Counterus Hex

Hex and Counter games reviewed and discussed by an old Grognard.

To help new game convention attendees and veterans alike, I have compiled a list of twelve persons to be avoided at all costs so as to make the convention experience more enjoyable.

Note: This list will be broken up into two articles as the first six definitions exceeded my desired word count.  And though I am focusing on war games, both miniature as well as hex & counter the concept can be applied to any gaming genre.

I enjoy board game conventions for a variety of reasons, first and foremost being that I get to spend time with my rather small and exclusive group of friends. We drink, laugh, play new games and, meet new people. We wander about and drool over all the shiny boxes of awesomeness that companies great and small lay out and sometimes demo. Vendors hawk their wares and large sums of money, to the chagrin of wives at home, are spent. Yes I do take great pleasure in these events quite a bit, but I also have found that though the vast majority of people are polite and agreeable there are several types of convention goers and attendees who tend to be quite the opposite. These people are not there to have fun in the traditional sense but rather are preoccupied with feeding their ego in some way.
“As my research proves, Alexander the Great DID invade England”
1. The Historian: This guy is more interested in explaining in minute detail every aspect of the battle so that you the captive listener will be floored by his vast understanding and knowledge, rather than focusing on the game itself. He tends to ignore the fact that you are there to have fun, and becomes extremely frustrated when a person reminds him of that point. To somehow exploit a weakness in his overconfident, intellectually superior, disposition of troops and achieve victory is seen as mere luck in his eyes and he expresses such to the point of annoyance. Or he goes into a monologue as to how the game is broken somehow as it doesn’t take into account the most intricate details of the situation.  i.e. “on such and such a day the General took his morning constitutional late in the afternoon. Thus the “constipation factor” had a real and profound impact on the battle itself.”

This guy is a tool and you are better off sitting in the backyard burning ants with a magnifying glass rather than spending a single minute at a table with him.

2. Waffle Mites: Waffle Mites are players who formulate a strategy on turn one, take an extreme amount of time to implement the most basic and obvious of movement actions, and then, on turn two, seeing their opponent’s set up they begin to waffle. They doubt their plans, so with minutes ticking away and a lifetime to spare, they formulate a new plan, then again, slowly adapt rinse and repeat. This can happen many times in a single session. Your average Waffle Mite isn’t really paying attention to the whole situation but rather he is trying to incorporate some adage he read in a military phrasebook into the game at hand. The problem is he doesn’t understand the famous quote to begin with, and he sees you as a practice dummy and nothing more. Your time is not anywhere near as valuable as his.

Waffle Mites are usually beaten rather quickly as there tends to be no continuity to their play. They are harmless and easily forgotten.
3. Oozing Disease Trolls (ODTs): Every convention has had to incorporate rules that address aspects of personal hygiene. Players and Game Masters are reminded that washing one’s body is not a recommended action but a required one. Nobody likes to stand or sit next to some guy who leaves a wafting cloud of reek in his wake, especially for 2-4 hours at a stretch. There are always one or two of these lurking sloths at every convention I have attended over the past few years. ODTs have the unique ability to ruin a game session simply by being in proximity to the table upon which it is being played. They don’t even have to be participating; their superhuman stench clears an area about them opening a magical path through the crowds whilst people turn away in disgust. Polite society forces most everyone to simply grit and bear the assault on the senses.

Yet I have a wee tactic that gives me a small measure of satisfaction in these situations. I have begun to carry small personal bars of Ivory soap in my pocket which I place before the ODT when they become distracted by the sound of a crinkling potato chip bag or a soda pop can being opened. If asked I always say; “no I didn’t put that there, I thought it fell out of your jowls, ahem, pocket.” short of that the only solution is to dowse them in oil and set them alight.
4. The Socialite: This person is not really interested in playing or teaching any games, but rather in meeting up with old friends and talking. This is his big moment to shine, to bask in the glory of those adoring companions who kind of, sort of, remember his name. When he actually sits down to play with others he is compelled to ask; “Does anyone here know so and so? No? What about Mr. Whatshisface? No again? That is sad for they are just capital folks why just last evening…….” 

In general these people can be handled by simply refusing to engage them in conversation. After a short stint of silent rebuttal the Socialite will lose themselves in their Facebook or twitter feeds perhaps posting a selfie or two telling everyone how many new friends they have made. The down side to this type of player is that they take a spot at the table which would have better been filled by an interested party. If luck is with you, the Socialite will see someone they think they know and with a wave of spindly arms go racing after the poor unsuspecting soul thereby bringing relief to you and your group. Sometimes, if I’m feeling really annoyed by the antics of a socialite I will pick one name from the list he dropped and reply; “Do you say McMasters? Oh yes, I know him well, we did time together at Leavenworth. Tell him Al says hello, that it was nothing personal, and that I hope his scars healed well.”
Master Tactician is giving me pointers, I am trying to decide on whether or not I should stab him.
5. A Master Tactician: Master Tacticians are never playing the game you are involved in. They approach with a look of studious interest and watch quietly for a moment or two before looking you in the eye and saying something like; “You know if you moved that infantry regiment over to the ridge on the left you would gain a terrain advantage.” or ” I played this game last night and what really works is having all your cavalry charge straight at the artillery.” These little nuggets of greatness are never asked for but are always freely given. For you see the Master Tactician, much like the Historian, is a person of higher intellect than yourself and it is quite obvious that you have no idea how to properly handle the forces at your disposal. Regardless of the fact that you have been pushing about counters and chits since before the genius at your elbow was a gleam in his daddy’s eye. Fortunately there are a couple of simple phrases to help send the modern day Napoleon on his merry way.
               1. “Piss Off you pretentious little git!” ok just kidding. (In truth, this does work)
               2. “Really? Well I had no idea; maybe I will try that next time” Sarcasm
               3. “Perhaps later on tonight you can show me how that works” Don’t show up and go to the bar instead.
              4. Shout out ;”Oh my God! I’ve lost already! I must retire to my quarters and hang myself in shame!” whilst pulling your hair for dramatic effect.
6. Rules Lawyers: Yeah these guys are the ultimate buzz kill pure and simple. Lawyers always show up at a scheduled game fashionably late and then proceed to ask; “What edition of rules are we playing with?” You see, there is no need for them to be at a table listening to the game master who has taken the time to set up the session, go over the rules no matter the edition, as Lawyers have every rule that was ever conceived for the game burned into their memory. Including variants. It is their sacred and relished duty to bring any variation, mistake, or oddity in game play to everyone’s attention in the hopes of correcting the ignorant commoners before them. They will hold up a game for countless minutes whilst looking for some obscure rule which will benefit only themselves in that particular moment of play usually accompanied by an exclamation of “ah ha” after having found it on BGG or the GMT website.  This creature is odious and vile, self centered and malignant. 

One should avoid these players at all costs, for they will ruin a good time in very short order. Look for the warning signs. Small beady eyes, cloven hooves, and horns. Their phone will be open to a website with the game rules available and they will seem very interested in every move made by each player.  The only way to relieve yourself and your group of these denizens of Hell is to either; A) Have the Game Master take control of the session and stop the “Evil One” before it can speak or B) Form a cabal and stab it until it no longer breathes.

These people, all possess a common thread unbeknownst to themselves and that is a complete and utter disregard of those about them.  I personally have suffered the indignity of having to interact with each and every one of the personalities listed above, at one time or another and I tell you not once was the outcome pretty.  I can only hope that somehow my suffering can bring warning to others and they may avoid the odious minority that plagues conventions.


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