Background for the uninitiated: there’s a tradition on the giant uber-spanning gaming website called BOARDGAMEGEEK.COM of running a “Secret Santa” event. This was started by Mr. Tom Vasel, who is famous for his voluminous commentary on boardgaming, the Dice Tower podcast, and his many video reviews on YouTube. Links to all of these are in the sidebars on the left of this blog, the Third Point of Singularity. That’s the thumbnail sketch if you’ve been hiding under a rock. Game geeks know of the site, Tom Vasel, his podcast, and probably a lot more if you get them started. Tom ran the Secret Santa contest from 2005 (I think) until 2009. This year, he split off from the BoardGameGeek.com Secret Santa and started his own thing, a Secret Santa “megacontest” run by the podcast THE DICE TOWER. Details on the Dice Tower version were given in Episode 184:
click right arrow to listen
Well, as some of you might know, Tom’s grand scheme was monkeywrenched a little bit by the premature arrival and perilous first month of Tom’s son Jack. Mom, Dad and son are all a bit frazzled but recovering nicely. A volunteer stepped in and the Contest went off in grand style. I decided to participate in both the BGG contest and Tom’s new one, and dutifully volunteered, was assigned a target, and sent packages off to my “targets” as soon as I could manage. I won’t reveal who they were and what they wanted, the point of the whole exercise is to remain anonymous.
Last weekend I received a suspicious box, obviously from the Pittsburgh, PA area (based upon
wrapping paper forensic analysis), which contained my first present back from a Secret Santa contest, the game DICE TOWN, published in 2009, along with a very nice card. I wasn’t sure which Secret Santa sent it– the Dice Tower Secret Santa or the Boardgame Geek one.
Last night, I received a large box last night with none other than WARHAMMER: CHAOS IN THE OLD WORLD in it! Santa took the time and effort to individually wrap the items in gift wrap and leave a nice note for me. This was no casual Santa. In the note, he made it clear that he had done some research into the kind of games I like and noted that I liked to “game on the go” (a very true statement– my children and I make a ritual of playing smaller, quick playing games at restaurants, I have blogged about this subject many times). To that end, Santa also included POCKET BATTLES: Celts versus Romans in the box. Strange, he must have done a scan of this blog to pick up on that. What can I say? except maybe:
THANK YOU, SANTA!
I appreciated all l of these presents very much– but the capper for me was the very nice notes left in the box demonstrating care and foresight. They really made my week.
Observations: a very good Secret Santa was had by all. This little event means a lot to me personally, I enjoy being able to reach out anonymously and increase someone’s karma by giving them a present without being observed. I haven’t been able to spend as lavishly as some folks on BGG but I try to include at least something my target is wishing for in the Must Have or would Love to Have categories on their wish list. Receiving a present is a fun bonus, too, but I really don’t live for it. One thing I’m taking away from 2010 is that I will have to bring my A game for 2011. Both of my Secret Santas took the time to wrap their gifts and leave something extra like a note or a card– something to personalize the experience. I have just let the online vendor take care of everything, which seems so impersonal now. Not any more!
Lastly: There were two Secret Santas this year that I knew of, and I just discovered a third for Wargamers Only far too late to participate. As both of my “secret santas” practiced good opsec, as it were, I wasn’t sure who had sent what, so I didn’t know who to thank in what forum or geeklist. It’s important to feedback to the sender that the gift has been received, so I just said “Thank you” in both forums for the first present I received (Dice Town). To prevent repetitive effort next year, I suggest we add codes like “BGG”, “Grognard” and “TDT” in front of the word “Secret Santa” in correspondence so we don’t get confused. Just a thought.
And with that, Merry Christmas to all, Happy Solstice, and a safe, happy, and prosperous 2011 to all of you.