Play Journal: December 16 – 31

by Thom Kiraly

First things first: MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD! I usually don’t warn people, but you know… I know how to be nice on the Internet.  A rare, but valuable skill. The spoilers are for Season 2, Episode 1 of The Walking Dead from Telltale Games. It’s at the end of the post. Second things second: my top ten play experiences list is still upcoming. I wanted to be all done with 2013 before looking back on it.

Samurai Gunn – Tried two quick games. Got my ass handed to me by V. I was better with the magic fire thingy, but she always got the drop on me. I want to try it with four players. That’s all for now.

Gaby Gaby Gaby – best score: 29. Don’t know what made me think of and play this. I’m not disrespecting, I just genuinely don’t know what’s going on in my head and I want you to know this. 

Super Hexagon – As always, there’s some Hexagon being played. Nowadays, I’m back at the hardest level, trying to beat my high score. I came very close before the year was over.

Malmö Play Club: The last  Play Club session before the winter break saw more players than ever before attend an indoors event. We weren’t prepared, but thanks to our having built up a way of playing and running games together it wasn’t really a problem. I got the chance to use the line: “Welcome to Malmö Play Club. If it’s your first night at Play Club… you have to play”. As you can guess, I felt rather clever. In hindsight, I feel stupid for not having thought of it earlier. Writing this, I’m not sure I haven’t actually thought about it before. “Know thyself”, said Socrates (and a bunch of other people). “OK… Ehrm. How does ‘thy’ do that, exactly?” would be my response. Anyway, below are the games I played.
Ninja, Tomato (a welcome addition to our often prop-less play), Turtle Wushu, J.S. Joust, Group Sync (This is one of those games I struggle with because the only way to play the game is to break the rules and go against what it supposedly is about. Once someone does this, the rest soon follow and I sometimes feel like we jump too far ahead in the game instead of letting it develop. I guess it’s a good gauge on who’s the most impatient or uncomfortable).


Gislaved, the place I’ve gone to play games every year right after christmas for ten years.

CrossCon: This may have been the very last CrossCon. Ever. That’s a very melancholic thing to write, but it was even worse being there. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of fun and it’s always nice to run into all the old characters. I just feel… old. We started this con 10 years ago. At the time, we were 15-18 years old. Now, we’re all grown up, I rarely talk to or see many of the people organizing the con, though some of them are very near and dear to me. To really celebrate, everyone attending was treated to a full course dinner and I took the opportunity to say a few words about what CrossCon has meant to me. I hope some of it got through. 
In terms of games, I tried not signing up for everything, to leave room for talking and simply hanging out. This worked out well. Nowadays, I always seem to have a purpose when I go to cons, but just hanging out with your friends not really doing anything for an hour or two is sometimes just as fun as playing games. In other words: It’s always the people, never the games. 
Saboteur (for once, I made a perfect play in a social bluffing game, and it paid off big. This game is all about finding the exact right moment to strike and betray the others and, boy was it satisfying to get to perform that backstab!),
J.S. Joust (lots of kids in the two Joust games I hosted at the con. I’m not sure, but I think that this was part of the reason these the games most accompanied by crying I’ve ever run. Mostly, it was no big deals and the crying passed as quickly as it arrived. I did, however, manage to twist my shoulder into the face of a fellow player (don’t worry, he was as big as I am), giving him a nosebleed. He took it well, though and seemed to have enjoyed the game.),
Trail of Cthulhu (first time as a non-GM player and it was enjoyable, though our group was a bit on the large end for my tastes (6 players + GM). I really enjoy the clever ways ToC gets around some stuff which tends to annoy me about CoC. We played in the Bookhounds of London setting and I was a hobo, which worked out surprisingly well),
Twilight Struggle (the last game of the con, I lost big to the Soviets pretty early on. In my defense, we played while tending the kitchen/snack bar; it took us two hours to get through the first two rounds. We started at half past midnight and were done at four a.m.),
Shot Shot Shoot (first time I actually got someone to play this with me for more than a couple of games. It really is a beauty. When in doubt, do what this game does and create two (or so) opposing strategies for getting the win. When playing ShotShotShoot, you’re constantly struggling not to use one strategy too much, while gauging what your opponent is up to and adjusting. The game starts and once the first shot is fired, everything else just flows from that shot),
Tag (hosting Joust, I managed to acquire a fan club of kids who constantly asked when the next game would be. They dragged me into a game of tag using strange rules involving a paper plane. It seemed that the one hit by the plane was tagged and became ‘it’, but the kids also competed to pick up the plane when it missed its target, thus tagging themselves. Being ‘it’ is a big part of the fun in Tag, so this makes complete sense, but I couldn’t wrap my head around it at the time).

CrossCon dinner

The CrossCon crew, making speeches at the big dinner. Some of the real good guys are in this pictures.

The Walking Dead – Finally, TWD is back in the only form I can stand it: a videogame from Telltale Games. I’m not going to spoil it too much, but playing Clementine turned out to work better than I had feared, though they had to use a time jump to avoid having her be all too small and helpless. Instead, she was about as helpless as most people. 
Two things:
1. The stitching scene really hurt. I didn’t think I would, but I did cringe again and again as I had her thrust the needle into and through her own flesh. This was good , fulfilling pain. This is how you do payoffs, not through stupid points or achievements.  
2. Letting Clementine be quiet a lot and having adults abuse their position of power in their interactions with her is very powerful. She just sits there and takes it while these grown-ups just won’t let up. I sound like a sadist, but it’s not her suffering I enjoy, it’s how fucking nasty the other characters look and feel when I let them.