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Subject: GEEK OF THE WEEK #156 - Merric Blackman (MerricB) rss

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I will not rest until Biblios is in the Top 100. - Steve Oksienik
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Howell
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Well I been watchin' while you been coughin, I've been drinking life while you've been nauseous, and so I drink to health while you kill yourself and I got just one thing that I can offer... Go on and save yourself and take it out on me
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All good things must come to pass and as such, my reign as GOTW is over. However, my last duty is to pick my successor. I pride myself on my contributions to BGG so I decided to pick someone who is also a great contributor. This person has succeeded in the one area I have yet to reach gold status in, so it is with great pleasure that I introduce you all to GOTW #156:

Merric Blackman
Australia
Waubra
Victoria
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Happily playing games for many, many years.
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MerricB wrote:


Hi, I'm Merric, and I'm a gamer.

** all: Hi, Merric! **

At the time I'm writing this, I'm 35 years old and have been playing games, of one sort or another, for most of my life. My primary gaming hobby is Dungeons & Dragons, which I started playing back in 1982 or so, but in the last few years I've been playing a lot of boardgames as well.

The earliest "non-traditional" boardgame I played was Doctor Who: the Game of Time and Space, which you can find on the 'Geek if you look hard enough. A year later, and I was a Talisman fanatic. We played a lot of that. I've never actually owned any of the expansions - didn't have the money to get them, alas! - but, for the most part, I don't think I missed much. Played them with my friends anyway.

In 1990, I finished school and started going to Melbourne University. Whilst I was there I did two notable things: I played a lot of D&D, and I joined the wargaming club. I don't think I actually played _that_ many wargames, as the club was pretty small and failing, but it did introduce me to Diplomacy, Axis and Allies, and Dune, all of which gave me great pleasure and none of which I play today.

University was primarily interesting for the gaming opportunities it brought me rather than the studying. I'm fairly bright, but I hate academic work. That explains why I never actually quite finished my degree. During a year off (whilst I also got my first job), my world was shaken by the release of Magic: the Gathering. And boy, was I hooked. The fact that it came at the same time as my first job meant I had the money to spend on it... although, as it turned out, I didn't buy enough packs when I first started (during the days of Antiquities and Unlimited).

I was somewhat held back in my desire to do more with Magic by living in Australia, and even more when I moved from Melbourne to Ballarat. Still, I can credit Magic with one big revelation in my life: I enjoy writing about games. If you look back into the depths of the UseNET archives, you'll find the fan articles I wrote about playing Magic. They're not actually very good, but I enjoyed writing them.

Things haven't changed that much. I still enjoy writing and commenting on games, and I'm still probably not very good at it.

The next few years were living in Ballarat, unemployed. They weren't much fun from the money perspective, nor from the perspective that I no longer could see most of my friends. I made new friends through a local club where I could play a bunch of Magic. As 2000 approached, I began to play D&D again, and in 2000, with the release of 3rd edition, I started to play D&D once more on a weekly basis.

Sometime in the next few years, I bought Settlers of Catan, and so I began to move back towards boardgames. We'd play Settlers before each session of D&D. Carcassonne came next. Then San Marco. My game collection was slowly expanding, though my spending on it was far less than what I was spending on D&D.

2003 brought D&D Miniatures, and I loved them. Indeed, for the next three years I maintained a website that gathered together as much news as I could find about DDM, which made me "semi-famous". (That tag was actually used to describe me once).

Friends that really loved boardgames allowed me to start up a series of semi-regular boardgame days, which then became regular boardgame days once we didn't obsess about everyone coming at once. My boardgame collection began to really grow once this happened. I stopped playing Magic; the players weren't in the area any more.

The big bonus to my gaming life came in the form of Randy (Genesteeler), who I knew through my Magic days. Somehow we worked out we both enjoyed boardgames, and since then we've played each other almost as much as we've gamed with other people. Randy's a wargamer (and a Canadian) from way, way back, so his wargame collection finally got me interested in playing a wargame or two. Of course, being who I am, I dived into the deep end... my first serious wargame is Advanced Squad Leader, which I'm loving more and more. Randy doesn't play it, though. We tend to play Memoir '44, Combat Commander and Twilight Struggle together, although some more serious wargames will be in the near future, I expect.

I did get a job, as well. Started out as volunteer work at the local school, moved up to casual work, and is currently at part-time (3-1/2 days a week). I do computer stuff. More correctly, I'm responsible for seeing that the software that prints the reports works, and that the reports get printed. Occasionally, I even get to do a bit of programming. I've now been working at this school for about 10 years.

Oh yes, and there's a special "Ad Astra" program that has certain people teaching the brightest students about things not on the regular school curriculum. I was volunteered to help last year, so for the past year-and-a-half, I've been introducing those students to the best Eurogames and Ameritheme games I can find that can be played in about an hour. It's been very successful - from my initial group of 2, I'm now up to two groups of 4 students, and more waiting to join.

So, that's a small portion of my life. My name's Merric Blackman, I'm a 35 year old Australian gamer, single, and still living with his father. But my father's a great cook, and we live in a bluestone house (with tower) that he built himself. We get by.

Ok, two truths and a lie:

#1: My father and mother are (or were) both amazing linguists; my mother taught the Chinese language and did a lot for introducing Chinese into Australian schools, my father speaks over six different languages fairly well. I'm not a linguist, speaking only English well (and possibly not even that).

#2: My father taught my brother and me Euchre when we were in China. I also learnt blackjack there, and my most prized early possession was a old copy of "According to Hoyle".

#3: My brother (a year-and-a-half younger than me) was the bane of my early existence. He is a mad-keen sporty type who would drag me away from a nice book or game to play cricket with him. He doesn't understand boardgames, and he certainly doesn't understand D&D, leaving me to play a lot of D&D games solo using the charts in the back of the AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide.




I'll start with the most obvious question Merric. What makes you such a Killer DM?

Have fun with your week in the spotlight!
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Dan
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Congratulations Merric!

Are you ready for winter to end?

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M Dornbrook
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HENRY LEE III APPROVES!


Congratulations Merric. I hope that you enjoy being semi-famous on BGG, too!

I'm going to vote that #1 is a lie. There's no way that two linguists would raise a child who then is willing to use abominable grammar, even for the sake of deceit. Or would they?

How old are the students that you're teaching board games to and what are the best games for that group that you've found?

Also, if you were planning on getting into a tabletop miniatures game, which one do you think you'd pick up?

I see that you really like San Juan. Have you not gotten Race for the Galaxy for any particular reason? I suggest you pick it up, it's a great game and plays better for 2 people than SJ does.

If you could turn a D&D scenario into a board game, which would it be and why? Describe the reason you would choose that scenario for a board game.

Peace and, again, congratulations.
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Rob McFadden
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Cherry Hill
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Dear Merric,

I've very much enjoyed your session reports, and would say you have a fine command of the English language!

Then again, maybe I don't laugh

Congrats!
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Sean McQ
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Mechanicsburg
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Good on ya mate
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Toasted Jones
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Nice one! I've read many a session report of yours, are you still liking Drakon?

I recall a brief discussion regarding San Juan over Lost Cities, the latter still hasn't hit the table more than San Juan in 2 players for us, did it for you?
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THE JTSPECIAL-OID
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Congratulations!thumbsup
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brian
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Congratulations Merric!

I have seen you around but don't know much about you. So I look forward to learning something new about a fellow Geek!

Here are my standard questions before I figure out some specifically for you:

d10-1 You crack open a new game. What smell do you enjoy more: the release agent of the plastic bits or the new cardboard smell?

d10-2 Say something nice about your lowest ranked game. Say something not so nice about your highest ranked game.

d10-3 What is the one feature you wish BGG would implement?

d10-4 What do you feel is your greatest contribution to the Geek (e.g., GeekList, file, article, etc.)? What moment on the Geek would you like to do over (e.g. embarrassing post, flame war, etc.)?

d10-5 What are the 10 links you have on Page 1 of your QuickBar?

d10-6 What is your favorite game based on a book (preferably a fictional book)? What is your favorite game based on actual real life events?

d10-7 What is your approach to evangelize would be gamers? What is your standard recommendation for a gateway game?

d10-8 If you ever became tired of gaming, what would be your next hobby that consumes your time?

=========

A Lots of Session reports! Which of those were your favorite? Least favorite? Any one in particular you feel was under appreciated (received less thumbs than you expected or passed over because it wasn't a mainstream game)?

B Besides yourself , who is your favorite session report writer and why?

C Why no rating of a "10" yet? Still waiting for the perfect game?

D Of the 10 on your Hot list, which are you most excited to play and why?

E Online plays: do you count them on BGG? Why or why not?

F What are your thoughts on the FFG takeover of BattleLore? What do you hope they do with the line? What do you want DOW to do with Memoir '44 now that they will dedicate some more time to this title?

G Solo gaming: Do you do it because of need or because you prefer it that way? (Did that come out right? Need to? or Want to? is what I mean!)
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ian morris
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Excellent choice from Stormseeker, congratulations Merric ! I always enjoy your ASL session reports, they are required reading.

A (possibly dumb) question for you : in your report on The Fugitives, you used colour arrows to show the German evacuation routes. How did you do that ?

Looking forward to your next ASL foray.



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Adam Knight
New Zealand
Titirangi
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Excellent choice, Steve - I always enjoyed reading Merric's Arkham Horror session reports.
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Got two game tables and a microphone
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New York
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Congratulations SIr! Have a good week.

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Wei Jen Seah
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Congrats Merric! I've always enjoyed reading your session reports as I enjoy solitaire games as well, and it just so happens that most of the games that you play solitaire are the ones I enjoy too!

My question for you is:

What you consider to be features that would make for the perfect solo game and why?

arrrh
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KK Su
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Congratulations, Merric! Love reading your session reports - it's almost automatic for me to click on any that has your name on it.
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Ronster Zero
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Yeah Merric,

I've have enjoyed reading your fantastic session reports over the past few years. Many of my thumbs have been dolled out to you.

Keep it up and congratulations.
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Jeff Wiles
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Excellent choice! Congrats Merric!
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Magister Ludi
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Well done on GOTW..keep the ASL posts coming!
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The Grouch
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Congratulations, Merric.

Who was your favorite Dr. Who? And which of his opponents do you find the most frightening?
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László K.
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Congratulations Merric!

Three questions for you:

(1) What is your opinion of 4th edition?

(2) Do you play play-by-email games via CyberBoard or VASSAL?

(3) Friedrich: good game, bad game, or don't know much about it?
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Colin Hunter
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Congrats!

1. What is your favourite ASL scenario?
2. What is your favourite CCE scenario?
3. What do you prefer, Hex and Counter, Block or Card Driven/Card Assisted games? (or possible non of the above)
4. What is your favourite theme for a game? if that wasn't a historical theme, what is your favourite historical period or theme for games?
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Robert Wilson
Canada
Riverview
New Brunswick
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When will you get a stable net connect to play VASSAL!
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Matt Hoskins
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Great choice for GotW Steve!

Congrats to the king of the solo Session report!

Merric, is there a game you like solo but don't like with other players?

Enjoy your week!

Cheers!
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Uffe
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Congrats to Geekdom, Merry. Now for some "personal" questions.

I. What's your stance on food and beverages on game tables?

II. Do you store games horizontally or vertically?

III. How picky are you about having cards discarded in the same direction? For example when it could matter if people might remember some cards that were discarded differently or when it's more of a aesthetic nature with paper money.


I'm guessing that story #1 is the lie.
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Ben Lott
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Awesome, another great contributor is named GotW
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Jim Patterson
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If memory serves, it was Merric who directed me over here from ENWorld when I had questions about Runebound vs. Descent. While I don't have the former anymore and never played the latter, I'm happy that I made the leap over to here. So congrats to Merric and long may he reign.
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Ben Foy
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Congrats, I've enjoyed reading your session reports and I have friends who are killer DMs.
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