Monthly Archives: March 2020

Game of the Week: Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild

I know what you’re thinking. “Legend of Zelda is not a tabletop board game so why did you play it for tabletop leadership’s free play week?” Well, I’m sure everyone knows the craziness that has been happening recently. Classes at Miami University have been moved to online along with everyone else’s lives. This makes it quite difficult for a tabletop board game class to function. We have to improvise. Luckily, last week was free play week and this week is spring break so we have time to adapt to our new online home environments.

Many of you might have grown up with Legend of Zelda games and know all the history behind the lore and have figured out which order the games stories align in. Breath of the Wild is actually my first Legend of Zelda game. I grew up playing Battle for Bikini Bottom, Star Wars Battlefront, and Lego Indiana Jones, not the pure classics. (Though I beg to differ that Battle for Bikini Bottom is a classic in its own way). What I know about Breath of the Wild is that it is unlike any other Legend of Zelda game because it is open world. I may be wrong about that, but bear with me. I had previously played this game at my friends house a little after it first came out but I haven’t touched it again until now when I bought it for myself. It is an absolutely beautiful game with an environment that tells a story which I absolutely love. I would almost prefer to never run into the old man to hear the story about the city’s ruin and to figure it out myself. There is a main over arching quest and then several mini quests you can go on, but you can also just completely explore the landscape for yourself.

I think the hardest part about this game is the travel. Your stamina isn’t that much help starting off and it takes a while to get the paraglider and even that needs stamina and a large mountain to jump off to work. You can use horses but if you are going through a forest or up a mountain, the horse stops and is difficult to maneuver. To combat this I’ve been trying to conquer every tower to take advantage of teleporting, but getting to the towers are a nightmare when they are surrounded by enemies I am not ready to fight. Enemies are also quite difficult in this game because it is open world. I don’t know which enemies I am ready to fight and which I should avoid all together until I can come back stronger with more hearts, stamina, and better weapons which would most likely break before I can finish the enemy off.

This is a single player game so it is hard to see the leadership value in this game, but I believe it is there. You are the hero this land deserves, but you are not above anyone. You need to buy your supplies, food, and hotel stays like everyone else and if you can’t, you have to go fight or find it yourself. No one is doing you any favors, in fact you are the one fulfilling favors. As a leader, you shouldn’t expect anything from others and you should be the one helping your followers. You are guiding them toward lighter days and you should be prepared to carry the burdens. When you are working in a team, you do not single out the person who made a mistake, you bear the responsibility because you were the one who did not lead them correctly. In Legend of Zelda, you will pick up the mistakes from 100 years ago and save Zelda from Ganon.

I think my friend Gen would love this game. She is super into Pokemon and loves the new game which is also kind of open world. She would appreciate the story and the graphics as much as I do. She would enjoy the somewhat relaxing atmosphere until she kicks it into high gear to fight something. She would be amazing at this game.

What now? How we will be continuing EDL 290T. Part one: Process.

Social Distancing is now a part of our lives, at least for the foreseeable future. Unfortunately, now I won’t be able to see the students in my class for the rest of the semester and watch them learning and playing games. However, we will still be moving forward with the class, and I’ve spent the past few weeks trying to figure out how we would be moving forward with this class. At the same time I’ve been contemplating what to do with my OTHER class as well, which is student organization leadership. That class also uses games, activities, and interactive activities to teach students what they need to know about making their student organizations the best they can be.

This blog is mainly going to be aimed at my students in 290T and is all about: how are we going to continue this class going forward? It will be a challenge, more for some than others, but we are going to work to make it through. I will offer what tools I know of and will gladly accept feedback from others. I have received feedback already from friends and colleagues that teach games, from one who work in the games industry and much more to help come up with some of the options we have for continuing this class. I’m dividing this into two separate blogs. Today we are going to focus more on the HOW. How will you continue getting the experience you signed up for, or to the best of your abilities, while we are distance learning. The next blog will be more of the WHAT. What games will will be playing? For that I will say I’ve opened a lot more options for what we could do, including video games.

A short note there: when the class was created one of my supporters asked about and thought this was going to be a video game related class. I told her it would not as we would not be feasible to have everyone purchase, say, a PS4 and a bunch of video game to take the class. However, I’ve always told the class we can use video games for many of the assignments. Now, as I will (next time) be providing a list of games people can play and letting them pick what and how they play we will open video games up as an option.

So: on to how we will do what we will do:

Play the game. The simplest solution: If you own the game, play the game with people! Another option is, if you have the capabilities, play with your classmates over Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. If one person has the game and can focus a camera on the board it will create a way for you to play the game with others either in class or other friends.

You can watch an example of a couple of my NASAGA friends playing Gloomhaven in this manner.

Mark and Melissa from NASAGA playing Gloomhaven (YouTube link)

Board Game Arena – I’ve used Board Game Arena to test a few games I was interested in trying to see if I wanted to buy/remember how to play. Students will be able to play many different games here for free. You will need to register for an account soon as they are filling up on spots with the ongoing crisis.

A game of Seasons from Board Game Arena. Taken from the forum site for BGA.

Tabletopia – Also free (however with much of the content premium where you do need to buy the game), Tabletopia has a TON of great games you can play. I would suggest downloading the app via Steam over the website interface but realistically you can do either to play the games you want for class.

Tabletopia cover image. Showing the Tabletopia logo and some games from Tabletopia in action.

Tabletop Simulator – Another Steam option, however this one is 19.99 (plus some games you have to buy separately.)

Tabletop Simulator Logo

The Crucible Online – For one week Keyforge is going to be an option. The Crucible allows you to play Keyforge online with others.

A game of Keyforge in progress from The Crucible Online.

For video games, these are just a few of the choices. However, I would look into which, if any, of these options work best for you and feel free to reach out to me with any comments, concerns, or questions. Soon we will have the list of optional games we will use going forward in the class.

I look forward to continuing EDL 290T in this rather unorthodox way soon!

Top 100 Games of All Time (20-11)

Top 20! The games from here on out are games I will gladly play 90% of the time I get the option. This list has 3 games from my favorite Publisher which is interesting and I own 8/10 of them. Truly some great games that really the order of preference in this is the flip of a coin. Depending on the day my 19 could be my 11…so at this point it could go either way.

20. Euphoria
Stonemaier Games
Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list:  There is a very good chance this is the first worker placement game I played and it blew me away. Not just the game, but also the production, the resources…everything. A friend of mine (one of the designers now of Malifaux (Third Edition) brought it to play and I am sure I was horrible but loved the idea of worker placement, as you can see throughout this list. Not sure what the next one I played was but was slightly disappointed at NOT using dice as my workers because that whole mechanic was amazing. (Of course I’ve since also played Alien Frontiers and other worker placement games, but this one is still one I love.

Who may like it:  If you take the Board Games Motivation Profile test one of the areas is aesthetics. As with any Stonemaier Game…the aesthetics and components are top notch. Also fans of dystopian futures.

19. Wingspan
Stonemeier Games
Designer: Elizabeth Hargrave
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list: When Jamey Stegmaier announced he was publishing another game from a new designer I knew I would give it a chance but wasn’t sure what I would think. After one play of this engine builder I thought “I personally don’t care about the theme but love that it is a different theme…but the game is just so good I need to order.” It has quickly become a “easy-ish to learn, difficult to master” game for a number of people and has already transcended just modern game fans into greater society. Hopefully games like this: beautiful games with unique themes and with women design teams become more the standard that unique.

Who may like it:  Bird enthusiasts, fans of extremely mechanically solid games, or…well…just about everyone.

Components of Wingspan. Noticed the diagram of how to put the game in from the side of the box. Image taken from

18. Sid Meier’s Civilization (2010)
Fantasy Flight Games
Designer: Kevin Wilson
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list: See: previous entry for A New Dawn. I have played more Sid Meier’s Civilization on computer than any other game. This game feels a lot like the computer game. Exploration, choice of the victory you go after, the tech tree, etc. This is a great Civilization game.

Who may like it:  Fans of the computer game.

17. The Castles of Burgundy
Designer: Stefan Feld
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list: This is one of Jennifer’s favorite games and is an excellent game. There are people who aren’t happy with the look of the game. However, this is an excellent tile placement game with a form of dice worker placement. There is a lot going on and (and I love this) you don’t always know who is going to win. I’ve had someone ahead by 40+ points when the game ends and they lose in final scoring. Jennifer enjoys playing most games…this game she plays to win and is unhappy when she doesn’t. In games she’s played with me…she does win, as she has won 57% of the games of this we’ve played.

Who may like it:  Fans of building your own kingdom with a ton of options to get the points you need and tons of buildings with different abilities. We’ve played 24 times and I still have to look up what different buildings do.

16. Twilight Imperium (Fourth Edition)
Fantasy Flight Games
Designer: Dane Beltrami, Corey Konieczka, Christian T. Petersen
Owned: NO

Why it is on the list: I played TI3 4 times. Four awesome, fun, LONG games. (Average play time: 9 hours, 22 minutes PER GAME.) A friend came to me who needed to run a playtest for a game and said “could you find people to help me playtest?” I said sure…what game? His response: “a new edition of a game called Twilight Imperium…you heard of it?” I was excited and jumped right back in as the Yssaril (who are not nearly as good in TI4 as they were in 3) and fell in love with the changes that totally fixed some of the problems I had with TI3…to the point that, while I won’t say I would NEVER go back I wouldn’t be nearly as likely to play TI3 again.

Since that time I’ve played 9 games of TI4 (average play time: 5:58…so much shorter than TI3) and have loved it. I even won a game…once. This game is epic in all of the right ways and is something that could easily be MUCH higher for me. It flows from top 20 to about here for me depending. The thing I constantly asked myself was “do you like this TI4 or a different game better?” As I played them I decided, given the choice, I would play the OTHER space epic game roughly 9/10 times given the option…so it is the higher of the two. How high? #7 on the list…though I have flipped things a few times in the top 10 since I started so it could be anywhere from 5-9 depending on the day and when I get there.

Who may like it:  Space epic. Playing one game a quarter of a day. If those things appeal to you…let’s play TI4. If not…this game is NOT for you. This isn’t a fun casual sit-down with friends. This is a commitment you make.

A space battle about to commence in Twilight Imperium (4th Edition). Image from

15. Viticulture
Stonemaier Games
Designer: Jamey Stegmaier
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list: A bit about me: I have never drank, smoked, done drugs, etc. Many in my family have a problem with alcoholism and drug abuse and I decided at an early age that I could not get involved in any of that. So while I love Jamey Stegmaier’s games and heard great things I was slow to try this game because of theme. I won’t lie: I still don’t care about the theme…but this game is so good the theme really doesn’t matter. This is an amazing (one of the best ever) worker placement games, especially when you add Tuscany in.

Who may like it:  Fans of wine, wine making…but more fans of an excellent, elegant worker placement game with a ton of options.

14. Through the Ages: A New Story of Civilization
Designer: Vlaada Chvatil
Owned: NO

Why it is on the list: I’ve talked twice about loving Sid Meier’s Civilization. THIS is the best civilization game on the market. It would probably be higher but I’ve only played it twice (with plans to play it a third time tomorrow.) That is how many times I’ve played the actual physical game. The app? I’ve probably played 100+ games of Through the Ages. Primary reason? The two plays I’ve had of the game have averaged 6 hours. One game on the app? 30 minutes. However, this is an awesome game…just with a lot of fiddly bits.

Who may like it:  If you like civilization building, especially in something like Sid Meier’s Civilization video games…this is the game for you. It is, like a Civilization game SHOULD be an epic and you have to be prepared for that. Also…you can have Sid Meier as an Age III ruler.

13. Valeria Card Kingdoms
Daily Magic Games
Designer: Isaias Vallejo
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list: I remember the first time I played Machi Koro. I was mesmerized and wanted to play again and again. I had to buy it immediately. Last year at Origins we needed to find a game to play to sit down and stumbled upon a company we had never heard of with a game we had never heard of but were like “we will try it.” Now (and I say this while near the end of a Machi Koro Legacy game) I never care if I play base Machi Koro again. This game does almost everything Machi Koro does…and does it all 100 times better.

Who may like it:  Fans of Machi Koro (or other dice rolling engine builders) who don’t mind switching their game of choice to this excellent game.

12. Terraforming Mars
Stronghold Games
Designer: Jacob Fryxelius
Owned: Yes

Why it is on the list: This engine builder is currently the #3 game of all time on This is an amazing game that I fell in love with from play #1 and that hasn’t changed. I love the base game and though I own one of the expansions I have never played with any of them. And I’m not worried if I do. This is an excellent game.

Who may like it:  This is the #3 game on BGG…a ton of people love it.

11. Star Wars: Imperial Assault
Fantasy Flight Games
Designer: Justin Kemppainen, Corey Konieczka, Jonathan Ying
Owned: Yes….some of it. But I really want the parts I don’t have.

Why it is on the list: Another Star Wars in a box game. Moreover: This is an excellent story-telling/campaign based game. I prefer it with the app over playing with a human overlord but both are fun. The minis are fantastic, the story they have developed is great and I enjoy going through the side missions and how the app handles everything.

Who may like it:  Fans of Star Wars will love this, as will fans of narrative and storytelling.

This game has Wookies, including Chewbacca. Is it possible NOT to enjoy a game with Wookies? Image from

As I prepare for my last list soon, a few interesting numbers:

Top Game companies:

Fantasy Flight Games: 9
Stonemaier Games: 8
Pandasaurus Games: 6

Top Designers:
Jamey Stegmaier: 5
Corey Konieczka: 4 Ratings:

Highest Rated: Gloomhaven (1)
Lowest Rated: IT: Evil Below (10,193-mainly because of number of ratings)

Top 10 is all that is left. Hopefully I get to knock that out early next week. Most of them will have people nodding in agreement at the games…2 or 3 may surprise some people.

Game of the Week: Mental Blocks

To begin, I absolutely loved mental blocks. The team work aspect and the challenges that came from styles of communication were a perfect combination for creating a game in which leadership could blossom.

Mental Blocks is, as a said above, a team game. In this game the teams are given blocks of various shapes, sizes, and colors that must be used to solve a visual puzzle. Each person receives a clue as to what the solution is. Sometimes that is an angled view of what the shape looks like, other times it is a flat view of how the colors look and a vague shape. Group members can not share their image with the others but they can do their best to communicate what they are seeing using words and the blocks. This activity does have a time limit so it can be really stressful and without a leader, the group can quickly fall apart. There are also multiple levels of difficulty that can be played, easy or hard, and with or without limitations.

The most challenging thing that I experienced in this game was that I was in a group with far too many leaders. We talked over one another frequently and it was difficult to agree on a possible solution without fully hearing each other. The struggle we experienced in communication did get better as we played a couple more times but learning how to do this was hard, especially since this was only our second class meeting.

As I kind of mentioned earlier, the difficult thing was deciding who was the leader of our group, we needed someone who could listen to each perspective and find ways for us to work together effectively. We also needed a leader who was willing and able to let other people take charge as necessary. This game covers multiple aspects of small group leadership.

FInally, I would like to end this post with a gamer recommendation. I would love to see my brother-in-law and husband play this, I believe that they both have the design concepts and communication skills needed to play but it would be interesting to see who the leader is in a group that includes the both of them.

Game of the Week: Ultimate Werewolf

Okay, I know I’m a bit late to the posting party, but I’m finally sitting down to give my reviews to the games we have each week.
On the first week of class we played Ultimate Werewolf. I was familiar with this game and some of it’s variations before we played in class; however, the experience of playing it in this type of setting was different than any other time I’d played it before.
In ultimate werewolf, you are given a role to play that functions as different characters in a village. We played with two types of teams: the villager team, and the werewolf team. Each team has it’s own goal (i.e. the werewolves want to eliminate the villagers and the villagers want to stop the werewolfs). This game is simple enough to play, you get your roles and then you enter the night phase. One person is a narrator, and they go through and identify who everyone is and call different roles to wake up and perform a task. At the end of the night phase each character who has a task will have completed this task and then the day phase begins. the day phase is when it gets a bit tricky. The werewolfs will have potentially killed someone or that person may have been spared, either way we see the people of village coming together to bring someone to trial as a werewolf and then put them to death. The game continues like this until either there are more werewolves than villagers or all of the werewolves have been found. Any time someone is killed, either by the werewolves, or by the lynch mob, they reveal what role they held in the town which is how it is determined who wins in the end.
Playing this game in class was, like I said, was a very different experience for me. I had played in large groups before; however, those groups were made of people I at least somewhat knew. We had not met as a class before this night so no one quite knew what made everyone else tick and if anyone had any sort of tells as to what character they may be acting as. This made it difficult to determine who was lying and who was telling the truth. While this was tricky, it wasn’t the hardest aspect of the game. The most difficult thing about playing this game was getting people to talk. We weren’t comfortable with each other yet, we didn’t know each others names, how were we going to make accusations with no knowledge of who anyone is. This leads in to the leadership aspect of the game.
In Ultimate werewolf it is important that you are able to make accusations and get a following in order to lynch someone from the village. Natural born leaders can take up the mantel to start the discussion and make an accusation . THis is what shows who the leaders in a group are. Of course a leader is nothing without a first follower, because once one person joins in, we see a snowball effect of people joining in the discussion and the accusations.
Finally, I want to talk about someone who I would like to recommend this game to. I think that my brother, Elijah, would really enjoy this game. He loves games involving deception and role play and has always been a fantasy nerd like myself. This game combines those two aspects of things he enjoys, so it would be perfect for him to play.

Dr. Michio Kaku

Yesterday, on March 9, 2020, I attended the campus leadership lecture led by Dr. Michio Kaku. Dr. Kaku is most famous for being a co-theorist of string theory and has also written several best-selling books about physics and the future. Additionally, he also has been in several TV documentaries about his discoveries and even hosts a podcast. Currently, he teaches theoretical physics at City University of New York and I must say, even though I am not good at physics, I would love to be in one of his classes. Dr. Kaku explained things in his lecture that should have been extremely complicated, but he made complex ideas and concepts sound easy to grasp. Dr. Kaku had a sense of humor that was apparent throughout his talk. I was quite surprised about how much of a great personality he has, considering he is so brilliant. The lecture was one of the quickest hours of my life. 

I have always been fascinated with the future. What will it be like? Will it be possible to make myself immortal? Will flying cars exist? Can I teleport? As I have gotten older, these questions have frequented my mind less and less. However, Dr. Kaku was the opposite and showed what can be developed and conceptualized with those probing questions. Not only that, but Dr. Kaku expanded outside of the realm of physics and applied his findings and theories to outside sectors, such as healthcare, finance, and the humanities. Hearing Dr. Kaku reaffirm that humanities, reading, and writing will always be important to the professor made me happy because I feel that so many scientists are so quick to dismiss things like that. 

Considering history, there have been several identifiable “booms:” the Industrial Revolution, the inventions that came out of the Cold War, the computer boom, the robotics boom, and the ever-looming artificial intelligence (AI) boom. AI and virtual reality (VR) are already prevalent in today’s world, but not in a way that can benefit all of society. For example, most people associate AI and VR with the Oculus Rift or comparable headsets. However, AI and VR can extend into the world of art. Dr. Kaku showed some crude images that had been printed from dreams using modern and seemingly futuristic technology. He extended out simple images by saying that one day, we will be able to record our dreams and watch them in videos the morning after. Continuing off of that, maybe one day, Alzheimer’s patients will be able to have a memory chip in their brains that can help combat the symptoms. There are so many possibilities considering AI, VR, and the future. Hearing someone as well-respected in the field as Dr. Kaku made the child in me excited. 

One thing that is drilled into my head as a finance major is risk. We must analyze all risk, where it came from, and how we can get rid of it. I feel like a lot of other people do not consider this, but I was happy when someone decided to ask about the riskiness of having AI and VR controlling our lives and being implemented into our cars and houses. It is a huge invasion of privacy, but Dr. Kaku addressed the question appropriately and mentioned how Big Brother is always watching us. Additionally, he mentioned that like everything else, there is a degree of risk that may not be certain or completely known. That is something that will be better known when it becomes apparent. That information can help combat future risk, although it cannot be fully eliminated. Another thing that I believe could have also been addressed during this question is ethics regarding AI and VR. As Dr. Kaku is such a famous scientist, it would have been interesting to hear what he thinks about the ethics of the government listening in and the little privacy we do have. I do think it was interesting that he did mention that the Internet was never created to be private, though.

Following the lecture, I attended the reception. As expected, there was a very long line to go meet him and of course, it had been a long day for him so there was not any time to ask a question or speak with him. However, being able to have gotten the opportunity to meet someone so respectable is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not only that, but so many scientific things that I have heard have some connection to Dr. Kaku. Hearing him speak reignited the flame in the child inside of me and has me considering all the possibilities that come with the future. One of Dr. Kaku’s books is next on my reading list. I am also thrilled that Miami University offers us opportunities like this to engage with leaders in their respective fields through lecture series like these. Prior to this, all the on-campus lectures I had attended had been through Farmer, since those tend to align more closely with my interests. However, I was pleasantly surprised at how applicable another field could be to my life. In the future, I plan to look more into the lecture series on campus to see who else is speaking.

Game of the Week: Ladies and Gentlemen

This week, we played Ladies and Gentlemen in class. I have been looking forward to playing this in class since J.S. said that this was the first game he chose for this class. I liked the structure of playing in randomly assigned teams of “ladies and gentlemen” and how each side (lady or gentleman) had to use our partner’s advantages to help us win the game occurring on our side. The gentleman was responsible for trading stocks and making money, while the lady was responsible for shopping for the most elegant gown. I was unsure of what side I wanted to choose because in my life, I love to trade stocks to make money so I can buy elegant things!

Playing the game was interesting, although I do not understand the ladies’ side (since the gentlemen’s side was easier to understand, that is the side I chose to play). As a man, I got to collect resources to fulfill contracts. Each contract gave me money. When I returned home from work, my wife had gone and found some beautiful thing to wear to the ball. I have no idea how my lovely lady shopped or what made a dress prettier than another, but I did my best to dress her the best I could (this was funny because I had a guy as my wife).

In this game, I feel that gender roles were important to how the game was played, but I’m not looking to get into a discussion about that. Although the gentlemen’s side was easier, they were the “leader” of the game; they made the money and had final say in bonuses and what to buy. Knowing that would have been useful prior to starting the game. Otherwise, I would have taken on more of a leadership role instead of hiding behind my wife.

In today’s political climate, having a game that forces people to conform to certain “norms” can be looked down on. Everyone is forced to be heterosexual and a male or female. There probably are people who will not play this game because of this, but it is easy to overlook the roles to just enjoy the game. My mom would really enjoy playing this game because she is really good at seeing good things quickly (for looking for resources) and she has quite the eye for fashion, too.

Game of the Week: Atlantis

This week, we played Atlantis in class. So far, I think this was the most fun game I have ever played. I loved how there were so many different options for game play, like expansion packs for more options or the possibility of alliances forming. Individuals can also include “house rules” for their games to add more interesting options and another layer of complexity. This is a game that I will definitely need to either go to the Strategic Gaming Club to play or buy it for myself.

Each player starts off with 10 Meeple. Going clockwise, each person places one Merson until all are placed. Then, each player must place two boats to transport their Meeple off the sinking island and to safety. To start, the first player makes three moves with their Meeple or an unoccupied boat. After, the player flips a tile. If it is green, the player must play it instantly. If it is red, the player can hold onto it and play it on their next turn before moving their Meeple. Since each Merson has a point value assigned to it, the objective of the game is to get the most Meeple points to islands. I think part of the reason I really enjoyed this is because I won both games and got lots of Meeple to safety.

Being a leader is imperative to this game. Although there is not a distinct “leader” who runs the game like there are in others we have played, everyone needs to be their own leader and decide what strategy they want to use. Having strong leadership skills is important because if you go out and sink two ships with a total of six Meeple, your opponents might not like you a lot and begin to target you. But who knows? Maybe that was your strategy…

I got super into this game and honestly could spend an entire day playing it. If I am being completely honest, I am not sure who I would recommend this game to. I don’t know anyone who would be interested, so my goal is to introduce this game to some of my friends and hopefully get a group of people together to play frequently.

Game Event Review: RECON 2020

I attended the 2020 League of Geeks RECON event February 22nd and 23rd. RECON involved many activities in several different rooms in Armstrong and it was a bit overwhelming, but at the same time, was incredibly fun to go to. On the morning of the 22nd I participated in the Game Awards. This was the first year RECON was holding a Game Awards where students on campus could turn in the games they have created to be played by others at RECON and by a judge. I turned in two games with two different teams. I created a board game based off of the infuriating video game I Am Bread with Jeremy, Juliette, and Steven during our IMS 211 class and we decided to put that into the running. I also turned in a game called Nexia that I created with Bryan, Seth, and Jonathan during our IMS 212 class. We created a game that was based on Risk, Catan, and a dash of DnD roleplay. It was a strategic resource and army management game with a board that is different every time it is played. Players explore new lands and collect resources to build towns and armies. During the Game Awards playing session. I taught the game to two girls who came to the event. It is a very complicated game to explain, but they got a hang of it quickly and had fun doing so and voted for the game as their choice to win. The judge came by to ask questions of the girls while they were playing and took notes and went to go judge the others. The announcement would be tomorrow, but after the girls left, I had to pack up and run to go do volunteering for a different club of mine. I forgot a lot of the rules that my team and I created for the game and I hadn’t played the game since last semester, so it was a bit difficult for me to explain correctly. I also felt like I was keeping the players from other events they wanted to go to because my game was so long. Also, because it was long, the judge never even got a chance to play the game. Next year I will probably create a new game that will hopefully be shorter to play. I also think that the Game Awards should be advertised a lot more and encourage more people to turn in their games. Many IMS students make games for classes anyways, but there weren’t many games that were participating in the awards. There weren’t many people who came by to playtest the game either. I think location was a big issue there. The room was so far away from everything else so no one would walk by to see and be interested in it. I hope Game Awards will be much bigger next year.

Later that night, I came back to RECON to volunteer for Miami Game Design Club. I am vice president and I signed up to run the Murder Mystery for 2 hours and ended up staying there with my friends until closing time. The Murder Mystery was something we started creating last semester and involved a group of around 5 people to come into a room and read a bunch of different documents and piece together the murder of Steve, a journalist from the 1920s. We worked very hard on this event for a while and I was happy to run the event. The players looked to be very excited to play and some people did solve the murder in the end. I believe our event was a success which I was worried it wouldn’t be. All of the information to solve the murder was in documents and I thought players would get tired of reading so many papers that we created. Many of them created charts and timelines on the white boards and they really put their heads together to figure out new information. We could have made it more definitive though because it seemed that even when people got the answer, they weren’t positive they got it right. I did like our decorations and the story we created. It was very entertaining and because it was set in the 1920s, the last group ended up playing music through his phone to set the tone of the room. It was a very chill atmosphere and I would have loved to play our own murder mystery if I didn’t know the answers already.

On Sunday, I planned to come to RECON for the Game Awards and then go back to my dorm because it was an incredibly long weekend. I came to the pavilion where the Game Award announcements would be held and chatted with my friends until the judge came. It was a very small ceremony where the player’s choice and the judge’s decision were announced. My game ended up taking the win and I was very excited. One of my teammates was there and I gave him a little fist bump. It was very helpful to get feedback on the game we created from our class. He gave us a notecard with the notes he took about the game and his ratings on characteristics about it. He gave a high rating on the art which I created, and this gave me a lot of confidence. The entire Game Awards event seemed underwhelming. I know it is the first year it was held, but I wish it held a little more importance. There wasn’t a lot of time given for people to playtest the games and give their feedback. The judge couldn’t even play all the games in that time. The room was so tucked away from everything else, so it felt like an afterthought. During the awards announcement, the judge was late and there wasn’t much of an audience. The audience that was there was either the people who made the games, and people who just so happened to be in the same pavilion playing games on their own. The announcement was made off to the side of the pavilion and I didn’t feel much accomplishment even though my team won. Even my teammate seemed to be falling asleep even though it was noon on a Sunday. I hope next year is much more exciting. I think the Game Awards could really be something special that people look forward to every single year.

As I said, I only planned to come for the Game Awards announcements then I would leave. I didn’t leave. I got sucked into playing some of the play-to-win board games with my friends. This was probably the most fun I had all weekend. We played Planet and Root. Planet was an amazing game and it was simple to learn and understand. Each of us had a magnetic planet that we added terrain tiles to and tried to win animals during the rounds to have them inhabit our planets. All my friends really hoped that one of us would be able to win it so we can continue to play it after this event. After Planet, I was really intrigued by a game named Root. The art style reminded me a lot of the video game Night in the Woods. My friends and I pulled that game out and were suddenly overwhelmed by it. This game is very complicated, and each person is playing their own separate game with different objectives. We had two people come over to us to try to explain how the game worked and eventually we were able to start. We sadly could only play through 2 rounds before we had to pack up and put it back so the prize drawings could start. I really loved the idea of playing a game that will be randomly given to a person who played it. Free games are always fun but playing them first gives them an idea of how it works and an appreciation if they win it. It was also just a fun time to play with my friends.

The last part of my RECON experience was the prize drawings for both the ticket drawings and the play-to-win game drawings. The atmosphere during the drawings was incredible. Everyone was a good sport and hyped up every single person who won something, even if they themselves lost. It was humorous and relaxing. I didn’t win during the ticket drawings, but I did win the game Root which I was really hoping for. I now own Root and the title of Game Awards winner and that felt pretty good leaving Armstrong that day. After such a hard week and busy weekend. RECON created a positive atmosphere for me to forget my worries and just play with friends. I even got to play Bohnanza with my friends after the drawings which has been our collectively favorite game recently. The League of Geeks brings together so many nerdy and geeky people to one area to just forget about life and have fun playing and creating. RECON is such a large event and I was happy to be both a participate and a volunteer. I could appreciate it on both sides. I highly recommend that anyone should go next year. There is bound to be at least one event during the weekend that interests you.

GOTW: Mysterium

The 4th game we played in EDL 290, was called Mysterium. In this game, one player acts as a silent ghost whose role is to lead the other players to the murderer by giving out ambiguous “dream” cards which are images made to aid in discovering the murder, murder weapon, and murder location. In this game there are 6 turns and during each of them the ghost gives each player a “dream” card and the player has to make a guess. The first turn a player has to guess who their person is, and if they guess correctly, the player will guess on the location on the next turn. But if they guess incorrectly, then they must wait to the next turn to guess again.

While the games itself is straightforward, the most difficult part is the interpretation of the dream cards. As they are ambiguous pictures, it is the ghost’s job to pick the right card that will lead to the player to make the right selection. The difficulty comes into play as the player does not know the reasoning as to why the ghost put that card down. The ghost could be trying to get the player to associate the colors with a certain subject, or a background/foreground image, or maybe the ghost did not have a good card so he just threw down a random one.

This is also where the leadership aspect plays in. Neither parties, the ghost nor the player, have a truly accurate understanding of what the other is thinking. As such this game places the burden on both players to think about and account for how the other is thinking and feeling. As a leader, one must do the same. One cannot be an effective leader without taking into account the feelings of others, nor can they reach their goal if they refuse to think outside of their own perspective.

I think that this would be a great game for professors to play. As a professor, one has the role to teach a certain subject to an entire class. The class, however, is not homogenous and consists of various students with various learning styles. To be an effective professor, one must be able to take into account that one strategy will not be universal and thus they must be prepared to take the time to try various strategies to fit the need of the student to reach their common objective.