Nailing Jell-O to a Narwhal
by, 09-09-2015 at 09:21 AM (2052 Views)
I wanted to talk, for a minute or three, about why Dice Masters is important to me.
I discovered this game, like so many others, from the Watch It Played YouTube series. Starting in March of 2014, I obsessively watched (and re-watched) each video that Rodney released about the game. I voted in the poll to decide which team he would play with in his demo game, and I tried to puzzle all of the nuances I could from the very limited information that existed about each card. Would Venom and Spider-Man be mortal enemies? Would Iron Man be able to use resources as well as his awesome power suit? Would Cyclops have a "Whine" attack more powerful than his "Optic Blast"?
There was a problem, however. It is a problem that I have faced for the past sixteen years, and one that has kept me from playing any sort of game with someone other than my wife or best friend. Since I was twenty-one, I have been dealing with crippling Agoraphobia and Anxiety. These are tricky things to talk about, especially with someone who doesn't experience them. What these two things do is that they cause me to range from discomfort to outright panic when I'm outside of my home (and, oddly enough, sometimes even when I am in my "safe place"). I feel dizzy, sick, disconnected, and (sometimes) like I am going to die. I spent a two year period, through most of 2013, only leaving my house to pick up my (then) girlfriend when she did our grocery shopping.
I started working again in 2013, and had decided to get back into gaming. I purchased a few X-Wing Miniatures for the fantastic Fantasy Flight game. I played a few games with my friend, and heard about an X-Wing league at a comic book store a few blocks from me. I loaded my stuff into a bag, and went to the store... and sat outside in my car, before finally pulling away. I figured that, while I enjoy tabletop gaming, I would just stick with the "kitchen table" and save my exposure tolerance for my new job. I felt like I could only handle so much time out "in the wild", and needed to make sure that I didn't become unemployed again.
Back to Dice Masters: I had been back to working full time for a little over a year. I had purchased a TON of AvX, and had the full set (except for the Super Rare Mr. Fantastic because, well, you know). I saw a post about a Dice Masters event at a local store that specializes in Magic and YuGiOh events. I decided that I wanted to give it a shot, so I loaded up the Kia Rio with all of my Dice Masters supplies. I pulled into the parking lot after work... and the place was massive. I sat in the car as the minutes before the scheduled start time were ticking away. I built (and rebuilt) my Avengers team. I decided not to use Gobby and only use Tsarina, as I did not want to lose any new friends I might make before even making them.
I forced myself to go inside and register my name for the event. Luckily, for me, there were only three other players. All of them, of course, fielded both Tsarina and Gobby. I finished fourth (out of four)... but I got through the event. I even talked with one player about the upcoming Uncanny X-Men set... since we had plenty of time to chat after she destroyed me, quickly, in two games and we had to wait for the others to finish up.
I still felt awful and out of place, however. Social situations, when joining an established group of people, are difficult for the most outgoing of us. The future for the game (and for me playing it anywhere but at home) seemed grim. One player outright quit after seeing how dominant Gobby and Tsarina would be. The other two, places first and second in the tournament, didn't seem too keen on trying OP 2. The store owner said that he couldn't justify ordering the remaining kits for the game. For my part, I managed a major panic attack in the restroom between rounds. While I tried to tell myself that it was because I had been spanked/violated/murdered, I knew that it was really because I was pushing myself... maybe too much.
Several weeks later, my wife and I were having a rare dinner at a restaurant (literally rare, as she likes her steaks bloody). Leaving the place, we saw a sign for a new comic book store. I figured that, since she was with me (and that always helps me go places I would never go alone), we would stop in to check it out. I was excited to see that the place sold Dice Masters... and had a flyer for a Dice Masters event the following week. There was a guy at the counter going through several piles of Dice Masters cards. I asked him about the event, and he let me know that he was the TO... and that they'd love another player.
The following week, I repeated the earlier scene. Parking lot? Check. Sidekicks and Basic Actions? Check. Tunnel vision and nausea? Check and check. I pushed my way into the small store... AND HAD A GREAT TIME! I won the draft (in a field of 9 or 10 people), made new friends, and was able to not feel completely awful the entire time. I started checking out more events at the store, and each time it got a little easier.
Fast forward a year: A few weeks ago, we had a fourteen person draft (that I helped organize). We have events two or three times a month, not to mention weekly "Monday Afternoon Dice Masters" casual events. I started playing D&D Attack Wing there, and also show up for random game days. Every week, my wife and I go places together. I even went to see Avengers: Age of Ultron at the theater, which I would have thought was impossible just a short time ago (and not just because it hadn't been released yet), and I went to a Dice Masters event at a completely different store than my "home base".
My friends (who know about my "things") have remarked that they think this game has been a turning point for me. Could it have been any game? Sure. But it was Dice Masters. My goal is to make it to Worlds next year at Origins. Is it "Pie in the Sky"? Sure. Is it doable? Absolutely. I will probably make more incorrect plays than normal, and will probably forget the names of characters and cards referring to Mr. Fantastic as "Stretchy Guy" and Firestorm as "Not Pyro". That's ok, because the community for this game is second-to-none and while the people I play with on a regular basis have gotten used to my zoning out at times and strange in-game habits, I feel like I would be accepted by the group in general.
I spent years taking dozens of different types of medications, and spending thousands of dollars on doctors. It turns out, I only needed dozens (and dozens and dozens) of dice, and spending (a little) less than thousands of dollars on Dice Masters. No matter the negativity that, sometimes justifiably, comes with this game... it will always be special for me. Not necessarily because of the game itself, but for what it represents and what it has helped me do.