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Losing At All Costs

October 10, 2017

I’m pretty competitive. It’s a tendency I actively work to suppress, especially with my kids. I also don’t think you should lose on purpose.

Last Saturday was an Organized Play (OP) for Star Trek Attack Wing (STAW.) STAW is a table top miniatures game. You literally use small models of the USS Enterprise and any of a dozen other ships and push them around a 3’x3′ tabletop. An OP is a specific scenario that will pit two players against one another with the goal of achieving a specific goal. The particular OP on Saturday was “Chronological Chaos.” The players tried to race around the board to four random spots.

Mostly STAW OP events are variations of “smash” each other. This one was unique in that it was all about maneuvering and going fast. A ship in Star Trek Attack Wing can be almost endlessly modified. You can add captains (Picard, Kirk, Janeway, but also some you’ve never heard of) plus crew, tech upgrades and weapons.

I won the last OP I went to by buying 12 copies of a specific ship to exploit a particular rule. I like to win. I started building a set of ships for Chronological Chaos. Naturally, I picked the fastest possible ship and upgrades combinations. About a week before the event I mentioned to my 17 year old son that I was planning to attend the OP on Saturday. It was at that point that I realized that I was going to lose.

I love my son. He graduated a year early from high school. He’s a few months away from turning 18 and is really ready to move on with his life. But, as a minor he is limited on what he can do. As a result, there’s conflict in our relationship.

When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much he had learned in seven years.
Mark Twain

I think the same can be said for a boy/man of seventeen. I remember being that age and how difficult it was to talk to, let alone associate with my dad. It’s part of the process of growing up and letting go.

So, when my son suggested that maybe he might like to also attend, I readily accepted. He also quickly took over the building of the racing fleet made up of Star Trek Federation ships. I started building using a different species in the Star Trek universe. There was no way that my fleet was going to be able to compete with the racing fleet he built. I tried some other strategies designed to slow him down.

Saturday we drove an hour North to the Friendly Local Game Store (FLGS) that was hosting the event. We play three games with a different opponent each time. I narrowly lost my first game. I ended up with a bye the second round and the third round was against my son.

A typical STAW ship moves about 6-8″ each turn. My son’s ship, nicknamed “The Rabbit” moved about 35″ the first turn. Of the four checkpoints we had to pass through, he was through the second one before my ships had touched the first one.

I recently watched a clip of an old movie called “Final Countdown” where a modern US Navy aircraft carrier traveled back in time to 1941. Two F14 Tomcats (modern jet fighters) went into a dog fight with a couple of propeller driven Japanese Zero’s. The battle with my son was something like that.

He easily won every game and was the overall winner of the OP. I realized that if he hadn’t attended, I would have won easily. But, I had absolutely no regrets.

He’s moving later this month to go and live with his older sister in Logan, Utah. He’ll apply at Utah State University in the fall. He’s anxious to move out, and honestly, I’m ready for him to move, too. But, I try to keep in mind that we’ll be father and son for a long time. While he’s at home I only have a few opportunities left to strengthen our relationship.

If it means I lose a game that I should have won, it’s worth the cost.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

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