Happy Birthday (Observed) To Me!   Leave a comment

My birthday landed on a Tuesday this year, and Tuesdays are crazy busy.  I was determined to have a little get together with friends, however, and so for a few weeks before my birthday I started pitching the idea of having a day to be John’s Birthday (Observed).  It’s like my regular birthday, but we actually acknowledge it instead of doing work, church, school, and all the other stuff that makes Tuesdays so busy that you can’t acknowledge it.

It’s not an original idea, I know, but calling it (observed) seemed to breathe some life into the day.  I mean, let’s be honest, it would’ve just been a Wednesday otherwise.  I mean, technically it was the anniversary of a number of historic events like the beginning of the Islamic calendar in 622, the Battle of Stony Point in 1779 in the American Revolutionary War, and the final Big Tent Show of the Ringling Brothers Circus in 1956, just to name three, but it’s not a day often acknowledged.

Knowing my church’s building would be empty that day, I drove there.  More than halfway there (and running late) I called ahead when I learned that I’d left my key to the church at home, but a quick conference between me and my friend led to us deciding that I should just keep coming since someone would probably be along who could let us in soon.

After arriving, my friends introduced me to a game that I’d seen in game stores before, but never considered buying, called Zombies!!!

It was a wonderful game.  You play it by laying down a tile to represent a part of a city every turn, moving around, and wading through all the many, many zombies.  Thanks to a lot of intentionally unhelpful moves made by almost everyone early on in the game, we began to quickly run out of zombies for putting onto the board, so we needed to keep track of where certain zombies were on paper near the end (mainly the ones from our personal “collections”).  We also realized that the town was created by a fellow named Bob who created a horribly, horribly convoluted city based around his burger empire.  The realization that being killed by zombies merely sent you back to the beginning of the game meant that “Death is no escape” became our mantra as we hilariously shambled through Bob’s town (hastily named Bobston.)

I wasn’t really expecting anyone to have bought presents for me, but I’m glad they did.  In a lot of ways, it was the perfect kind of birthday gift: it’s a lot of fun, it plays to the interests of the person who receives it, and it’s also the kind of thing that they probably wouldn’t have bought for themselves.  I mean, I’d considered buying that game once or twice before, but ultimately it was never the kind of game that I would buy if there were other needs or options.  So, it’s safe to say that without this gift I might never have experienced the hilarity of the zombies invading Bobston.

After we finally found the Helipad and got to a point where we couldn’t backstab each other anymore to prevent anyone from getting to safety, we moved on to a game of Gloom.

Typically this game lasts an hour or so, but we had five players at the table, and each of us had roleplaying experience (and backstabbing experience from lots of other games) so it lasted closer to three.  It was loads of fun, though, as Keith Baker’s card game tribute to the art of Edward Gorey brought our five families through a number of macabre twists and turns in true Gothic (and, at times, Lovecraftian) tradition.  This was my second time playing Gloom, so I’d naturally already played with the mad scientist family.  I went with the Wellington-Smythes this time, since they were the most Addams Family-esque.  I was one turn away from getting a score of -115, but the player right before me managed to end the game and win with a -80 or -90 (my final score only being in the neighborhood of -60).  In case you hadn’t figured it out, Gloom is a game where you shoot for the lowest score possible as you keep making strange, terrifying, macabre and, well, gloomy things happen to your family.

The game took a long time, and it was late by the time we finished it.  Still, everyone knew they couldn’t escape without at least one room of a game I’ve been trying to get everyone to play for ages…

It has officially been 11 months since I bought this game, and I still don’t know how the book ends.  Last night saw us enter the fourth room in the Lunar fortress.  We’re finally beyond the caves and mining facilities near the surface of the Moon, but this time we’d hit some sort of Foundry or Factory.  The room involved careful timing and leaping between massive containers of molten metal that were pouring into some sort of mold.  Our local Venusian scientist, Yawitz, couldn’t identify what was being made (and neither could I, with my experience forging Red Steel as a smith on Mars).  We had difficulty navigating the constant motion of the containers, but eventually just started breaking them since any damage done to the foundry would likely wind up hurting the dreaded Moon Men anyway, and we had standing orders to disrupt their equipment.

Doing that summoned a few Moon Robot guards, though, so we had to fight our way through them before finally using the wreckage to help us successfully navigate out of the chamber.

It was a little unfortunate that we only really had the time to see one room last night (we just got so caught up in Gloom, telling our delightfully dreadful stories), but it was also an awesome capstone to my birthday (observed).  Now, my goal is to finish The Moon Must Be Ours before Gen-Con.  I don’t know if I’ll succeed since everyone works, like, all the time… but the attempt will be made.


Posted July 17, 2014 by John Little in blogging, Gaming, Journal

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