Monday, 29 December 2014

2014 Retrospective

2014 has been full of highs in relation to my hobby and how I explore it.  There are some low points but those are heavily out weighted by the high points.

My continuing attendance at DWARF is a high point albeit there were times when that attendance was infrequent. In spite of that I think I managed to attend 2 out of 4 sessions per month on average with peaks of 3 when not impacted by Real Life™ stuff.  The key achievement with DWARF was the completion of the Beyond The Rim story arc in my somewhat elongated Star Wars : Edge Of The Empire game.  As per previous posts on RPGs I would like to have done more RPGs and maybe 2015 will be when I do that but that’s for another post.  Specific thanks would go to my Star Wars group ( John, Simon, Ross, Ant, Dougie and Scott) and a few others at DWARF (namely Brian F, Brian W, Colin, Graham, Greg and +Scott Melrose ).

The establishment and flourishing community that has been built up around East Neuk Tabletop Games is probably the high point of the year.  Not necessarily because it’s been a roaring success (although in some aspects it has) but more because it’s enabled me to help establish a local community who are hungry for gaming, specifically board and card games but with an appetite to try other things.  Biggest thanks goes to +donjondo (Alan) but also to Michael, Richard, Oliver and Martin who have consistently supported our fledgling community.

Another obvious high point was my attendance at Gen Con 2014.  Not quite a life long ambition but from a hobby perspective it was always there as a goal and one that I can now mark as complete. Whether I’ll return to Gen Con in the future is debatable largely due to the financial cost of going (not just due to what games I’d buy) but I’d like to think I will return in the next few years (although not 2015 Greg!).  Big thanks to my travel companions +Liz Mackie and +Greg Barr but also to everyone I played games with and chatted to during that amazing experience.

Other highlights are largely sub-headings under those above but in the main it’s been an excellent year for my hobby and one that’s been quite cathartic in washing away some of the negativity I’d held at the start of this 2nd Chapter.

If I was to single out any form of low point it’d be largely down to personal frustrations over available game time along with the associated balance I need to find in amongst Real Life™ stuff.
I also have some frustrations over the speed of growth and consistency of attendance at East Neuk Tabletop Games but that’s largely irrational and down to my impatience when it comes to building communities.  The Field Of Dreams adage of “If you build they will come” is very fitting here as whilst it has an element of truth to it there are always delays in realising the potential of something like building a community almost entirely from scratch.

What would I have done differently in 2014?

Somewhat positively I’m not sure there is much that I would have done differently.  I’m happy with most if not all of my decisions in 2014 and it’s refreshing to look back and see that.

If I was to nitpick though?
  • There are some bridges that I feel I could have actively worked on in 2014, particularly in relation to the ex-KoA community. As yet I’ve not managed to bring myself to do that, which is largely down to the negativity I referenced above.  Whether 2015 is the year I do that or not is debatable and I’m trying to not timetable that “recovery” or indeed confirm that there are bridges that actually need re-building.  I’ve deliberately remained distant from a number of people that were involved both within KoA and as part of that community.  Some of that is due to personal reasons that I won’t divulge here but also it’s because I don’t really want to be reminded of that low period which unfortunately I associate entirely with that community. This isn’t a big deal (to me) but there are times when it feels like the right thing to do.
  • I had grand plans of organising some special events in 2014. None of which materialised, with the exception of the Tabletop Day event at DWARF.  This was largely down to that Real Life™ thing again but also because I was the only one involved in making these things happen. Something I plan to revisit in 2015 with a plan forming as I type.
Other than those though it was largely a low point free year for my hobby which is itself a cause for celebration!  There were obvious low points indirectly related to my hobby, not least of which was the death of my good friend Ray Gillespie.  One of those special events that I didn’t manage to organise was with him in mind so fingers crossed I can sort something out for 2015.

So what about those guiding principles and objectives I’d set myself way back in this process?

  1. Only buy it if you're going to use it. – Still largely on track with this, yes even with the haul of games I brought back from Gen Con!  Definitely helped by the creation of East Neuk Tabletop as I have more opportunity to play games now. East Neuk Tabletop has also been successful in bringing some historic purchases which have languished on the shelf onto the tabletop instead.
  2. Is everyone having fun? Including you? – Yep, again partly down to East Neuk Tabletop but also due to some occasions at DWARF where I’ve ensured that people aren’t without a game to play (wherever possible!).  I’m definitely enjoying my hobby a lot (especially board games) and no signs of that changing. As I reflected in my recent post on RPGs there are things I’d like to do differently but nothing that’s preventing the fun.
  3. Accept that you’re going to be the GM.  – This one I’ve been challenged on by a few people in recent times. It’s also been challenged by me at a certain level after being a player in a few RPGs at Gen Con.  I still think though that this principle stands as in the absence of anyone else looking to run something (that I’d want to play in…) I am always happy to be the GM.
  4. Change is a good thing and necessary. – Out of all the principles this one is hardest to define other than in editions/revisions of games. What I will say though is that 2015 may also be a year in which I change how I engage with my hobby.  More of that though in my Year Ahead post.
  5. Opinions aren’t as important as knowledge and experience. – Still strongly behind this one, if only in relation to reviews and also when it comes to community dynamics.  I’m pretty strongly opinionated myself and so this has to be there in the back of my head when I start to “rant” about the hobby, which does happen from time to time…
  1. Sustainable and regular gaming. – Massive tick in this box with the advent of East Neuk Tabletop Games.  Whether I can expand on the volume of gaming I’m doing is debatable and something I’m investigating just now ahead of my 2015 post.
  2. Play more with more. – Again East Neuk Tabletop Games is helping with this as is DWARF to a lesser extent primarily through the board gaming I’m doing.
  3. Home based gaming. – No real movement here but again something to improve upon for 2015.
  4. Play something new at least one in every six gaming sessions. – Successfully being achieved without really any effort, thanks in part to my ever growing collection of games but also down to the growth in the gaming community that’s around me.
  5. Visit more game shops. – Hmmm. Still mostly in the same space I was this time last year. Indeed since then Major Arcana in Dundee has sadly closed down.  I have continued to support Black Lion Games as my chosen FLGS and have (thanks to work) made many visits to Fan Boy 3 in Manchester but apart from those it’s been limited.  Sure I’ve made a visit or 2 to Common Ground Games in Stirling and Highlander Games in Dundee but those have been opportunistic as opposed to being part of any grand plan.  Not that this is a bad thing of course!
  6. I've decided to formally add this one to the Objectives list.  Attend more gaming conventions. – Gen Con and Conpulsion were my conventions in 2014. 2015 looks to be slightly (very slightly) busier…
So what else is worth noting from 2014?  Nothing springs to mind so I’ll call it quits at that. If anything it’s probably been one of the best years in hobby terms for me for many many years.