What I love the most about playing card and board games is the ability to play against my friends and create moments of utter “Wow, I did not think this combo was even possible!”. It is always exciting, especially with games that none of us have played before. It’s great to see how everyone finds their own way to try to break the mechanics and see whose ideas come out on top.
My name is Łukasz Bugyi, and I am a student taking a gap year between Master and Ph.D. studies to work in my field. What inspired me to choose my job was my father, who always stood out as my role model for what engineers can do. I am originally from Poland, but I currently live in Germany, because that is where my company is.
Outside of my job, I love Wargaming, board games, and card games, specifically Trading Card Games (TCGs) and Collectible Card Games (CCGs). With the invention of cheap, high-resolution 3D printing, I have been diving into what becomes possible in board games and wargaming, where you can make your own figures. I was blown away by the community of people (mainly Warhammer fans) who create a lot of very high-quality designs to bring new models to the table and improve existing ones. Lately, I have started designing elements for wargaming in CAD software, which I find oddly relaxing (the photo towards the end of the article is one of my latest creations).
Since I can remember, my family has always enjoyed board games as a way of spending time together. At the time, we were playing games that are now considered classic, like Risk, Ticket to Ride, or Monopoly. This got me hooked on the idea of board games as a way to spend free time with others.
My first encounter with proper TCGs was when I was around 9 years old. I got my mom to buy me and my brother a set of two decks for Duel Masters. After that, I managed to convince my friends from school to get their own decks. Quickly, we were staying in the school library (or more often than not, on the library floor) playing all sorts of formats. This was the time when online single card re-sellers were not a thing in Warsaw, so the only way to get a specific card was to either buy a booster or make someone trade with you. It is a part of the hobby that basically does not exist anymore, but it brought the whole Duel Masters community in my school together and made making friends much easier (even if trades were not always totally fair).
For around 12 years now, I have been playing Magic: The Gathering (MTG), which will probably stay with me for a long, long time. With the ease brought by digital clients, I can enjoy playing with my friends even when we are thousands of kilometres apart. My significant other is not so keen on TCGs but loves to play board games. We have started a small collection together and try to buy something new every couple of weeks. We love the Guildhall Fantasy series from Hope S. Hwang. In October 2019, we tried out ROOT, which totally amazed me as I have not seen a 4 player asymmetric strategy done so well.
And of course, I try to play Warhammer 40k whenever I get a chance, but because my friends and I only come to our hometown occasionally, it has become difficult to organize a game since it requires a lot of preparation.
There are a lot of qualities needed to be a good player at TCGs and CCGs. Competitively, you would need to understand maths pretty well, with an especially good grasp of statistics. It also helps to be able to do some mind games on your opponent when you are on the back foot.
I love playing against my friends in games where they can bring their own deck or army. It is a great feeling when you see your opponent surprise you and make you think hard to get out of a tough situation.
However, some of the greatest memories I have had when playing come from a very simple game my friends invented – the game of bucket. It involves a bucket where every player throws in a person, a place, and a name of a thing. Then you divide players into two groups, who have 1 minute to guess as many words as possible. In the first round, you describe a word without using it; in the second round, you show it; and in the third round, you use just one word. It creates unique connections and interpretations within that game, which stays with players for a long time. I had to show “Hawaii Shirt”, which I, nor my friends, will never forget!
I am still far from creating my own game, but I tinker with games I normally play. I especially like to use programming to enable things that a given game would not normally do. We once programmed an App for Magic: The Gathering, which simulated an additional deck with powerful cards – this gave typical 1-on-1 games more variability.
I also listen to a podcast recorded by Mark Rosewater (Head Designer for MTG) on card game design, and I am often surprised how much goes into designing a good game. A good game designer has to set rules that players will instinctively follow and understand, without making them too easy to break. It is eerily similar to legislation (which, on a side note, could actually learn a thing or two from game designers).
There are similarities between playing card & board games and my current occupation. On a meta-level, both tasks require problem-solving and critical problem analysis in a closed-decision space, so they probably help each other without me noticing it. On a higher level, playing games is a lot about seeing good opportunities and reading people. Outside of strict programming or engineering tasks, it gives me an advantage when it comes to making job-related decisions. I have gained a lot of patience and an ability to focus on a target thanks to playing games.
There is always more than tech, and it is extremely important to share the passions of technologists. We live in a time where a lot of technological fields are held back in development by basic problems (lack of scientific development in Physics, Maths, and so on). Those take a lot of time to move forward; sometimes we have to wait until a genius like Newton or Curie-Skłodowska is born in order to advance. However, we can, as tech creators, develop the spaces in between existing fields. As there are not many people who hold two academic degrees in different faculties, it usually comes to experts in one and hobbyists in second. There are countless examples of people who applied their skills to hobbies and got amazing results – they often serve as the base for a start-up, a patent, or a scientific discovery. I would love to encourage everyone who has a hobby to try to program a helper or 3D-print an element that replaces an old tool. The results can often surprise you.
Feature Photo includes 3D printed and regular Warhammer figurines. If you’d like to see some more of Łukasz’s designs and his LinkedIn page, you can check out the following links: