Football for Nerds

Writer_smallerFootball Crazy, Football Mad

For those not of Europe, or those even further removed from the sporting world than we are, the ‘Euros’ are currently on. This means Ireland collectively goes down to the pub a few nights a week to watch our national team play soccer.

At the time of writing the comic, Ireland had managed one defeat and a draw. However, by the time of writing this blog post, they had added a victory to this tally (1-0, exciting stuff, right?). This has in fact allowed them to qualify for the next stage, so I guess the competition could not accurately be described as fierce. Nonetheless, even the most die-hard fan would admit that getting to the this stage was far from likely, so it is a big deal for a country not given to major sporting success in this field. The media coverage, and national interest, has felt ubiquitous.

Anyway, no-one comes here to read about soccer, you’re all here to read about board games. So I guess I should apologise now, because I’m far too excited about Game of Thrones to talk about board games this week.

 

**SPOILERS AHEAD**

There genuinely was whooping and shouting and cheering in our house. That was not exaggerated for comic effect. That was one of the most tense, grim, action-packed, exhausting and satisfying hours of television I have ever seen. Mostly thanks to what was probably the best battle scene ever filmed for film or television. From when Ramsay sent Rickon running across the battlefield, until Jon Snow grappled him to the ground, it didn’t let up for a minute.

As absorbed as I was in the episode, I don’t think I realised exactly how invested I had become in Game of Thrones until the Stark Banner was unfurled again at Winterfell. I couldn’t then help but join in the cheering, in that sense of justice, relief, finality and bitterly won success.

The only board game related note that I can add to this is that we will definitely be playing the Game of Thrones board game the next chance we get. Although it will be a little strange to visit a Westeros so changed, holding hands of cards filled with characters long since deceased. It will almost be nostalgic, if a little tragic.

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Hobby of choice

Writer_smallerSome points on Ireland

Actual yearly rainfall figures in Ireland run from 150-225 days a year. It just feels like a lot more.

It’s not news to anyone that Ireland has a reputation for alcohol consumption, and the sorry truth is the country does have a harmful relationship with alcohol. It is one that is ingrained in our culture, and unfortunately, one that does not seem to be improving. You never have to climb too far up anyone’s family tree to find alcoholism and related troubles, and yet the pattern continues, generation after generation, round after round. An economic crisis that has impacted the whole country, making this generation the first in history to be poorer than the last, is unlikely to help break the pattern any time soon. The depth of damage caused by the crisis, and more to the point, by the government’s handling of it, runs deep, and with no appropriate health and education support structures there to manage the damage, the effects will manifest in many ways, and for many years to come. This isn’t the place for political discourse, but honestly, things like this just make me so goddamn angry I have to get it out.

Now that it’s out of my system, back to the comic.

So, hurling.

Considered the oldest field sport in the world, it’s also said to be the fastest. The leather bound ball (think baseball) travels in and around 100MPH, belted from wooden stick to wooden stick by teams of 15 opposing players, who, other than a plastic helmet and facemask, wear no protective padding. It’s played on a pitch similar to soccer, just with a much greater chance of having your teeth knocked out by a tiny whirlwind of leather and danger. Or a man with a stick, for that matter, if you’re stupid enough to try and make a play for the ball. Because the stick he is carrying is a solid piece of wood carved from an ash tree, bound at the top with metal. In case you think I’m exaggerating, here’s a tidbit from Irishhealth.com:

“Around 96% of all hand fracture cases seen at the Waterford Regional Hospital casualty department were caused by playing hurling, the research reveals. Just one player out of 128 who attended the hospital with a hand fracture had been wearing protection on their hands.

Most of the fractures were caused by a blow from a hurley. They result from a blow on the exposed portion of the unprotected hand as it grips the hurley.”

You really have to see it though, in order to understand just how much I never want to enjoy it at a distance closer than our television.

I was going to leave it there, but a thought popped into my head, and I’m really very curious now: What got you into board gaming? If you want to join the conversation, I’d love to hear your story.

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