The Jack Vasel Memorial Fund (JVMF) is a charitable organization started by the Dice Tower’s own Tom Vasel, dedicated to helping gamers in need. You have probably heard of it from podcast outros, announcements on videos, or from the holiday auctions. I have been very lucky and am not a gamer in need, but I wanted to tell a personal story from the other side, from the benefits of being a donor.
My name is Corey Thompson, I write occasional articles for Dice Tower News, and I was able to go to Dice Tower Convention in Orlando, Florida this past July. At the convention, during the live JVMF auction, I bid on a “giant wooden abstract game” from the company Gigamic Games. You can watch the auction on YouTube, I’m the odd tattooed guy in the front row. It’s fun to watch my foibles; I awkwardly bid on several things I didn’t win. At this point, I knew of some of the abstract games by Gigamic, but hadn’t played many of them. However, the auction was for charity, and “GIANT WOODEN GAME”, so I was all in.
Fast forward to September, some lost emails and miscommunications on my part, and Gigamic found themselves in a nationwide driving tour of game stores, showing off their games from coast to coast. It turned out that I lived near their final stop, so Nate Scheidler made the amazing offer to hold a game demo at my house. I scrambled, invited as many gamers as I could think of, and on September 29, my house was a stop on the Gigamic Gigatour.
Nate brought over giant versions of their classic abstract games Pylos, Katamino, Quixo, Quarto, Quoridor, and Marrakech. Each game looked more magnificent than the last, and even though I am not traditionally an abstract game player, it was difficult picking a favorite. Pylos involved carefully choosing moves to conserve my wooden spheres, Quixo was a great combination of tic-tac-toe and a sliding puzzle, Quarto had a unique take on the you-pick-I-choose mechanic, while giant Marrakech was the ultimate tactile area control game with its amazing fabric rugs.
Later in the evening, Nate set out a giant version of the semi-cooperative social game Hellapagos for 8 of us, complete with a giant island. Let’s just say I was voted off the island for shooting people, then eaten by cannibals, and finally resurrected near the endgame, so I’m not really sure how I did. New Gigamic games Squadro, Kontour, Kaosmos (being renamed Cosmic Factory) and Tutti Frutti also made appearances. Nate supplied a fantastic food spread and announced he would match the food costs with another donation to the JVMF.
About 25 people had an amazing day playing light, easy to learn, completely absorbing games, thanks to Gigamic, Nate Scheidler, and one lucky bid at the JVMF auction. I would recommend first hand checking out everything JVMF offers, including the holiday auction on BGG each year, and if you can be in town, the silent and live auctions at Dice Tower Con. Not only is the organization a truly good charity for people in need, but the benefits in games played and people met were for me personally, indescribable.
PS. I got to keep giant Marrakech!