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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Monday, February 20, 2006

Game Group: Long Island Boardgaming Organization

Long Island Boardgaming Organization
Submitted by Chris Palermo
Edited by Dave Eggleston

How did the group get started?

For a period of time, I used to host several people at my house for gaming. Unfortunately, there was nothing "official" and people would routinely cancel, which was awfully frustrating. Finally, I decided to form a "real" gaming club. During a World Boardgaming Championships visit, I realized that I could create the same sense of camaraderie and competition in a local group. It just needed to be organized. Two founding members set about making a constitution, with attendance policies, membership policies, etc. From these policies, the Long Island Boardgaming Organization (LIBO) was born. It is still a work in progress, on many levels, since we are never content with simple mediocrity. We always strive for excellence. We track a lot of statistics, and award plaques at the end of each year to those players who win the various categories. The stats measure different abilities, so it is unlikely one person will sweep through all the plaques. There are restrictions to avoid someone coming to one GameDay, winning 3 out of 4 games, never showing up again, and then qualifying for the plaque.

How does your group find new members?

We recruit using BoardGameGeek, word of mouth, AccessDenied, and at some local conventions. The evolution of INDEPTH, our free magazine on our website has helped somewhat. It is interesting that the group was originally formed with friends and family, but now that we have recruited, we have recruited gamers, who have become like family.

How would you describe your group?

We are primarily male, with only 1 female remaining in the group. Ages range from mid-20s to early 40s. We meet once a month from 11am-1am for a GameDay, and twice more a month (on a Friday night from 7pm-1am, and a Wednesday night from 7pm-11pm) for other gaming. We currently have the Wednesday Nites on hiatus, since we started a splinter league for Heroscape, which meets two Thursdays a month. We meet in members’ houses. We have approximately 10 members (down from a high of 15), and, ideally, like to keep the group between 9-16 members. There are about 3-4 members that can host, and the GameDays and GameNites rotate through those hosts. While we do track a lot of statistics, which makes for competitive play (that was the philosophy going in: Make people play for something, and they’ll show up), the fact is that the social camaraderie is what makes this group feel unique. There truly is a sense of friendship amongst everyone in the group, which makes the game playing that much more enjoyable.

How do you decide which games to play?

The mission of the group, initially, was to effectively work our way through my large collection. Consequently, most of the time, the games are chosen from that collection. Recent recruits, however, have brought their own sizeable (and, in some cases, still-growing) collections. I make up the schedule for the day, determining which games will get played and when, trying also to be cognizant of recent purchases by other members. This does create some debate between those members who do purchase and collect games (who wish to play all the games they purchase) and those members who do not purchase games (who wish to play their favorites again and again). We normally set up themes for GameDays; currently, it is based on manufacturer (e.g., February is Days of Wonder and Fantasy Flight Games). By the end of this year, we should be able to set up GameDays based on themes in the game, as well as mechanisms. There is a lot of work involved to making this happen, however, since each game needs to be classified.

How do you select the start player?

At any time there are 2-4 games going on simultaneously. Certain players (based on who played the “worst” the previous month) have the ability to select a table at which to play. After those requests are made, laminated seating cards are taken randomly. Each player then heads to his or her assigned table and seat.

What do you consider your group’s signature games?

Our signature games would probably include Puerto Rico, Atlantic Storm and Advanced Civilization. There are a number of games we play quite a bit (e.g., Medici and El Grande) and a number of games we played a lot at one time (e.g., Goa and St. Petersburg). However, the first three are almost always standards each year.

What games were featured in your most memorable gaming sessions?

Our most memorable session was probably a session of I’m the Boss, which was immortalized for all time by Michael Albergo in his writeup in the pages of INDEPTH.

What games were featured in your most unfortunate gaming sessions?

We have taken chances on some games that simply did not work (e.g., Mutual Mania). But, across the board, the games that fail miserably are the games with no real end (e.g., Munchkin, Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot, Inkognito); either it is too easy to whack the leader, or everyone ”ends” at the same time.

What games have created the biggest love/hate division among members of your group?

With all groups, there is a distinction made between games with great mechanics and games with great aesthetics. We are fortunate to have representation on both sides for this debate. There aren’t many games that have their ratings tremendously out of whack (where one faction might rate the game a ‘2’ and another faction might rate the game a ‘5’); Advanced Civilization probably fits best, due to the lengthy time needed to play. Twilight Imperium caused the most controversy (with some pretty distinctive ratings); the full collective commentary spanned 16-18 pages altogether.

What do you do about food and music at your gaming sessions?

For food, we normally have the host provide lunch, which is paid for by all the members in attendance. For dinner, it is up to the host. Some hosts also provide dinner (adjusting the day’s food ‘fee’ accordingly), while other hosts order out, with each person paying for his or her own meal. There is no music at the gaming session.

A closing note?

While our approach and philosophy probably differs greatly from other groups, it is important to remember our origins, initially consisting of friends and family exclusively . New recruits are brought gently into the group; we delay making decisions on suitability until we are confident in the new recruit, since the camaraderie is so important to maintain. In fact, the group has become so family-like we regularly schedule "Family Days", which have included trips to the Bronx Zoo, Coney Island Aquarium and New York City. We also have a Mini-Golf tournament and two Ping Pong tournaments each year, as well as other assorted get-togethers as a group, including spouses and children. We also take session reports and reviews seriously; part of putting out a magazine, besides being used as a recruiting tool, is the ability to influence other gamers. Several gamers have written me to tell me that, based on a review or report they read in INDEPTH, they would now be purchasing that game. Those truly are success stories.

Game Group is a monthly series, providing unique profiles of established gaming groups. It was inspired by the “book group” feature in the (most excellent) bookmarks magazine. We want to hear from you about your gaming group! If you would like to participate, send an inquiry to ripcitygamer@comcast.net.

Game Group index:

01/2006: Jerusalem Strategy Gaming Club
02/2006: Long Island Boardgaming Organization

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