Should you try competitive gaming?

“Competitive games are not for me.”

“Competitive gamers tend to be jerks.”

“Competitive games take all the fun out of it.”

Have you ever heard sentiments like these?  Maybe you’ve said them yourself!  The fact is, a lot of people have had bad experiences in competitive gaming.  People have acted like jerks at tournaments.  They’ve complained, harassed, or even cheated.  I know, I’ve heard the horror stories!  And for folks who’ve had that experience, I am very sympathic.  Tabletop games should be different from those negative experiences.

That said, I just returned home from three days in lovely Roseville, MN, where I competed in the World Championship for the Star Wars Living Card Game.  And I will report that (though coming in at a meager #35) I had a great time!  And here’s what I want to report back to you:

Late after the conclusion of Day One of the World Championships

After the conclusion of Day One of the Star Wars LCG World Championships

Competitive gaming, while it can have frustrating moments, can also be very fun.  Have you not played laid-back, roleplaying games that got frustrating?  Competitive play is the same way.  Sometimes thing go awry.  But often, it’s a great experience.

Here are my three take-aways from my World Championship experience that I think will encourage you to give competitive gaming another shot:

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I don’t always use grid maps, but when I do…

This is the fourth post in a series on responsible and affordable AD&D shopping.

This one goes out to the GMs in the crowd.

Let’s be honest.  You’ve got a tough job.  I mean, sure, you love it.  You love the adventure, the creativity, and of course the unfettered power.  Wait, did I just say that out loud?  Don’t mind that, players.

Anyway, being a GM is great.  Until it comes to prep time.  You gotta read that module or gather those stats.  You’ve got story hooks, plotlines, and story arcs to parse out.  Even if you’re one of those rare unicorn GMs who does minimal prep (not me), there’s still one piece of preparation that you probably think about a bit: maps.

Of course, this could raise a contentious debate as to whether players need a grid map at all.  Here’s my answer to the question:

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Budget-Friendly Nostalgia: Miniatures

This is the third post in a series on responsible and affordable AD&D shopping.

It was one of the scenes with the greatest foreshadowing in “Stranger Things”: when Mike slammed down the terrifying miniature of a demogorgon smack-dab in the middle of the adventuring party.  They were playing AD&D.  And things just got real.

This thing's no joke: 200 hp straight up (MM, 16).

Demogorgon’s no joke: 200 hp straight up.  3 attacks per round, incl. psionics.  Just run. (MM, 16)   

But a few grognards out there may have taken exception at this point.  “Miniatures!” they might exclaim “We didn’t use no filthy miniatures in AD&D!  It’s was theater of the mind!”  So I’ve heard some say.  But as one who has not only recently read the rulebooks in toto, but has also been recently playing AD&D 1e with miniatures, I think it’s the best way to play the game.  And, for that matter, it’s not going to break the bank either.

But let’s start at the beginning: should AD&D even be played with miniatures?  Is it really going to enhance my gaming experience?

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Budget-Friendly Nostalgia: AD&D Books

This is the second post in a series on responsible and affordable AD&D shopping.

So we’ve talked about the nostalgia of tactile gaming.  You’ve got your new dice on the way.  Your DM Screen is hot off the laminating presses.  But we’ve gotten ahead of ourselves, haven’t we?  Yes we have.  You need…


I’m one of those neanderthals who doesn’t have an iPad or a Kindle.  I believe in paper too much.  I love the way paper smells, feels, sounds.  Heck, I probably like the way it tastes too.

Now I’ve got nothing against PDFs.  Well, except a few things:

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Budget-Friendly Nostalgia: DM Screen and Dice

If you haven’t figured it out already, I’m really trying to experience the nostalgia of playing AD&D.  But as you know, nostalgia ain’t always cheap.  There are whole industries rooted in this idea of recapturing the experience of the past.

One part of the nostalgia for me is the tactile experience.  I want to hold the dice, smell the books, and hear the pencils scribble.  Pencils are cheap.  And the books can be had at a reasonable price.  But there are two items out there that are not so easy to get at a reasonable price: Dungeon Masters Screens and original D&D dice.


Dungeon Masters Screens

I will not think less of you if you want to buy one on Ebay.  But the best price (as of the time of this writing) is $45 for an original 1e DM Screen.  Now that’s actually not a bad price.  I’ve watched them for about two months now and they trend toward a hundred bucks.  But if you’re like me and you’re trying to keep a budget, there are other options out there for you.

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