Happy Holidays! Are you stuck trying to figure out a good gift for a family member who has everything? Have you ever considered the gift of gaming? Games make amazing gifts and we are here to help you pick just the right one. We have taken six styles of games and chosen two of each we think make great gifts.
This game is one that was introduced to those of us who were at the November game day. There are five piles of cards with numbers and colors. The players must work as a team to clear all the condition cards to win. The number of players determines the amount of conditions. These conditions could include “All piles are green” or “ The green cards add up to half the total of the orange cards”. However, the player’s can not tell each other the cards that they have or discuss a specific plan. All they can do is allude to the fact that they can complete a task. (i.e. “If you can leave the third pile alone I can complete the third condition card.”) This adds a level of complexity that makes the game a challenge. The win condition is to complete the stack of condition cards. It was complex and engaging and left us wanting to play again and we had played twice. This absolutely has replay-ability and is fun for ages 10 and up.
There are now several Pandemic games out there from Cthulhu (where you are shutting down demonic portals) to Rising Tide (where you are trying to prevent flooding). The Legacy version is challenging, but a limited use game. However for games to give the casual or beginner board gamer the original is probably the best way to start. In the game, the players work as members of the CDC and they are working to stop world-wide epidemics by using their special talents. The game is won by curing all of the diseases before the entire world gets over run with plague. Unlike Cahoots, you can lay out and work on a plan in detail, but there is plenty of challenge in this game. This game is for players 8 and up.
Munchkin is a really funny, tongue-in-cheek kind of game that can get really cutthroat. There are several different versions of it, but I’m just going to talk strictly about Vanilla Munchkin (the original game). In this game, you’re an adventuring party exploring a dungeon without all the hassles of role-playing and making friends. It’s every man (or woman) for himself! You have to kick down doors, defeat monsters, collect treasures, and be the first to get to level 10. You can help others, or help the monsters. As I said, there are several different versions, but that’s the basic gist of all of the games. Ages vary based on the version, but they’re typically around 10 and up. Some versions can get a little racy, so use your better judgement.
Splendor has been a favorite for a few years now. It is a great game help beat the blahs during the mid-winter months. You play merchants trying to court favor over nobles. To do this you must purchase a certain amount of gems in a certain amount of colors. Some of these gems have point values and the nobles are worth 3 each if you can sway them. The first to 15 points wins. The wonderful thing about this game is how easy it is to learn. It is also beautifully designed and the gems are actually chips that you can stack. The tactileness of it is what drew us to it in the first place. It plays in about 30 minutes; so it is a good palate cleanser in between larger games or it is a good game while you are waiting for your kids to fall asleep. This is for ages 8 and up, but Lady Diceacorn’s son was 6 when he started playing.
Sushi Go is an adorable game that is small enough to toss in a purse or bag to take on the go! You are trying to put together the most appetizing (and high scoring) meal you can over the course of three rounds. The tricky part is you hand the cards to your left or your right every round, so the cards and your strategy has to change quickly. This game has definite replayability factor. Its portability is definitely a bonus. If a challenge is what you seek, try Sushi Go Party. That has interchangeable menus from the “My First Sushi Go” for beginners to a really tough version for experts. This game is 8 and up, but you know any kids you are shopping for better than the box.
Gloom is one of Meepline’s all time favorite games ever. It’s a fun storytelling game in which you choose a family, make them as miserable as possible, then kill them off. The more miserable they are, the more likely you are to win. Like in golf, negative points are the key. The really great thing about this game are the cards themselves. They’re all transparent plastic, so you can stack them on top of each other and the point amount showing is the one you get. There are several versions of the game, and Meepline owns and enjoys them all! This game is for 13 and up, due to the macabre nature of the game.
In Codenames, you split into 2 groups. Each groups has a clue giver, or spymaster, and one or several teammates. The two rival spymasters know the secret identities of 25 agents. Their teammates know the agents only by their Codenames. The teams compete to see who can make contact with all of their agents first. Spymasters give one-word clues that can point to multiple words on the board. Their teammates try to guess words of the right color while avoiding those that belong to the opposing team. And everyone wants to avoid the assassin. This is a game for 4+ players, but there is a version for 2 players called Codenames Duet. This game is ages 10 and up.
Improvisers would love this game where each person has turns as an HR director (who has a card that tells them the job the players are going for) and the other players have three cards with items or phrases that they have to work into their interview. Then the HR director chooses who to hire. Then the HR director changes. The game goes for one or two rounds (dependent on the amount of people playing) and the player with the most cards wins. This game has some cards that are not for the really young. It is great for an adult crowd though and it is a hit at parties. This game is for ages 16 and up.
There is a fox and he or she has stolen the pie. But can you and your chicken detectives solve the case before the fox escapes? This excellent family game is a beginners cooperative game where on a player’s turn they choose whether they will look for clues or reveal suspects. Once they have decided, they roll the dice to determine that they can accomplish their turn goal. If the dice all reveal the symbol of their goal, they are allowed to move toward a clue and look at it if they make it or reveal two suspects. The suspects are eliminated if they are wearing or holding something that the actual criminal is. If they do not roll matching symbols then the fox moves closer to the escape manhole and if they reach it the detective team loses. It is a great way to work on a child’s deductive reasoning skills. This game is for kids 5 and up. (But truth be told, this can be played as young as 3 years old with parents help.)
In this epic battle game players are kaiju who are battling for control of the city. You are trying to get to 20 victory points while attempting to hit the other kaiju and take them out. Three rolls of the dice tell the player what they can do on their turn. This game is fun and great for families who are a little competitive. This is for ages 8 and up.
Ever dream about the land under your bed, in your closet or out of your window while you sleep? Shanna Germain has, and created a great beginner game for Monte Cook Games. No Thank You Evil! Is a role-playing game for kids 4 and up that not only keeps their imaginations (each session runs about an hour and a half) and begins training them to be storytellers (this game’s version of the GM). Families who already have the base game should check out the supplements. There are story cards and even a book on how to be a storyteller aimed towards kids. This games special talent is it grows as the child does. There are basic rules for beginners, somewhat complicated rules for older kids and a fleshed out set of rules for adults. You can run a game for different skill sets and it still plays really smooth. They have stand up characters for all the pregens and a great character sheet and specialized dice in a box. If you want to see the future of the hobby; kids post pictures of their games on the Monte Cook Studios website. This game is for ages 5 and up.
D&D 5 E
Dungeons and Dragons is one of the oldest, and well-known, role-playing games. Created in the 70s by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson, it’s set in a world of high fantasy (wizards, elves, dwarves, you get the gist). In 2014, Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition was released. It’s a similar, but different, set of rules. Some who have played the game for years say it’s simpler and cleaner, some say it’s dumber, but most agree it’s much better than the 4th edition. You still get to create a fantastic character (in every definition of the word fantastic), sit around a table with friends (or strangers), and roll some dice. The past couple of years, Wizards of the Coast have been rolling out a bunch of well-made adventures, in case you’re too intimidated to create your own story. Feeling a little more ambitious? The Dungeon Master’s Guide can give you some great information about world building, and there are a ton of resources available online, from DnD Beyond (the unofficially official D&D website), to the Wizards of the Coast website (where the creators sometimes roll out test materials under the heading Unearthed Arcana), to WotC workers being easily accessible on social media (Chris Perkins, one of the major editors of D&D, is extremely active on Twitter and Reddit). This game is recommended for 12+, but if your kid is reading and doing math, you can easily start them with a simpler storyline (definitely NOT Curse of Strahd).
For role players, there is also always the gift of dice. There are some great sets out there and if you have a friend or family member who plays D&D or Pathfinder, you can buy them special dice. There are sets that are sold that match Paizo’s various Pathfinder campaigns. (The Curse of the Crimson Throne ones are gorgeous.) You can head to Comicazi or your friendly local gaming stores and see them before you purchase. (Comicazi also has great pop culture dice bags.)
We hope we gave you ideas, and if you have any specific questions, please leave them in the comments and we are happy to answer them. Just call us your elven bards.
We hope your holiday season is filled with all the warmth and light possible and your new year is filled with much happy gaming and lots of laughter at the table. We hope you game at our table at one of our various ELS Game Days and we will be announcing the dates shortly. We have so much in store for you next year!
Until then, may all your hits be crits!
We know it is Halloween, but we won’t be posting before Thanksgiving and our hearts are just bursting with thankfulness. In celebration of this, we are going to share some of the things that we are thankful for. So here we go…. things we (Lady Diceacorn and Meepline) are thankful for this year in no particular order.
Our Family and Friends
We both have big families and we are thankful for them. We are super thankful for our husbands who do the solo parent thing one weekend day a month so that we can go hang out with awesome women and play games. We know how hard solo parenting can be, so we want you to know we appreciate it and we love you tons. We are thankful for our kids, who are cool but also can show us that we have a ton of patience (especially when it comes to hearing about Fortnight dances and Minecraft). We love you guys too.
We are thankful to our friends who fill our lives with happiness whenever the world feels like a dumpster fire. Even just a “how are you?” on a bad day means the world.
We are grateful to those who are trained to run in when everyone else runs out. You are brave beyond measure and we are grateful to you for everything that you do. We also recognize that you sacrifice holidays with your family because emergencies do not take a holiday. Thank you for that sacrifice.
Mr. Meepline is a paramedic, so first responders hold a special place in Meepline’s heart. She’s also thankful to some of his single co-workers who have offered to work a swap for him so he could be home on Christmas with the Meepleteenies.
The Ladies of Comicazi
When our game day didn’t have a home and someone suggested Comicazi, we had no idea we would be meeting so many new friends. Tiny Doom, Red Menace, Smalerie and Cartoon Sara were so welcoming and helped us sort everything out. We were so honored when we were asked to be official Ladies. We are thankful for the caring and wonderful women you are. In creating inclusive events like LadiesCon, you are creating a community of caring people. It is a community we are so proud to be a part of.
There are so many board, video and RPG companies out there and we don’t really have the word count to list them all, so we are just going to say thank you to the collective. Thank you for creating games that capture our imaginations, make us think, make us laugh and bring us together. Thank you for helping us tell a story, be braver than we thought we could and go on adventures that exceed expectations. Thank you for giving kids the environment to do things that they were told they wouldn’t be able to do. This year we learned that some therapists were using role-playing games to work on speech and social skills with kids who needed a place to open up. Games are magic and you are the magic makers. Keep doing awesome things. We cannot wait to see what is next.
We are grateful to Kickstarter for allowing us to fund a game before it is made. Is the system perfect? Not at all. Lady Diceacorn is still waiting on a game from 2013. It didn’t stop her from kicking in for the new edition of Savage Worlds though. Things that may not have been made otherwise can be made with crowdfunding. We had new Mystery Science Theater because of Kickstarter.
It took a while for women to be recognized for their contributions in history. We are grateful to all the women who took a stand and did something great. We see you and we appreciate you. Women have been at the forefront of many great things throughout history; from Mary Shelley publishing Frankenstein anonymously 200 years ago, Helen Keller being one of the founders of the ACLU and Nichelle Nichols working with NASA to recruit women astronauts. We walk in the shadows of great women and for that, we are truly thankful.
Chris Evans and Ryan Reynolds on Twitter
Twitter can be a hot mess, but one of the best things about the social media platform is whenever a new tweet appears from Chris Evans or Ryan Reynolds. First, Chris Evans, who is a hometown boy, loves his dog, his fake Civil War feud with Robert Downey Jr., fall and (as Lady Diceacorn excitedly found out the other day) Christmas. He is also not shy about being diagnosed with anxiety, something that makes him a hero in our eyes. Second, Ryan Reynolds. Well, there’s a reason he was cast as Deadpool. His tweets are irreverent and with a dry humor that makes Meepline chuckle, especially when he’s talking about his wife and girls. There have been several times where they have interacted with each other and it has been magic. It is a smile that we all need right now.
Bingeable TV Shows
Remember when we were kids and had to wait a week or a long time to find out what happened next on our favorite TV show? Not anymore! DVR’s, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and countless other streaming services allow us to decide what we want to watch, when we want to watch it and where. While waiting at the doctor’s office, watching a show on our phone is something we can do. If the commute home was bad, we can watch our favorite comedy to help us laugh. (Lady Diceacorn loves the fact that Monty Python is now on Netflix, as is Mystery Science Theater 3000.) Kids can watch what they want when they can now too. Most cartoons and shows are available on one of the big three streaming services. We cannot say enough great things about Netflix’s children’s programming. The Who Was show is a staple at both houses and Lady Diceacorn’s house loves Beat Bugs. Beat Bugs tells the story of a group of bugs living in a backyard and each story is told to a specific Beatles song. (Lady Diceacorn suggests the Eleanor Rigby episode. It is her personal favorite.) At the Meepline House, all of the Meepleteenies have been bingeing some My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. Netflix has the whole series, all of the Equestria Girls movies, AND the motion picture!
We love dice. They are pretty and sometimes they roll well for us. We have a lot too. Sometimes we use poor rolling as an excuse to buy more dice. This is why Meepline is going broke. She loooves dice, but the dice hate her.
Lady Diceacorn is a huge fan of podcasts. They get her through her new much longer commute. Did you know The Ladies have a podcast? We are grateful for the really talented people who display their talents out there on the internet for free. We have a lot of podcasts we love. Lady Diceacorn suggests Thrilling Adventure Hour Treasury, Welcome to Nightvale, History Chicks and Unspooled.
Our home away from home! We love you. Thank you for taking us in and embracing our little game day.
Our beloved game day grew a little bit this year. We are thankful to everyone who has come to our game day and played games. We can’t wait to see what next year brings. Happy Third Birthday ELS!
Finally – Each Other
Lady Diceacorn: I can’t even begin to count the reasons that I am lucky to have Meepline as my platonic life partner. We met because we needed something different from our everyday life of chaos and ended up finding a true blue friendship. You are always there to hear my grumbles about commuting or share the joy of a new house. You give me pep talks before important stuff and remind me that I always have a friend in you. When I needed a partner in running the game day, you didn’t hesitate and jumped in beside me. May we have many more years that we get to be thankful for each other.
Meepline: Oh, man. So, I never thought I’d ever find a kindred female spirit outside of my family. And yet, here she is. Not only does she share my love of games and all things geeky, but she understands my frustrations as a boy mom. We share all of our annoyances, bolster each other up when we’re down, and gush over how adorable each others’ kids are. (Seriously, we have some cute kids.) I’m glad that you’re the Ethel to my Lucy, the Twilight Sparkle to my Pinkie Pie, basically the sane character to my insane character. May we grow old and be able to pass this torch to ladies younger than us. ❤
Featured Game: Trash Panda By Gamewright Games
We are excited to be having Gamewright Games demoing their wonderful games at our game day on November 10th. This Newton based company has been making hit games for as long as we can remember. We love their games because they are engaging from the boxes to the pieces and card artwork. Some of their games that we have played in the past are Sushi Go , Trash Panda and Outfoxed.
We have picked one of these games, Trash Panda, as our featured game. You play raccoons trying to collect the most trash (like feesh, which is the actual title of the card) by the end of the game. At the beginning of your game you roll the dice to determine what you can do in a round, but if you roll the same thing twice your turn is over. It is fun, fast and great for families and the occasional grown-up game night.
Come play some amazing games with us at our last game day of 2018 on November 10th from 12-6 p.m. at Comicazi. Our 2019 dates, including another Try an RPG Day will be announced as soon as we have the dates!
From us to you, we hope you had a great Halloween and that your Thanksgiving is filled with lots of tasty food. We will see you at the end of November when we talk great gifts for all ages!
Until next time…. May all your hits be crits!
LadiesCon 2018 has come and gone. And if you were among the many people to be there as an attendee, volunteer, vendor, panelist, or guest, you know what an amazing day it was. We put a lot of work into planning LadiesCon every year to make sure it’s a great time for everyone involved, but even we couldn’t anticipate just how wonderful this year’s convention would be. Continue reading
Hello, darlings! Summer is soon to arrive, and that usually means a lot of travel and vacations. I know a lot of you are asking, “But, Meepleine, when I get to my destination, it can sometimes be a little boring.” And so, I give you this little list of little games that you can throw in a bag and take with you (virtually) anywhere! (I’m writing this post on my lonesome because Lady Diceacorn is currently packing to move to her new house! She’ll do a post later on about how to effectively pack your games. Last count, she was on 30+ boxes of just games.) Continue reading
Mother’s Day is this Sunday, and since we are both Moms, we thought we would give you some tips for gaming with kids. For the most part, we love to game with our kids. However, time has taught us many lessons about how to handle the potential pitfalls. If you have never tried because you aren’t sure whether your kids are ready or aren’t sure that they can sit for the whole game at the table – we wholeheartedly recommend that you give it a try. (SHAMELESS PLUG: We encourage moms who want to try with their daughters to try at an ELS Day.) Also if you are an Aunt or Uncle or friend of the family who is interested in getting kids into gaming, this guide is for you too. This month we will be sharing our tips with you. Let’s just call it the quick start guide to gaming with kids.
- Evaluate the Kid Mood
It is no fun to play the game if a kid is easily frustrated and upset. Make sure your kids are well rested and not hungry before you start the game. Do not, we repeat DO NOT, play a game right before you start making dinner. It is no fun. At that point, not even snacks are enough to prevent a kid from being hangry. Any other time Snacks at the table are a must.
Also, if it is too close to bedtime or your child seems overtired- don’t start a game. It will only end in tears and no one wants that.
2. Patience, Patience, Patience
Anyone who has a kid knows, they can easily get under your skin. Teaching them the rules of a new game can really test you, so don’t hesitate to take a break from the game. And don’t ever worry about modifying rules to make it easier on yourself! Candyland actually caters to this with their rules about the face cards; for younger players, they encourage you to ignore the face cards if you’ve already passed them (typically you move back to the character). Meepleine just removes the face cards when playing with her 3-year-old.
3. Remember: You know your kid better than the box.
If you pick games based off of the age on the box; you may be doing yourself a disservice. There are going to always be exceptions to the rule and your kids may be one of those. Can your child read really well at five years old? They may be ready for a more advanced game than is considered “normal”. Lady Diceacorn figured this out when her (then five-year old) son wanted to play Lanterns after seeing it on the Tabletop YouTube series. After reviewing the video, she agreed and they tried to play together. It soon became a family favorite. The same thing happened with King of Tokyo and Sushi Go. And Meepleine plays a bunch of 13+ games with her 10-year-old, unless there are just too many rules. (Pandemic good, Star Trek Panic bad.)
4. Play the game with another adult before you play with your kids.
This is a big one. Make sure you understand the rules of the game before playing them with your kids. It will make sure that you can learn in peace and you won’t have your kids asking if it is time over and over until it was time.
5. Make Gaming a Lesson in social interaction.
Tabletop gaming is an amazing way to practice proper social interaction. Taking turns, waiting to talk and being a good sport are key things learned by children at a gaming table. Kids with special needs that hinder or hamper social interaction can “gamify” their life and it all starts at the table. (Lady Diceacorn will write about her experience with this in a future article.) Make your family game night a chance to show your kids how to behave at a table and refer to it in your everyday life. “Remember how you waited your turn when we played the game? Now is another time for taking turns.”
6. Start young
You can start playing as early as two years old, playing Go Fish and Matching games. There are a lot of great games for the three-year old and up that practice fine motor skills. Setting a regular family game night is a great way to spend time together, eat snacks and enforce those social interaction rules listed above. Meepleine plays games frequently with her 3-year-old; Peaceable Kingdom is an amazing company that makes games specifically for 2+!
7. Make sure that the games are fun!
If a game is not one that your kid will like – don’t play it. Some games just won’t be their favorite. If you have a Minecraft fan, like Lady Diceacorn and Meepleine, there is a Minecraft card game. It is a simple game that Lady Diceacorn has played several times with her son and it made him interested in trying other card games. There are tabletop games that are based off of a lot of pop culture and you can use those as a springboard to other games.
MAY’S FEATURED GAMES :
Game for kids 3+ : Who Shook Hook?
This game, based on the TV show Jake and the Neverland Pirates, is a combination of Kerplunk and Don’t Wake Daddy. You play Jake and his pirate friends Izzy and Cubby. They are trying to get their treasure back from a sleeping Captain Hook. There are several different hooks and tweezers that add different ways to remove the treasure from the hammock Hook is napping on. It is a lot of fun and full of laughs. The person who knocks Hook off of the hammock loses.
Honorable Mention: Snug as a Bug in a Rug
This game is one of the absolute best games to play with young players. There are 3 levels of play, and it grows with your kids. There’s a party on the rug, and all the little colored bugs want to hide under the rug before the 3 stink bugs come and stink up the party. This game teaches dice rolling, spinner use, taking turns, teamwork, and matching! Each bug has a certain color, shape, and number of shapes, as well as large or small eyes. At the first level of play, you roll the die and use what it lands on to find the bugs you’re hiding (color, shape, number). You spin the spinner to find the exact match you need. If you have run out of bugs to match, oh no! The first stink bug shows up. Now, you need to match eye size. This game is fun no matter how old your kids are (Meepleine bought it for her 3 year old, but her 10 year old likes it, too) and is by that most amazing of companies mentioned earlier, Peaceable Kingdom.
Game for kids 6+: King of Tokyo
This game is fun for the whole family. Everyone is a Kaiju trying to take over Tokyo. The Kaijus fight each other and try to get enough victory points to win. The first kaiju to 20 experience points or the last Kaiju standing is the winner. Expansion packs for this game includes a special Halloween version with their version of Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie. We will have this expansion and the Cthulhu and Kong expansion at the next ELS Game Day.
The next ELS Game Day is happening at Comicazi on Saturday, May 12, 2018 from 12-6 for an ELS Game Day filled with fun games to play with your family. If you need a last minute gift for the mom in your life – we can also give some great suggestions. We hope to see you there!
Well that is it for us this month. Happy Mother’s Day to all the Moms out there!
Until next time, may all your hits be crits!
Inspired by Smalerie’s post about her lessons learned as a D&D newbie and our upcoming Try an RPG day, we are inspired to look back on our first time at the gaming table and our first or favorite (because Lady Diceacorn has run so many games she can’t remember her first one) time as a GM (this means game master, it is the generic form of DM). We hope you will read our stories and, combined with Smalerie’s inspiring post, want to try roleplaying games. Believe it or not, there are more RPGs on the market today than there have ever been and there’s a system for everyone. We hope that through the Try an RPG day you find a game that you like and share it with your family and friends. If you would like to volunteer to GM, we have a handy fill out form and would love to have the help on April 29 from 12-6.
It seems only fitting that our first blog post for the Ladies is going to highlight games designed by women. Our game day is dedicated to getting women together to game and introduce little girls to gaming while being surrounded by confident women who share the hobby. There are some amazing woman-created games out there. We are going to highlight just a few for you here. Each one is highly recommended and odds are that the games are on one or both of our game shelves.
As you saw in last week’s post, we’re all super excited about everything we have planned for you at LadiesCon 2017. Our panels at the last LadiesCon were very popular and this year’s panels promise to be bigger and better than ever. And thanks to our new location at the Armory, you can check them out in the very same building as the vendor floor.
Want a preview of a few of the panels we’re presenting? Read on!
The game they play is Pathfinder – a modified and enhanced version of the 3.5 edition of Dungeons and Dragons. There are four ladies in the group (just like this blog!) and they chat together like they’ve been friends forever. While two of them have, and each lady knew at least one other before joining the group, some of them had never met before a few months ago when they started playing together.
There’s Sam, who introduced me to the group, and who in many ways is the lynchpin of the entire enterprise. While the idea for an all-lady game had floated about for a while, it was Sam who got the ball rolling and made the idea a reality. It is her fiancé, Jay, who is the gamemaster (GM) for the group. Her character in the game is a half-elf ranger with a longbow specialty and an abiding hatred of the undead. She also wields a mean war-hammer.
Then there’s Caitlin, an avid gamer. Prior to joining the team her medium was video games, from first person shooters to role-playing games. The party gives her another way to engage in the latter, and she recently purchased her own set of dice due to continually bad rolls. She may or may not have been influenced to get into tabletop gaming by a certain episode of Community. Caitlin’s character is also a half-elf, a rogue who wields two swords at once.
Next to her sits Bethany, who introduced her to the group. A former roommate to Jay, she’d been interested in table top gaming for years, but hadn’t had a good entry point until now. She’s clearly a Doctor Who fan , as she literally wears, rather than her heart on her sleeve, a tattoo over her heart reading “allons-y.” (I have a fondness for this sort of subtle yet right out in the open sort of declaration.) She plays a human cleric, in part because she wanted a character who uses magic without being a wizard, and her character has a horse named Bill, who comes in handy in transporting the party’s gear. Both cleric and horse are a bit fussy about who they choose to befriend.
Bridget sits across from Bethany. Friends with Sam since high school, she’s always like fantasy fiction and the like but is a self-described “closeted geek” – she seems to have the most separation between her groups of friends in real life. In the game she plays a Halfling bard, apparently much to the chagrin of the GM – Bridget had excellent dice rolls and he was concerned she was “wasting” them on a non-combative character. However, Bridget felt she could “get into being little.” Rather than a great fighter, her character is incredibly persuasive thanks to a hefty charisma score, and has come to be seen as the comic relief of the party.
The group has been together for about three months, and they’ve played about two full games together – they admit that it can take a while to get started on an adventure because they’re all very detail-oriented, spend quite a bit of time on things like like selecting supplies – debating the need for tampons, for example, since their in-game party is also all female, or making sure they have enough food for Bridget’s Halfling’s prodigious appetite. I get the sense that this is the root of the appeal of adventure gaming for the ladies – not tampons and food, but the ability to completely customize their experiences, to have a game and indeed a world that belongs wholly to you and your friends.
Caitlin points out that, in most games, the choices you make can shut off entire story lines to you – for example, if you decide to be amoral or immoral in a video game, you become ineligible for certain bonuses or plot lines. In Pathfinder, the group has control over what direction the story takes, rather than a programmer, and they can decide that rewards are not merely for the virtuous.
The other women in the group also appreciate the creative outlet. Though it can be difficult to schedule the time to play in person (each session takes several hours), the four regularly exchange emails about decisions they’ll need to make the next time they play, attributes of characters they might create for future games, and in-jokes related to their experiences. Bethany has even designed a logo for the group:
I asked what their friends not in the group thought about the game and them playing it. All four ladies had been quick to point out that people don’t really understand what table top gaming actually IS. Since people’s perceptions of it are largely influenced by what they see in movies and TV, the image in people’s minds when you say “Dungeons and Dragons” or “role playing” tends to be awkward teenage boys in a basement, wearing capes and getting into arguments over hit points. Or they confuse it with Live Action Role Play (LARP) – asking if they’re going out to the woods with foam swords. So there’s an element of simply explaining what they do when they get together, which at its heart is collaborative storytelling. That said, most of the ladies said their friends were unsurprised to learn that this was something they were into – they almost all hear some variation of “oh, you didn’t play already?” Only Bridget, in her “closeted geek” stance, said that she doesn’t tell all of her friends about the game – but those she has told seem interested.
One of the main reasons I was interested in talking to the ladies was the fact that, apart from the GM, they ARE all women – are there any advantages to that? Sam mentioned that she plays in another group as well, a co-ed group, and she’s noticed that the No. 1 Ladies Adventure Party is more collaborative – they will go out of their way to help the other members out of a jam in-story, while the co-ed group is much more every man for himself. Bridget points out that the all-female group eliminates the fear of being called out as a “fake geek girl,” for not being as hard-core a fan as some men. It’s a safe space to explore the game and wear your fandom on your sleeve – something I think is really important if we’re going to break down these ridiculous, false gender barriers.
I don’t personally play role-playing games, but talking to these ladies made me see the appeal – it’s a chance to be creative, spend time with friends, and even test your personal boundaries at times. The four women of the No. 1 Ladies Adventure Party are smart, creative and funny – this article really doesn’t do justice to our conversation – my secret wish is that they start a podcast or vlog (possibly with our ladies – think about it!). Thank you for sharing what you love with me, gals!
The No. 1 Ladies Adventure Party would like you to know that they are searching for a fifth lady – specifically, they’re in need of a bad-ass fighter! If you think you’ve got what it takes to join this merry band, leave a comment below or on the Ladies of Comicazi FB page – I’ll make the connections.
Also, if YOU know a lady or group of ladies doing something cool, or if you ARE a lady of that description – let us know! We’d love to chat with you.