My twisted10×10 Challenge has been making progress in the more difficult “non-GMT aka the Other Wargame” category. This is great as I have been playing some interesting wargames. Many of these games are new to me too.
A wargame that I have been long wanting to play is The Big Push. I posted an After Action Report (AAR) for this game in a recent post here. Continuing with the WW1 theme I played In Flanders Fields with Ken Tee. This game is on the Second Battle of Ypres in 1915. This battle was the first use of poison gas in warfare, and is a key part of the game for the German side. We had to end the game early, but we hope to revisit the game soon.
Thee games especially helped to increase the list of the “other wargames” category. A category that I was concerned that I was falling behind on. The 10×10 Challenge has helped to add visibility to what games I am playing, and to add more variety to the types of games that I play. Job Done!
Last week was the annual Flarchcon week of gaming hosted by Rob March. As is normal we played a bunch of games, played with his awesome dog Denali, and consumed lots of nice food and drink. The revelation for me was playing Quartermaster General 1914 for the first time. I had read the rules a while ago, but the game had not gelled in my brain. The original Quartermaster General game is very simple, hence it pays fast and frantic. The new game in the series adds a number of mechanics that seem to muddy the clean and simple gameplay. Or so I thought it did. I was wrong. Quartermaster General 1914 is a great little 5 player wargame. It still plays fast, and has a good amount of bluff and strategy. The players have more options, which in this case works well.This game is worthy addition to the multi-player wargame category.
The disappointment of Flarchcon for me, was after a full day of playing Virgin Queen we only got to the start of turn 5. It was a tight game, with all the players trying hard, and the game ebbing and flowing. The longer game suits the side that I played, the English. The longer game has more events that swing the game into new areas. We rarely get to explore those aspects as the game often ends in turn 4. We had some serious gameplay queries that caused the game to pause. The thing to remember with such a game is to keep it flowing. Saving a few minutes here and there would have allowed us to play that extra turn. This could have resulted in an actual winner being determined. Instead we had France with 22 points, and myself as England with 19 points. The game was just getting fun when we ended the game, out of time.
Unexpectedly, I am falling slightly behind the curve with my Battlestar Galactica plays. The Tuesday night group has been having a problem getting a quorum for BSG. It has been a problem all year. We have managed to recruit a new guy into the regular pool of players. New Chris is shaping up well. I am looking forward to being airlocked by him in a sneaky cylon treacherous move.
On July the 23rd there will be another Sunday event at McGregors Craft Beer and Wine, in Moorpark. The first event there attracted 17 people, a good crowd for a first event. I am hoping for more next time. It would be great if we get some beginners or newcomers too.
Clank! A Deck Building Adventure has been getting a lot of plays since I acquired it last December (2016). For a game that uses many common mechanics it just works well. It is also a game that works for me even though the theme is not a big draw.
It is a deck-building game, nothing revolutionary there. The cards are easy to understand. There are no complex icons to remember.
The theme is understandable. Go into the dungeon and steal things from the dragon, and get out alive!. No pressure.
There is drama. The drawing of damage cubes from the bag creates plenty of tension.
The players have choices. The players can play it safe and steady, or fast and loose.
It plays fast enough.
Suitable for beginners, and experienced players alike.
It’s expandable. More cards, different boards make for a varied and re-playable game.
It is always a pleasure to find a solid game that does it right. The gameplay is sound, despite being on the light-medium difficulty level. The cards are easy to comprehend. Despite not being the type of game that I would go for, I am glad I bought it. It is the game that Thunderstone should have been.
Last week we had over our limit with 36 attendees. We had so many signups we had people on standby in the hope that we could find space for them. We accommodated everyone a little big of juggling, and having good table loading. We managed to fit everyone by ensuring the our tables were well loaded with people. A 6 player game around one table helped a lot.
This week we had only 27. Only one of the newbies came back. Just when I thought the attendance numbers were growing again they drop down to new norm of the high 20’s.
The Somme 101st Anniversary – The Big Push After Action Report
July the 1st was the 101st Anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme. After visiting the Somme battlefields last year I finally got to play the only wargame that cover the battle. Here is my After Action Report, with lots of pictures from my Somme trip.
Last Sunday, the Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers held an event at McGregors Craft Beer & Wine, in Moorpark, CA from 2pm until closing time. Although this is not the first time we have held an event at a commercial location. This is the first time we had held an event at an establishment that primarily serves alcohol. In addition, this was the first time we had held an event in Moorpark. I was interested if this was a draw or if it would put people off.
Top Billing on the events board
Fancy Cider at McGregors
McGregors was chosen as it has all the attributes of a good public gaming location. It is clean, and bright; there are plenty of large normal-height tables. It serves beer, wine, and bar friendly snack foods. Having plenty of parking is a big plus.
As it was a public event I am expecting, and hoping, that some of the bars patrons would join in with the games. In reality, we had a few interested patrons looking at the games, and asking a few questions.
The cheese and meat plate are not part of the game
Bunch of cylons
Oracle of Delphi
Shadows over Camelot
Beer is a concept
Cash N Guns
As an introductory game we played several rounds of Concept, both as a warm up game, and as a closer to wind down. I even got in a game of Battlestar Galactica.
We will have plenty of games at hand as we were not sure what types of gamers we would have attending. It is always best to be prepared with a mixture of games, both in game length, and in complexity. With 8 people gathered around a big table we broke out Ca$h n Guns as a ice breaker. Soon people settled into a mixture of longer, and more involved games.
In total we had 17 people actually play the games, two were newcomers to the group. The event was a success, and everyone had good things to say about the location. I had expected more newcomers, but I am happy with the way the event went overall.
I was introduced to a young lad called Calvin, from the nearby Game Development Meetup group. They hold monthly events to create, collaborate and develop games.
Let me know if you have an ideas, or suggestions, for the next McGregors event. I am thinking it could be a monthly event. Is Sunday the best day for such an event ?
30th June 2017
Ventura County Strategy Boardgamersevent page on Meetup.
Although this is not the first time we have held an event at a commercial location. This is the first time we had held an event at an establishment that primarily serves alcohol. Therefore there is a minimum age of 21.
McGregors was chosen as it has all the attributes of a good public gaming location. It is clean, and bright, has lots of free parking, there are plenty of large tables, and it serves beer, and beer friendly snack food. And wine too.
As this is a public event I am expecting, and hoping, that some of the bars patrons will join in. We will have plenty of games that are suitable for non-gamers to play. Games that are quicker, and lighter, to get them hooked. Mwhhahhaa.
20th June 2017
Ventura County Strategy Boardgamersevent page on Meetup.
It is fair to say that I have meet a whole bunch of great people through board games. A fair chunk of these people are members of the Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers meetup. All of these people have had to suffer my bad sense of humor, and my tendency to be a cylon. Some of these people have seen past that, and have become good friends.
It is sad when these people have had to move away. Jon Dalesandry has been a member of the meetup group for over 6 years, and has attended over 200 times. Among his many talents, Jon is especially good at Android: Netrunner. He has a fondness for games by designer Vlaada Chvátil. He liked to play Agricola. Jon has even been seen to play the odd game of Battlestar Galactica. Jon has often won the coveted Best Hair Award.
Here are some of the many pictures that showcase Jon spending time with us playing some great games with great people. For a full gallery of pics containing Jon see his profile on meetup.
Andean Abyss in 2012
Farming is Fun!
Battleline with Serge
Jon playing BSG
Eclipse with Josh
Mr Card Game aka Kingdom of Loathing
Great card sleeves
Paths of Glory at BusterFest 2013
Jon and Ted, someone sucks!
The lads posing with Tragedy Looper
Xmas party at Ted’s
Along with the normal gaming photo’s that I take on a Tuesday, a bunch of us gathered around on the Tuesday night to pose for a group photo. Here are some of the pictures from the 13th June 2017 meetup.
13th June 2017
13th June 2017
VCSB Meetup 13th June 2017
Best wishes for the future, and bon voyage, to Jon, Amanda, Brennen, Caitlin, and Dylan. I hope to catch up with you folks in North Carolina sometime.
A Good Dog Is Hard To Photograph…and so is a board game.
For the past month or so we have had a regular canine visitor on Tuesday nights. Our host, Greg, has been bringing along his adorable labradoodle called Fletcher. Now dogs, and board games are not always a good combination. This is especially so for a rather large, and rambunctious dog like Fletcher. This dog is a people pooch. He has a great personality, and evidently enjoys the attention of a large crowd of friendly humans. We dote on him. Luckily for us, and the games, Fletcher is a very well behaved dog. He does not jump up on people when he gets excited. His tail is very powerful, yet he keeps it below the table height. Good doggie!
With Fletcher firmly being part of our Tuesday night gang, it is only reasonable that I have been including photographs of him in my gaming pictures. Each gaming session I endeavor to take photographs of the games, and the gamers. If you look back at the Photo Gallery of the Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers Meetup group you will see thousand of photos of our gaming sessions. If I creative I tag people, and add the name of the game as a title.overall, this photos are a little meh. They lack pizazz and ooomph.
More recently, I have been creating montages with the photos. You can see a whole bunch of these montages on a separate page linked here.
VCSB 23rd May 2017
VCSB 23rd May 2017
VCSB 23rd May 2017
VCSB 23rd May 2017
Click on an individual picture for a larger version.
These montages add context to a plain photograph. The game title is included, which is always a wise thing to do. This helps to fend off the “what game is that?” questions. It is also a good idea to include the date, location, and any other useful information. If possible include a little anecdotal comment to liven up the scene. Like in this example here.
A photo montage with some anecdotal comments
The unexpected side effect of these montages is that I am thinking more about what, and how, I photograph. I am still taking lots of photos, but I am posting less of them. The photographs that I am using are better quality than the photos that I was posting before I started creating the photo montages.
This brings me to the point that I want to make about photos of games, and of gamers. Just like taking photos of a dog, it is hard to take good photographs of gamers.
Gamers move around a lot while they are playing games. It is not fair to continuously interrupt the games to take posed pictures. It is not fair to distract people when they are deep in thought, or taking their turn. This method often results in unusable photos.
As an example, here is a photo from last night. It shows some of the lads playing Viticulture. Jonathon is smirking, as per normal, while Ryan, and Matthew are concentrating on the game. Ben, on the other hand, is a blur.
The only solution is to take lots of photos, and hope that you have some good ones. I have lot’s of pictures where all but one person are smiling, or posing nicely for the camera. The one person barely looks like a human being. At a pinch you can still use these flawed pictures, but it is wise to crop or edit the picture so the photos are presentable. If you are concerned about what content is acceptable, play it safe.
It is always wise to avoid posting unflattering pictures.
As I am thinking more and more about what photos I am taking I had a revelation. I had come to the realization that I was often taking two types of photo.
It was warm day on Saturday in Southern California. This is a sign that summer is fast approaching, and the temperatures will rise. Myself, and about 10 other lads meet up at Game Empire, in Pasadena.
I like gaming at Game Empire, it has a number of positive attributes. Is central in location for a bunch of guys. It has a British-ish pub, with Belgian beers, over the road. The owner, Chuck, like wargames, boardgames, and is a nice guy. He also runs a well stocked game store, with a large open gaming area.
Things are not all rosy though.
Game Empire can get busy, and full of gamers. This is good for a game store. A thriving game store is a good thing to have nearby. More people = more business, which is good for gaming. Unfortunately, it can get rather warm in the open gaming area, especially so on a warm weekend where the temperature is around 90 F. The store layout is such that the table we normally occupy is not covered by the ceiling fans. I have taken to bringing along a pedestal fan to cover our area. The fan helps, but it just makes it tolerable. This does bode well for the upcoming summer.
This weekend was a busy time is Pasadena, they were predicting chaos on the roads. A little known band called U2 were playing at the Rose Bowl. Nearby JPL was having one of it’s regular open weekends. and some of the local museums were also having special events. The roads were not bad, I left a little earlier than normal on my way to and from.
The depressing thing is that the U2 tour were celebrating that it has been 30 years since the Joshua Tree album was released. Yeesh, I feel old.
Lucky Baldwins Trappiste Pub, is just over the road. It is one of three Lucky Baldwins locations in Pasadena. It is close by, a mere few minutes walk from Game Empire. It has good food, and great beer. There is no need to jump in a car, or take a long walk, it is very handy having a pub so close by. However, we often joke that it does suffer from authentic British style standards of service. The normal waitresses were not there, they had two blokes who were very busy servicing a full pub with all the lunchtime food, and drink orders. More time in the pub means less time gaming. The service was intolerably slow this time. The Fullers ESB was good though.
After all that moaning, would you be surprised to hear that we actually played some games, and things were not all peachy with them too.
Game played that day included
Struggle of Empires, Battle Above The Clouds x2, Pericles, Giro D’Italia (incomplete), Once You Go Blackmail (Archer Love Letter), and Grifters.
Ken, and Karl had pre-arranged to play Battle Above The Clouds, by MMP. That left 7 of us to play a game. Luis suggested Struggle of Empires. It could play up to 7, and still be balanced. Not all games can do that well.
I own, and have played, the game. It has been a while since I last played it. In fact it is almost 4.5 years since the last time it hit the table for me. Despite the time gap, I had a nagging doubt that it was a long game, and I was proven correct in the long run. By the way, BGG says it is a 3-4 hour game. Ha.
Martin Wallace is the designer of Struggle of Empires, I tend to like his games, I own most of the games he has designed. He is a designer that I follow, and he usually does a good job in producing a well rounded product. This particular game was, however, published by Eagle Games, now known as Eagle-Gryphon Games. The game includes 3 play-aid sheets, even though it is plays up to 7 players. That is not the worse thing , only one of the play-aid sheets is in English. The other two are in French, and German respectively. Oh, by the way, not all of the tiles are listed on the included play-aid. Nice job, piss-poorly done.
Luis did a good job explaining the game rules, although he was hampered by the fact that we could not all look at the play-aid sheet at the same time. The rules are actually quite straight forward. The key to doing well at the game is knowing, and understanding, the power of the ’tiles’.
Here is a display of the tiles, taken from BGG
That is a lot of tiles, and they are key to the game. Those tiles are the flavor, the power, the substance of the game. They are a game within the game. Knowing them, and knowing how and when to use them is key. They are force multipliers. They are not an unusual element for a Wallace game. Martin Wallace is a devious, clever, and evil game designer. He likes to include nasty little twists in his games. This game has unrest.
Lose a unit in combat = gain an unrest. Oh, by the way, you will lose units in combat.
Need to borrow money = gain an unrest. Oh, by the way, you will need to borrow money, often.
If you have 20 unrest at the end of the game, you lose regardless of how many Victory Points you have. The player’s with the most, and the second most, unrest, will lose Victory Points at the end of the game. Did I not say, but how much Unrest each player has is a secret. Unrest comes in counters with denominations of 1,3, or 5. You keep the counters face down to hide how much you have from the other players. Not only that, but you try and track who is getting a lot of unrest. There are a limited number of Government Reform tiles in the game that allow a player to reduce their Unrest. He is a devious man, that Martin Wallace.
The other Wallace-ism in the game is the lack of actions. The game has three Wars, each war is essentially a game turn. Each war has 5 action rounds. In each action round, each player takes two actions.
Struggle of Empires = 3 x 5 x 2 actions = only 30 actions per player, per game.
As I often exclaim “Damn you limited action euro-games”. This game certainly feels like you have a limited number of actions, and you have to make them all count. With the 7 players, and excluding the teaching, we must have played the game for 5 hours. With the 30 actions per game, this results in an average of 1.42 minutes per action, almost 3 minutes per player turn consisting of two actions, one action immediately after the other.
With the limited number of actions, the large number of players, and the personalities of those present. This would be a long game. This could be a game for Analysis Paralysis.
Knowing that time would be a problem, especially early in the game I acted as the drumbeat. Calling out each players turn, making sure they knew it was their time. This game could drag if that did not happen. There was plenty of down time between turns to analyze the game state, but so much happens in the other players turn that it might all change by the time it came to your turn. A player’s first action, of the two, might fail; thus requiring a change in strategy. React, reanalyze and move on. Quickly.
Of course, some players take longer to carry out their turn, compared to other players. I will mention no names, but I know their gaming style. They frustrate me at times, so I probably annoy them when I remind them that it is their turn. So I guess it evens out.
Even so, I enjoyed the game. I would play it again. There are some good user designed player-aids on BoardGameGeek that could to be added to the game. At the very least photocopy the English play-aid, so that each player has a copy.
Click on an image to view a larger version
Battle Above The Clouds – 20th May-2017
Pericles – 20th May-2017
Game Empire – 20th May-2017
After Struggle of Empire finished we had a re-jiggle of personnel. Some left, and some jumped over to a 4 player game of Pericles.
I have always been fascinated by bicycle racing games. Compared to other facing games there appears to be lots of strategy, and tactics, in long distance cycle races. Pacing, endurance, breakaways, the specialization of different classes of rider, plus the drafting both in, and outside, of the peloton. All these factors make for a good candidate for a fun, strategic race game.
I have played Flamme Rouge a few times, but have been unable to get my hands on a copy. It is also only 4 players, and from my experience is best with the full 4. It is on the lighter side of the difficulty curve, but it is fun, and fast. I wanted something meatier.
It’s a card game, where they have used cards in place of other possible game components, like a game board. There are about a bazillion different decks of cards in the card, and they are not well defined as to which are used for which purpose. The rules are in multiple languages, but the diagrams are only shown once in the Italian rules section. The rules appear to be condensed to fit on a single small sheet of paper. The rules suck, big time.
The only people who have played the game, and appeared to understood it, had also played a similar board game called Giro D’Italia. There are some similar mechanics in both of the games, so knowing the board game helps to understand the card game. Unfortunately, I thought I understood the card game. Neither myself, nor Eric could work our way through it. Which was a shame. Now I have to tackle the rules again, in an attempt to understand them. And the rules still suck, big time.
It is frustrating when people show up late, and people are already firmly set into long games. It’s frustrating for me as a group organizer, and I know it’s annoying for those who rushed to get there, and then find it is hurry up and wait. Wait until a game finishes, or hope someone else turns up late too. Even worse than that is when people stop showing up if they think that arriving late will not allow them to get into a game.
The staggered/delayed start was implemented for the first time on Tuesday night. To understand the problem, see a previous blog post. Basically, some people were having a problem getting to the meetup for an earlier start time of 6:00pm. With 28 in attendance this Tuesday, compared to 21 last week, I regard that as a promising increase in numbers. At least 4 people said they could benefit by having the option to start a little later. The key to making it work is communication, it’s people letting the rest of us know that they will be arriving later than the 6:00pm normal start time.
16th May 2017
16th May 2017
16th May 2017
16th May 2017
Games played of Tuesday included: Loco, World Monuments, Ticket To Ride, Circus Flohcati, Eclipse, Terra Mystica, Terraforming Mars, Archer Love Letter, Speicherstadt, Legendary Encounters (Alien) x2, Crimson Creek, Hawaii, Boss Monster, Steam, Castles of Burgundy, Clank!, and Battlestar Galactica x2.
The expected side effect of delaying our start of Battlestar Galactica was that we had a full quorum. We had an option to play 5 or 6 player. We went with the 5 experienced players. BSG is a tough, and time consuming, game to teach. So we were happy to crack on, and simply start playing with the experienced players. BSG is one of the go-to games on a Tuesday night, a familiar friend that allows people to simply play the game without fuss, or delay.
Both myself and Dodgy John, were cylons in both games. We won both games too. In the first game it was obvious that Morale was the Resource to target. That allows you to focus on lowering that Resource. In the second game, however, there were multiple paths to victory. There were multiple Centurions on the boarding track, Galactica was suffering from damage, the Resources were getting hit, and there were plenty of cylon Raiders milling around Galactica itself. This is one of the reasons why BSG is such an engaging game. Whether you are a human, or a cylon, each player must decide what is the priority, both in the short term, and the log term. Ignore the wrong thing and it could be disaster for your side. Sometimes, discussing the threats, and openly co-operating is a good idea. In other times you do not want to reveal your options to the other side. This is especially so when you do not know the allegiance of the other players. Paranoia over who you can trust is a key part of the game.
With multiple threats to the humans, each of them had a possibility to bring victory to the cylons. What does a cylon do ? You have to weigh up the choices to see what strategy, or strategies, are most likely to work. This is where you have to use your experience of the game, coupled with the current game state, and analyze the characters around the table to make your choice. Then you do all you can to make it work for your side.
With lot’s of cylon Raiders around Galactica, 18 to be precise, we went for causing damage on Galactica: I rolled the d8 (the game uses only eight sided dice) the required 18 times. Each 8 rolled would cause Damage on Galactica. I rolled zero (0) 8’s on 18 dice. I laughed, the other players laughed. John, my fellow cylon, exclaimed about how useless I was. He then rolled the same number of dice, and got four 8’s. Human Mike, playing the Chief character negated two of the four 8’s by playing Calculations cards from his hand. Galactica was still alive, but only just.
The cylons still won the game, we advanced the Centurions and vented the atmosphere of Galactica. The humans needed air, they had none.
The cylons won!
Dice still hate me!
I am ok with that.
A new board game Meetup group has started in nearby Agoura Hills. It is called Conejo Valley Boardgames. They are meeting for the first time this coming Saturday at a cafe in Agoura Hills. The organizer, Patrick, has also signed up for next Tuesday night.
Last Tuesday night we had the lowest attendance in years with a total of 21. This is the same Tuesday night that, six months ago, we were having well over 30. We often had people on the waiting list during the day, and just dipping under the maximum limit of 35 by the time the meetup started.
As I am a little detail orientated, please don’t laugh, I keep an eye on the attendance of each meetup. I do this for a variety of reasons. With space at a premium it is wise to make sure that we get maximum number of butts on seats. It also helps to identify the small minority who RSVP, and then don’t show up. Every now and then we get a flakey person, and for repeat offenders I contact them reminding them to keep their RSVP up to date. It is a shame when a regular cannot attend due to lack of space, and we find there was actually enough space for them because someone else did not attend. Simply not being bothered to update their RSVP is a poor excuse.
The attendance figures on Tuesday have been consistently in the low 30’s for a long time. We have been meeting weekly at this location for over 5 years. For all intents and purposes the Tuesday group just kept on trucking.
And then it changed.
The attendance numbers dropped, and then did not pick up again.
What the $%^&$ had happened?
Some thoughts came to mind about the possible cause for a dip in attendance.
Season variation. The attendance numbers tend to drop around the holiday season.
Too much choice: The VCSB meetup group was now having 3-4 meetups a week. Were people suffering from gaming fatigue ?
Cascade effect. When certain regulars are not attending it is harder to get the optimum numbers of players for certain games. This can cascade such that other regulars do not attend as often.
We changed the start time. The start time on Tuesday had been 6:30pm for many years. In October of 2016 we changed the start time to 6:00pm.
Now there was a reason why I did not immediately suspect the start time change was the culprit for the attendance drop. As I listed above, there was often a seasonal drop due to the Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Year holiday season. When January came around I honestly expected the numbers to pick up again.
Secondly, most of the people arrived early. The Tuesday group had it’s own pattern that people arrived early for the 6:30pm start. With people arriving early, there were often games setup and going by the official 6:30pm start time. This caused people to arrive even earlier to ensure they got into games. Frankly, it sucks to arrive a little late and find that most people are already settled into long games.
The Eureka Moment
It was only after I spoke to a ex-regular did I realize that the 30 minutes difference had made all the difference to them. Those extra minutes allow enough time for a tough commute, or allow people to grab some food before the meetup.
What annoyed me, a little, was that no one had told me before. It had taken months before I found out the probable cause of the dip in attendance. It is not like this was something new. We often had people arrive a little late, they would arrange their games in advance and people would wait for them to arrive.
There had to be a way forward. There had to be a way to accommodate those who could not reliably, or safely, get to the meetup for the 6:00pm start time. After a little thought, and a few emails, I believe we have a solution. It will require some organization, and good communication, but it should work. From tomorrow, May the 16th, we are having a delayed start time for specific games. The games are named in advance, and those interested in playing must state they are committing to those games with a 6:30pm start.
My role, as group organizer, will be to make sure that people wait for these later arrivals, and to keep up to date with communications to ensure that we don’t hang around waiting for an individual to arrive who is not coming.
Sound simple, yeah ? We shall see how it goes.
Despite the lower attendance numbers last Tuesday, there was still a good variety of games played.
The VCSB Tuesday night meetup is anchor of my gaming week. There are other gaming opportunities, but the Tuesday group has a solid rhythm that allows people to return after an absence and seamlessly fit back in again. The size of the crowd at Tuesday night does fluctuate, yet the group size is large enough to absorb seasonal variations while still enjoying a wide variety of games and gamers. Having regular meetings is critical to the formation of a new group, and Tuesday night gaming was a key reason for the initial stabilization, and then the continued success of the VCSB meetup group.
Last Tuesday was no exception to the pattern. We had one newbie join us, Paul, and Eric rejoined us after a long absence. A variety of new, and old games were played. Ted is still fixated on Terraforming Mars.
Games played included: Concordia, Clank, Terraforming Mars, Bora Bora, Impulse, Smash up!, Blood of an Englishman, Navegador, Sentinels of the Multiverse, Shakespeare, For Sale, You are the Maniac!, and Codenames x2.
VCSB 2nd May 2017
Wednesday Night – 3rd May 2017
Wednesday evening is at Carrows in Ventura, some 20 miles away from Newbury Park. While some of the Wednesday night crowd also go to Tuesday nights, most of the attendees are different. This means the Wednesday night crowd have their own personality and preferences in games. Recently, I have been able to attend the Wednesday night at Carrows on a more regular basis. This has allowed me to get to know some of the characters a little better. Each group has it’s own mix of gamer personalities, and it takes a few sessions before you truly see what type of gamer personalities people have.
The Saturday before, on Table Top DOG, Brian had wanted to play Pax Renaissance. I wanted to learn the game so we arranged to play it on Wednesday night. This would give me a chance to read the rules before tackling the game itself. The designer, Phil Eklund, is renowned for intriguing and unusual game topics.
As Brian was going to be a little late, I needed a game that would be short enough in duration, and be appealing enough to get some takers. Knowing that April-Lyn wanted to play Clank!, this made it a good choice.
After teaching Clank! around a dozen times, I had learned that no matter how many times I have stated the rules about artifacts, someone will ask the same stupid questions. Once these experienced gamer’s started to jokingly refer to the correct rules I knew I had impressed on them the important points. It is good when you can explain a game to experienced gamer’s and they actually listen, even when they don’t appear to be intently listening. So many game rules are similar, it is key to clearly state the differences, or the exceptions, so that people remember these traps.
After not-winning Clank!, I went to watch the end of New York Slice. For such a simple game, I was not sure if it was trying to be too serious. I could see a major cause of analysis paralysis when trying to determine how to split a pizza, while dominating the different sets of pizza pieces.
With Brian now available we stated on Pax Rennaissance. It is very much an Eklund game. It packs a lot of history into a small package, and borrows some mecahnics from previous games Pax Porfiriana , and Pax Pamir. There is a lot going on in the game, with multiple victory conditions, and tons of variability. This is a game where you learn the mechanics and then realize that you still have little idea how to actually use this mechanics to reach the various victory conditions. I look forward to being puzzled by the game again.
Games played: Foretold, Anachrony, Clank, And Then We Held Hands x3, New York Slice, Codenames x2, Pax Renaissance, Sushi Go, Isle of Trains, Among the Stars, Fugitive and Evolution Climate.
Sunday on the USS Iowa – 7th May 2017
During last months GMT West aka The Weekend at the Warehouse the subject of getting new people into the wargaming side of the hobby was raised. With both Karl, and myself in attendance it was not long before the Wargame Bootcamp was raised. We soon made a new contact in John Tiehen, who was a relatively newcomer to GMT West. John was keen to include us in a new hobby event on the USS Iowa, in San Pedro near Los Angeles. We had gamed on the USS Iowa last June, for the Centenary of the Battle of Jutland, so we aware of the location.
Even though the event was on my birthday, I volunteered to help Karl. It was only afterwards that we found out that we would be located outside, on the fantail deck, and the weather forecast for that day was for rain. After previously being located in the enlisted mess with it’s small tables and fixed pitch chairs. The thought of spending a day on the windswept deck, with a high probability of rain, was not very comforting.
The event flyer looked promising, there were a lot of interesting hobby events, and they were predicting a good turnout. Thinking ahead, we planned on coming prepared with folding chairs, tarpaulin’s, ground sheets, an extra canopy, and lots of games. I even selected games that would fare better in a windy environment, including plastic miniatures that would be more moisture resistant than cardboard counters. With a 60 plus mile drive, and lot’s of accessories to setup I woke very early at 5:30am, too early, for the long day ahead.
Setup was easy after we dried the tables from the overnight moisture. My two picnic ground sheets were subbed in as rather brightly colored tablecloth’s. We played a few games of W1815 as a demonstration game.
To entice the lookey-lou’s, we setup some games on the table, spreading out cubes, cards, rules, and counters to create some visual appeal. Fields of Despair especially gained a lot of attention due to it’s blocks, and attractive map. Among the hobby people in the crowd there were a few of the normal “is that Risk?” comments, but it was good to find a few people who had gamed in the past. Some were presently surprised to hear that board gaming was still going strong.
At 1:00pm, and again at 1:10pm, the day was interrupted by the firing of one of the ships 5inch guns. The firing noise was impressive, but not as much as it’s echo. It was loud but I am sure they were being safe by handing out ear plugs. Now, if only they would fire the 16inch guns 😉
People trickled by all day, although the crowd seemed smaller than expected, probably due to the overcast day, and sporadic light rain. John demoed a naval game, and the Panzer tank on tank board game. Most people were just browsing the booths, so we were happy to just answer questions about board games, and simply give out information.
One young lad, Jimmy, was very keen to play a tactical game. Karl cracked open Combat Commander Europe and setup the Fat Lipki scenario. With his girlfriend and younger brother watching, Jimmy had a fun time learning the game. He picked up the game rules quickly, showed a good grasp of small unit tactics, and it was sad that he had to leave before finishing the game. Before he left we told him about the local game shops. Job done!
Things started to wind down once the band started playing barely 10 feat away. By 5pm we were packing up, and schlepping all our stuff back to the cars. The drive home was not as easy as the drive there. It was a quiet day overall, I was glad it was not hot, but the wet weather did unfortunately keep people away.