board game from a mysterious benefactor

The Board Game Benefactor

For one board game fan, an elusive prize was won only with the help of a kind but mysterious stranger

Tony Miller has been a board game geek since he was a kid, when his dad brought home the deduction game Sleuth, by designer Sid Sackson. “The deductive reasoning of the logic puzzle that Sleuth presented directly affected the types of careers that I have sought out,” Miller told Good Turns recently.

Sleuth wasn’t the last game to have a strong effect on Miller, who’s now a network operations technician. More recently, it was a game from Polish publisher Portal Games with the somewhat ominous title Theseus: The Dark Orbit, in which players compete against each other to survive while trapped on a space station in deep space. The game first appeared in 2013, but wasn’t widely available in the U.S., and Miller was unable to find it at any of the gaming conventions he attended. Shipping costs from Europe were prohibitive. Aside from the occasional query on social networks, Miller’s quest to get his hands on a copy seemed to be at an end.

Then, earlier this year, San Francisco board game designer Grant Rodiek happened to be selling a copy. Though Miller didn’t have the extra funds at the time (having recently stocked up on games at a board game convention), he took to Twitter to let Rodiek know how much he was interested in the game. Not long after that, Miller was surprised to find a package delivered to his home in Kentucky, containing Rodiek’s copy of the game.

“I don’t know what your level of effort was in making this happen, but it made my entire year”

Interestingly, Rodiek was not Miller’s mysterious benefactor. Good Turns has spoken to the perpetrator of the good deed, and it wasn’t him (though he did bring the story to our attention). Whoever it was, Miller expressed his heartfelt thanks to the person in this YouTube video:

He added to his message of gratitude when we spoke: “I can’t begin to thank you enough for not just taking notice of a simple conversation on the Internet but jumping in and making this happen. I don’t know what your level of effort was in making this happen, but it made my entire year, and every time I sit down with this game I can’t help but smile. Your kindness is most appreciated and I hope to pay it forward myself.”

And how’s the game itself? “This game is exactly what I had hoped that it would be,” Miller says. “It is one of the best two-player games in my collection. Its blend of modern and old-school mechanisms is perfect for people who love emerging strategy in games.”

“Board games are no longer just a hobby to me. I play them, I design them, and I even have a podcast about helping others to get into the industry,” Miller says. “The social experience of sitting down with other people and playing board games is second to none. Board gaming is a niche hobby market where people don’t get rich in dollars, but it can certainly enrich your mind, your relationships, and your spirit if you let it.”

The people involved in this good turn certainly seem to have let it enrich their spirit. It’s even managed to enrich ours.

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