Howdy. I’m Dan and I’m apparently on games. Not that I’m sitting on a giant stack of them right now or anything. I don’t generally do that, sit on games, but I do play them a lot. And games is what this little blog is going to be about. And when I say “games” I mean games. Any kind of games: board games, dice games, video games, sports, pool, darts, Magic, and anything else I can get my hands on. This isn’t going to be about reviews and having fun with specific games (see the other blog I’m a part of http://gamechasers.net for that! /shameless plug), it’s going to be more about gaming in general; general strategies for playing games, my insights and experiences, just a general discussion of the topic. I’ve got a lot of ideas to share and I think it will be fun. Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading, and comments are always appreciated!
I think a good first thing to talk about is how I got into games in the first place. I’ve always enjoyed them, and as a kid I loved playing cards with my family, video games at friends’ houses (we didn’t get an Atari 2600 until wayyyyyy late in the game), and especially shooting hoops. My grandparents had a small court out back and that was the first place I shot hoops. I was pretty young (maybe 4 or 5?) and I remember at first I didn’t even use an actual basketball, it was one of those really light bouncy balls that you see in those tall wire cages at the store, you know what I’m talking about? Anyway, I used that for a while until I was strong enough to use a real ball and I still use a real basketball to this very day! When I first started shooting hoops I actually kept track of how many shots I made (I’m kind of a math dork and a budding accountant too), but after a while (a few weeks, few months, a year? I don’t remember) I gave up. Eventually Dad put up a hoop at our house and I spent many many hours out there shooting hoops.
Dad taught me a lot of games when I was a kid, like Canasta, cribbage, poker, chess and more. As a family we didn’t play a ton of board games (we stuck to cards mostly, although we did enjoy Chinese Checkers) but Dad had some fairly obscure but really fun ones like Regatta, Twixt (not the candy bar!), Trap, and other Precious Childhood Memories. We played a lot of hoops too. Dad had this thing where he would play a game against me until I won, then we would never play again. I remember blocking his shot when I was 11 or 12 and that was the end of competitive basketball : )
My grandparents didn’t teach me a ton of games, but they did teach me one of my favorites: Pinochle. It’s a great game (only when you play 3 player though, none of this partners junk!) and one of my all-time faves. Pa was a grandmaster of the game (he and Grandma had been playing it for 40 years even at that time) and I was just 9 when they taught me, so while I understood the rules and could play I didn’t have a clue on the nuances and strategy. We would play whenever we had some time at a family function, and I used to go over to their place once a week for dinner and a few games. We played for uber high stakes (quarter per game plus a dime each time you went set!), and as the years went on I eventually gleaned everything I could from Pa until I was able to talk and play Pinochle on his level. Not saying I got to be as good as him, but I was at least in the same league.
When we first started playing I couldn’t even understand what he meant when he would give strategy tips. Then eventually I could understand what he meant but wasn’t able to put it into play. After a while longer I was able to actually make some of the plays he was talking about, and finally I was able to talk strategy with him. One of my proudest gaming moments was when after a particular hand I asked him, “Why did you do x instead of y?”. He answered, “Well I thought x would work because of [something] but I probably should have done y”. I was actually able to talk with him about a particular move at his level and he agreed with me! That was the moment when I knew I had become a pretty decent Pinochle player. Pa died just about 5 years ago, and I didn’t play for a long time. But just recently my parents decided they wanted to learn how to play, so we’ve played a few times. That’s been fun, but I still miss playing with my grandparents (Grandma died a couple years ago).
I actually went through the same learning curve (from “Huh?” to “Oh, I get it” to “Well, yeah of course!”) with backgammon, and it’s another of my very favorite games. I’m sure it will come up again in future posts : )
I have a good Pinochle story but I can’t really tell it without explaining the rules of the game, so I’ll just summarize. I was at a friend’s house on Christmas and when her dad and grandfather found out I played Pinochle they hustled me into the dining room for a couple games. On the very first play of the game I made what looked like a terrible play but was actually just me playing possum (again, I can’t really explain it exactly without explaining how to play). On the next play of the game after I won the trick they looked at each other and one of them said “Oh we got ourselves a tricky one here” or something like that. I ended up smoking them two games straight.
So that’s a little bit about how I first got into games. I remember lots of times as a kid (typically when we were out camping) when the adults would all be sitting around playing some game and I desperately wanted to play with them. Sometimes I would get to play and sometimes I wouldn’t, depending on what they were playing and who was there. Being an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be but being able to play games whenever and however I want is a nice perk! I hated camping as a kid (still not a fan actually) but I did like when I got to play games. That’s all other people are to me pretty much; game playing partners ; )
Oh, and I can’t forget they’re also readers and commenters on my new blog! Thanks for reading.