Let's give a warm welcome to Albin/Crazed Survivor/Razoupaf, a dedicated solo gamer and BGG aficionado who knows his way around solo games and the people who play them. He's put together an exciting post for us spotlighting some awesome members of the solo gaming community. I'm going to release it in installments. This week, he'll be featuring Athena Ex! Take it away, Raz...
The 1 Player Guild (1PG), initiated by user Fractaloon, is a nice place where solitary player can engage with other members and share their experiences with solitaire games, solitaire rules for games they enjoy but have to, or choose to play alone, share news and informations about new or upcoming games that can be played alone, or simply share their love, and their love for gaming. And music. And literature too.
Well at any rate, it's one cozy place on the Internet, because "together, we game alone".
With eleven thousand members and going, and currently being the second strongest guild on Board Game Geek after the Dice Tower, it shouldn't come as a surprise that formidable and hard-working personalities are found there and are very active.
Yet not all of them are praised as much as we think they deserve.
In the first volume of what I hope will become a series, I propose to highlight the contributions of Unsung Heroes of the 1 Player Guild, by introducing a small number of them, and then let them talk about themselves in light of their contributions to the community.
As you might have guessed, this series does not strive for exhaustivity, and just because I have selected a handful of members, doesn't mean that those that do not appear do not have anything worthy to contribute, by any means. Hence the idea of turning into a series, possibly by different writers.
It's difficult not to encounter Athena when browsing the 1PG, because of her threads about upcoming Kickstarter and direct-to-retail games. Which are an invaluable source of knowledge and joyful discussions (and totally sidetracking too).
Because of this Athena is probably responsible for your wallet not being as full as it could or should be. Athena curates those lists and keeps them updated, surfing the web to find hidden gems and paying close attention to the other posters' information. Truly a gigantic amount of work if you've ever tried to stay up to date with the gaming world, and soloing now taking a bigger part of it each day. In fact it is becoming more and more common to have solitaire rules in games, be it as stretch-goals during Kickstarter campaigns, or directly in the box, and publishers and designers tend to have solitaire rules designed by exterior designers, or designer congregations, such as the Automa Factory.
But all those solitaire rules are not necessarily good ones and some are there just to lure the solitaire player in. That's where Athena's threads come in handy, as players who have had an opportunity to experience the games are able to share their thoughts on it and, sometimes, warn potential buyers. She's also begun a list of print and play games in which she shares, in a condensed yet highly informative way, her thoughts about the solitaire games she's crafted and played, and why she thinks you should play them too. Or maybe you shouldn't.
Raz - Athena, I have selected you for your work on isolating the solo playable games hitting Kickstarter and going directly to retail. Can you tell us a little more about you?
Athena - Thank you very much for the honour, Raz. I am an art historian, about to finish my PhD. I wasn't a solo gamer when I first joined BGG, but became one out of necessity. Now I'm a die-hard fan of playing solo, I think it is often better than multiplayer.
R - What prompted you to start making and curating these lists in the first place ?
A - As soon as I began to follow Kickstarter, I realized that keeping track of new releases would require taking notes on a calendar. When I did that in a Word document for my own use, I figured that others might need some sort of tracking tool as well.
The 1PG already had a KS list (maintained by Andi), but that one listed the games which were on KS at the time. Even though that was important of course, what I personally needed was to know what to anticipate, what to expect in the near future, so as to plan where to invest my budget.
As I was browsing the list of Prelaunched KS projects on BGG, it dawned on me to 'sift' it, and separate the solo playable ones. This gave birth to my own list which I try to update daily.
Seeing that people responded positively, and knowing that not everyone is a fan of Kickstarter, I was encouraged to make a similar list with the solo games that go straight to retail.
R - I am impressed by the amount of work you put into these, browsing the web for actual launches but also information about future ones. Would you tell us how you proceed ?
A - I am blessed/cursed to have sufficient spare time to dedicate to the hobby these days. As a proper newshound, I browse BGG, Facebook and sometimes online board game magazines. Most games companies announce their plans on Facebook, so I get most of my information from there.
R - Among the thousands you're making your fellow solitary gamers spend on new games, how many games do you actually get from what you're perusing and what are your preferences?
A - Even though it may seem that my lists tempt people to spend more, I doubt that this is the case. Those with big budgets just program their purchases, and those with smaller budgets still resist bulk buying.
I belong to the latter category. I have both a limited budget and limited shelf space. It also pains me to have a pile of unplayed games, so I don't go overboard. Plus, I'm not the easiest customer in terms of preferences.
I mostly enjoy games 'dripping with theme' but I'm not entirely Ameritrashy. I like card-driven gameplay and deck building, and also some historical games and light wargames.
R - I was glad to see you start something new with the PnP Buffet list, which packs a lot of comprehensive info in a short amount of words. What makes you settle on a particular game to assemble and play, what are you criterias? And do you intend to take on bigger games?
A - Unlike other pnp enthusiasts, I'm not so interested in the crafting part. I lack the necessary equipment to make professional-looking copies, most of my builds are simply paper cards tucked into premium sleeves. So I won't make any bigger games, no.
What drew me into this activity is that it gives me numerous new games to play as long as I have inks in the printer. Even though I'm not a big fan of filler games and I rarely buy them, trying a small pnp gives me joy. Theme is what lures me in when choosing what to print, and also good looks.
I chose to present the list in this compact way so as not to bore people with long, detailed descriptions. When I am looking for new games, I first want to know what they are about and if they might be worth my time. So this is the information I'm offering. If someone wants to talk about a game in length, I'm always available for further comments.