Trying something different on the blog today – “Meet a Megagamer”. I’ve met so many awesome people through megagaming, and they each have a completely different outlook on the hobby, so I’d like to share some of their perspectives through this regular (maybe monthly?) feature.
And how to kick off “Meet a Megagamer”? By interviewing one of my top megagaming friends. Nuke maniac, dragon killer, avocado enthusiast… Chris Brown is many things. Most importantly (?) he’s one of the co-founders of the new Megagame Assembly website and Facebook Group.
Let’s say hello to Chris…
Hey Chris, how’s it going?
Hey Becky, good thanks! Just sitting in Chicago airport waiting to fly home from Gen Con. How are you?
I’m pretty awesome thanks. How was Gen Con?
It was up and down to be honest! Uber busy and a bit overwhelming at times, but some great megagames, and we got to meet some lovely American megagame designers.
So how many megagames have you done now?
Far too many to mention! I really enjoy megagaming and the community as a whole so I try to play as often as I can.
Your first megagame was one of the big Watch The Skies, right?
That’s right, as a diplomat for the Angolan team at Watch The Skies 4. It was a really hard day as a lot went wrong in Angola and across Africa generally, and I think because we were a majority new team we didn’t know how to handle it. We did manage to capture a couple of DAFT terrorists by the end of the game, but Africa was infested with the zombie virus, Nairobi had been Red Mercury bombed and I fled to live with one of the alien races during the last turn.
Although it was really hard, I could see the potential of megagaming and haven’t looked back since!
You’ve recently started a new megagaming community called Megagame Assembly. What made you decide to start that up?
I think Harrison (Tatem-Wyatt), Matt (Bambridge, aka Mr Megagame) and I all thought we wanted to help the megagame community grow. We’re all passionate megagamers and would love to introduce new players to the hobby, so if the Megagame Assembly site and Facebook group can provide useful information along with a few cheeky megagame memes we’ll be happy.
Back to the games… what’s your favourite sort of role to play?
I love to play political roles, where I can speak to people and negotiate for physical game resources or wider world objectives. Working out who your allies and adversaries are, trying to get what you need from ever-shifting alliances and pushing your team’s objectives forward is enormous fun.
So based on that, what’s the best role you’ve had?
This would have to be as the Soviet Field Marshal at Rob Cooper’s excellent ‘Not Over By Christmas’ (NOBC) megagame in 2016. The game simulated the Soviet/NATO hierarchies responding to what could have happened if the Cold War had turned hot, with Soviet forces invading Western Germany and Denmark. The game showcased what Soviet and NATO forces could have done over a 7 day period, as after the 7th day US forces would start arriving en-mass to support their European allies, effectively halting the Soviet armies in their tracks.
I was nominally in charge, but really my Chief of Staff, Bernie Ganley, was the star of the Soviet show. Bernie produced a fantastic invasion plan to allow our forces to understand what the main objectives of the day were, could take in massive amounts of information and filter it down to a decision point for me and generally keep the complicated Soviet machine running.
To be honest, I thought NOBC was your first game! I hadn’t really run into you at a game before that.
NOBC was actually my fourth megagame so having Bernie as my CoS was invaluable. It enabled me to meet and greet the players on the front line, oversee operations as they happened on the theatre map and generally accuse you, Becky, as the Supreme NATO commander, of trying to start WWIII by resisting the liberating Soviet forces.
It was so much fun and even though I rather enthusiastically tried to start WWIII by breaking out the nukes at the end of the game (strict orders were given not to actually fire any of them!), I think we did exceptionally well. By the end of the game, the Soviet forces controlled Denmark, were advancing north from Munich, past Stuttgart and in a daring Spetsnaz raid had destroyed a REFORGER site stacked full of US equipment.
I’d play NOBC again in a heartbeat!
I’ll reluctantly agree that you came out on top in that game… So what was your best memory from a megagame?
I think accusing you of being wildly reckless by firing six chemical weapons at Soviet forces during NOBC and threatening to respond with all-out nuclear war. This was particularly egregious as the Soviet forces were ordered by me to launch all our chemical weapons at NATO airfields from turn 1! From what I remember, we had 35 chemical weapons cards, vs NATO’s 6…
Well, this was the same game where I, in a fit of “I’ve been playing against Chris Brown all day and I’m going mad”, decided to fire a warning shot nuke within the borders of West Germany. It all went downhill from there…
So is NOBC your favourite megagame?
Possibly, or possibly the original ‘Everybody Dies’. Both games for different reasons, but equally fun I’d say.
At the other end of the scale… worst role you’ve had?
I won’t single out a specific role, but I will say that I do despise not having enough to do at a megagame, regardless of the role I’m playing. I’d much prefer to be over-loaded and have too many things on my plate than be bored, sitting around waiting for things to happen. I understand that it can be very hard for a megagame designer to get right as megagames are really complex beasts, but it is my biggest bugbear.
I agree, I prefer to be too busy at megagames rather than at a loose end. What about any megagaming regrets?
At Tim Campbell’s awesome ‘The Shot Heard Around The Universe megagame, I was the Terran Space Empire Governor’s Chief of Staff, or as described in the Governor’s brief, I was to be considered as a piece of furniture! My regret is that I should have advised the Governor to authorise the Admiral to glass one of the planets from orbit that was refusing to pay their taxes. We had a lot of planets to choose from because virtually everyone was refusing to pay up.
It’s quite possible that such an action would have backfired on our team and pushed the majority of the planets to claim independence, but equally we might have been able to scare them back into line…
Let’s talk design… are you working on anything at the moment?
I’m really not a designer, but I’d love someone to run a Western themed megagame. It’d be so much fun to be able to run around shooting up banks, trains and stagecoaches! If any designer reading this thinks the same, please run it ASAP!
What’s a megagame that would be your personal nightmare?
Anything involving the Kardashians!
You know I’m working on a (loosely) Kardashians inspired kilogame, right? I’ll not bother inviting you then.
If you could play any role in any megagame, what would it be?
An extremely stressed captain of a spaceship, trying to hold everything together whilst his crew goes completely insane. Which is funny, because that’s exactly what’s going to be happening in September this year at Johan Olofsson’s Event Horizon megagame. I can’t wait! Hold me…
So outside megagaming, what do you spend your time doing?
I’m essentially a massive nerd, so playing computer games with my mates is a big pastime. I also love to travel!
No one would have guessed you were a nerd… Tell me something the megagaming community would never guess about you!
Probably that I lived in Melbourne, Australia for almost 6 years and became a dual Australian/British citizen whilst I was there. Australia is a fantastic country and I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to live in Melbourne specifically.
What skill or personality trait do you think is essential for megagaming?
That’s hard to say as it does depend on specific roles sometimes. For example, if you’re in a leadership position you’ll need good organisation, negotiation and communication skills, but if you end up playing at a map, being capable of strategic thinking and maths are usually vital.
Personally, I’ve found my ability to manage people has been enhanced (or at least I think it has!) by playing megagames, which is really kind of awesome.
Why do you megagame? What do you get out of it?
It may be surprising to some, but I’m not a natural extrovert, however I love the social interactions that are possible at megagaming. Player’s backgrounds generally don’t matter and individuals assume any number of different roles for the day. So many things are possible and every game is different.
Now… you don’t have to say me, but favourite people to megagame with?
I would say I’ve found my tribe in megagamers so I’m very happy to play with/against any megagamer. I’ve made quite a few friends though megagaming and I really enjoy seeing them all at whatever game we happen to go to, and then spending time talking about games in the pub afterwards!
How would other megagamers describe you?
Trigger happy, probably!
I think that’s being a bit polite – you did manage to kill the biggest dragon in my game within the first couple of turns!
What do you think the future of the megagaming community looks like?
One second, I’ll just get my crystal ball out…
It’s really hard to say to be honest with you — obviously 2014 onwards has seen a massive explosion of megagame players due to the Shut Up & Sit Down video that they filmed at the original Watch The Skies, which has been great! Five years on though, and unfortunately I’m not sure that many of those new players have stuck around. That said, there are now lots of megagame groups all around the world so I’m really hopeful new games and new ideas will push the idea of megagames forward. Change is inevitable and I really think we should embrace it. I’m naturally optimistic so I really do see a bright future for megagames ahead!
How big a part of your life is megagaming?
I’d say a big part. It’s a disease really, but please don’t help me. Save yourself!
The next Meet a Megagamer…
As mentioned, I’d love this to be a regular feature. I have approached and will be approaching some of the megagamers I know, but I’d love to also feature megagamers I might not have played with yet, from around the country and the world.
If you’d like to be interviewed, then please get in touch!