A Golden Week of Gaming

Golden Week is a week in the Japanese calendar sandwiched between the end of April and the beginning of May. A confluence of national holidays - Children's Day, Greenery Day, Showa Day (Emperor Hirohito's birthday) and Constitution Day - come together at this point resulting in a week long break for most people. Much of my Golden Week was spent on games and gaming. Here is a brief summary of the analog gaming that went on during the extended holiday:

Saturday 27 April

Started off Golden Week by watching Avengers: Endgame in the afternoon by myself. I promised to see it with Hiromi, but I couldn't wait, so I sneaked off after my morning classes and went to Iruma to watch the movie. A part of me thought that there was no reason to see the movie with her, but promises are promises, fair weather or not. Technically I'm breaking it, but I'm still going to see it with her later in the week, so I guess I'm only partially breaking my word?

Sunday 28 April

My Aberration turns on its handlers.

Deadzone at Craft Lab in Nishi-Tokorozawa. I had a choice of going to the game day at JIGG Akihabara or playing Deadzone, and I went and played Deadzone instead. I instantly regretted my decision, because there was no one there at Craft Lab when I arrived, and so I ended up playing a game with the store manager. I played Mazon Labs versus Tsuneda-San's Marauders and wiped the floor with him. The Mazon Labs list I brought was very strong - the two Aberrations just ROFLstomped their way through the map. Tsuneda-San was also new to the game, and made rookie mistakes which ended up costing him any chance of winning.

Setting up for the second game.

After our game wrapped up Miopin and Tsuyoshi rolled up and I was able to tee up a three way match between my Mazon Labs list, Tsuyoshi's Enforcers and my Forge Fathers which I lent to Miopin. Once again my stupidly strong Aberrations rolled their way across the map and got me the win. One of them was shot down by Forge Father fire and the other was nearly killed by the Enforcers, but Tsuyoshi was deployed so close to me that I was able to get into combat quickly. I realized that multi-player matches in Deadzone require more than one mat, because it's unfair to shooting factions to be placed so close to close combat factions, which is what happened to Tsuyoshi. It was also funny to see my Aberration get caged in by the terrain because it was too big to fit through the gaps. It ended up having to take a long, circuitous route to get into combat, all the while getting peppered by Forge Father and Enforcer fire. It didn't matter - its toughness and resilience allowed it to soak up a tremendous amount of firepower, and once it got into combat it was game over for the other factions.

Monday 29 April

The Empire squares off against their Elven nemesis.

Played my second game of The Ninth Age 2nd edition with Rodion in Sangenjaya. I played Empire versus his High Elves, and once again lost to my Finnish nemesis, although it was much, much closer this time. If we had a do over I would play the same army list, as a couple of lucky rolls my way would have dramatically turned the game in my favor. Rodion loves his dragons, and if one of the cannons had actually connected it the game would have been different. Next time, Rodion, next time...

Rodion and his blasted dragons.

I was very happy with how powerful the Empire list is in the 2nd edition. I thought the High Elves were ridiculously OP until I saw what I could take in my army. High Elves will always shred me in combat, but our missile weapons and artillery options are no joke, and can do some damage to the expensive elves. I look forward to more games in the future.

Tuesday 30 April

Went to Swaroop's apartment for what I thought would be a board gaming session, but which turned out to be a day of console gaming. Swaroop is one of Stevie's mates, and he had extended an invite to me after drinking a couple of weeks ago with the lads. Spent the afternoon with Swaroop, his girlfriend Jade, Anthony, Alex, Steve, and his new girlfriend Mayumi. We played a whole bunch of games on console, including Bomberman, Smash Brothers and some really funny trivia based games which required us to use our smartphones to answer. Ate some excellent biryani made by Swaroop himself. I'd forgotten how fun console games can be.

Wednesday 1 May

Was planning to go to Minami-Tama to play some The Walking Dead with a new group I found via Twitter, but decided against it. I chose to rest instead, and take the day off. This group will definitely remain on my radar, however, as they seem to be a group that plays TWD on a regular basis.

Thursday 2 May

Gareth came over to play some De Bellis Antiquitatis (DBA). I played the Swiss, he played the French, and the French got steamrolled, no thanks to anything I did. I just moved the troops up in a line and the cavalry kept bouncing off my pikes. It felt like I was just rolling dice. I'm not impressed with DBA, to be honest, despite its solid reputation among historical wargamers. Afterwards we watched episodes one to three of Game of Thrones. Gareth has some major drama going on in his life, and while I'll keep details to a minimum here, it just shows that marriage, kids and the domestic life are not always the keys to happiness that some people believe they are. I worked as a divorce solicitor for a few years straight out of college, so I already knew the kind of nasty shit people do to each other when they fall "out" of love. It's hard to remember that when you are enamored with someone, though, or when you are lonely and looking for a partner to validate yourself. Or clinging onto something that is clearly over.

Friday 3 May

I went out on my final "date" with Hiromi. We watched Avengers: Endgame together as "promised" so many months ago, and ate yakiniku afterwards. I felt some regret at breaking my promise earlier in the week, but in the final analysis it makes no difference - it only affects me, and my perception of myself. I was glad to see that I was genuinely happy to see her. It's funny how both of us are going out of our way to avoid touching each other now, but the end hug when saying goodbye was genuine, at least on my part. I wish her well, and harbor no more fantasies for our shared future.

Saturday 4 May

Kings of War at Nishi-Tokorozawa.

Kings of War at Craft Lab in Nishi-Tokorozawa. This was quite a large gathering, as Biriwara, Narumi, Sakura, Pumimin (all Twitter handles) and a random Japanese dude whose name I never got all converged on the venue to play the game. After a round of explanations we played a doubles game, with my Varangur teaming up with Sakura's Forces of Nature to take on Biriwara's Undead and Pumimin's Abyssal Horde. My Varangur ended up getting wiped out to man, but Sakura's work on the right flank salvaged a draw for our team. I'm glad Pumimin had fun. He was able to absolutely smoke me in his second game of KoW. I was afraid that I had turned him off for good after steamrolling him two weeks prior. Afterwards Gareth turned up and I was able to get a few games of Condottierre going by roping in Tsuneda-San. Ended the day by riding home in a torrential monsoon, and burning a hole in my ass thanks to eating way too much spicy food from our local Indian kebab stall.

Sunday 5 May

JIGG Game Day at Akihabara. Played two scenarios of Gloomhaven, and two games of Nemesis. Two more games off the bucket list. Nemesis was surprisingly fun, and the three dudes I ended up playing with the majority of the day were pleasant to play with. English Michael, Indonesian Ignatius and American (Canadian) VJ, I hope to meet you guys again next time I drop into Akihabara. There was a fourth player whose name I never got, and he was starting to annoy me with his snarky attitude during a game of Nemesis. He came good in the end, though, and by the end of the game I had warmed to him and his blunt and somewhat abrasive disposition. I don't know what that says about me and my own attitudes, but I suppose the universe is just telling me to be more patient and not rely so much on first impressions.

English Michael, mystery dude, Ignatius and VJ all playing Nemesis.

Monday 6 May

I cannot tell you how much it used to shit me that Gareth counts on me to be his shoulder to bitch on whenever his life takes a turn for the worse, but he is never receptive whenever I need to get something off my chest. That dude doesn't listen to anyone - all he does is wait for his turn to talk. That was then, though, and nowadays I've accepted the fact that he will never be a confidant. If I tell him a sad story about myself his response will be to try and top it with a sadder story of his own, and it turns the whole conversation into a twisted game of one-upmanship about who has had the more tragic life. He reminds me many ways of my stepfather, and that is not a good thing.

I would still count him as a mate, however. He is one of the boys I can hang with, talk history and politics with, and play wargames with. He was back at my house today, and we played a game of Horde of the Things, a fantasy wargame based on the DBA system. I think he still thinks I might convert to DBA one day, but I'm afraid that door is well and truly closed. We like different things, it's as simple as that, and we should stop trying to change each other. He is a bad spot right now though, and so I humor him as best I can by letting him play the games he wants to play.

Friday 17 May

Not technically part of Golden Week, but lumped together because it made a logical bookend to this blog post. My other mate Steve had his birthday party and he celebrated it by gathering a bunch of guys and gals to a karaoke bash in downtown Shinjuku. I tripped the light fantastic for the first time in about a decade, and the evening was spent in a mellow haze listening to all sorts of music I had listened to as a younger man. This was the first time I'd hung out with Steve's friends outside of gaming, and they were a great bunch of folk, very relaxed and easy to talk to. It's funny that all of the boys there were spoken for except for myself, leaving myself and another one of the girls there as the nominal pair. Sadly I was in no mood to flirt or be sociable, preferring to zone out to Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb and Wish You Were Here. Sometime during the night I realized that while some people go on to get married and have kids and live lives of domestic bliss I was not going to be one of those people. If life is a three tiered existence where the top tier is domestic bliss and the bottom tier is a vicious power struggle masquerading as marital relations then I am squarely in the center. Life could be infinitely better, but it could also be much worse. Looking at the ruins of Gareth's and Rosa's respective marriages as well as the wreck of my parents' own, coupled with my time mediating between squabbling partners in my first professional job has taught me this. And yet the sadness that comes with this blows through my soul, rising to the heavens and whistling forlornly through the silent void between the stars. Tonight was a requiem for the dreams of a young university student who once listened to the same music in a different time and place and dreamed of a brighter, warmer future.

In Retrospect

That was a truly eventful two weeks, filled with hellos, goodbyes and everything in between. It's funny that I can move in and out of so many social circles - gaming, music and martial arts - with apparent ease, and yet I feel so alone these days. There is so much to be said, and unpacked and ruminated on, but in the end writing about it changes nothing, so I'll just leave it at that.