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.
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.
Table Top DOG 2017 went well yesterday, I’m still a little tired as it was a long day. It’s not just the 11 hours of gaming. Just setting up the venue, rearranging the chairs, and over a dozen tables. I bring a whole bunch of games, not just the regular game, but extra games that would more appeal to newcomers. With the Raffle Bingo event, I also included some games that easily met some of the criteria. There was all the paraphernalia for the Raffle bingo itself. So much stuff to be loaded, unloaded, arranged etc
Thanks to all those who helped out, and especially to Ryan, and Cassie, for the venue.
Why do I get myself into this, again and gain ?
Err, because it is fun.
I get to meet some new, and some old, gamers. I lost count at 48, my final estimate was 55 to 60 in attendance. I got to play some new, and some old, games. It was good to meet some new people who found out about the event via the official Table Top Day Community event website.
Here are some of the photos I took.
Roll For The Galaxy
10am start with about 20 early birds
The Raffle Bingo prizes
Name tags, signs, and bingo cards
Codenames and Trajan
The first game of Star Wars Rebellion of the day
Cash N Guns….they were not supposed to point the guns at me
Cash N Guns. Pew pew
Scott and Bobby taught me Hawaii
Muself and Armando were very Clank-y
Later in the afternoon
W1815 between Ron, and Apil-Lyn.
Ryan was happy to win his exemption certificate
The (twice) updated list of games played included:
Kingdomino, Codenames Pictures, Patchwork, High Frontier, Yokohama x3, Roll For The Galaxy, Star Wars Rebellion, Hawaii, Trajan, Codenames, Cash N Guns, Hive, Splendor, W1815 x2, Simiopolis, Clank, Pandemic, Flashpoint Fire Rescue, Milestone, Cthulhu Wars, Cacao, Santorini, Great Western Trail, Viticulture, Vinhos, Galaxy Trucker, Acquire, Oracle Of Delphi x2, Bus, Star Realms, RA, Fugitive, Gym, Nations The Dice Game, Orleans, Race For The Galaxy, Red 7, Fastrack, Happy Salmon, Trickerion, Kingdonia, Cry Havoc, Stone Age x2, DOG x2, Feast Of Odin, Betrayal On The House On The Hill. Space Alert, Xenon Privateer, and Canasta.
The Raffle Bingo went well, I think it was an improvement over the Bingo at DOGCAT. The board game themed bingo idea is brilliant, thanks to April-Lyn for the idea. Even so, there is room for improvement. It took too long, and disrupted things too much. The quality of prizes was also a concern.
The idea that each player earns raffle tickets, based on the bingo card achievements, worked well. The drawing of their raffle ticket means they win a prize. This meant that everyone had a chance, not just those who filled out the most bingo squares, or those who filled them out the quickest. Those who played a lot of games would still get more raffle tickets. To counter that for those who played longer games there was the option for the judge (myself) to award ‘discretionary’ bonus raffle tickets to balance things. This also allows the creation of some laughs as I ‘arbitrarily’, and jokingly, penalize people for the games they have played. “Sorry Ron, minus one ticket for playing Fastrack”.
The TableTop DOG Raffle Bingo sheet
The Raffle Bingo prizes
It was interesting to see how motivated some people were when attempting to fill out as many bingo squares as possible. I believe it had the desired effect in getting people to play different games, new games, and to play with different people.
To improve the raffle bingo I have some ideas, in both how to improve the quality of the raffle, and to speed up the process.
The raffle bingo idea worked well. I am not sure there is a solution to the problem that people must be present to collect their prize. Getting prizes to people, after an event, is too costly in time and money.
Better prizes. Either buy some prizes, or get some ‘good’ quality donations from people before the event.
Using an idea from the Wargame Bootcamp prize draws. There is one raffle box per prize. This allows each player to post their raffle tickets in the specific box to win a specific prize. This solves the problem of people having to chose a prize, or getting a prize they do not want.
It’s food for thought. Any feedback, or suggestions ?
We had a good crowd with 30 on Tuesday night. A good mix of new and old games were played. Two games of Battlestar Galactica were played, the humans won both games.
Once you go Blackmail…. aka Archer Love Letter is still my favorite version of the hugely popular Love Letter micro-game. It does not have the trip-up Countess card.
April-Lyn organized a board game themed bingo at DOGCAT 2016 last November. It was a big hit with the attendees, but there are some issues. People were getting very competitive, and as there was a limited number of prizes those people who showed up late were out of luck.
This time it is a board game themed raffle bingo. Players who play games can cross out squares. Completing at least one square gets you two raffle tickets. If you complete a row you get five bonus tickets. There are also discretionary tickets for ‘style’, good sportsmanship etc. Late in the evening the winning raffle tickets will be drawn, and the lucky players will win prizes. I’ll let you know how it goes…
This is a longer post with three, no make that four main topics.
First, let me focus on one of the reasons why I started gaming back when I was a young pre-teenager. After my father bought me a second-hand library book on WW2 I gained an avid interest in history. Back in the 1970’s historical wargame’s were they only type of ‘real’ games available for me to play with my brother, and my school friends. So a connection between history and board games was formed that continues to this day. Therefore it was great to see an airworthy B-29 named FiFi at Camarillo Airport. My inner historian, coupled with the rampant gamer , immediately wants to break out a game involving Boeing B-29 bombers. Wrooommm.
3500 Games Played
It was only when I got back from last weekends GMT West “Weekend at the warehouse” did I realize that I had passed the grand total of 3500 games played. And by games played I actually mean games that I have logged on BoardGameGeek. The number of 3500 does not include all the board, and card, games that I have ever played. I first began logging my games played back in 2007, and my start was rather erratic. I have covered my thoughts, suggestion, and ideas for game logging, in too much depth, in an separate article here.
Let me sum up some snippets based on these 3500 game playes:
The game that made me hit 3500 logged games was Cards Against Humanity. This game is one where you actually do not want to play it too often. It is a horrible game, for horrible people. I am a horrible person. With the right people this game is an absolute hilarious experience, and we do not bother tracking who won.
Despite playing the game 15 times, I have never won a game of Wings For The Baron. Even so, it is a great economic-wargame hybrid.
Some games I play for the benefit of other people. With 46 plays, Battle Cry is a game I purchased primarily for use at the Wargame Bootcamp as an introductory wargame.
There are 279 games that I have played only once each.
I have met many good people, and a few not so good people playing these games. I have also made many good friends playing these games.
I still cannot effectively shuffle cards, and dice still hate me.
My twisted 10×10 Challenge for 2017
For a joke I twisted the standard 10×10 Challenge into a BSG focused grid. My joke backfired on me as I committed myself to the challenge. After a few hectic weeks of gaming it was about time for me to update my 10×10 grid.
This Saturday is TableTop DOG 2017 on International Table Top Day
I am hurriedly plotting activities for the attendees at this weekends TableTop DOG in Oxnard. This is our 4th event on Table Top Day. With over 40 people already signed up we are expecting a bigger event than last years event.
As this is an official Table Top Day event there will be kiddie and family friendly games at hand; along with the usual mix of euro, strategy, wargame, thematic, and party games we normally play.
GMT West aka The Weekend at the Warehouse is a twice yearly gaming event that takes place at the GMT Games warehouse in Hanford, California. GMT basically let a bunch of rabid gamers take over their warehouse for 4 days, and what a great job the GMT staff do in accommodating us.
The cool thing is 80-100+ gamers take over the warehouse, stare in awe at stacks of impressive games, and then we get to play all sorts of games, not just games published by GMT Games themselves. There are usually a number of game designers in attendance. You get to talk with these game designers, and play their new game designs. Many gamers have aspirations to design a game themselves. It is always enlightening to talk with an actual game designer who have turned that desire into an actual game.
Let us not forget Mike Lam who runs a Down In Flames area, and has been doing so for donkey’s years.
Click on an individual image to see a larger version
Games were already in full swing when I arrived in the early afternoon.
Oerjan came all the way from Sweden. He run a playtest corner for COIN games
Pick a card
Every time I looked Terry was playing Twilight Struggle, he was also using the Turn Zero expansion
T&T was a popular game. Sandy (left) came all the way from London.
Jerry has some very creative game ideas.
It was good to see Pyramid Lake so full.
Eric, Karl, and Greg with another game of T&T
A good multiplayer game to wind down with.
On Thursday night some horrible people wound down with Cards Against Humanity
Yup, there is such a thing as too many cards
This was before the errata was revised.
Otherwise known as Samurai Swords
The white cards alone filled one table
Battle of Flerus from the Musket and Pike system
On Thursday night we wound down with a horrible game of Cards Against Humanity. I had to pick this winning answer.
The weekend was in full swing on Friday. The squeaky ceiling vent was oiled, but the nearby welders added their symphony of noises to replace
More T&T, I think this was the single most played game
Kurt and Mike playing Nightfighter
Yet another game of T&T, this time it includes Brett and Steve
Fellow Brit’s Jon and Sandy were newcomers to Nappy Wars. They had a fun time playing the game three times on Saturday
Greg demoing his game 7YW: Frederick’s Gamble
The new Mark Herman game was a popular game
Sandy and Jon learning Nappy Wars
Kurt showing his game Fields of Despair, to Roger
Eric, Matt, and Larry playing Unconditional Surrender
Terry and yet another game of Twilight Struggle
Roger Miller playtesting a new Rinella game
Greg and his game 7YW: Frederick’s Gamble
1914 Race to the Sea
18Ireland with Steve, Mike, and Morgan
Sword of Rome
Brett showing Terry and Mark his baseball game
Hands in the Sea
Greg showing 7YW: Frederick’s Gamble to Mark Simonitch
The main day of the Weekend started with doughnuts, was punctuated with copious pizza, and ended with a great game of Battlestar Galactica. So say we all!.
7YW Frederick’s Gamble: Dave and Eric being shown the game by the designer Greg Ticer
Saturday night was capped with a 6 player game of Battlestar Galactica. The cylons won. No one suspected that Ken was the second cylon
Roger Miller showing off Pacific Fury
It was good to see Karl and Ken play Thirty Years War
A full game of multiplayer Epic Command and Colors Ancients
Mark teaching Twilight Struggle
A few games of Churchill were observed
Black Orchestra: Allen was sent to jail and Leggat got him out.
Combat Commander Pacific hitting the table
Matt, and Kurt with Pax Rennaissance
Another COIN game being played, Falling Sky
It was good to see Command & Colors Napoleonics being played, why didn’t I think to bring the Epic version?
By Sunday people are beginning to travel home. After the noise and commotion of Saturday, peace descends on the warehouse.
Bruce, designer of COIN series Gandhi, with Allen, and Oerjan
Once again Mike Lam ran the Down in Flames area
Ken and John with Operation Dynamo from France ’40
Gene, Chris, Eric, Doug, Dave, and Jerry discuss the new design from Jerry
Karl getting Clank!-y
Many thanks to the GMT staff for hosting another successful weekend. It was good to see a bunch of regulars, and to meet a bunch of new people.
One of the major reasons why I like board games is because I love history. Games give you a chance to comprehend, replay, and remake, history. One side effect is that if I see a documentary, a film, or visit a historical place; then I have to check out games on the subject.
The Commemorative Airforce (CAF) has a base at the nearby Camarillo Airport. As part of their Airpower History Tour they were bring several historic airplanes to Camarillo for a few days. One of the featured planes is a Boeing B-29 bomber called FiFi. It is interesting to note that until recently FiFi was the sole B-29 still flying. This was a once in a lifetime chance to see an airworthy B-29 in all of her glory. With GMT West starting on Thursday the 20th, the only chance to see FiFi was the day before. So on the Wednesday afternoon I went down to Camarillo Airport to look at Fifi and the other exhibits on display at the CAF museum.
It is rare to see an historic aircraft partially disassembled. Here is the Packard Merlin on a frame outside the aircraft.
The very small, and cramped ball turret from a B-17 bomber. Note the tennis ball for scale,
The B-29 FiFi on the tarmac at Camarillo Airport
The bomb bay doors of the B-29 FiFi
The flying C-45 Expeditor in British RAF colors, note the black and white invasion stripes on the wings, and fuselage.
Good crowd last night in Newbury Park with 26. Alex made his first appearance at Greg’s, and Ben rejoined us after a stint in South Korea. Carl brought along Flamme Rouge, which was fun. Serge Clanked, twice. Baker Josh mucked up the rebels plans with the timely nabbing of the Corcuscant card.
Games played included: Great Western Trail, Keyflower, Unfair, Oracle of Delphi, Star Wars Rebellion, Concordia, Pandemic Iberia, Manhattan Project, Coup x4, Fuse x3, Clank! X2, and Flamme Rouge x2.
Note that next week we have a change to our normal schedule: Greg is hosting on Monday, and Ted is hosting on Tuesday.
A local-ish (Santa Barbara county) gamer friend of mine, Jerry White, is interviewed about his upcoming solitaire game on the Doolittle Raid. The interview is on The Players Aid site.
TableTop DOG is fast approaching… I am plotting some type of competition… hee hee
The VCSB meetup on the 11th of April has been moved to Ted’s. We will have the usual limit of 24 at Ted’s. People will need to bring chairs, and park up the hill etc.
As a bonus, Greg will host on the Monday before i.e. April the 10th. Greg and Sudro are plotting a game of Britannia for that Monday.
On Tuesday we had a smaller group than normal in Newbury Park with 21 attendees. Even so, a wide selection of games were played, including three games of Battlestar Galactica. Liz was a cylon in all three games. David M was the victor in all three games.
VCSB 28th March 2017
Games played on Tuesday included: Britannia, Acquire, Russian Railroads, Great Western Trail, Wizard, Stone Age, Qwixx x4, Ticket To Ride, Red 7 x2, Trans Europa, and Battlestar Galactica x3.
Last night was Wednesdays at Carrows. This meetup is going from strength to strength with attendances around the mid teens. Thanks to Matthew and April-Lyn for the info and pictures.
Games played: Great Western Trail, Chaosmos, High Frontier, First Class, Burgle Bros., Blood of an Englishman, The King is Dead and Crisis.
The King is Dead
Table Top Day is a month away on April the 29th, we are planning a bigger and better Table Top DOG than last year. This will be the 4th year that we have organized an event. This year we will be back in Oxnard, we lots of space for all types of games, and gamers. Stay tuned for special events on the day.