This last Friday night, four of us tested a new play surface I just finished for Ascending Empires. A buddy said it was keen (apparently, ‘keen ice’ is a curling term for that bit of ice that makes the stone move faster/farther with less force). We burned through the first game in just under 45 mins. Took a break, discussed the differences, then setup game two. After the matches, we dated and signed the back (On this day, Friday, March 21, 2014, we the undersigned broke this board in!). It was glorious fun, and as my friend Christian put it: we are all back in spring training. Just in time for spring, too. Having taken both games, I am feeling pretty good heading into the season! Looking forward to next week’s game!

A few thoughts from a recent conflict at the game table, which included a not-so-higher-self moment on my part, and some defensive and offensive behavior on another’s.

Friday night is my church. It’s a place to learn the hard and immensely useful lessons of failure, and the fleeting nature of success (you cannot rest on your most recent victory). Sometimes these lessons are being instructed to others, but they aren’t taking them well. It’s during these times especially that we as competitors must remember that this is a very vulnerable and impassioned space. That has been hammered into me a few times, and thankfully, I am starting to reign in my reptile brain. But this space can be incredibly harsh.

So, there was some conflict. The details don’t actually matter as much as the outcome. I was not my higher self, but sometimes I have to raise my voice and say “shut the fuck up and let me speak a word without interruption”. Sometimes that happens with onlookers. It’s shameful, but when you are in a conflict, it’s a vulnerable space, usually with someone you either care about or rely on, or both.

What I can say is this: I was heard. He was acknowledged, and we agreed on a way to arbitrate this same dispute if it occurred again. Wasn’t my higher self, but the shit kicker comes out under duress. It’s not a pleasant feeling, and am very thankful I don’t feel it nearly as much as I used to. So, maybe there is hope for me after all.

I am once again rewarded in my choice of adversaries, and continue to learn about my own trigger-response behaviors through my own emotional responses to conflict. And hopefully learn to create a more valuable competitive play space. One where we can have a reasonable dispute, a calm response, with a measured, negotiated outcome. A very important set of principles that are incredibly useful in curbing those baser emotional responses to potential loss in a high competition environment. And of specific use for games like Ascending Empires with its flicking mechanic.

I always feel raw after conflicts of such intensity. And I am always thankful for the friends I have that can reconnect after a conflict. That’s how I know I have good friends and not just random folks I play games with. And that’s a very good feeling.