Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why do I make board games...

...was a question that was asked of me today at my super-secret daytime working place. Ok, maybe not so secret. I just don't want to tell. *grin*

So this co-worker of mine turns to me and asks me that question. He knows I'm pagan, more specifically a follower of Norse traditions, but he didn't get why I enjoy making wooden board games, thinking that I was mostly about worshiping and such... Well I just explained to him quickly the reason behind it; it's fun to make them play them and share them!

My first commission for a board game, a Tafl Board!

Yes, worship is important to me, but there is more in life then that. I value traditions, especially older ones, that can bring people together for good reasons. One of these is playing games. My father started me early playing Chess before I actually learned to play Draught. Then it was Backgammon. In school and college, I advanced, so to speak, to other types of games like Reversi, Go, Stratego, Risk, Axis and Allies, and many more from there.

Now I find that a lot of people around me have forgotten to slow down and relax and just be with people without watching television/movies or playing World of Warcraft and the like on their computers. From time to time, me and my wife get a game of backgammon going, with the lights turned down a bit and a glass of red in our hand. Granted I'm told I'm very lucky on my doubles but hey, fair's fair, right?

When I can convince her to play it with me, we play Tafl, a viking board game for 2 players, where one player attacks and the other defends. The rules are simple but the strategy is fiendish; The attacker has twice the amount of tokens then the defender. All the pieces move like a rook in chess. Sounds simple, right? Well it's not! LOL My wife, I'm pleased to say, can beat me fairly regularly at that game! And I'm considered an intermediate by most folks I play the game with. Why I like to make this one is because vikings would play it often in the long winters and the bigger boards (18x18 squares, also known as Alea Evangelii) could take a few days to play!

A portable Nine Men Morris Board I made,
with runes in the playing spaces.

Another game I like to play (and teach to others when I vend at fest, I'm always up for a game!) is Nine Men Morris. There are many version of this game, but my favorite is the Nine Men one. I do make smaller the versions for kids (3 men Morris, Trip-Trap-Troll, Tabla Lusoria, pictures to come in a future blog, I promise!) so they can learn to play the game, sometimes with the help of their parent. It uses simple rules and can be played anywhere and even young ones can get quite proficient at it. One of the variants a friend introduced me to is using Runic dice, which are sometimes used by some people to practice divination. It throws a nice twist in the game, to say the least.

Details of a recently comissioned Tafl Board

In the near future, I'll be making a bigger variety of board games. I especially want to start making them with more then just pyrography (woodburning), I want to use inlay, staining and other means to get different looks. This will also allow me to customize a lot more then what I did in the past.

Well that's it for now... Just be patient and keep looking, you'll see more coming and not just on what I make! I'll try to make an effort to talk about other things as well!


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