Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Origins & GenCon Observations.

There are so many things I should write about that I just haven’t done it, to say nothing of the fact that I’ve barely been home for the last month or so, so I’ll just write what I feel like writing. For the last few years, I’ve attended gaming conventions in the summer. Origins is in June and takes place in Columbus, Ohio, and GenCon was last week in Indianapolis. Though I’d like to be, I am not the kind of person who writes out comprehensive convention reports—I just don’t keep good enough notes. This, then, is more a list of impressions and memories than anything else.

--Regardless of what you may have heard, I was definitely working at Origins, spending pretty much all day in the booth giving demos of the Nightmare Before Christmas TCG and playing in tournaments of said interesting card game at night, and hardly goofing off at all, really. Actually I enjoyed giving the demos I did (and that’s the second time so far I’ve typoed it as “demons”—hehe, how appropriate) and I met a lot of people who are now part of the game’s community. Some of them even came back for more at GenCon. It’s lots of fun to demo to someone who’s excited to figure out how the combos in the starter decks work and thinks learning new games is fun. I did a fair bit of demoing at GenCon too, but in general it wasn’t as satisfying, though of course I had some good demos there too (and the tournaments were great). I really think it’s harder to do this stuff at a larger, busier convention. There are more people, which one would think would be a good thing, but there’s also WAY more to do and it’s much harder to compete for the attention of said convention goers. I also ended up demoing to a lot more people who weren’t really into it, who were just looking for free stuff or spending some time before their next event, and that really wasn’t as rewarding either emotionally or, you know, in the way that NECA likes to see. Ahem. But there were a bunch of new people at the tournaments whose names I wish I had not forgotten, and I really enjoyed playing with them, and it seemed like they were having a good time too.

--Doug bought a game called Caylus at Origins. Probably not many of you will realize the magnitude of this statement—he was actually able to buy Caylus . This game is extremely popular, drooled over all over boardgamegeek, and ardently sought since it sold out almost immediately after it was first (and second) published. On the whole, I think it merits this, although sometimes people just get silly about it and there are Caylus lists that begin to look like the Chuck Norris lists you see sometimes. It’s a building game in which resources are very scarce and it’s very important to balance between building for more resources and building for things that help you win… but there are lots of ways to do all of these things, so it is a rather complex game with lots of choices. It’s interesting and I’m still in the phase where I’m trying to figure out what is the best way of playing and learning something every time. Of course, I’ve only played it twice so far and I’ve been exhausted both times, so maybe I can do better if I play it sometime in the daytime...

--I’m still obsessed with Steak & Shake. Seriously. :P

--I finally got a chance to try Thurn and Taxis at GenCon, and I enjoyed it. Okay, I’ll admit I was initially drawn to the game because of Thomas Pyncheon and was seriously amused that it was a mail delivery game… and that it has the horn symbol on the back of the cards (albeit unmuted). It does not, however, appear to involve postal conspiracies. It’s not Ticket To Ride —rather than competing to own the cities on the map, players race to get to more of them first. However, there’s definitely an element of risk when deciding whether to continue a line and how many cards to draw and how many to play. There is also the possibility of upsetting other players’ plans by flushing out the face-up cards and replacing them with others—though this doesn’t happen too many times in a game since players don’t want to foil their own plans either. Well, most players don’t…I’d like to play it again before buying it, but I really did like it quite a bit.

--I also got to watch the tail end of a game of Tempus, and I’d like to get a chance to play that one too. It seems to be (and I’ve also heard that it is) a Euro-style civilization-building game that runs pretty smoothly without having too much information to process. I got the idea as I was watching and I’d like to try it out for myself. Plus it was somehow very entertaining to hear the (male) players say on their turns, “Well, I guess I’ll have babies...”

--Stuff I wanted to do, but didn’t get a chance:
--Visit the Looney Labs room. When I was at Origins, one of the LL guys came down to demo the game and, in a moment of role reversal, handed me a promo card for Fluxx having to do with their new pyramid game which I think is called Treehouse. At GenCon, I found a second one on the sidewalk and picked it up, so now I have cards 1 and 2 out of four, and still haven’t gotten a chance to try the new game *grumble grumble*. It might actually be time to buy some of those pyramids soon; they’re good for so many games and the ones I’ve tried, I’ve liked.
--Demo Cleopatra and the Society of Architects. This booth was full every time I walked past it, and I tried walking past it several times. I was very curious about this game since it seems so popular, and it’s a Days of Wonder game so it is also very beautiful in the pieces it uses (they're all about what Jason Hawkins refers to as "toy value"). Fortunately I got to see a Board Games with Scott episode about it last night and now I know what it is all about… I still want to play it.

--Fun Moment at GenCon #1
Exhibit Hall, 9:30 AM.

Voice over: Attention all exhibitors. The exhibit hall will be closing in half an hour.
Exhibitor Rabble: *cheers*
(a few minutes pass)
Voice over: We have a correction to make. The exhibit hall will be opening in half an hour.
Exhibitor Rabble: *boos*

--Fun Moment at GenCon #2

Ibai is walking around the art show (which was quite good, by the way, really the best fantasy art has to offer) wearing a gray shirt with a nametag printed on it reading “My Name is: Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Pirate Artist Dude: Hey, where did you get that shirt?
Ibai: Origins.
Pirate Artist Dude: Dammit!

Pirate Artist Dude: I was there, too... this year?
Ibai: Yeah.
Pirate Artist Dude: Dammit!!
Ibai: *giggles*

-Our friend Andy's game Parthenon won the "Best Board Game" award at Origins. Totally deserved. Great game.

--The company with the smartest booth was Rio Grande. They set out all their games, looking pretty and ready to play to snare the curious, and then they let their demoers come over and explain the first couple turns, after which they left you alone to play the games and were free to wander around and demo to others. Not only that, there were several of their games out at once, so as soon as you get up, you’re invited into another one. Brilliant, though I have to say the game I ended up trying after Thurn and Taxis (Rum & Pirates) wasn’t that good… although I wandered by later for Buccaneer and that was pretty fun. The Mayfair Settlers-based ribbon-collecting idea is pretty clever as well.

--The pressure to play VS. just doesn’t go away. Though one thing I have to say for it is that their use of the giant, shuriken-wielding Batman statue is undeniably cool, and even cooler if it’s aiming directly toward our Nightmare Before Christmas room.

Do I get to be considered a gamer yet? I love this stuff.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I have arrived!

Well, my blogs are migrating all over the place, because it seems I have friends at each of the major blog providers. Here, too.

I'd probably prove myself a liar in short order if I were to pretend that this won't involve a large amount of the magic known as copy/paste, but in this entry, which is the first I've posted in so many places, I've found myself making a lot of tweaks.

It hasn't helped me get comments so far.

But regardless of that, there will probably be more tweaking of things as I become more accustomed to the differences in context.

And this entry is mostly about the amazing day that was yesterday, and that's mostly about an acceptance letter I've been waiting for for a very long time. I think I started in January or February. Elsewhere, I've introduced it with this image, of which I'm really very fond--spiky, three-legged dragons with nostrils match my personal aesthetic very well--the logo of Drexel University. I've applied to their library science program, finally having realized that I am really interested in this, and maybe I'm a little intimidated from the huge differences between this and English, but I am also very, very excited about it and can't wait to start in the fall. They are a local university, in Philadelphia, and Doug will actually be going there too, for his MBA, which is a lot more similar to library science than you might think. I'm also looking forward to having more in common with him professionally.

Other reasons it was a good day? Well, I have a marriage license now, and new glasses (I had my old ones for about four years, and they were so bent up that the local spectacle-purveyors had to bend the new ones a little when I got them to reduce the convexity of the world. It's still a little convex, a little bit dizzying, but it's improved, and I could actually feel my eyes adjusting).

Today promises to be much less eventful, as it will mostly be devoted to getting to Columbus, Ohio. Not that Ohio is a huge tourist destination, but there is a gaming convention there known as Origins at which I plan to spend the rest of the week, and this is exciting too. Mostly I'll be demoing the Nightmare Before Christmas Trading Card Game, which (insert shameless plug here). I've never demoed a game to people before, though I have been on the recieving end of demos, but I expect to enjoy it (as well as the fact that I get to attend the con for free).