boardgaming in photos: friends and celebrities

During Chinese New Year this year I brought Attika back to Sabah, but didn’t manage to get it played. I decided to put my foot down and brought it to the table. I (green) was sloppy and let younger daughter Chen Rui (blue) score a sudden death victory. She used her buildings to connect the two temples. She had planned this patiently. She amassed cards. She played the new land tile at the bottom right. She then quickly constructed two more buildings to complete the connection. I should have been more alert and stockpiled some resources. Then I might have been able to stop her. Or perhaps I needed to place the tile myself and block her path. Attika is a wonderful game. 
We played a second game, since the first one ended so quickly. This time Chen Rui (blue) got stuck in a bad position. Her starting buildings were those two at the top left, and they were quickly surrounded by my (green) buildings. She lacked resources to help her build, and also space. 
I (green) dominated the centre, forcing Chen Rui (blue) into two groups of buildings. She had to start a new group to be able to expand. 
4 Mar 2023. I met up with Edwin, Ruby, Xiao Zhu and Benz. They are my Pandemic team. We completed Pandemic Legacy Seasons 1 and 2 together. We are ex-colleagues and used to all work at a mobile game company. Since it was a game company, we had the perfect excuse to play games at the office. It’s aah… training.  
We met up at Starbucks in Technology Park Malaysia. It was a quite place and we could stay and play the whole afternoon without being chased away. There was only a handful of other customers. We played Ticket to Ride: Japan. We had wanted to play it for a long time, but never got around to arrange a time. I also taught them Carcassonne
When playing Ticket to Ride: Japan, I replaced some of the shinkansen (bullet train) pieces with these souvenirs I bought in Japan. The game came with 16 shinkansen pieces but I only had 6 mini train souvenirs, so for the other 10 pieces I still had to use the standard trains that came with the game. Using these pretty pimp-up pieces distorted our game somewhat. We all raced to build shinkansen tracks because we wanted to use those pretty pieces. Once the 6th piece was used, the motivation to do shinkansen tracks suddenly plummeted. 
10 Mar 2023. I did a gathering with my BNI friends Jessyca, Nicole, Preston and Susie. We played the original Ticket to Ride
I brought out Through the Desert, which I had not played for a very long time. This was one of the earliest games I bought, about 20 years ago, when I got into the boardgame hobby. 
This is an eye-catching game. 
Taluva isn’t a huge hit, but by now it is on its third edition. For a hobbyist game that’s very successful. I like the game and am happy it is doing well. I’m always a little torn when I teach this game to new players. It is an open information strategy game, where experienced players tend to have an advantage over new players. I feel bad about beating the newbies too soundly. It would be like bullying them. I feel lousy and they don’t enjoy the experience either. This time, things went the opposite direction. I not only didn’t win, I made a mistake which gave the eventual winner Jessyca the victory. Gosh I need to do some self-reflection on why I did so poorly. 
10 Mar 2023 was the official launch of the Vivae Board Game Cafe Ampang branch. I was invited to showcase my game Dancing Queen. I also brought other prototypes to be playtested. There were a few other local game designers at the event. 
I had a chat with one of the customers who tried Dancing Queen, and found out that he was a reader of my blog! He once bought a game and couldn’t figure out how to do the setup. He Googled and my blog was the first entry to show up. He commented on my blog post to ask about the game setup. I have been blogging since 2007, but I don’t often run into readers. When it happens I can’t help feeling that little bit of narcissistic pride. Sorry, I’m but human. 
Dancing Queen is now released, but whenever I get a chance to demo it, I still carefully self-inspect to see how I can further improve the way I introduce and teach the game. How do I make it easier for the players to understand the game, to see the hook and to enjoy themselves? I find this is a very important skill for game designers to learn. I still keep fine-tuning how I teach the game. Sometimes I omit a rule when teaching, and only explain it when the relevant situation arises during play. 
The guest of honour that day was Tian Chua. I don’t meet celebrities often so by the next day I was already showing off on social media. This photo was taken when I explained to him how Snow White and the Eleven Dwarfs worked. I look like a conspiracy theorist foisting his postulations on an innocent bystander. Tian Chua listened intently. When I later explained Dancing Queen to him, he asked intelligent questions. He wasn’t just humouring me. That is something I respect. The way he asked for clarifications made him sound more like a gamer than a muggle. A closet gamer? 

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