Continuing the theme of advice for new megagamers I’m going to talk about the logistics of playing in Megagame Makers style megagame (like Watch the Skies). This is player logistics though, not in game logistics (see the military player advice for that).
Logistics of Megagames
Megagames are juggernauts. Once they are rolling they don’t stop. So you need to be prepared for that. Also you need to be ready for everything you need to do during the day. There won’t be time to stop and prep mid-megagame. Even if there is, you’ll want to use that time to play and plan and talk to the other players.
Some people like to dress up in character. This is good for adding flavour and helping you get into role. However it isn’t part of the megagame as designed. You can pretty much wear what you like (subject to the usual caveats around public decency).
What you do want are:
Comfortable shoes, you’ll spend a lot of the day on your feet and/or walking about
clothes with multiple pockets, so that you can stash separate lots of money/counters in them and also pens and notepaper
layers so that you can adjust your temperature depending on the heat/cold
a top you can stick a sticker or pin a badge to, megagames tend to have a name sticker and a role badge
Megagames give you more mental and physical exercise than you would expect. So bring extra snacks with you. If you can bring shareable sweets or similar with you then it is good for team morale. Especially when produced about 2pm! Player morale is vital jn megagames. I’ve seen otherwise strong teams fall apart because their player morale has collapsed.
Have a good breakfast before you arrive at the venue. Bring plenty of no-nalcoholic drink in with you. Have fresh fruit and a healthy lunch that you can nibble on through the morning. Bring out the sugary stuff after lunch. Megagames get critical around lunchtime, the play is building up for a finale and plans need to be unleashed no later than 1430 to have a chance of coming off.
Game related Logistics
You are comfortably dressed, and you have the right food and drink to keep you going. Before the game you read your briefing. So what else do you need for the game?
pens and paper for making and sending notes to other players
dry wipe markers for writing on laminated maps & counters (only if you have them)
printed copy of your briefing, especially if there is a playsheet with a rules summary
small post-its or similar to mark units on a map (small scissors too if you have them) or blutac and little pieces of card
My ten year old son is about to become a Megagamer. We are scheduled to play in two Megagame Maker games later this year. So I’ve been thinking about how to ensure that his first games are fun. Part of that is to ensure that he is engaged. He’s going because he has asked to, not because I’ve made him come. That’s my first bit of advice for a new Megagamer. Play because you want to.
My experience as a megagamer
It’s a long time since I became a megagamer. My first megagame was Death of Fascism, at the Staff College in Camberley. There were over 100 players and dozens of umpires. I was a junior staff officer in OKH, I never saw most of the other players except in the plenary briefings. I do recall being involved in the arrest and court martial of Jodl for failing to obey orders. I also recall the controversial Hitler order to shorten the line to introduce a reserve. It was so good that I signed up for every other megagame going. To date I’ve done about 75, almost a third of them as control. I’ve also seen them being designed and contributed bits to a handful of games. I even have a couple of unplayed megagame designs.
I’ve learnt a lot from being a megagamer. It has helped me refine my negotiating skills, improved my rapid analysis ability, and helped in dealing with difficult people (NB mostly they aren’t really difficult, but they can present that way as part of the game). I’ve also had a lot of fun, and I’ve not ever felt that it was hard work.
Advice for a new megagamer
You’ll already have had the advice from the megagame makers site. It’s the official word on advice for the new megagamer. What follows is my personal executive summary, I’ll try and expand on them if I have time.
Here are some bullets to bear in mind when you play in your first few megagames
Megagames are all about people interacting, so you need to talk to lots of people during the game.
Make everything you do about achieving your objectives
Help other people to achieve their objectives, megagames work best as team games
Always look like a hard target, even when you are not
Don’t make threats you can’t carry out (although once you have a reputation you can play on it)
An adequate plan robustly implemented will do better than optimising, and probably get you inside other players decision loop
When you need to take someone down finish them off quickly to remove the threat of retaliation, they’ll get another interesting role
read the briefings before the game to understand the mechanics and the period, it will enable you to make good decisions rapidly on the day
the megagame waits for no-one, so get moving and engage it
Got any other advice for a new megagamer? Remember your first time and want to share? Leave a comment.