Category Archives: The Gaming Annex in Muskegon

The Trials of a Game Recruiter

Building a game group is a tough job. Maintaining a game group is just as tough. In fact, building a game group is really nothing more than maintaining a game group. The currency is players. Players leave the group; other join (hopefully). As people’s lives change, the game group is going to undergo changes. Recruiting new gamers is the only way to maintain a game group.


1. Recruiting is hard work

Uncle Sam wants you to play board games
Uncle Sam wants you

For those of you who are recruiters in your professional lives: I salute you. For those of you who never recruited: it’s hard HARD work.

Reaching people is not easy. It requires lots of effort. I’ve been recruiting nonstop for almost four years. And there is no end in sight.













2. Recruiting is random work

Muskegon is a gamer's paradise
Pair of dice

It’s not like you can put forth X amount of hours recruiting and count of getting Y amount of new gamers. There is virtually no correlation in the amount of recruiting I do and the amount of new gamers I find.

There have been times when I was utterly disappointed by the lack of recruits my efforts turned up. And then there have been times when our group was nothing short of serendipitous in finding new gamers.



 3. Where I recruit: Facebook

Lots of gamers on facebook

We maintain a presence on facebook. Some of our events are noted on there. We try to keep the page active and fresh.

Every now and again I will do a paid campaign ($4 to $10) in order to generate some likes. We are up to 250 now.


4. Where I recruit: meetup

Muskegon Area Gamers use meetup
Meet Up

We have a presence on meetup as well.  This has helped put us in touch with more gamers than facebook has.

Meetup is an excellent tool to also manage the group, not just recruit.


5. Where I recruit: craigslist

Muskegon Craigslist and the Muskegon Area Gamers
Muskegon Craigslist

I keep a rather strong presence on craigslist. Craigslist, incidentally, has produced more quality gamers than facebook too. And it’s free. Take that, Zuckerberg!

The bad thing about craigslist is you get wackos replying to your ads along with quality gamers. And only the  most trained of game recruiters can tell the difference.



6. Where I recruit: Boardgamegeek

Muskegon's favorite website: Boardgamegeek

I’ve gotten two of our mainstay gamers from boardgamegeek. I also got Jeremy Scott Pyne from boardgamegeek.

BGG is an excellent tool to find local gamers.

However, the well seems to have run dry from BGG as of late, though. I haven’t found a recruit from BGG in over two years.


7. Unusual Failures in Recruiting

Muskegon Community College has a game club
Muskegon Community College

There have been some recruiting efforts that have turned up no fruit. A few of them are real head scratchers.

Take Muskegon Community College for example. They have a game club that caters to RPG’s, M:TG and video gamers. I’ve been to four, count ’em, four of their game day events. I’ve posted ads on their student union. I’ve contacted their game club advisor. And I have made exactly zero in-roads there. Not a single person from MCC has ever wandered into The Gaming Annex.


8. Unusual sources of success

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

I  asked one of our newest gamers how he found us. He said, “I was literally across the street at The Cherokee when I saw the sign.”

Another guy stopped by out of the blue a few weeks ago. He said a friend of his delivered a pizza to us. And his friend told him about this gaming place.

Every now and again I will get anxious about losses to our group (I’m looking at you Kevin and Ben!) Last night I was lamenting about my recent failures in finding new gamers to Jon over a game of 2008: Campaign Manager. While reversing history with a McCain landslide, I told Jon about my struggles to keep our attendance high. And as we were putting the game away, a new guy showed up out of the blue!

-Chris, HR Manager for The Muskegon Area Gamers




The Gaming Annex in Muskegon: Vital Stats for April

I know it’s been a while since my last post. Much has happened in the past month. I’ll try to keep everyone up to date with all the happenings of the Muskegon Area Gamers. Here is the vital stats installment for April 2015.

1. Game Plays

Muskegon Area Gamers board game plays
Game plays through 2015

April was a lackluster month. A mere 45 game plays for me. Several reasons for this could be the cause. 1. We’ve been trying to recruit newbies and thus there has been a lot of teaching going on. 2. Regulars were busy, probably because of CabinCon II.

I’m hoping May is a stronger showing.


 2. Comparison of 2015 to other years

Muskegon Area Gamers board game plays
Game plays through the years

2015 is shaping up to be a lackluster year. Only 216 game plays so far. This is about average to slightly below average. Several reasons could account for this.

1. My regular Thursday night crew has been replaced with an irregular Thursday night crew.

2. Lots of illness in the group in February and March.

3. Permanent losses to the group from 2014.

There is still time to salvage 2015! Come tNoo the Gaming Annex in Muskegon and play some games.


3. Notable game plays in April 2015

Muskegon loves Merchants & Marauders
Merchants & Marauders Seas of Glory

Merchants & Marauders with the new expansion Seas of Glory hit the table three times. The more I play Merchants & Marauders, the more I appreciate it. There is tremendous subtlety in the game that was lost on me the first few years after its release. I should (and will) write an entire blog post about M&M.

I’ve been teaching people how to play 2008: Campaign Manager as of late. This is a simulation of the election between McCain and Obama. It’s a lighter game but can be quite good.

I also played War of the Ring. After a stinging loss to a first time player, I’ve lowered my rating of this game considerably. I rated it a 10. But losing to a new player because of blind dice rolls forces me to reduce its rating to 7. Such a shame. I may trade my copy now. 🙁



4. Attendance Stats

The Gaming Annex in Muskegon's attendance stats
Attendance 2015

Note: Our attendance stats are less than a year old so it’s difficult to compare where we are at since last year.

April was about average for attendance for 2015.

After we get a year’s worth of attendance, it might be interesting to find a correlation between game plays and attendees.



5. Notable Events in April 2015

Rhino Hero from Haba Games
Rhino Hero from Haba Games

The most notable event was our second Kids’ Gala! We had strong turnout (16 people). And the turnout was so positive there have been calls for a third Kids’ Gala. I’ll probably put it on the calendar in August or September.

We scraped together a 7 player game of TI3 in April. Dusty won so it wasn’t THAT noteworthy.






 6. Join the Muskegon Area Gamers

If you would like to learn more about us, I encourage you to join our meetup.

-Chris, on behalf of the Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
87 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Thursday Night Games

Thursday, Oct 1, 2015, 6:00 PM
4 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

Kids’ Gala at The Gaming Annex

On Saturday, April 18th, The Gaming Annex in Muskegon held its second Kids’ Gala. The Kids’ Gala is a great way to introduce kids to our hobby. We usually have kids from ages 4 to 8 over. We had eight kids over on Saturday. And the results were overwhelmingly positive! Below are some pictures that capture the fun.

1. Monza

Vroom! Muskegon loves racing games!
Monza by Haba Games

Haba makes great children’s games. And Monza is no exception. It’s like a kid’s version of Formula D.

The kids chuck dice and race around the board. The first to complete a circuit is the winner.

Seen here is Jenny, Malachi and a rather enthusiastic Oliver.



2. Whoowasit?

Muskegon loves children's games like Whoowasit? by Ravensburger Games
Whoowasit? by Ravensburger Games

Ravensburger has created a deduction game for kids. It’s called Whoowasit? Kids try to find the missing ring before the evil wizard arrives at the castle. They must question the animals at the castle while avoiding the ghost.

The animals give clues as to who the culprit is. “I saw the culprit had black shoes!” might be one clue.

The players race a clock (the game is electronic) in an effort to find the evil wizard’s accomplice.



3. Rampage


Rampage is a board game take on the video game of the same name. Kids take on the role of a monster. They destroy buildings and eat meeples.

The monsters are big chunks of wood. And the kids drop them onto a building that is supported by meeples.

Seen here are Jenny, Malachi, Sean and Mage (Kiera in the foreground playing Monza).


 4. Coconuts

Coconuts from Korea Board Games
Coconuts from Korea Board Games

Coconuts is a children’s version of beer pong. The kids have a spring loaded monkey. They pull back his arms and fling a rubber coconut into a cup.

The springs can be quite strong so you have watch how far you pull back on the monkey’s arms.

Seen here is Sean, Oliver, Mage and Hope.



5. Rhino Hero

Rhino Hero from Haba Games
Rhino Hero from Haba Games

A great man once said, “Haba Games makes great children’s games”. He probably said it earlier in this blog post too. And Rhino Hero is evidence to that fact. (The fact that Haba Games makes great children’s games–not that I am a great man!)

Rhino Hero is a cross between Jenga and Uno. Kids build a tower out of thick stock cards. They place a roof piece on the tower. The roof piece is like Uno, telling your opponents to draw more cards or some such. The goal is to get rid of your hand of cards without knocking over the tower. Kids (and adults) love it.

Chase and Malachi look on as Mage moves the Rhino Hero to his new floor.



6. Next Kids’ Gala?

Check our listings here if you want to attend! We will probably have another Kids’ Gala in the summer.




The Gaming Annex is still going strong

I haven’t been attentive to the blog recently. I also haven’t updated our website in some time either. My personal situation has been corrected. And now I will be able to update the blog on the regular basis that we’ve grown accustomed to.

My contract at Steelcase was not renewed. They gave me two weeks notice. I found a new employer immediately. But Steelcase did require that I return their laptop back to them. During my tenure at Steelcase I was using their laptop instead of my desktop almost exclusively. It was very convenient to do all my blogging and updates on the laptop. My new employer, Thierica Display Products, has finally issued me a laptop. And now I’m back to blogging!

I have lots of updates to do like our vital stats for March, upcoming events for April and May, a special about Cabin Con II and much more. Stay tuned!

Or better yet, just join our group!

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
87 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Thursday Night Games

Thursday, Oct 1, 2015, 6:00 PM
4 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →



Which games to add to the library at The Gaming Annex

Out of the Box Games is having their membership drive in a couple of weeks. Their membership has a yearly fee of $20 that is waived if you buy $150 worth of games (which you receive at a discount because of your membership). As it stands, I am the #1 customer in lifetime purchases at Out of the Box. I always make it a point to hit their store during the membership drive–it’s like another Black Friday. I finished paying off my Prius yesterday. That frees up approximately $450 a month. My wife didn’t actually specify that I needed to start spending my Prius money on mundanities like utilities or house payments. Unless told differently, I foresee a large game purchase in my near future. Here are some of the games that have been keeping me awake at night.


1. Star Wars: Imperial Assault

Star Wars Imperial Assault will hit the gaming table a lot in Muskegon
Star Wars Imperial Assault

I’ve been pussyfooting around Star Wars: Imperial Assault for about six months now. It’s time for me to crap or get off the can. And that’s about as far as I am going to go with that metaphor.

So I’ll probably be buying Star Wars: Imperial Assault.

And it’ll probably be awesome.

I think this will be a Thursday night fixture. Our Thursday night crew will probably be most receptive to this game. We could probably hammer out two scenarios a night.

Now, are there any painters in the area? I want my set to be pro painted.






2. Shadows Over Brimstone

Flying Frog Productions has finally released their flagship game. And by all measures, it appears epic. Shadows Over Brimstone is an Old West meets Cthulhu game. There is character development and advancement. There is dungeon delving. And it’s a coop.

The components look amazing. Lots of minis, lots of bits. And the price is a staggering $100 MSRP. I couldn’t justify this unless I paid off my car.


3. Star Wars: Armada

Muskegon eagerly anticipates the release of Star Wars: Armada
Star Wars: Armada

In a previous blog post I asked facetiously: will Fantasy Flight let me direct deposit my paychecks into their account? With my recent car payoff and the imminent release of Star Wars: Armada, my question is less facetious and more prescient.

Certainly I will be be the biggest fanboy of Star Wars: Armada in the 49441. The real question is how much of my future am I willing to mortgage in order to prove this?










4. Dead of Winter

Muskegon suffers through the dead of winter by playing Dead of Winter
Dead of Winter from Plaid Hat Games

I’m not a big fan of zombie games. Nor am I a big fan of cooperatives. But Dead of Winter really strikes a chord with me.

Players work together to keep the zombies at bay during the harsh winter. Players move around picking up supplies and fending off zombie attacks.

What is really interesting bout Dead of Winter are the secret betrayal objectives. Players have a couple ways of winning. You can work together overtly or you can sabotage everyone covertly. But if people exile you from the colony you could be hosed.

I’ve had this on my radar for a while now. It may be time to lock, load and pull the trigger finally.


Our (already) bloated library

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

I know what you’re thinking. I already have 500 games, many still in shrink wrap. I’ve been streamlining my collection lately. And the games above fill a needed niche. I really REALLY need them.

If anyone wants to come to The Gaming Annex in Muskegon and try these (or any other) games out, feel free to reply. Our lines are open.


Muskegon Area Gamers: Vital Stats for February 2015

February was an unusually successful month of gaming for the Muskegon Area Gamers and the Gaming Annex! It was unusual because our attendance numbers are up and the temperatures are down. The polar vortex only caused one gaming casualty.


1. Games Played

Muskegon loves board games
Muskegon Area Gamers: 02/2015

I logged 40 game plays this month. Historically, this is not that impressive for a February. But there was one gaming casualty. We didn’t game one Sunday because of foul weather.

Also, there were several heavy and epic games that were played during February. We played Here I Stand, Twilight Imperium and about three sessions of Clash of Cultures. We also played two sessions of Letters from Whitechapel and a slue of other medium length games. There weren’t that many fillers this month.




2. Attendance & Venues

Muskegon loves board game!
Gaming Annex Attendance: 2/2015

Despite the cold weather, our attendance was a strong 86 for February! We had one casualty in February–February 15th we did not meet up due to horrible weather.

We had one gala at the Annex in early February. We had another game day gala at the Brew House on Seminole Road.

The rest of the attendance came from Open game days and Tiered game days.



3. Extended Group Stats

We have an alliance with two other groups. One is the Lakeshore Game Group located in the Fruitport/Spring Lake area. They had a game day on Saturday, February 28th. This was called, “Coop Gauntlet” because it was an eight hour cooperative gaming experience. I believe they registered over ten people. This was on the same day we had our game day at The Brew House. This tells me there are lots of gamers in the area.

The other ally is the Spring Lake Library group. This is a family friendly group that plays lighter games. They had over twenty people at their monthly game day on Saturday, February 21st.

Both of these groups use our meetup. Feel free to check them out and RSVP for their events.


4. News

Muskegon Gaming News
Muskegon Gaming News
  • Our Thursday night game group is growing. We have about 5 to 7 people showing up regularly.
  • Our first Game Day at the Brew House was a success. The management there has already invited us back. This is a great way to get out and have some coffee or a craft beer and meet some fellow gamers.
  • We are working with Shoreline Minis in Spring Lake to have A Game of Thrones: LCG tournaments there. We will post this on the meetup as soon as it becomes a reality.
  • We have had several promising recruits in the past month. We will put them through the wringers in March.



 5. Notable Game Plays

Muskegon loves GMT Games. Grognard!
GMT’s Here I Stand

We played Here I Stand twice now. This is a GMT multiplayer wargame. It is exceptional. I was very impressed with it after my second play.

Every player has a different path to victory. There is negotiation, combat and trade–everything I love in games.

We screwed up several rules in both our plays but that is to be expected. I’m looking forward to a third play of this soon.

We also played Twilight Imperium using Imperial II instead of Bureaucracy. I’m a huge fan of Bureaucracy–much more so now that we’ve tried Imperial II again. I’m sure we will see Imperial II in a game again this year–but after that we may not see it again for some time. Bureaucracy is just better for the game.


6. Our meetup

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
87 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Thursday Night Games

Thursday, Oct 1, 2015, 6:00 PM
4 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

Introducing people to the gaming hobby

My wife’s New Year’s Resolution was to learn more about gaming. So I’ve been making my collection a bit more newbie-friendly. Yesterday I taught my wife how to play Tsuro and Castle Panic. We played both games twice. After playing them, she commented on how I should develop a gaming curriculum to teach new players about the hobby. I thought that would be a good idea for a blog post. Here are some ideas. I wanted a list that included many aspects of the gaming hobby while also being easy to learn. Below are  examples of what modern gaming offers: alternatives to Monopoly, cooperative games, social deduction games and real-time games. 


1. Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan is a classic board game that Muskegon still enjoys.
Settlers of Catan

Settlers of Catan should be one of the top choices for any introductory game. It’s a perennial top seller. It’s easy to learn. It’s fun for new players.

But my reason for including Settlers as the #1 choice is because it is like Monopoly–only much better. Everyone has played Monopoly. And if you’ve played Monopoly, then you owe it to yourself to try Settlers of Catan. Settlers of Catan has urban development like Monopoly. In Settlers, players build settlements (like houses in Monopoly) and cities (like hotels in Monopoly). Settlers and Monopoly both generate income for players by rolling dice. In Monopoly, someone rolls the dice and lands on your property. In Settlers, you roll the dice and all cities and settlements generate income if they are on that space. Settlers of Catan has lots of wheeling and dealing just like Monopoly. In Settlers, players trade resources in order to have the raw materials to build their cities.

Settlers of Catan introduces people to the concept of “victory points”. There is no player elimination in Settlers of Catan. Someone reaches 10 victory points and wins.


 2. Ticket to Ride

Muskegon still loves the classics like Ticket to Ride.
Ticket to Ride

Easily the second game is Days of Wonder’s Ticket to Ride. Ticket to Ride is an easy game to pick up. Within a few minutes of playing, new players will feel like they understand the game and are making decisions that will affect their outcome.

Ticket to Ride introduces players to drafting, action selection and press-your-luck mechanics.



3. Castle Panic

Oh no! Orcs are at the gates of Muskegon!
Castle Panic from Fireside Games

Castle Panic is a good introduction to cooperative gaming. Players work together to defeat a host of orcs, goblins and trolls. Players play cards with archers, knights and swordsmen to do damage to the oncoming monsters.

Players are allowed to trade cards with one another but in a very limited fashion. Castle Panic requires players to work together to find the most efficient way to save the castle.

The monsters take damage and are eventually killed when enough cards are played. This teaches new players about “hit points” and “damage”. The monster pieces are three sided tokens with their hit points located in each corner. This means there is no extra bookkeeping.


4. The Resistance

The Resistance (or it’s sister game The Resistance: Avalon) is an excellent introduction to social deduction. This is by far the best party game on the market (sorry Cards Against Humanity).

Players are dealt a secret role at the beginning of the game. Good players try to score 3 victory points by succeeding on missions. Bad players try to score 3 victory points by failing missions. The Good Players outnumber the bad players but do not know each other’s loyalties. The Bad players, on the other hand, DO know each other’s loyalties.

Bluffing, lying, negotiation are the meat of this game. All of this in just 25 to 30 minutes.


5. Escape: Curse of the Temple

Escape: Curse of the Temple in Muskegon
Escape: Curse of the Temple

Escape: Curse of the Temple is a real-time board game. The game lasts precisely 10 minutes (because it’s timed). Players act simultaneously trying to find the exit and discarding gems.

Players roll dice over and over in order to get the results they need. Players need to work together to discard all the gems (a requirement to exit the temple).

One side of each die is “cursed” and cannot be rerolled unless they have a gold mask. Getting stuck with all cursed dice is a common problem and your teammates will have to zip over to your location to help you.






A little bit about the Muskegon Area Gamers & the Gaming Annex

It is a challenge to explain exactly what it is that we do since The Gaming Annex is so unique. We are a gaming club. There is no “gaming club” category on Google+ or Facebook. The closest category is “game store”. This has caused some confusion. We’ve recently had several new people stopping by The Gaming Annex and many were confused about the nature of The Gaming Annex. For instance, we had a gentleman stop by yesterday and ask “Are you a store or a place where to play games? I replied “A place to play games”.  He then left. Hopefully he wasn’t discouraged or upset with us. The problem is aggravated by my use of craigslist to connect with local gamers. Below is a brief discussion about what we are and what we are not. Enjoy!

 1. We are not a store

The Gaming Annex is a huge supporter of Meijer on Norton & Henry
Meijer on Norton & Henry

It’s completely understandable that people would think The Gaming Annex is a store. We rent a storefront. It’s not a huge leap to conclude we are a store.

And the problem of explaining what we do is challenging. We are going to The Brew House later this month. The manager is interested in us demoing games for her clientele. But she was curious as to what our angle was since we don’t have a business per se.

If anyone has any ideas on how to better describe our operations, I’m all ears!


2. We are club

Muskegon Area Gamers
Board game collection

We play games. Lots of games. All types of tabletop games. Strategy board games mostly but party, light and card games are not unusual.

The purpose is to play games. The camaraderie brings us back.

The need for consistency in locale necessitates The Gaming Annex.




3. We are not a secret society…

Muskegon Masonic Temple
Muskegon Masonic Temple

While playing Twilight Imperium can cause religious ecstasy in many of our members*, we are not a quasi-religious secret society.

Also, we have no known ties to international banking, royal bloodlines or the JFK assassination.

 *Mostly Matt and Dusty.






4. …but our game society is largely unknown

Board games 1976 W. Sherman Blvd 49441
The Gaming Annex

Despite our best efforts, people don’t know we exist. And those who do know, are often confused.

We have a blog, a Facebook page, a website, a meetup group, a Google+ page and a twitter account and yet the problem persists. And the problem is all the more ironic because my wife sells digital advertising.





5. We have a full calendar of events

Muskegon Area Gamers meetup calednar
Muskegon’s meetup calednar

We play games three times a week. Plus we are active in the community on other days.

We have an alliance with a couple of groups in the area that use our meetup. We post their meetups (typically in Spring Lake) on our calendar.

There are 15 meetups for the month of February. That equates to 54% of the days there is a gaming event in our area. I don’t see this trend going away either.





Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
87 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Thursday Night Games

Thursday, Oct 1, 2015, 6:00 PM
4 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →



Muskegon Area Gamers Upcoming Events

February will be here in a matter of hours. It’s time for a blog to cover what events we will be having. We should also discuss short and long term goals for the group at this time.


1st of February: Super Bowl Extravaganza

Dracula's fury sieges Muskegon
The Dark Lord visits the Gaming Annex in Muskegon

Bubba has been complaining that he has never played Dracula in FFG’s Fury of Dracula. So tomorrow is the day.

We will also have tons of other games getting played. Tomorrow’s extravaganza should fill the house with people.






3rd of February: Open Gaming

Great Old Ones stalk Muskegon in FFG's Eldritch Horror
Eldritch Horror

Jon is bringing Eldritch Horror and its expansions over to the Gaming Annex on Tuesday.

This game is quite good. And this is coming from someone who doesn’t care for Arkham Horror.

If the stars align*, we will have a second table of gaming going on.

*Did you see what I did there?




5th of February

Twilight Struggle: The Cold War is waged in Muskegon, MI
Twilight Struggle

A new addition to the group by the name of Charles is a big fan of Twilight Struggle. And God knows I cannot play this game enough. The Cold War will be waged this Thursday (I’m hoping).

Our Thursday group is still under construction. Anyone out there interested in playing with us should join our meetup.








17th of February: League game of Here I Stand

Muskegon loves GMT Games. Grognard!
GMT’s Here I Stand

We are playing our sophomore game of GMT’s Here I Stand. We already have six RSVP’s for this day. But if more people want to learn to play this, we can schedule something in March.




21st of February: Brew House hosts The Muskegon Area Gamers

The Brew House in Muskegon
The Brew House in Muskegon

Our inaugural Brew House event will be this month. We are meeting on a Saturday at noon. We hope to make a strong impression with the folks at the Brew House. We hope to meet some gamers in the Greater Muskegon area too.

Our goal (both The Muskegon Area Gamers and the Brew House’s goal) is for this to be a monthly event. Let’s make it happen! Come out and support this event!



 21st of February

The Gaming Annex in Muskegon supports the gaming efforts of the Spring Lake District Library.
Spring Lake District Libary

Joe’s Spring Lake group is meeting at the Spring Lake Library on the 21st. Due to short sighted scheduling on my part, our Brew House event coincides with the Spring Lake event. This won’t happen again. I’ll be sure to manage the schedule better in the future.

But if you cannot make the Brew House in Norton Shores, the fellas at the Spring Lake Library welcome you.


22nd of February: Twilight Imperium (Despair’s End)

Muskegon's favorite board game is Twilight Imperium from Fantasy Flight Games
Twilight Imperium

What’s that? You didn’t make it out for Twilight Imperium in January? Well you better make it out for our February game.

Dusty and I will be having a TI3 gaming clinic. Several noobs will be in attendance. Our goal is to teach them the game and make proficient players of them.

And then destroy them.

Muskegon Area Gamers

Muskegon, MI
87 Muskegon Area Gamers

This group is for anyone interested in playing board games, card games or any table top game. This group learns and teachs new games all the time. We welcome fresh players. We…

Next Meetup

Thursday Night Games

Thursday, Oct 1, 2015, 6:00 PM
4 Attending

Check out this Meetup Group →

The Linchpins of My Gaming History

I’ve thought about how it is I came to rent office space just so we can play board games. It’s been an evolutionary process really. Throughout my life, it seems, there have always been games. Below are the linchpins that have really forged my love for the hobby.

1. Monopoly

Monopoly was a gaming linchpin for Muskegon
Monopoly from Parker Brothers

The year was 1977. Star Wars had just been released. Jimmy Carter had taken the oath of office. And I first laid eyes on Monopoly. My dad, my aunt and my older cousins sat down to play a rousing game of Parker Brothers’ real estate trading game.

After pleading with my dad (to no avail) that I too should be allowed to play, I resigned myself to sitting on his lap and “helping” him play.

My eyes lit up when I saw little buildings spring up from the earth and money exchanging hands.

But Monopoly didn’t just have cool bits–it was a game that adults seemed to enjoy. All the other games I had played up to that point (Candyland, Casper the friendly ghost, etc), were children’s activities. But Monopoly had adults(!) building the Atlantic City skyline while trying to dodge the police and paying rent.

I was hooked!


2. Chess

Muskegon needs a chess club
E.S. Lowe’s Chess Set

The next linchpin happened a year later. The year was 1978. Luke Skywalker didn’t know who his father was yet. Jimmy Carter was still in office. And my dad had a renaissance chess set like the one seen here. The cool little guys made me want to play this game badly. I knew how to play checkers, a game that uses the same board, so how hard could this game be?

My dad taught me how to play. And my love of chess only grew over time.





3. Clue

Muskegon loves a good mystery
Clue from Parker Brothers

I guess I’ve always enjoyed puzzles. And Clue is nothing more than an interactive logic puzzle.

Luke Skywalker found out who his father was but not his sister. Jimmy Carter lost the election to Reagan. And I received Clue for Christmas in 1980.

I loved the little metal bits. It was cool trying to solve the mystery while imagining how a candlestick might be a murder weapon.

I forgave the game all of its conceits back then. For example: “We have this dead body riddled with .38 caliber bullets. Can someone please prove to me that this pipe wrench wasn’t the murder weapon?”

Clue represented the last game of its kind: a family game that I enjoyed.


4. Risk

In 1982 Luke Skywalker destroyed a second Death Star, the British invaded the Falkland Islands and I was first exposed to Risk.

I was at my cousin’s house when I saw Risk sitting on the shelf. I took it down and read the rules. I was really eager to play. I was told to “Be careful with that game. That game costs $8 at K-Mart.”

Risk blew every other game I had ever played out of the water. Not since I had first laid eyes Monopoly (1977) was I so taken with a game.

Players attempted not to take over Atlantic City but the world itself! Negotiations? Check. Military? Check. Economic considerations? Check.

Risk represented the first game of its type that I had encountered. It was a game that adults could enjoy (like Monopoly) but Risk was also a gamer’s game–not just a family game. And my love of the hobby deepened.


5. Dungeons & Dragons

Muskegon loves Dungeons & Dragons. Best game of the 80's!
TSR’s Dungeons & Dragons

I was fascinated by Dungeons & Dragons long before my first play of it. The polyhedral dice were way cool. Medieval fantasy is a wonderful setting.  The pewter or plastic figurines accessories were nifty ways to pimp your game. Plus there was the forbidden allure of playing something so roundly condemned for leading children into witchcraft and satanism.

It was in 1987 when I first got a copy of the the red box (basic edition) of D&D. Before long I was on adventures defeating monsters and stealing their loot.

Rolling fistfuls of dice and keeping extensive statistics would prepare me for the games I would play in the 90’s.





6. Axis and Allies

Muskegon loves classic Ameritrash like Axis and Allies
Milton Bradley’s Axis & Allies

Monopoly may have introduced me to my first adult level game; Risk may have introduced me to my first gamer’s game. But it was Axis & Allies that introduced me to my first modern gamer’s game. And the effects were sweeping.

In late 1988 I was at my friend Larry’s house. He pulled out this coffin sized box, colored navy blue with large red fonts that read “Axis & Allies”. The pieces were an amazing cache of toy soldiers. And subject of the game? Why, my favorite period in history.

Larry proceeded to beat me the first couple of times we played. Then I studied the board and the rules. Then the polarity of the beatings was permanently reversed.

Axis & Allies wasn’t just a gamer’s game like Risk. It was a modern gamer’s game. Axis & Allies was published during my lifetime (1981) unlike Monopoly (1933) and Risk (1959). But more than just that, Axis & Allies was modern in its design not just in its publication date. Players had many more levers and buttons at their command than in Risk or Monopoly. More economics than Risk? Check. More robust military? Check. Historical context? Check. Axis & Allies was the wave of the future. I knew it even back then.


7. Advanced Civilization

Muskegon Area Gamers play a lot of Advanced Civilization
Avalon Hill’s Advanced Civilzation

1994 was the next watershed moment in gaming for me. That year Magic: The Gathering came to Muskegon. I dabbled into the M:TG craze but nothing more.

The game that made 1994 special was Avalon Hill’s Advanced Civilization. I found a copy of Civilization for $10 at House of Hobbies when they were still in the Park Row Mall. I was intrigued by the lack of randomness in the combat system.

The game was about diplomacy and trading as much as it was about expansion. And with the right crowd, this game shines. The expansion, Advanced Civilization, fixes all the issues I had with the base game. It was the first game I ever had an expansion for. And it was really a patch for the base game. This was truly the mark of modern design.

We played this game a lot during the 90’s. We even mustered a full crew of 8 players once. Good times.


 8. Mage Knight

Muskegon Area Gamers played tons of Mage Knight
Mage Knight’s Order of Vlad

I’ve always had a soft spot for games with a heavy toy factor. Miniature wargames were constantly calling out to me. The prohibitive cost of Warhammer made me reconsider my love for this toy factor.

Then in early 2000 Wizkids came out with an affordable alternative: Mage Knight. The cost was very reasonable. The rules were fairly straight forward. And the minis were already painted so I didn’t have to paint them myself.

We played this game all the time. We created thematic armies and clashed them in Dugas’ basement. I even slapped Nate on the face when I caught him cheating.

The game was heavily supported by Wizkids for several years. And the expansions added much to the game.

The game imploded in the mid-2000’s and the designer left Wizkids to pursue other projects. But Mage Knight was definitely a linchpin that steered me through the hobby to where I am at now.


9. Twilight Imperium

Twilight Imperium Twilight Struggle Muskegon
When it comes to Twilight, Muskegon hates vampires but loves board games.

There was a lull in my gaming career after Mage Knight ended. I missed regular gaming. Plus I missed Advanced Civilization (which by 2005 I no longer owned).

I was browsing at the Barnes and Noble on Harvey Street one day in July of 2005. Barnes and Noble began to stock games in their stores about this time. I was walking through their game area when I saw a coffin sized box colored navy blue with large red fonts. The game was Twilight Imperium. The description made it sound like Axis & Allies meets Advanced Civilization. You managed an economy; you built large military forces; you waged war; you negotiated peace; you made lasting trade agreements. And it was space themed! The price was a whopping $80 so I didn’t pull the trigger.

I was at work that week and the thought of this game wouldn’t let me go. I didn’t have $80 to squander on a game. I didn’t have the game group I had in the mid 90’s. The game probably sucked.


I found myself at Barnes and Noble the following weekend, after working 20 hours of overtime. Suddenly I DID have $80 to squander. And suddenly I found renewed energy to reestablish our mid 90’s game group. Plus the game probably didn’t suck.

I pulled the trigger and bought it.

It was several months later when I was finally able to get this game to the table. But on that day was born the Muskegon Area Gamers!