The Dice & Mystics Fringe “TinyCon“ 2017

“OMG”, she exclaimed, “ – and I had expected a handful of elderly people passing some time playing Monopoly!” Instead, the large room was bustling with life. A colourful crew of about 140 people from not only most European countries but also from 5 different continents were busy pushing cubes, meeples and a llama, making trees grow, colonizing planets and conquering galaxies, cultivating wine, solving crimes, hunting down monsters, cheering the Canyon Cup racing pilots, building cardboard roller coasters or commanding knights, orcs or samurai while the moon crashed down on America to release a white dragon god who threatened to forever change the future of the planet.

All the while I was smiling and keeping my cool, while inwardly I could not stop myself from picturing Rita Skeeter and her magically animated quill busily scribbling notes, thinking: OMG – what is she going to do next with my babble when I’m done?  The nice inquisitive lady from WAZ, the largest regional newspaper, who was interviewing me, had some difficulty grasping the idea of our Dice & Mystics Fringe. No, we’re not a club, neither I nor any other “member” of the Dice & Mystics is a “president” or “chairperson”. Rita Skeeter was baffled. There are no functions, and also no funds. No entrance fees, nothing for sale. Just tea, coffee and biscuits for free. Everything was done, provided for, donated or paid for by private persons who got nothing out of it – just a huge lot of fun. “And you do this – why?” Our love of board games, of course, and because we really like our fellow gamers and the people who work at making games for us to enjoy, and sharing our fun of gaming. There is no nicer place on earth than a room full of happy people playing games.

The photographer she had brought was scouting the rooms, spoilt for motives, while I lectured about Spiel Essen, the steadily growing board game phenomenon and the countless numbers of new releases coming out every year, the different games being demoed at our Fringe Event, our guests like The Dice Tower and other reviewers, designers and small publishers and the wonderful international board gaming community. She nodded vigorously. “And nearly everybody is talking English here! I really did not expect such a large and international event.

All those ideas and designs! I had no idea board gaming was such a big and universal thing and that there were so very many games. This is a whole new world!” I need not have worried about the scribbling of the quill; when I saw the article later (in print and online), all was hunky dory. The article was, as I should have expected, highly professional and informative, and it shone of her excitement and wonder, too.

Shortly after that, when the Spiel Essen had just closed, the remaining group of our eagerly expected guests from the Atlantic Congress Hotel arrived, looking forward to a hopefully nice relaxing and re-creational game night after all the bustle of the fair. They, like all the other “Meeples”, were greeted individually on entering, given directions towards what to find where and released into the crowd where they dispersed and sat down to play almost immediately.

  

“Why are you calling us ‘meeples’?” our two “Big Bad Wolves” at the entrance were sometimes asked. Why, because we do like to play with you, of course! We aimed at giving everybody a nice game night to remember, for free. If we are to believe them and so many of our other guests, we managed to provide that, no more, but no less. Games were played everywhere; the air was buzzing and humming with voices in a way that was creating a pleasant and beautiful background noise.

          

No way could we have pulled this off without the enthusiasm of our Dice & Mystics, our “Meeple Shepherds” who were the only ones who did not get to play much or even not at all. Thank you for your time and commitment.

So, how was all of this possible? Through the kindness of many.

The coffee, tea, biscuits, the prizes at our raffle (which had miraculously appeared from all different directions just two weeks and in one case only half a day before our event and convinced us we did, in fact, have a raffle on…) were gifts to our guests – so it is high time to say a really big THANK YOU to all our sponsors, and here is a list in alphabetical order:

Boardcubator                                                                                                                    Board&Dice                                                                                                                      FantasyWelt.de                                                                                                                         Felix Mertikat – King Racoon Games                                                                                     Greenbrier Games                                                                                                        Kaffeestore24.de                                                                                                              Luish Moraes Coelho                                                                                                                Mythic Games                                                                                                                Roland MacDonald – THE ILLUSTRATOR                                                                            Second Gate Games                                                                                                        Spielzeug-Paradies Wagner

We had been showered with € 5 vouchers for online purchases, got shiny new boxes in all sizes of classic and new games (from the publishers or designers present as well as from some who would have liked to come, too, but could not make it), even plus the brand new expansion as large as the original box, and a set of four minis from the kickstarter “Joan of Arc”, an amazing set of original art, and the Bochum toy shop additionally also bestowed upon us things like fidget spinners, a cute “jewellery” set for toddlers, a teeny weeny plastic bear, a posable (and somewhat overfed looking) toy dog, a pair of yellow wooden dice, Star Wars sticker albums and quite a number of other whimsical items. They have a small but really excellent board game section ranging from Ludo, The Game of Life Rockstar Edition to Zombicide Black Plague or The Others, but they seemed a little uncertain about the nature of our event and apparently thought that where there are games, there must by law of nature also be some children.

Thus we had not only prizes, but prizes with a surplus fun factor: The Star Wars album went to a tall black-clad guy, grinning and pointing two fingers at his T-Shirt that had “Star Wars” written right across his chest. Laughs and chuckles. The fat dog was adopted. Applause. Sam Healey won a prize and donated it again, so another ticket was drawn and the prize went to – Zee Garcia, who also donated it again and, twice risen in value, found a third winner under the eyes of cheering masses. Our “Meeple Shepherd” who was herding used dishes back to be cleaned all night had been enticed out of the kitchen by all that laughter, and promptly won the other Star Wars album. Incidentally, she likes Star Wars and loves sticker albums. Some games got signed by their makers on the spot.

Many, many of our guests got some form of a token to take back home from our event. I am also quite sure that – after having been the cause of fun and merriment – by now most of the kids’ prizes will have found their way to a child eventually and the tiny bear has a homely place in a toy chest. And you can check on Youtube where the spinners went… People in the direct neighbourhood who had not heard a sound up to the raffle told us they ran to their windows shortly after 11 o’clock at night to find out where that gigantic laughter came from.

Last but not least we say thank you to the parish of St Engelbert in Bochum-Oberdahlhausen who provided the maybe most important ingredient for our game night: They allowed us to use their entire building of their “parish centre” and all facilities free of charge. Many guests explicitly told us they were impressed by such openness and hospitality. “This is fantastic”, commented Dave Luza; “any town quarter needs a place like this.” Later Sam Healey taught me another more fitting word for “parish centre”: “We call it ‘friendship hall’.” I like that. This is exactly what it was, a place where friendship was given and received.

When I checked on my feet – which I had not really been feeling for a while – I suddenly understood why it is called “running” an event. But my, was it worth it! People had fun, and one of our guests even treated himself to a live – if very brief  – “dungeon crawl”, or so we heard… (You need to have been there to understand this one.) At midnight we could have started to put people on the 2018 guest list on the spot; there was actually a little queue forming of guests ready to leave who wanted to say a few words and shake hands before parting – and make a reservation right away: “We felt at home and among good friends here”.  If half of the Meeples who said they will come turn up in 2018, we’re half booked already.

Well, we do need some time, so no reservations now – but it can’t do any harm to check on this website or on Boardgamegeek when the next Spiel Essen is approaching.

Until then: Have fun gaming!

Loving The Others

Some people dig horror themes, others don’t. Tastes differ, and that is a good thing.

I for my part quite like “horror” games. Next to fantasy and sci-fi, the horror theme is one of my favourites. However, I can understand that some gamers find no joy in this genre or maybe are o.k. with a mild horror theme but think that some of the games currently available go a step too far. They find themselves unable and unwilling to play because they find the aspect of gruesome minis, gory standees and blood splattered boards unpleasant. After all, gaming is meant to be fun, and not experiencing any fun looking at death, decay and degeneration is a very healthy reaction. Attempting to force people into it, blackmailing them with the prospect of continued ridicule for being wimpy, is inacceptable.

So, is having fun with horror games an unhealthy thing? It’s… complicated.

I enjoy games with a supernatural and fantasy theme where you get to encounter ghosts, mythological characters and fabulous beasts or figures based e. g. on the art of H. P. Lovecraft. I would wear a Cthulhu T-shirt if it was given to me. I would not necessarily buy one. “Flavour” is, well, not everything, but it contributes a great deal to the way you experience your gameplay. There are story driven games as well as games with good back stories, often provided in the rule book as an intro, which do not unfold in the actual gameplay but serve to generate a certain mood and attitude that influences you in a significant way.

I enjoy games that draw their fascination from e. g. a gas-lit 19th century setting that depicts a past where science was looked at askance and the line between empirical facts, folklore and imagination was still thin. Those games add a historical touch to the experience when you learn about ideas that distinguish our 21st century mind-sets from those of our forebears.

And, yes, there are horror games I would not touch because they concentrate too much on the theme for the theme’s sake, without a good enough story to back up what is happening on the board. They remind me of movies where a weak plot is a mere excuse for adding one special effect on top of the other.

Games like e.g. The Others, they are a very different matter. In The Others you take a stand against the Deadly Sins, presented to you in the form of truly abhorrent and disgusting artwork of the highest artistic standard. No squinting sideways here: A single glance – and you are going to have the picture imprinted in your memory forever. And there are sickening mutants, too, corrupted by the influence of sheer evil.  The point is, you are meant to not like them. You are actually meant to find them as off-putting and hateful as possible.

And this is something I truly like about The Others: Evil is in no way romanticized. You can fall for the attraction of a vampire, you can feel a morbid sympathy for werewolves and even identify with your Joe Average turned zombie, but in my opinion it is humanly impossible to feel anything but disgust and opposition towards those incorporations of evil that are depicted in The Others. And this is how it should be.  Evil is put in its place. Its true nature is exposed where it lifts its ugly head. The evil that enters or emanates from a tainted human being is shown as something that takes away or at least significantly diminishes his or her humanity.

As an aside and between the lines: For any artist it hast to be an enormous challenge to create a piece of work that people both instinctively abhor for its looks and its meaning and at the same time enjoy and admire for its  artistic quality. This alone is enough to make The Others unique in my eyes. But there is more.

Some hero characters would easily qualify as abominations in any other game. There are e.g. the huge horned pale hulk called Thorley and his genetic half- sister Rose who are not pretty by any conventional standards, or by any standard, really. Rose’s tentacles that grow from her elbows are enough for me to get squeamish at, and even more so when they develop heads and a life and will of their own. It is the “Other” part of her genes, but Rose may use their deadliness as her signature weapon. Other characters add a distorted psyche to their physical abnormality.

Wanting to play these characters and identifying with them is not so easy. People reject the game because they are opposed to playing “monsters” and feel the line between good and evil is too blurry. They would rather fight them than play and therefore to some extent identify with them. And that much is true: You shudder at the thought of having them next to you, but this has to be seen in relation and contrast to the urge to shut your eyes and hide in the presence of a Sin. The point is that, however you feel about them, they are just about human enough to accept them standing next to you and fighting side by side with humanity.

At this point, things get philosophical.

Those “monsters” you can play as heroes in the games are precious creations. It is easy to overlook their true quality when you put the game on the table, go through the mechanics and skim the data on the character cards.

It is sad that most people cannot enjoy the wonderful back stories that have been written to illustrate the game: The kickstarter edition comes with an art book that gives you a detailed impression of the whole concept of the game The Others and its creatures, containing narratives that better acquaint you with your playable characters, especially the not quite human ones. I confess I had my issues with them, too, at first. But they are creative inventions way, way beyond plastic and life points.

The first thing you learn is: Their DNA is part human, part the DNA of the Others. They are physically corrupted to a point where players feel a strong reservation towards taking them up. They are no heroes like Superman, even if they have super-human powers like Thorley’s super strength or Rose’s ability to slow down time while moving. They were genetically engineered by the agents of evil to open the gates for the Others, but they fled because they instinctively shrank back from evil when they first saw it. They helped each other escape and are extremely protective towards each other and towards anyone who is kind to them, to a point of self-sacrifice. They came to life physically mature, but otherwise they are basically still children just entering adolescence, grappling with new unfelt emotions, trying to make sense of the world of adults and discovering their own powers and abilities. They are, literally, suffering from their respective conditions much in the way the Incredible Hulk does. They have human weaknesses too: Thorley needs reading glasses. For reading.

They identify with their human heritage and feel disgust at the Others just like the next guy. They like soap opera, enjoy fish and chunky chips, play board games  – Thorley hast a passion for chess! – and love to go to the pub because it is a place where they can have some social contact.  (You did not think they do it for the beer and the booze, did you? Remember, they are practically children.) They have a deep yearning for a normal life of which they have but a sketchy idea derived from TV shows they picked up on the run. They suffer from being different and try to hide their physical otherness under hoods or long sleeves to blend in and also not to cause discomfort to or frighten any humans.

Having witnessed the devastation the Others wreaked on the small town Haven, Thorley and Rose cannot help but feel a deep compassion towards those “poor humans” and feel compelled to join up with any human resistance they might be able to find. They have a common enemy, and they feel as drawn to the weaker humans as they are repelled by the Others. It is a rational, “enlightened” reaction to their experience of corruption, violence and destruction that expresses nothing different than philosopher Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative. To them, stopping the Others and protecting humanity becomes an end in itself.

I quote Wikipedia: “According to Kant, human beings occupy a special place in creation, and morality can be summed up in an imperative, or ultimate commandment of reason, from which all duties and obligations derive. He defined an imperative as any proposition declaring a certain action (or inaction) to be necessary.” You could say this makes Thorley and his sister all human by choice, if not by nature: For them, siding with the Others is not even an option, because to them evil and destruction does not make any sense. They act according to Kant’s often quoted first maxim: “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law.” The fact that they are ready to risk their own existence in the process shows the abstractness and purity of their motive which is surprising in a “universe” that is nothing more than a board game. This does not turn them into model images of saints: They simply dislike being used and discarded like mere tools, and they want to be treated as individuals with a will and a conscience of their own. Still, the moral judgement holds: They are, by most definitions, the good (as humans go) guys.

Did the creators think of Kant? Did they want to teach us philosophy and hide a lesson in a board game? Of course not! (Although I would not put it entirely past them.) But they exist in a cultural context where, long after Kant and his contemporaries, the philosophy of enlightenment is still present and active.  Apart from any other considerations, this is rather reassuring.

It is time to re-phrase an earlier statement: Wanting to play these characters and identifying with them is not easy but an exercise in tolerance. You learn to tolerate the characters, disregarding their ancestry and their appearance and accept them, limits and imperfections and all, for their thoughts and actions. We become more human by being more humane.

Now, wait a moment, you say, what is this all about? They are not real persons. They are just playable characters in a board game. But then, why did you have inhibitions when it came to playing them? Because you do identify with your playable character.

You do not want to be a monster in a game where monstrosity is taken so seriously. You want to be truly human, and this, intentionally or not, is the concept behind those “monstrous” half human characters. You are aware of the potential of evil and corruption your character is tainted with. In real life you also are dealing with something inside yourself that e.g. in the terminology of Christian religion is called “original sin”, or in German “Erbsünde” (which translates as “hereditary sin”), something that is part of your very nature which you have to face and to overcome, in order to become whatever your belief or philosophy says you truly ought to be.

The game The Others also shows you how hard it is to prevail, how tempting it is to give in to hopelessness or to choose an easier path and submit to corruption. It shows you that decisions that matter are not so simple and that, if you were expected to always be perfect and pure to be redeemed, and there was no tolerance of weakness and no forgiveness – to stay within Christian terminology – you would not stand a chance.

However – being a Sin player in The Others is actually a rather taxing experience and not everybody’s cup of tea because you cannot, and do not want to identify with one of the Sins. It is certainly not a game for any game group. As a Sin player you have to strictly follow the rule book and cannot allow yourself to simply lean back and enjoy, and you have to keep a healthy distance to your Sin character. There is a thin line that is hard not to cross.  Being a Sin player is a step that I, personally, would not be willing to take, but somebody in your game group will have to, and this is the main issue why I can still very well understand why somebody would not want to play The Others and finds no joy in taking part at all.

TSUKUYUMI – Full Moon Down @ Fringe 2017

We are very proud to present a fresh and brand new game that is on KS right now. And the best thing is that you will be able to play the game at our Fringe Event!

Tsukuyumi – Full Moon Down is a boardgame without any elements of luck or chance, that demands specific strategic skills of its 3-5 (6) players. The modular battlefield represents the dried out ground of the former Pacific Ocean: Up to 40 hexagonal area tiles circle the moon panels, providing score points, blockades and contaminations. The goal is to gather as many score points as possible, through conquering and occupying areas – thus becoming the most dominant species on the board. Tsukuyumi – Full Moon Down’s particular appeal lies in the clash of diverse, asymmetrical factions. At the beginning, each player picks a faction. Each faction comes with their own respective abilities, units and strategies. The game therefore changes depending on which factions meet on the battlefield. You may decide between wild boars, whales, marines, battle mechs, cybersamurai and many more.

STORYWOLD

The world has changed – and with it the creatures who are fighting for survival. Whether human survivors, mutated beasts or human-machine hybrids – every faction wants to seize power, in order to finally face their greatest enemy: The white dragon Tsukuyumi.

As the moon hit the earth, it had an effect which usually takes thousands of years: land masses were moved, pushed down and raised, water was displaced, and down appeared to be up. Creaking and groaning, the face of the planet was changed. The moon however came to a standstill amid massive earth walls in the muddy floor of the former Pacific Ocean.

The moon sliced up stretches of land, broke continental tectonic plates, splintered mountains and broke its own stone hull on the icy summits of the Himalaya. Wherever Tsukuyumi’s pheromones touch life, a rapid evolution takes place. But his original plan failed. While humans who get in his way fall victim to his influence and become highly intelligent and destructive Oni, the other creatures have resisted. Thus his own creations turn against him, and become his most powerful enemies. These include the insect swarms of the Dark Seed, the pig herds of the Boarlords, the beasts of the Children of the Lion and the massive land whales of the Lords of the Lost Sea.

 

Exclusiv @ Fringe Event 2017

We are happy and proud to announce that you all will have the unique opportunity to see and play a pre-production copy of the new game Canyon Cup. You will not find this game at the Spiel Essen. It will be shown and demoed exclusively at our event by the creators Simon & François Pirson.

Authors : Simon&François Pirson
Illustrator : Hugo Thomas
Players : 2-4
Duration : 40′
Public: Family/Expert

Canyon Cup is a game of scoring and optimization mixing tactical choices, interactions and risk taking in a fun and offbeat universe. The duration and the difficulty are modulable.

In Canyon Cup, players embody crazy pilots who gather in the desert to compete in their custom cars. The Canyon Cup takes place on a desert and rocky circuit, surrounded by numerous terraces where the public is ready to choose its new champion!

The final winner of the game is the most popular driver, the one with the most popularity points scored during the race. Overtaking, public greetings, vehicle destruction, … there are plenty of opportunities to amaze the public, making every Canyon Cup race intense and unique!

Served by a nervous and fluid mechanic, this game will delight racing enthusiasts. In addition, the original and instinctive system of displacement allows the young as well as the older ones to compete in the joy and the good mood! As for the more seasoned players, they will be able to discuss the respective interests of the cross tires and the grapple, the reasons for choosing reinforced shielding rather than a pre – race massage or the well – founded knives on fast track, improbable combination between the turbo kit and the combat bumper. It’s time to heat the engines … Go to the track!

Are the Dice & Mystics a Church Club? OR: How to Start Your Own Board Game Café

Our board game guild, the Dice & Mystics, play every Wednesday night at the “Spieletreff” (which roughly translates as “Gamer’s Meeting Place”) at St. Engelbert’s Parish.
On occasions the question has been asked: Are you a church club, some Christian thing?
The answer is: No.
But…​
Actually, the whole D&M enterprise was set off by a Jewish engineer named Howard Wolowitz…
Three supposedly non-gamer friends were sitting on the sofa watching that Christmas episode of “Big Bang Theory” where Howard introduces Santa into a Dungeons & Dragons session. Suddenly one says, “That seems like a lot of fun to me. Couldn’t we play D&D, too?” The other one says, “Well, now you mention it, I’ve always wanted to try that out, you know.” Says number three: “Actually – I used to be a D&D dungeon master once, but no one has been wanting to play with me for ages!”
And so it began. The new 5th edition of D&D had just come out – back to the basics – and we found a fourth party willing to venture to the Sword Coast and into our first roleplaying campaign with us. We met regularly at a local board game café, where we alternatively played some D&D and Descent and board games with similar mechanisms to get used to the concept of character sheets, stats, campaigning etc. to better train us up for the “real thing”.
The question if we are a Christian organisation may have been prompted by the “Saint” in “Spieletreff St. Engelbert”.
We know very little about the religious beliefs or disbeliefs of our members. Three or maybe four Dice & Mystics are clearly Christians, one is known as a regular church goer. There may be more, there may be practitioners of other religions or atheists among us, we have no idea. That is all we know and more than we need to know.
What we all believe in, however, is openness, tolerance, kindness of the heart and having more fun through sharing it. We want to be together, play, laugh, have a good time and invite anybody to come along and join in. Our idea was the following: We own a large board game collection and give people the chance to play games they like, or a place they can take their own favourite games to and find others to play with. Thus we also give access to great games to those who maybe cannot afford to buy them for themselves or a place for gamers or role players who do not want to be forced to keep buying drinks in a pub in order to have a large enough gaming table. And we want to be open for everybody, no matter which gender, age, ethnicity or religion or whatever. Really everybody can come and indulge in the hobby regularly at least once a week without having to spend a single penny.
We were told this attitude goes very well with Christian beliefs and values, so when our board game café suddenly closed down next Christmas, it happened that it was a Christian parish that helped us out.
We were looking for a new friendly location to meet and play. As it was, there is no other board game café anywhere in these parts. Playing at pubs turned out to be fairly disastrous, and things were beginning to look dismal. But we did not think of giving up.
One day we simply went to the parish of St. Engelbert and asked them if maybe we could play board games and D&D at their parish center. Yeah, and why not – there were nice rooms with nice tables (and central heating in winter) and it was easily accessible for everyone. Most days of the week some of the rooms were empty, it seemed. Originally we had been hoping to rent a room for a few hours every week and share the costs if they were not too high.
To cut a short story even shorter: They listened to what we wanted, asked whether we were some official club (no), whether we were commercial in any way (no), and why we were playing together (see above). They liked what we did and why, and said this was something that went very well with their ideas of a peaceful community. We could provide a great creative, intelligent, communicative, socially interactive hobby in a safe environment for free for whoever was looking for pastime and good company! And they nonplussed us by this very generous offer: We could come and use any room we needed and all facilities for free from 5 to 11 p.m. once a week. As a “payment” they would take us by our word: Anybody can come and join in, and we do tidy up after ourselves. The room and date were made known as “Spieletreff” to tell the parishioners what we were doing at their place.
Everybody can bring their drinks and sandwiches from home along if they like, and we have glasses, plates, cutlery etc. at our disposal. We bring teas, coffee and biscuits along for everybody, and often our guests bring milk, sugar and other things – even a penguin shaped gateau for sustenance during a game of Ice Cool! Thus we have drinks and snacks just like our former board game café, and we also adopted their idea to have warm meals on the premises: We have a caterer just round the corner where we can place a collective order and have food delivered right to our tables, and everybody pays individually. If the order is large enough, we even get free drinks with our meals.
We have been the “Dice & Mystics” at the “Spieletreff St. Engelbert” for a few happy years now, and what had started with three friends dreaming of the Sword Coast has evolved into an international, fairly large but still completely informal and non-commercial game club with a growing number of members and events.
So, if you want to play board games or role play, or if you are looking for nice people to play with, get creative! Look around you. Don’t be too shy to approach people and tell them your ideas. Sometimes the solution lies closer than you think. Who would have thought we could run a board game café at a parish center, and for free, too? And all it took was the asking.
Every year at the parish festival we host game rounds and raffle off a fair number of quality games donated by the D&M to all participants, to say THANK YOU to the parish, loudly and from our hearts, and – sssh! – hopefully also further increase the number of enthusiastic gamers…

Wookies, Spiders and the Evolution of Gentlemen – Board Gaming at the Parish Fair 2017

The annual Parish fair of St. Engelbert – choirs and Jazz music, acrobatics, waffles, home-baked cakes, sizzling sausages, and another chance for the Dice & Mystics to say thank you to the parish for so generously allowing us to use the parish center for all our events (and for free!).
We are part of the programme each year: There are two game rounds with simultaneous gameplay at 3 tables, and at the end of each round and at each table we raffle off quality games to all participants:

There were consolation prizes from Mini Sagaland to dice shaped pencil erasers, too.
Apart from the chance to give something back to the parish, we also see it as a chance to promote board gaming. Every time we put games for different age groups on the table: for smaller kids (Spinderella, Kinderspiel des Jahres 2015), next a family game that can be enjoyed by kids from 10 + and adults together (Rainer Knizia`s Drachenhort and also a Star Wars Clue) and finally a game that has a theme which aims more at adult players, but can be played by older children, too (Evolution).
We nearly always get children around 5 to 10 who come to play. Funny thing, that: Adults either seem to believe that board games are merely children’s’ toys, or they come up with statements like, “Oh, that’s probably way too complicated”. The first is clearly a lame excuse for not wanting to learn anything new. The latter ridicules itself when uttered in the presence of 8 year olds who, after a first brief introduction to the basics, are playing Evolution almost like they had invented the game.
It was a slow start. As usual, not a single adult in sight. But the numbers of children who come to us is slowly increasing, and they come back for more: “I am seven now!” a girl proudly announces and tell us she still likes the games she won the previous two years, and what other games she has or has played since we last saw her. She is bright, self-confident and able to outsmart our little ants with her well-planned strategic spider attacks: Happily playtesting Spinderella with us adults in the knowledge that finally she would get to take the whole box home – due to lack of competition – she has the most wonderful time. Her mom arrives, “I should have known you are here”, and has to be convinced that, yes, her girl actually likes spiders now…!
A much older boy scout who also found the spider game very intriguing and had wanted to play stepped back and started off with Evolution because he thought she really ought to have the game. He is now busy feeding his primitive life form from food floating around in the water hole and selecting how to further evolve it into a more intelligent species that can prevail against the predators ready to jump onto the evolutionary ladder.
The second games round of the day saw more competition, and all tables were nearly full. Star Wars Clue was a hit, but Evolution proved even more popular, even though it was not itself up for the raffle, but Drachenhort instead.

We even had to put in an extra late round for another game of Evolution. Our scout who had already secured himself one Drachenhort copy – and just failed to also get Star Wars Clue – announced that, if he should win a second one, he would give it away to one of the others.
Incidentally, someone who had left for home long before the final round was drawn, so he was then given the chance to determine another happy winner. He is planning to come to our game meetings and become our youngest member before our 15 year old.

Double Feature 2017: Invitation to the Stars and Beyond

July 1st (from 4 p.m. until midnight) / July 2nd (from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m.)
Always wanted to play Twilight Imperium, but didn’t know with whom, when, and most of all where where? You have a game that does not fit on your dining table at home? We have large rooms with large tables, so why not come along. English and German spoken. Entry is free.
We are going to host Twilight Imperium 3 (in English), Civilization (in English), Time Stories (in German), Talisman (in German; with “Die Stadt” / “City”, “Katakomben” / “The Dungeon” and “Heilige Quelle” / “The Sacred Pool” expansions), Arkham Horror (in German; with “Der Fluch des schwarzen Pharaoh” / “Curse of the Dark Pharaoh” expansion).
If you would like to take part in any of these games and want to secure a place at that particular table, you may contact us to be put on the player list in advance.
But, of course, you can bring your own game; again, just contact us so we can reserve adequate table space for you.
We would like this to be a special event and a memorable gaming weekend for everyone:
On both days the teas and Italian coffee are free.
As a special treat (optional) we will organize a spit roast piglet for your dinner on Saturday night. On Sunday morning we meet for breakfast with freshly baked rolls and jam, cheese and meats, everything at cost price (€ 33 altogether). The money will be collected in cash on your arrival; the exact change would be nice.
We are sorry we are not able to provide any accommodation for the night; there are hotels nearby.
Want to join in and conquer a galaxy?

Registration ends on June 24th at 4 p.m.

Welcome at the Dice & Mystics Board Game Guild

Dice & Mystics are an international board game guild, in other words, we are a group of people who enjoy playing board games together.

We meet regularly on Wednesdays (except during school holidays) at our „Spieletreff“ in the parish center of St. Engelbert, Bochum, in rooms with large, well-lit tables generously made available to us by the parish. In the holidays we also gather for game nights at various locations if possible. Our members find us via information on the Dice & Mystics Board Game Geek guild, Meetup and Facebook or are invited along by those who already enjoy gaming with us.

We are not a club but an informal group of board game and RPG lovers without membership fees, officials or obligations, and no rules except those of respect, common courtesy, tolerance and careful handling of the facility and individual property. There is no flow of money whatsoever involved.

We think that board gaming is an intelligent, creative, cooperative and highly communicative hobby which allows many and very different people of all ages and backgrounds to socially meet and have a good time together. Our aims are good games, good company, and lots of fun. Our games can be hilariously simple and funny or really thinky, heavy theme-based games and – depending on their length and complexity – they are for adults and kids. We save the galaxy, swat orcs, raise monsters or kingdoms – or simply watch the bamboo grow. The game rounds are truly international; the Dice & Mystics speak English and German (and often enough simultaneously, too).

We cherish the idea that really anybody can simply come to us and play and share our great hobby.
We bring anything from old classics to modern thematic board games, e. g. of the SciFi, Fantysy and Hoorror genres, and RPGs on the table.

Monopoly, Tokaido, Lords of Waterdeep, Mysterium, Descent 2nd, Battle of Five Armies, Star Trek Panic, Dungeons and Dragons, Codenames, Zombicide Black Plague, Arcadia Quest, Blood Rage, Time Stories, Twilight Imperium 3rd, Arkham Horror, The Others: Seven Sins, Massive Darkness, Takenoko, Space Hulk, Silver Tower, Gorechosen, Lost Patrol, Abenteuer in Mittelerde, Shadows over Hammerhal, This War of Mine, Heldentaufe, Perditions Mouth: Abyssal Rift, First Martian, Adrenaline, Cry Havoc, Gloomhaven, … … …? Why, sure!

Eurogame oder Amerithrash – there are endless varieties!
All our games are privately owned. Many hundreds of different games are at our disposal.

We operate exclusively by our Game Host System (nicknamed the GHoSt) which means:

You can bring your own game and play. You are expected to allow anybody to join you and you are very welcome to join in at any other game, provided there is still room for one more player. If you do not have a game to bring along, you can simply come and join in anyway. Thus we give you the opportunity to regularly share a great hobby without any payments or costs involved.
Our Dice & Mystics group will always be present with different games from their own collections.

We are listed as “Dice & Mystics Board Game Guild” on “BoardGameGeek” (internationally) and on “NRW Spielt” (a German internet platform on gaming in North Rhine Westphalia).

Have fun gaming!

Upcoming: Dice & Mystics Fringe 2017

UPDATE for the Dice & Mystics Fringe Event: We are humbled by the overwhelming interest and enthusiasm in our event. We are full. We are looking forward to meet you all at our place and are deeply sorry not to be able to host more of you fellow gamers!

ROLL UP and join the gaming fun!
We have free gaming space for you.

Our parish center in Bochum will open its porch this October 28th (from 4 p.m. until midnight) for gaming enthusiasts from all over the world again.

After our success in 2016 and fulfilling the request of so many of our guests, we are going to host our second Dice & Mystics Fringe on Saturday October 28th at our game location in Bochum, 15 Minutes by car from the SPIEL.

It is free of any charge and entirely non-commercial.

All we want to do is give fellow board gamers and SPIEL visitors a chance to enjoy their new games and exchange their experiences of the fair. You can unbox and punch your games to rid yourself of superfluous weight on the journey home.
There is space at large and well-lit tables and plenty time to play on Saturday from 16.00 to 24.00 p.m.; however, the places are limited, so we do kindly ask you to contact us so that we can put you on our guest list.

We can give you directions on how to find us (just 3 turns from the autobahn; also by public transport). Hotels and restaurants in the vicinity may be about the same driving distance to the SPIEL as some in Essen.

There will be the opportunity to order food on the premises; a delivery service will take orders at the tables. Teas and coffees are free!

You would like to come? Contact us via contact@diceandmystics.de.  Our Fringe will be a closed event, hence we kindly ask you to provide us with your name, names of additional guests that will come with you, your address and your preferred email for contact. We will confirm your reservation via email.
Registration ends on Wednesday, 18.10.2017.

Dice & Mystics Fringe 2016

International Board Game Event in Bochum
Our Dice & Mystics Board Game Guild host game nights every Wednesday at the Parish Centre St. Engelbert in Bochum (right next to Essen).


At the Spiel Essen 2015 we had heard complaints that there were few opportunities to play and meet other gamers, so – being just 15 minutes away from the Spiel (by car) – we wanted to help out. We sought to provide gaming space free of charge for Spiel attendees, and a chance to unbox and punch tokens in a safe environment and lighten the luggage for the journey home.
Our motivation? We do everything we can to promote the best of all hobbies because it is intelligent, communicative, social, peaceful (no-one dies, they just go back in the box), cooperative (even “one against all” requires a group working together), really everybody can play and all ages fit at one table. Those who can afford cool games can share with those who cannot, and all have lots of fun together. We also fight the common misconception that board games are “just for children”, and at the same time get children into board gaming by hosting an annual event during our parish festival and raffle off quality games donated by our guild members.
From plan into action: What followed still appears to us like a miracle of biblical dimensions. We asked the parish if we could have a room – and they said they wanted to be open and welcoming and hospitable, especially to Spiel attendees from abroad, and gave us the entire building completely free of any charge whatsoever. The janitor even rebooked her family holiday in order to be able to give us the keys and be there for us if we needed her!
Thus we were able to create our Dice & Mystics Fringe. We had up to 140 spaces at our disposal. We advertised on Board Game Geek and were invited to advertise on the site of “NRW Spielt” and other forums. Two game designers offered to demo their prototype, a guild member from Finland promised to demo two games from his Spiel booth.
We asked our online retailer for advice on coffee we could buy for our guests– and he simply sponsored us an unlimited flow of free Italian speciality coffee for everyone! Our caterer volunteered to offer us reduced prices. When looking for presents for some friends and helpers people we had not formerly known came up with brilliant ideas, and on hearing what we needed them for, miraculously produced sold out gift packages they had had reserved for themselves and now offered up willingly; in one case somebody organized two boxes of original “Maßkrüge” (the famous Bavarian 1 litre beer glasses) directly from the Oktoberfest in Munich for us to give away, just like that. Everybody simply wanted to say “Welcome to Germany!” We believe in the kindness of strangers.

What was it like? Was the Fringe a success? Judging by what we were told on the event and by mails we received after, it was. Some data:
– The Dice & Mystics Fringe took place Saturday October 15th. We were open 8 hours from 16 p.m. to midnight.
– 38 from 42 people on our guest list came, about 1/3 of our maximum capacity, which is not at all bad for a first time off. Some more had missed our deadline (October 8th), but as there is just 2 of us doing the logistics, this could not be helped. We needed to state the number of attendees by Oct. 11th because the heavy tables needed to be transported and assembled accordingly.
– People started arriving at 16 p.m. sharp (1st wave). There was another wave at 19.30 p.m. Everyone had been able to easily find us, following the instructions we had given them, and told us the times (just 15 mins. by car, 1 hour by public transport) were accurate.
– We were able to welcome guests from Great Britain, Iceland, the Czech Republic, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and, of course, Germany.
– The huge and very well-lit tables and the nice room were much admired. People were eager to choose their favourite table and settle down comfortably.
– Nearly all attendees came with big backpacks and trolleys and were only too happy to unbox, punch tokens and discard the spare weight into the bins provided.
– There were groups and also solo travellers, and everyone immediately started to communicate. At 16.15 p.m. the first game with 3 nations at one table was launched. From that moment on, there were game rounds until midnight and everybody was having a leviathan of a time.
– Everybody was, indeed, very grateful for the free hot coffee (over 70 cups!).
– What everyone saw as a great plus was that our caterer, a Turkish/Italian/German delivery service, came directly to the tables to take orders (at 18.00 and again at 21.00 p.m.), and that the food took only 30 minutes to arrive.


– After 3 whole days at his booth and with Sunday yet to come, Jalmari Ruokojärvi, CEO of Dragon Dawn Productions, demoed their flagship Perdition’s Mouth – Abyssal Rift until mid-night till he was ready to drop. It is a heavy story based dungeon crawler full of thinky strategy, with impressive artwork and great minis that scream to be painted, so it was an eye catcher on the table. He had also brought Black Hat, but the dungeon crawler soaked up all the attention. (We are very happy and proud to have Jalmari as our guild member.)
– The brothers Francois and Simon Piersonne from Belgium demoed their prototype of Canyon Cup, a kind of stock car race through difficult terrain where you score points not for being first but for giving the most spectacular show to the audience by overtaking, shooting at other cars or even yourself for effect, exploding oil barrels or colliding with them and setting your own car at fire. They were glad to try it with an international audience for the very first time. People had fun playing and happy to give their feedback to the designers.
– We were being told that our Fringe event was of high quality and nearly everybody begged us to make this a regular event; (quote) “What you’re doing is great. It really fills a gap. If there is another Fringe next year, we will be there.”
– Our guests were impressed by the hospitality and generosity of the Parish St. Engelbert, and the Parish were impressed that a large group of people left the building even cleaner and more orderly than before. Nearly 40 people unwrapping, punching cardboard, eating – yet tidying up was a piece of cake. Another miracle? Apparently, board gamers are a very special brand of people.

Hosting our event was exhausting, no doubt about it, but also immensely rewarding, and as we fell into our beds early in the morning, we were happy, happy, happy!!!
And yes, of course we are going to to do it again in 2017!