BOARD GAMING WITH NATIONAL CHAMPION
Besides the multi period miniatures gaming going on constantly at the half dozen large tables at Metro HQ in Williamsburg (Brooklyn), New York, the club boasts a large reference book, videotape, and board games library, which are accessible to all members. On the half dozen smaller tables on any given evening or weekend there are board games being played as well. One of the prominent board game enthusiasts is Peter Stein, whose national championship plaques from AvalonCon in such games as Guerrilla grace the walls along with the ribbons and other awards given to various club members from Cold Wars, Historicon, Crusades, and other Eastern area conventions. The club also puts in an appearance at smaller local events such as the series of Military Toy Shows given by Eric Reinikka an Dan Karppinen at the Adria motel in Bayside, Queens and the annual Knight Games con in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Most recently, Peter and other metros acted as playtesters for the new Successors game by well known game designer Richard Berg. Peter is a familiar and laid back board game Game Master at conventions, where he often hosts such introductory level games as History of the World and Civilization.
Games spotted being actually played at the club in recent months by this reporter alone included such diverse titles as Ardennes, Hannibal, Squad Leader (several games of this at once), Condottieri, Axis and Allies, Settlers of Catan, Borderlands, Fortress America, Battle of the Bulge, and Run Silent, Run Deep. As you can see, we cover the field from old classics like Kingmaker to the brand new Babylon 5 (Component Games Systems, Inc., released February 1998).
"Its not about competition though, its about having fun," says Peter. "The great thing about this particular club is that it fits many different agendas. Some people are here for the comradeship, some to play certain types or periods of games or miniatures, others to playtest their rules, play out a long campaign, paint their miniatures in the corner with tips from more experienced members, find live local opponents, and still others just to hang out, especially on the weekend after a tough work week, and argue, er, I mean discuss, history and the hobby. We'd rather be known as a good bunch of guys (and occasionally gals) than as 'expert gamers' or anything else!"
Having a big clubhouse allows for the kind of convenience often not available at home. Games can be left up between sessions. Long games can actually be completed. Players are easy to recruit, whether called in advance or dragooned pick up style at the last moment. And in a large group you can usually find someone who has a copy of a game, rules revisions, hobby catalogues, articles, or other related material. There is also an accumulated body of wisdom regarding rules interpretations. "We favor a good time over rules lawyering. There are certain standards of good sportsmanship in this hobby that become informally enforced," says Peter. "We have short disagreements, but usually settle things pretty quickly. If not, someone will just quote God in the movie "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" and shout in a hearty Scottish accent: "Get on with it!"
Peter is also knowledgeable about computer strategy games, although there are no terminals at the club. "Age of Rifles is a good game on Nineteenth Century warfare, although like all designs has its own peculiarities. The two hobbies are definitely linked, for one thing because so many board games are later made for the computer." There has also been some recent plans for role playing at the club. Again it comes down to the time and energy the game master has to organize a campaign. Some projects never get off the ground, others are successful and go on for quite a time. The only limit is the imagination of the members. New members are always welcome to run any event they wish to post on the bulletin board, and so unlike some other clubs, there are no restrictions on new gaming activities. If you are interested, come down and meet us, and tell us what you would like to try. And don't forget to ask Peter what he's playing today--there's often room for one more at the table!