Focus Like a Jedi

September 3, 2017

Having hobbies is a great thing. If not for hobbies, what would we do with our spare time? Clean the house?!

Way back when I was 13, my brother and I got a game called Hero Quest for Christmas. It wasn’t your average board game. It had a campaign feature, lots of interactivity, and an ever-changing game board. Neat!

That love of gaming carried over into my freshman year when not only did I get into this new thing called collectible card games, but a few friends introduced me to role-playing games. I mean, I knew what they were, but didn’t have anyone to enjoy them with.

I never looked back, despite a few years of not doing much.

So for the past few years, I’d been out of gaming pretty big time. I wanted something new that I could play, not waste a lot of money on, and actually enjoy with a community of others. Last October, I found my game.

Star Wars Destiny, a new collectible card game from Fantasy Flight Games. My relationship with FFG is long and varied, but I can always count on them to make quality games. This was no exception.

I’ve been into the game pretty hardcore since it came out. Due to a lack of funds and time, I haven’t been able to go to any of the big, major tournaments, but that should change next year. What’s cool is, there’s a new set coming out in two weeks!

It’s been killing me. Specifically, my writing.

Okay, not that much. But I recently made my master list, and I’ve been following it pretty good. Editing, mostly, but things are getting done. I’m happy! It’s a lot better than sitting around and not doing it.

The worst thing is, I’ve been paying a lot of attention to the new cards from the upcoming Star Wars set. More than I should be.

It’s okay, though. This excitement lasts a few days, then dies down, and I’m back to the grind. In fact, as I write this, it’s a three-day weekend for me. What time I have to myself (which is most of it), I can do pretty much anything I want, which again is mostly editing.

However, I did come up with a new story idea the other day. Why?! I’m trying to finish a novel here!

I just need to promise myself to keep working on this. Star Wars is awesome, and I’m super excited about it! But it’s killing me to have to wait. That’s good, though—it isn’t going anywhere.

And neither am I. But the chance to get my writing back on track and have things where they need to be is. Time to keep it moving. Time to put the cards aside for the weekend, and focus. Like a Jedi.

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Christmas, 1988. I was nine years old. Like typical kids, my brother and I watched cartoons after school, and our sister, a few years older, had a steady stream of television and the like to keep her mind turning into mush. We were pretty much your typical suburban white privilege kids.

And we wanted damn near every stupid thing we saw on TV.

So there’s this new game. Well, new to us, because we hadn’t seen it yet. But this new game, with these awesome commercials. This game that looks better than any board game we’d ever seen, and has a really cool theme with, like I said, awesome commercials.

Fireball freaking Island.

Go watch the commercial. Go on, I’ll wait.

Fireball Island Commercial!

Pretty cool, huh? Damn straight. So cool that you can find all sorts of stuff online about it. I’m hardly the first to write about it. Two of the more well-known reviews of it are the no-longer-written but still awesome X-Entertainment (Matt now writes Dinosaur Dracula and has more recently spoken about the game on his Purple Stuff Podcast), and James Rolf’s Board James persona. Both are worth checking out (and are actually linked on the Wikipedia page for the game).

As you can see from the YouTube video, there are several websites dedicated to the game. More video reviews of it. So much on the web that gushes love for this game!

But I’m not here to say the same things they said, or any other site. I wanted to talk about the game because it reminds me of some fun memories with my siblings.

Recently, my only nephew turned 11. I love when there’s a birthday or some sort of holiday, because it gets my brother, sister and me together. We all have a lot of fun, usually ending up talking about our childhood and laughing the whole time. With our nephew and niece, we can often relate stories to them of “when we were your age” and watch them cringe. It’s a good time.

So I was thinking of Fireball Island, and how the older we got, one of the few times the three of us would sit down together and be civil with each other was with a game. That Christmas, ’88, we received several other big ticket items. Our dad must have gotten a pretty big bonus check, unless our parents just managed to put aside a good Christmas fund.

Like I said, we were your typical white privilege kids, so Christmas was always a pretty good blowout for gifts for us (not so much birthdays, though). But in ’88, we had some big things. So imagine us all having our own things to do. And yet we still sat down to play a game with each other.

The rules were pretty easy. A lot of online reviews will talk about the complex rules, but I think that’s because the kids today are soft. They need someone to hold their hand every step of the way. Not us, no way. We got tossed in and left to deal with it on our own.

You moved your little explorer guy, and drew cards. If you had the right card, you could launch a fireball. The marbles would go down their respective paths, and knock over other play pieces, and even bridges. There were transport caves, and a mystical jewel that you had to claim. If you didn’t watch that commercial, go do it so you can see what I’m talking about!

I tried to play the game with friends, but they never wanted to. I had boring friends.

Maybe it was because we didn’t feel the need to fight each other with fireballs. Maybe that was why me, Amy and Andy loved it. We could compete in a friendly game, while knocking each other down with fireballs. Who wouldn’t love that?

For some reason, with the resurgence of games, especially board games, no one has brought this back. Go to any Barnes & Noble, or a friendly local game store, and check out all the amazing games they have. It goes far beyond Monopoly or Life, much more than anything Milton Bradley ever put out. Some games cost $50 or more, with hundreds more pieces. So why not bring back Fireball Island?

I keep thinking about this game. I keep wanting to write a story about it. Perhaps I shall. But more than that, perhaps I’ll sell a kidney and find a complete version of Fireball Island on ebay.

Maybe someone will realize how great that game truly was, and understand that a new generation needs to experience it. Bring it back, Milton Bradley. Bring it back.