I'm Sorry Mr. Lucas... Your Cup Doesn't Have Enough Brains
Our friend Stacy is moving to New York, and she emailed some of us Utah Valley Nerds for help on Monday. Among the help she asked for: "can somebody take these Star Wars miniatures off my hands?" Also, she offered me a chair.
I'm a sucker for miniatures, so I brought $20 to make it feel a little like a purchase and ended up with a car full of stuff. Sure, I drive a small car (2003 New Beetle) but there were a lot of miniatures there, including three unopened packages worth at least $120 all by themselves (an AT-AT Walker, The Battle for Hoth, and The Battle for Endor -- very cool stuff.)
This morning I sat down and counted the unopened boosters and packages, and determined that Stacy sold me those Star Wars miniatures for around four cents on the dollar. Oh, and the chair I got was a $90 chair, so I made out like a
My friend Dan Wells (yes, that Mr. Monster book review was done for a friend), who is also Stacy's friend, expressed an interest in the AT-AT Walker, so I called him over to split them with me. While I waited for him to arrive half-dressed and out of breath (I was disappointed -- he arrived fully-dressed and relaxed) the Fed-Ex truck pulled up and the driver unceremoniously tossed a package onto the concrete porch of my house.
Usually Fed-Ex is for Sandra. She's the one conducting all the business these days. Imagine my delight, then, when I saw that not only was it addressed to me, but it was from Steve Jackson Games.
Oh, the irony. I had $500 worth of WoTC/Lucasfilm product on my kitchen table, and the thing I was most excited about was the package from Steve Jackson. As you'd know if you read the dedication in the back of Under New Management Steve is a friend, and a while back he mentioned something called "Zombie Dice" on his Twitter feed. I went "SQUEE" (also on Twitter) and apparently that was enough for Steve to send me a copy once he had some to send.
(Have I mentioned how cool it is to have friends like Steve Jackson? My inner fanboy is regularly aquiver just reading email.)
To bring a long story to an abrupt close, I was happy enough to have the cup of Zombie Dice in my hand that negotiations went like this:
DAN: "How should we do this?"
HOWARD: "I'll start the negotiations by giving you all of it."
Dan chose not to haggle. We then played a quick game of Zombie Dice and he lost.
Why would I let all those Star Wars treasures go like that? Because once I was holding a game that I would actually play, and whose pieces didn't look like they were painted by epileptic snow-monkeys, I realized that the Star Wars stuff was going to end up as clutter, and there was a LOT of it.
So I gave away the clutter, and I kept the dice. Sandra and I played Zombie Dice again during lunch, and I won again.
I should actually tell you about the game:
You're a zombie, and the dice are your potential victims. When you roll, they either run, shoot you, or you eat their brains. If you get shot three times your turn ends, and you lose any brains you've collected during that turn. You can keep rolling until you've been shot three times, or until you decide to stand with the brains you've already collected. It can be assumed that you now get to eat them. (House rule: role-play that, or it doesn't count). The first player to eat thirteen brains wins.
It's a fast-paced, simple game of knowing the odds, and rolling to beat them. When you're way ahead you can afford to take chances, and when you're hopelessly behind you can't afford to not take chances, but most of the time you're going to roll the dice in the same way the Dealer plays Blackjack, playing it safe. You're also going to meta-game by trying to goad other players into not playing it safe, in hopes of seeing them get blown away.
Zombie Dice takes up about as much space in your gamer bag as a can of Mountain Dew, only without the sticky mess. For a cup of brains, guns, and feet it's surprisingly tidy. You have but two excuses for not bringing this game to a party: "I don't own it" and "I'm an idiot."
One of the things I love most about Steve Jackson Games is the thing that is best illustrated with the above anecdote. Steve packs more fun into a $13 cup than most game manufacturers put in a $50 box. Or a $500 stack of boxes, for that matter. George Lucas' cup of franchise dollars may runneth over, but it doesn't have half the brains that Steve Jackson's cup does.