I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom 12:1-2

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Game Geeks

My eldest child, The Philosopher (formerly known as LOTL for Lord of the Legos) is quite the chip off the ol' block.  He is my late husband's mini-me.  I have had the unique opportunity to experience some of the nature vs. nurture debate in real time, up-close-and-personal.  
You would be shocked to know the random things that appear to be inherited rather than taught. (Incidentally, this is also fascinating to me as an adoptive parent.) I wish I would have written down all of the little things that appear to be genetic, but this post is about one that I found out about over the past two days.  You see, The Philosopher was just two and half when his daddy died.  Michael and The Philosopher enjoyed a very close relationship, but two and a half years is not a lot of time for teaching things like strategy board games.  

Michael had a great love for all games, especially Axis and Allies and similar strategy/war games.  The Philosopher has begged me for YEARS to teach him how to play Axis & Allies.  Although I have played a number of times myself, I am hardly qualified to teach it, especially when our set is missing the rules.  The Philosopher ended up dragging our beat-up old game from the attic and making up his own rules for the little planes, soldiers, and boats.

Fast forward to earlier this week.  We have a family friend who is a game designer.  I have known Russ Rupe for almost 30 years (he and my brother were in school together and have been great friends ever since, and Russ is like another brother to me.)  Russ emailed me to see if The Philosopher would be interested in learning how to play Warlords of Europe.  They were planning on coming to town for spring break, Russ thought it was time to teach his son to play, and wondered if The Philosopher was interested.

Of course, The Philosopher was ecstatic about the idea, and Tuesday was the day.

The Game-Designer; his adorable, witty, and super-smart son; and The Philosopher

Warlords of Europe is a game designed by Russ and his partners.  I sat in for some of the instruction, and Russ's brilliant wife, a doctor of The Pregnancy Companion fame, also learned to play at the same time he was teaching the boys.  The shocker came when they were doing initial placements.  Russ actually used The Philosopher's visual planning (photo captured below) as an example of "what to do."  Hmmm...the boy didn't get that from me, but I have seen Michael do something very similar many times.  Heredity?  Maybe...

I didn't get to hang around for the whole couple of hours they played, after all I have two other children who don't seem to have the strategy game gene, but I was there for a significant part of the teaching, which turned out to be a good thing because my dad decided to purchase a copy of Warlords of Europe for The Philosopher right then and there.  Thanks, Pa!

Guess what we did ALL DAY yesterday?
Wonderful tiny plastic guys all cozy in their 2 mil sleeping bags. 

For the record: the boy's got skillz.  He trounced me.  It only took from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.  I stayed in my flannel pj's All Day Long.  Yep.  One of those.  Good thing it was raining all day to set the proper mood and eliminate garden-guilt.  And good thing the other kids were unusually mellow and happy to play with Super-T's iPad (thanks Mission iPossible!) and listen to audio books most of the day.  And Conquest Gaming has incredible customer service.  Within minutes of posting a rule dispute on Russ's Facebook wall he called me on my cell phone to settle it (okay, so maybe that was a bit of a special case, but they are a GREAT small company and if you are a gamer you should consider supporting them.)

My guys are the red dudes.  Apparently they didn't practice their fighting skills because the dice sure didn't roll in my favor.  That, in addition to some tactical blunders, did me in.  The Philosopher was the massive green/black army below.  This was right before he took my last castle at 5:00 p.m. 
In spite of the horrible luck and wimpy strategy I displayed, it was a really fun game.  I truly enjoyed it and look forward to playing again (and no, it won't take that long every time...we were in learning mode and had to stop to read the rules a lot, plus we did take some breaks to play with Super-T and Little Pud--the other kids weren't totally ignored).
But the best part?
The BEST part was spending the day with my son, seeing his father in him as he thought through some seriously complex strategies, and listening for the rest of the evening about how it was "The Best Day Ever."

...of course, now The Philosopher wants a copy of Stelcon: Infinity, Russ's next game... 

P.S.  A huge THANK YOU  to Russ Rupe for teaching my boy this game.  As a single mom, it really meant the world to me that my son got to learn something that his dad would have taught him if he was here.   I surely do appreciate the men in our lives that step up to do things like this for my kids.  It is GREATLY appreciated!!!


My boys said...

One of your best posts ever!! It made me smile and cry all at the same time! Good ole Russ still impacting lives in such huge ways by just being Russ! I wouldn't be married to K if it weren't for him and a trip to OKC!

Katrina said...

It was a beautiful post. I will have to look into getting that game for one of my boys who loves to play Stratego.

Carlene's soon to be momma :)

Vicky said...

What a beautiful post! I loved hearing about your son and how much he is like a dad! What a sweet blessing!

I love that you see the treasure in each of your children!

JHuff said...

I bet Brennan would like this game, too!

Charissa said...

Oh Justine! What a wonderful post! I sure wish I could have known Michael! Love the pictures of Alden on his daddy's shoulders. What a treasure those photos are.

Vicky said...

Thinking and praying for you! Blessings Vicky

Russ said...

To Kelly (who is #1, both in the comment list above and on the list of inadvertent friend hookups I've effected): Just being me sounds a lot like doing nothing. And that is pretty much what I do best.

To everyone else on Justine's blog...if you do head over to Kickstarter and support us (we are now in the final week), just shoot me an e-mail and I'll hook you up with the double-secret-internet-friend-of-a-friend good deal.