Meeple Musings: Win, Lose, or Just Have a Good Time?

It’s curious.  I love high conflict in board games.  Yet, I can still have a good time after a night of losing very game. These were games I know and really enjoy.  I’ve even blogged about them.  Secret Hitler, Battlecon, and Onitama.

I started my Tuesday night [toggle Gaming], talking about joining a new D&D 5th edition campaign.  Then, as conversations do when I am around, the talking pivoted from “Maybe I’ll try a half-orc barbarian that heroically looks out for the good oddballs” to “Holey crap!  Can you believe Donald Trump this morning after the debate”.  From fantasy brainstorms to showboating politics in about half an hour.  Of course, I enjoy that, so I it was a good start to the night.

Then, I got the request to join the highly political and social game of Secret Hitler. Not only did I lose as a liberal at Secret Hitler though, I lost while supporting the Hitler character (unbeknownst to me). Not only did I lose at Onitama, but I lost one game in just a few moves.  How did I not see that?!  To be fair, I my loss at Battlecon was nearly a win. I was only a one action away from winning, against the best player I know at 1am.

One thing I love about games though is that players can learn so much about themselves and their friends when they lose.  Personally, I often learn practical as well as psychological elements when I lose or watch others lose.

For example, last night, losing at Secret Hitler as a liberal, taught me that I am very poor at reading bluffs.  It also means that the fascist players that beat us  have gotten much better at lying since they started playing this game so frequently.  Apparently, with practice, even in a bad liar can get convincing results.  Do I want to improve on that?  Well, certainly I would like to play more to learn how to spot a bluff better.

Then, losing like I did at Onitama in at least one game, meant purely that I wasn’t paying much attention as I also tried to handle a conversation on the side. Riiiight, so my multi-tasking skills are a myth.  Really this is true for most people but it is so easy to forget.  Most of us claim we can multi-task but that generally means we can do two things poorly at once. I need to focus to play well, like 95% of everybody else.

As for Battlecon, I learned that even against better, more experienced players, I’m really good in games using game theory (aka rock / paper / scissors type mechanics).  I can still trust my intuition even when my focus is split.  That whole, “your first answer is the right answer on multiple choice” really works for me.

Finally, at the end of the night, I realized that although I love to win high conflict strategic and tactical games, I love learning about people and myself even more.  I enjoyed myself immensely, so did I really lose after all?


Happy Gaming,

Meeple Dad


Meeple Musings: Divorce and Gaming

I apologize to my readers for missing the last two weeks.  It felt even longer to me.

In the meantime, my divorce was finalized Aug.31.  This event was officially 15 months  in the making.  For me, this was a significant and positive step forward in my life.  To those readers that listened and helped me through this stage, I will never forget your kindnesses.
Immediately following the divorce, I felt like a toddler picked up at the end of the day from daycare, overwhelmed with stress.  I worked myself up into a head cold.  While feeling  sick, I only wanted to focus on the essentials to get through my days.  I began to realize while sick though, that the cliché, divorce means different things to different people, really is true.

What’s more is that I may have stumbled upon the universal meaning of divorce.  Anyone that has completed a divorce survived a major milestone.  What’s different though, is that the breakup of the relationship is always in a different place when this milestone is reached.

You are probably thinking, that’s fine and all but where does gaming come in then?

Well, here it is.  For some, divorce is the end of the early game phase.  For others, it’s the end of the mid-game phase.  Then, for others, divorce is the final turn of a game.

The first set of divorcing people did not plan for the divorce and they still live together. They have not considered how difficult the future will be.  The world and game board is just getting crowded and players are aggressive with high conflict moves. This is the end of the Bronze Age in Advanced Civilization, or Day 1 of Gettysburg, or Game of Thrones when all of the empty victory point spots have been taken.

The old life has been replaced by something new but also a fog of war of sorts.  No one in this phase has any knowledge of future calamities.  Everyone still has something to lose and the hope that they will come out on top.

When these divorces are finished, they are just beginning to deal with co-parenting, the loneliness of separation, reduced finances, and the extra rules that will impact the Iron Age, or Act 2, or Day 2 of their breakup.

Then, there are those like me that complete their divorce with a spouse and kids after a long separation and many months of conflict.  I realized only after it happened that for me divorce was not the end goal I had been publicly announcing it would be, but the completion of a major task. Or, the end of a stage of my life, instead of the end of a relationship.  I had made it to the Iron Age in Advanced Civilization without being held back.  I made it to the end day  of day 2 in Gettysburg as the Northern Army but haven’t won the war.

Despite the planning and healing, there are still calamities ahead to overcome and battles to be won.  Like the summer season of Keyflower, there are just not enough resources to do everything I want to do in this phase.

I keep thinking, if only life after divorce could be more like a Euro, maybe Euphoria or T’zolken, rather than Monopoly, then I would have had a nice resource engine started by now rather than looking at bankruptcy in a few more times around the board. But, that’s just escapism. I still need to plan my endgame tactics.

Finally, there are the divorced that planned heavily, maybe for years. They don’t have kids. They don’t have child support or spousal maintenance concerns.  They long ago separated emotionally and physically from their ex.  This is their finish, their resolution, their win or loss.  It is time for them to count their victory points and see how they did.  Then, it will be time for them to move on to a whole different game.  Maybe a game of Pursuit of Happiness.

The point is that divorce is a final step, but only in whatever phase of life the individual is working through. In divorce, just like in many other parts of life,  it is possible through board games to learn a fair amount of what is needed to get by.  Here are some gaming tips I learned to apply towards surviving my divorce.  Maybe they will help you or someone you know:

I) For any of you just starting into a divorce, be sure to work out what stage of the breakup you are in ahead of completing your divorce, or you may get everything asked for and nothing you want.

II) Create a strategy from the beginning. Along with your strategy, you also need to be flexible and adjust your plans based around your adversaries.  (Make no mistake!  Like a game of Bang, your ex, the court, and all of the attorneys, and in-laws can and probably will become your adversaries, whether they are revealed or not already.)

III) Don’t start your end game too early.  If you do, you will show your adversary your strategy too early and exhaust your resources before the end game really starts.

If you are going through divorce now, whatever the situation, you have my sympathy.  Your road is hard and I wish you a quick and bearable resolution.

Now, before I press my luck too far like too many rolls of dice in Can’t Stop, I’ll finish this gaming metaphor.  Hopefully, I can win over some readers with it.

In any case, dear readers, I wish you all happy gaming!

Thank you for reading!

Meeple Dad