Jeremiah is one half of the team here at Theology Of Games, and since Reiner Knizia won't return our emails, we thought it would be fun to interview each other! (We haven't actually tried to contact Reiner. I'm sure he's a nice guy who replies to every email he receives. Seriously, Reiner...email us.) Thanks for agreeing to answer some questions, Jeremiah. So tell us a little about yourself.
Sure thing! My interests in life are about as varied and polarizing at times as you could think of. I love live theatre, and professional dance; I studied dance for over 13 years and still appear as a guest artist annually in the Nutcracker for a local professional company. I also worked for many years as a stagehand both in the local stagehand’s union, and as a freelancer. I’m also a trained audio engineer and have mixed for a few pretty big names over the years. I’m a huge football fan, and a glutton for the punishment of being a Cleveland sports fan. I've been married very happily for over 10 years, and have two sons, ages 4 and 6, who are the craziest, most awesome, and caring boys ever! We enjoy the outdoors, and like to canoe, hike, raft, and camp whenever the opportunity presents itself. We love to geocache too—nothing like using billion-dollar satellites to find Tupperware in the woods! I also play guitar, drums, bass, and a smidgen of keys. My current day job is in the AV department at a satellite campus for a local state university, and for the last three years I was the youth director at my church until I recently stepped down. Oh, and I co-write this blog.
How did you first get mixed up in these type of board games?
My path to board gaming really came through the collectible card game craze of the nineties, when everything was turned into a collectible card game. My brother and I played Marvel Overpower (which in hindsight is a terrible game!) and then we got into Middle Earth (which is an awesome game!). I loved the depth of strategy it took to do well at games like that. Middle Earth was also a great multiplayer game so we could have a few friends over, put the animated version of LotR on TV and play all night. (No, we weren’t the cool kids in town.) I then went through a long period of time of playing only video games, specifically Socom Navy Seals (shout out to my old clan SV!). I enjoyed video games, but the draw of Socom for me was the social side of being in a clan and working together as a team; it was more of a social activity than a gaming habit. I think that’s what I really enjoy about board games: The games themselves are great fun and all, but sitting down and having face-to-face interaction with good folks is better than any game I’ve played. For me the world of board games, like so many others, came through Catan; once that gateway opened up, all bets were off... I pretty much exclusively play board and card games now; the ps3 is basically a Netflix machine.
How has your faith affected you as a gamer?
I'd say pretty heavily. A lot of times it gets easy as a Christian to try and make your faith or your beliefs fit the mold of your interests, or political or social practices, when we should really be holding those things we enjoy up to the light of scripture and see them for what they are. The gaming world is full of thematic elements that dabble in the fantastic or supernatural—that's part of its allure. It's for this reason I tread lightly when checking out games, and especially before buying them. Many times a game is pretty benign, but other times I'll have to pass on a particular title. I try not to get hung up on those titles I won't play. There are literally hundreds of great games being published each year, so there are plenty of games to choose from that don't give me pause.
You have two boys. What are some of your favorite games to play with them?
Well, we got them Loopin' Louie for Christmas, or "Woopy Wooin" as my 4-year-old calls it, and they haven't stopped playing it. They also really enjoy Forbidden Island a lot! My oldest is six and has a pretty good handle on playing Carcassonne and Castle Panic, too.
Does your wife enjoy board games?
Yes, she gets incredibly frustrated when I teach them to her, but once we get through that she usually enjoys playing them. However, she does have her limits; she told our sons the other day that she doesn't play "Star Wars games," but she enjoys Carcassonne, Kingdom Builder, The Resistance, and a good deal more. As long as it doesn’t have a terribly nerdy theme, or a billion rules, she’s a gamer. She won’t sit and play an LCG, but Catan, yes.
Is it true you shaved your head so you’d look more like me?
There's not a shred of truth to that rumor. Although I did convince my sons that it would be cool because I would look like the Silver Surfer. My poor wife had gone to the grocery store one evening and left us home alone; when she returned I was completely clean shaven. I’m enjoying the new look, although the first winter has been a little rough.
What are your Top 5 games…and tell us a about why you like them so much.
This is in no particular order, because I don’t think I could actually pick a favorite.
- Lord of the Rings the Card Game—When I picked this up, I thought, “I don’t know about this whole co-op thing...” But one play through it and I was hooked! We played through the whole first cycle of expansions and are part way through the Khazad-Dum quests. It’s great, really deep game play, scales great for 1-4 players, and has a continuous story line. It’s almost like playing a role playing game without having to put in all the work to set it up. The down side to this game is the money to keep up with the quest packs, and they don’t feel that replayable after you’ve defeated a quest.
- The Resistance—I love this game because it is everything that LOTR is not. Really simple game mechanics and tons of backstabbing and chicanery! I’ve never played this game and not had people ask me to play it again—and ask where they can get their own copy. I love that you can play up to 10 people at once, although it’s hard to find 10 people that play it well all at the same time. I’m REALLY hoping they retheme the plot cards for Avalon because using the original ones really kills the mood.
- Carcassonne—Although recently this game is getting a little overplayed for me right now. I still love the game, and it took about 784 game plays to feel overplayed. There’s a solid base of expansions to keep it fresh, mix it up, and throw you for a loop. It’s a very good game to act as a next step for my friends who are ready to move on from Catan, and it plays up to 6 very well.
- Pirates of the Spanish Main—I know, this is kind of an oddball title, and no they don’t still make the game. But building those little pirate ship and sailing them around the dinner table looking for treasure is just a lot of fun. I have a HUGE fleet of literally thousands of ships. My gaming friends and I haven’t played in a while (which is very unfortunate), but it’s a really fun game with very high replayability!
- Fluxx—It’s an old standby with lots of different versions that add to the craziness of it. I’m probably most partial to Zombie Fluxx. We’ve had a lot of good times and good laughs over this game, as well as some frustrating defeats. Just a good time all around.
What are some games you’re looking forward to playing in 2013?
One of the titles I’m really looking forward to is Boss Monster; it kind of crept under our radar last year, as we didn’t find out about it until their Kickstarter was almost finished, but playing the bad guy is always fun. I’m also really looking forward to the multiplayer expansion for the new Star Wars The Card Game. I like the game as it is, but I think it will really come into its own when it supports 2-3 light side players teaming up against a very powerful dark side player. I’m also REALLY hoping that Wizkids gets the Lord of the Rings dice building game to market soon! Quarriors just barely slipped out of my top 5, and I’m of course a fanboy when it comes to Tolkien. And my boys will be very excited to hear that Forbidden Desert is on its way! One-Word Answers:
Favorite Doctor? Tom Baker
Grail game you’d like to find a copy of? My old 1st edition of Fluxx.
Favorite superhero? Spider-Man
Favorite major Star Wars character? Han Solo
Favorite minor Star Wars character? Dengar, the fiercest of the bounty hunters!!
On a scale of 1-10 (with 1 being how you feel while watching Bambi, and 10 being blind, seething, murderous rage), how did you feel toward George Lucas immediately after watching The Phantom Menace for the 1st time? The 1st time? 4.5 (I was blinded by the shiny new toy.)
Favorite LEGO line? Star Wars
Last good book you read? Shrewd by Rick Lawrence
Thanks, Jeremiah! No no, thank you.
We hope you enjoyed this. Stay tuned for Jeremiah's questions for me! (Unless Reiner emails us back. We'd totally bump that for you, Reiner...)