You know, it hadn’t fully dawned on me until recently that 2001 was a really sad year for me, games-wise. Perhaps this didn’t dawn on me because 2001 didn’t actually get sad until 2002. To unpack that a little, I had two games I was collecting avidly in 2001 (both collectible, natch): Z-G and Vortex. Both are kinda dead on their feet now, although Z-G a little more so. Vortex is still around, but it isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, and I wouldn’t bet on any expansions coming out soon to add more juice or address problems. Atomoton, on the other hand, hasn’t updated their website in eight months and fell silent on its Yahoo group almost as long ago. It ain’t looking good for the Zigs, kids.
I bring this up for a couple of reasons. First: I’ve made excited posts every time a collectible game has threatened not to suck in the past few months. Why am I into these things? I think it has to do with the way they’re so… public. Playing a CCG feels like being a part of the world, like swimming around in something bigger than you, rather than taking the whole thing home in a box (what a letdown). It was actually INWO that reintroduced me to gaming as an adult; maybe I’m just easily trainable. (Have I mentioned that INWO gets played at the store about twice a week these days?) Second, I took a swing by Tom Jolly’s site last week, for the first time in much too long, and noticed his page on Variants for Vortex. He claims the Vortex pieces are ideally suited to designing other games around, and he might be right. In fact, Allan and I once spent about half an hour trying to come up with a Diceland-like game played with mixed armies of Vortex and Sack Armies tiles. So, maybe I’ll be busting out the Vortex again. Thanks, Tom!