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Pull up a chair and the waiter will bring you a snifter of brandy. Cigar? You’ve been recommended by a mutual friend as a possible member of the Esoteric Order of Gamers. Such a recommendation is not a thing to be taken lightly. The member concerned puts their very reputation at risk, and certainly, at the very least, their own membership. For joining the Order is a weighty privilege. It comes with it a certain code of conduct, a unique perspective on the world, and a dedication and exactitude with which few people are blessed.

Firstly, you will have come to us because of a love of games. Not just any games of course; nothing so coarse as Monopoly or Scrabble! We’ll not have those imposters here. No, you wish to be fully immersed in games of such beauty and ingenuity that by playing them, you are transported to worlds of boundless imagination and endless amusement.

While the mechanics of a game are its vital heart, the theme is its soul and spirit.

But beyond enjoyment of playing, you harbour a deep appreciation of the object itself. In a world of ephemeral, digitally-driven entertainment, you are one of the chosen few who still revel in the feeling of tearing the shrinkwrap off a new game; of breathing in the sweet smell of fresh ink; of the weight of quality gaming components as they sit heavily in the hand.

And yet, the game as bought is not enough; cardboard box inserts and unpainted miniatures mock you with their inadequacy. You are strangely impelled to improve your gaming experience even more, and with the skillful use of the tools that the Order can place at your disposal, you will do so. By dint of hard graft coupled with the sensitive touch of a master craftsperson, you continually seek to beautify these precious objects. No thoughtless child or over-excited dog will ever come near your treasured game collection, and all players will be strictly instructed to wipe their comestible-coated fingers before taking their turn.

With membership of the Order comes a sacred obligation of honourable behaviour. You vow never to share our knowledge with the uninitiated, unless they too meet the strict requirements of our community. You promise never to allow fragile game components to shake about in a box like a slow-motion component view in a Dice Tower video. You abjure the playing of games in a mechanical, ‘play to win’ fashion and shun talking about things like ‘game engines’. And you make ‘pew pew’ effects when attacking in games of conflict.

Remember, that while the mechanics of a game are its vital heart, the theme is its soul and spirit.

We have high standards here, and with your help, they will always be met and exceeded. To all these things you must agree.

It really began back in 2004, when a lifelong interest in boardgaming, roleplaying and miniature gaming was fanned into obsession by the discovery of I began to get serious about my boardgame collection.

But one thing annoyed me. Everytime I took a game off the shelf to play, I had to re-familiarise myself with the rules by reading through an entire rulebook. A rulebook often cluttered with background material, examples, illustrations and, sometimes—let’s face it—just plain bad writing. And the problem got worse the more games I owned.

So I began summarising and condensing the rules onto a single sheet or two; and as a professional graphic designer, I was compelled to carefully match the graphic design of each game. It wasn’t long before I started getting serious about the process, and I was off on a personal crusade to create summary sheets for every game in my collection; and track their development through version numbers.

I have many hundreds of games now, and the obsession has developed. I enjoy my games so much that I like to keep them in great condition, so I’ve designed foamcore box inserts. I enjoy painting miniatures, so miniatures are painted and carefully stored. And most of all, every game has a rules summary so I can quickly read through the rules and refer to them easily during a game. It means less mucking about and more fun. And in a way, it’s all become part of my enjoyment of this hobby.

You’ll find a huge amount of stuff about the kind of games I like.

Early on, I started to share my work on BoardgameGeek and later, on my own blog site. But in 2012 I decided to get serious and The Esoteric Order of Gamers was launched. Here you’ll find a huge collection of material for enjoying and improving your games. Many gamers will grab a summary sheet or two and move on. But I know there are others out there who enjoy the hobby of improving and enhancing their games as much as I do, and who will particularly understand and appreciate the material on offer here.

When it comes down to it, The Esoteric Order of Gamers is about the kind of games I like. The selection may not be to everyone’s taste, but then again I’m not trying to please everybody. I enjoy games that transport my imagination and are sociable and fun, so the emphasis here is on thematic games, not dry exercises in point-scoring. The range of material here continues to grow: beyond the hundreds of summary sheets, you’ll find game reviews, interviews with game designers, miniature painting tutorials, session report videos, unboxing videos, roleplaying game session reports, game photography, and much, much more—even some original fiction.

This is the Esoteric Order of Gamers. Welcome.
Peter Gifford (Universal Head)

Well then, drink up! Welcome to the Order.
You’ve found the place where you belong.