Sunday, November 6, 2011

On the Dangers of Giving Games as Wedding Presents
Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time...

[This is a letter I included with a recent wedding present.]

Dear Ben and Sarah,

Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time…

I think you’ll enjoy this game, Thunderstone. I’ve been playing it a lot with my son. Like Race for the Galaxy, this one works very well with two players, but can also handle more players. (Predictably, with more players, it becomes very chaotic, especially when thieves are in play…) I’m so certain you’ll enjoy it that I also got you the first expansion, Wrath of the Elements.

You might notice that this box is the Wrath of the Elements box. See, the first Thunderstone comes with a huge box, with lots of wasted space. That box is twice as big as this one, and only comes with about half the cards you see before you. Knowing that dealing with the larger box would be difficult for you, I’ve combined all the cards for both the main game and the expansion into this one box. (By the way, if you end up liking the game, this box will also easily hold the cards for the second expansion, Doomgate Legion.)

There was just one eensy teensy flaw with my plan. A minor thing really, hardly worth mentioning.

The original rulebook was too big for this box.

I considered several options: Just leave out the rulebook and point you to the online rules. Stick the rulebook in a separate, sturdy envelope, which is guaranteed to get lost in about 13.8 nanoseconds. Fold the rulebook in half and jam it in the box. Then I found the perfect solution. A post on BoardGameGeek described trimming the top and bottom off the rulebook—which is all wasted space anyway—with a paper cutter.

Fun With Words Did you know that a mangle was a British machine used in the 1800’s to press water out of clothes? It’s called a wringer in the US. A probably apocryphal story asserts that the word mangle came into the English language to describe the damage done to clothes by this machine, but I think the causal chain is more likely to run in the other direction, with the machine being named after the word.

Umm, where was I? Oh yes, paper cutter.

Anyway, so I bring the rulebook into school and take it over to the room with the paper cutter. I line it up carefully, and pull down the chopper…which cuts about an inch into the rulebook and sticks. I push down a little harder…and the entire back of the paper cutter lifts off the table, the chopper twists the rulebook and pulls it partway off the bed and…

Hey, have you ever had a jam in a paper shredder? And cleared it by pulling half shredded paper back out the top of the machine. The papers come out looking pristine partway down the page, and then at a certain line of demarcation (you know, that line really ought to have a cool name, like the Maginot Line or the Mendoza Line), the rest comes out drooping in sad, wrinkled tatters. What’s the word? Oh yeah, mangled. Why do I bring that up? No reason, really.

Hmm, where was I? Right, paper cutter!

So I lift up the chopper and pull the rulebook out and…let’s just say it’s not looking too good. I flip it over—the rulebook, not the paper cutter, although that might have worked better—and try again on the other side. Let’s just say that that side left me longing for the Golden Age epitomized by the results of the first side. A few more minutes, and a few muttered imprecations later, and…

You know, my wife use to do scrapbooking, and they sell these funny little scissors that are designed to make an artistic ragged edge. Expensive little buggers. If only I had known, I could have saved her a lot of money.

So…Thunderstone! Great game! I think you’re going to like it. [a few personal comments deleted]