Board Gamers of Singapore #5: Xeno (The One Man Army)
Singapore is small and one of the most densely packed populations in the world. Thus when it comes to doing activities here, space becomes more of an issue than distance. Thus to those who are regulars in the board game community here, meetups are usually the way we indulge in the hobby and meet others to widen our circle of gamers.
The fact that Singapore has such a thriving community of gamers is thus owed to a large extent to the selfless hosts like Xeno who keep their sessions not only enjoyable but regular too.
Xeno started his board gaming career at Braddell Heights Community Center (CC) around 2010. At the time, his colleague had started a board gaming meetup there and invited Xeno to come and try some games. He recalls how mind-blowing an experience it was for him and was amazed that there were so many different games other than the classics like Monopoly. Also at the meetup, he played what would become one of his favourite games, Agricola. He was seriously beaten in the strategic game about building a medieval farm and was determined to get better at it in subsequent games.
Time passed and Xeno found himself at Cheng San CC with some friends to indulge in his new found hobby of board games on some Sunday afternoons but noticed all the available space. He felt it would be ideal if the group could be expanded into something more public. This was achieved when he discovered Meetup.com. Since then, the group has grown vastly and now sees an average of 30 gamers attending the monthly meetup.
Ironically, as the group has expanded, Xeno has found himself playing less games during the meetup in lieu of making sure everything runs well. His main focus always on the newcomers as he understands that the future of the hobby is achieved by growing the number of gamers.
Now for most hosts, this is where the story would have ended but Xeno has gone beyond and has even expanded into bigger events like 2016's It's Time to Play!, also held at Cheng San CC but in the event hall, which hosted over a 100 gamers for a full day of gaming, competitions, prizes and was a great success.
The selfless work that Xeno applies to his meetup has definitely benefited the community and he does it all for free. Thus his effort and motivation equaling the efforts of many others, truly fitting of the nickname 'One Man Army.'
Xeno's recommended game of the day is Ascension, especially the Immortal Heroes and Storm of Souls expansions. Ascension is a deck-building game in which players spend the currency of the game, 'Runes' to acquire more powerful cards for their deck from a lineup of available cards.
Each player starts with the same few cards but as the game goes on, one has to not only buy cards that improves their deck but get cards that counters the ever changing deck of the opponent. In the end, the player with the most honour points wins the game.
Xeno loves Ascensions, especially with the above-mentioned expansions because it allows for more interesting big plays and rewards strategic planning.
His one flaw of the game but only if he is nitpicking is that there are not many cards in the game that can affect the other player's deck, thus equaling a less interactive experience.
Overall, the mix of strategy and mitigation of luck is something Xeno looks forward to in Ascension. If you are interested, do turn up at Cheng San and ask him to teach you the game. I can assure you he will be more than happy to.