Kindness, Generosity, Board Games

 Some people might say that the value of a hobby is determined by the enjoyment it brings those who are engaged in it. Others may point to how other people outside of the activity feel about it. While I don't necessarily disagree, I feel that the true value of a hobby can be discovered by looking at the people who are active in it. What type of people is the hobby filled with? What is the overall character of its members? 

Board gaming, I am happy to report, is home to many, many wonderful, caring, sincere, and giving people. I have seen many examples of generosity and concern and have myself been the recipient of unexpected blessings. 

I can see no better time to briefly mention these gifts from strangers than at Christmastime. 

As a board gamer, I spend a great deal of time reading the thoughts of other people in the hobby. Sometimes this is done on message boards on Board Game Geek, but mostly on Facebook pages such as Dice Tower. More than a few times I have seen stories of people who have lost their collection of games and have lamented the loss to those who would feel its impact more than most people who still think of board games within the boundaries of  Scrabble and Cards Against Humanity. These people aren't looking for replacements- only sympathy. Still, there are many who ask the suffering one for specific games and/or pictures of games that were once in their collection and send a title or two to soften the impact of loss.

And it's not just individuals. I have seen at least one game company, Chip Theory Games, that have commented on more than one post where the individual has either lost games or simply wanted to try one of their titles but were unable to pay the hefty price tag. It is truly honorable and speaks to the types of people that run Chip Theory Games that they'd be willing to give a game away to someone who desires to play one, but doesn't have the means to obtain a copy. It made me want to be a customer.

However, I have not only witnessed great kindness and generosity of this type, but I have experienced it first-hand as well. 

For the last six months or so, I have wanted to try and improve the components of my board games. Typically this has been in the form of play mats and metal coins. However, there are so many other things available both by publishers themselves and individuals who design and create their own and sell them through various outlets. One of the most popular games to improve upon is Wingspan (despite the fact that the included components are superior to most). 

After scouring Etsy for a long time, I thought about upgrading my food tokens. However, the items I'd prefer are fairly pricey. I heard about using coin capsules to hold the food- which I am still considering, but I also noticed that many people use these same coin capsules to protect another game's tokens- Quacks of Quedlinburg. 

When I looked on Amazon for those capsules, I discovered that there are different sizes, which makes sense because coins come in more than one size. Not knowing which size to get, I asked the Dice Tower community. I was given way more than the answer I sought. Someone offered to send me specially made capsules that are sold on Etsy for $45 or more free of charge. I didn't even have to pay for shipping. 

But it gets even better. One of the ingredients was missing- all of the red were absent from the package that I was sent. When I reached out to the individual, he looked around his home, found them, and paid postage again to send them to me. All-in-all, it was probably a $60 gift.

Don't those tokens look nice and cozy?!

Last June while in the midst of Covid isolation and mourning the recent death of my father, a stranger sent me a private message on Facebook. I casually replied to him and thought that was the end of it.

It wasn't. He continued to ask me questions and hold a conversation with me. Long story short, he's now one of my best friends and we communicate regularly despite the fact that he lives in another country. 

Yes, we're friends, and friends often send Christmas gifts to friends. But it's a lot different when there is a national border between the two of you and you've never seen each other in person. So, the fact that he sent me a Christmas gift last year and this one, it counts.

My Christmas gifts the last two years from my good friend.

Perhaps the most extravagant act of random kindness occurred a mere six weeks ago. 

There was a post about what board games you'd like to see under your Christmas tree this year. The question was what gifts you'd like to see under your Christmas tree, so I answered it honestly with games I'd love to see, but I wouldn't because the titles I included were quite expensive. These were games I wouldn't ask my family for. 

A stranger reached out to me the very next morning saying that he wanted to gift me one of the games on my list. After some exchanges, mostly things like, "Are you serious?!" and "You decide," we selected a game and he went searching for a copy. Several weeks later, I received a link to the item on The Game Steward's website and a deposit in my PayPal account for $150.

This individual asked me to call him for a short conversation, and despite the fact that I hate talking on the phone, particularly to people I don't know, I figured that I owed it to him. He told me all about why he chose me, and I will long hold what he said close to me.

These have all taken place in about a year. I don't expect to be the recipient of such lovely generosity again (I didn't beforehand, either), but knowing that the hobby I am a part of is filled with people who are willing to be so kind to strangers reassures me that I have chosen a good one and the right one for me.

Merry Christmas!


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