-held through a challenging set of rules, but experience a great interpretation of an inspiring theme, and hopefully, feel the joy of a victory.
- The Resistance second, so they can get a taste for how gut wrenching it can be to sit around a table with friends and play a game.
- Any of Ticket to Ride, Stone Age, Dominion, or 7 Wonders. These are just great games with fun strategies to explore that best typify our style of games.
- Once they identify as a board gamer, they should not delay to try Space Alert. This one is epic and definitely has that "lets play again" quality that I look for in games.

DISCLAIMER: The blog post I link to above does have affiliate links. Since this is board game geek, and they also use affiliate links, please consider purchasing your games through board game geek's links so we can continue to support this awesome service.
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Sun May 5, 2013 6:23 pm
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Thrift Store Madness

Brian Hazzard
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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When getting started in gaming, you'll need games to play. Probably the best way to start is to just buy one or two great titles at first (I'd recommend Dominion and Carcassonne to most new gamers). But soon, if you're like me, you'll get bitten by the gamin bug, and you pine for every game someone says something good about. That can become very expensive in a hurry.

A more affordable alternative is to obsessively visit your local thrift stores. Most of the time, you'll end up wasting your time. Every once in a while, you might find a real gem at a fraction of the cost. And then things can spiral out of control...

I discovered game thrifting here on "The Geek" at the Thrifter's Guild. People were always posting about the amazing games that they paid mere dollars for, and I wanted in on it.

I started frequenting my local thrift shops, and only occasionally found anything of value. My best scores were a Heroscape set for 3 dollars, and Khrt for 2 dollars. Even so, I bought about 12 games, nearly filled a closet, went to thrift shops every day, and started to worry my wife concerning my obsession.

Eventually my devotion wore off. I go maybe once a month these days. I'll probably re-donate most of the games I purchased. But do I regret it? Not at all. Would I do it again? If I had the time, yes. In fact I kinda miss the obsession.

Take it from an ex-addict: thrifting is a great way to add to your collection on the cheap, but be real with yourself. If you will only play a game 1 time, is it really worth even a couple dollars and the shelf space?

Happy thrifting and good gaming.
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Sat Nov 26, 2011 2:15 pm
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Board Games and weight loss

Brian Hazzard
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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The Scenario
Some of the folks at my office have just started up a weight loss competition titled "PLOT: Project Lose an Olsen Twin". The goal is for the groups weight loss to be more than an Olsen twin (I'm guessing that is less than 90 lbs). Everybody has put in a bit of money, and the person who loses the highest percentage of weight will take it all home.

I'm participating in this little contest, and I intend to win... but there is a problem: my gym time is cutting into my gaming time. So what is a gamer to do when he is also working on his health?

I know some of you are probably raising your eyebrows about now . You're probably thinking that the two don't seem to have anything to do with each other, and you would be right. BUT, between a full time job, a ahem*needy*ahem wife, and a hobby that takes up many hours a week... it can be hard to squeeze health into the mix too.

The Problems

Problem 1: Board Games take up time that could be spent working out.
Solution: Discipline.

What? That answer wasn't good enough for you? Too bad, I'm sticking with it! This is how I see it: board games are lots of fun, so they make a great reward for doing the grunt loss required to achieve your desired goals. So first, figure out how much exercise time you need to meet your fitness goals. Next, be tough on yourself when game night rolls around. Have you met your exercise quota? No? "Sorry buddies, my fitness goals are important to me, so I'll be missing game night this time to go to the gym instead... Can't wait for next week!"

Problem 2: All your buddies bring delicious fattening high calorie snacks to game night.
Solution: Discipline.

... Yea, that's too easy an answer this time, but in all seriousness some self restraint is required. Steer clear of the soda, chips, cakes, pizza, etc. Instead bring some water or sugar-free tea and fruits, granola, or healthy trail mix to game night, and snack away. Bring enough for your buddies though, they might decide they don't want to die young and hop on the health bandwagon with you.

Problem 3: I'm a gamer at heart, traditional exercises at the gym just don't do it for me.
Solution: Deal with it! You need to get into a routine, so that you can stick with it. I have trouble with motivation for the gym too, so here are the techniques I developed to cope:

Set aside 1 evening as your night off for gaming.

Make a gym plan and go 2-4 times during the week day mornings or evenings.

Figure out a regular FUN activity. For me this was a weekly Dodgeball league, and then a twice weekly inter-mural Ultimate Frisbee group. It's a lot tougher in the winter though.

Each weekend day do at least one FUN exercise with your wife, family or friends. Things like hiking, Frisbee golf, the pool (swim some laps though), and bicycling are all great options. This way you combine quality time with your loved ones and exercise.

The End
My office did PLOT once before. I lost 25 lbs in that contest, but came in 4th place. This time I plan to lose 25 lbs again and conquer them all. I'll try and post with progress if it has anything whatsoever to do with board games.

Thanks for reading, and have fun gaming!
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6 Comments
Thu May 5, 2011 1:28 am
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Discovering board games in a digital world

Brian Hazzard
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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One thing I neglected to mention in my first post (http://boardgamegeek.com/blogpost/2227/my-introduction-to-ga...) is the role that devices like the iPad and iPhone played in my introduction to gaming.

Before I changed jobs 2 years ago my wife and I were both "stupid" as opposed to "smart" phone users. She was not at all happy with the situation and I admittedly had tech-envy every time I saw someone with an iPhone.

Being a software developer surrounded by coworkers with the latest and greatest tech-toys did nothing but aggravate my gear lust. So only a few months in to working at my new job, my wife and I made the life changing purchase of 2 iPhone 3GS's.

So what does any of this have to do with boardgames? At first, nothing at all. I was happy with games like Plants vs. Zombies and Jelly Car for quite some time. But when I discovered that some of my coworkers were in to board games, I got curious.... Were there iOS versions of any of these titles? Yep!

It started with Medici. I had countless hours of fun auctioning against human and computer opponents to trade efficiently. Some said i was obsessed, but I really got hooked when my wife orchestrated with family members to buy me an iPad.

In quick succession I got Medici HD, Ra, Settlers of Catan, Keltis, Carcassonne, Samurai, Neuroshima Hex, Money, High Society, Through The Dessert... and more. Since I already had the expensive iPad, this turned out to be a cheap way to discover new games before I had a regular group. It's a very exciting medium for that reason, but nothing will replace boards and bits.

My next iOS purchases are Tikal and Puerto Rico, neither of which I've played in physical form.

If you want more information about IOS Board games check out the IOS Board Games Blog (http://boardgamegeek.com/blog/164/ios-board-games).
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Wed May 4, 2011 6:14 pm
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My introduction to gaming

Brian Hazzard
United States
Charlottesville
Virginia
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Like most Americans who eventually discovered how fun and blissfully geeky boardgames can be, I grew up occasionally playing the mass market standards: Monopoly, Clue, Yahtzee, Scrabble, Risk, etc.

About 3 years ago, I was working in a job I didn't much like. My wife and I had moved far from all of our friends and family. The town was Helena, Montana... it was colder and quieter than we were used to, being from the active and highly populated Northern Virginia. Fortunately, I liked a few of my co-workers.

One of them pulled out a game called Masterpiece: The Art Auction Game at a weekend mixer. I barely remember the game now, but I really enjoyed it. Most importantly, it planted a seed in my mind that there was a whole unexplored world of games out there.

Fast forward a few months... I had been at that job for almost a year, and I was finally fed up with the tedium of it all; it wasn't a good fit for my interests. I took a job with a company that really has an innovative and exciting culture. Besides people who were incredibly enthusiastic to do their job, there were dogs at work, beer kegs for after work parties, a ping-pong table, and... there were board games.

One of my coworkers had Settlers of Catan on his desk. I hadn't heard of it, so I asked him about it. He said it was a "euro-game" and that he and some coworkers played pretty often. He also invited me to join them that week. It was a lot of fun, and I became a permanent fixture at their Settler's nights.

Eventually expansions made their way into the picture... we enjoyed them at first, but eventually they killed the game for us, and the group sort of evaporated for a while.

Now I had an itch, and no way to scratch it. So I started to obsessively scour the internet for information on board games. That's when I discovered "The Geek". I started reading reviews, listening to The Dice Tower podcasts, and watching Tom Vassel's videos.

I ordered a few games: Citadel's, Incan Gold, and Pandemic. My wife really liked Citadel's, so I promptly ordered a few more games while I had the go ahead: Race for the Galaxy, and Cash 'n Guns.

Around this time, I was talking to a co-worker and friend, and convinced him that it would be a good idea to start up a regular gaming group. He ordered a couple of great games and set up a mailing list. The list now has over 20 people, but between 3 and 8 people show up every week for our game night.

I still enjoy some of those mass market games every once in a while with non-gaming friends. Mostly those who are not convinced learning games they've never heard of is worth their time. But I would say I am at the beginning of a long "career" as a gamer. This blog will serve as a place for my thoughts as I further explore this wonderful hobby.

Thanks for reading, and good gaming!
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10 Comments
Wed May 4, 2011 2:07 am
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