FATDOG 2017 & DOGCAT 2

Roll up for more modern boardgaming events with FATDOG 2017 and DOGCAT 2: Revenge of DOGCAT.

These events have many things in common:

  • Come along if you are interested in the growing modern boardgaming hobby. Enjoy modern fun boardgames such as Ticket to Ride or Catan.
  • The events are free to attend. Please RSVP so that we know the numbers to expect.
  • The events are beginner friendly. There will be plenty of fun, and engaging modern boardgames to play.
  • Come for an hour, or stay for the whole day.
  • You do not need to own, nor know, any boardgames games. People are happy to teach the games to others.

FATDOG 2017

FATDOG 2017 is on Friday, the 24th of November in Oxnard. To RSVP, or for more details you can check out the event on Meetup or on Facebook. This is the 6th year that the Ventura County Startegy Boardgamers Meetup have held a FATDOG event. Each year they have gone from strength to strength.


DOGCAT 2017

DOGCAT 2: Revenge of DOGCAT is on Saturday, the 25th of November in Ventura. To RSVP, or for more details you can check out the event on Meetup or on Facebook. This is the second year that we have organized an evnt on the Saturday after Thanksgiving.


Any questions? Ask below, or post a comment on Meetup or on Facebook against the event that you are interested in attending.  Also check out our Facebook group where we discuss boardgaming around Ventura County.

Many thanks to Ryan and April-Lyn for arranging the venues.

Tim
15th November 2017. Edited for a typo.

FATDOG means Friday After Thanksgiving Day of Gaming. It’s just a name for our full day of gaming.

DOGCAT means Days of Gaming Continuing After Thanksgiving. It’s just another goofy and fun name..

10×10 Challenge and 10 Day Of Gaming…So Far

My Twisted 10×10 Challenge is making good progress. My Battlestar Galactica count is up to 53 games so far this year. My target is to play BSG at least 70 times. It will be tight to complete the required number. I am confidant as my local gaming group can often finish 2-3 games of BSG in one evening. So say we all.

October the 4th 10x10 Challenge
October the 4th 10×10 Challenge
October the 4th 10x10 Challenge
October the 4th 10×10 Challenge
oct 4 2017 - 2 Capture
October the 4th 10×10 Challenge

I am spoiled with local gaming opportunities. It has not always been the case. It is now possible to game, for no cost other than fuel, at least 4 times a week. A Monday evening meetup has been added to the weekly calendar of my local gaming Meetup group. With the semi-regular weekend events it has been possible to game 5 days in a row. Taking advantage of this I decided how long I could go where I play games on consecutive days.

So far I have gamed every day from Saturday, the 23rd of September, until today. There is no end in sight to this run of gaming. Only one day have I gamed in a non-public location. To keep the streak going I did play a (board) game with the girlfriend to bridge a game between events. I will do so tonight too. She is a good sport putting up with my shenanigans.


10×10 Challenge And More McGregors

12-July-2017 10x10
12-July-2017 10×10

My twisted 10×10 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!

Flarchcon 2017

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.

Battlestar Galactica

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.

Board games and Beer at McGregors in Moorpark

Here are links to the Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers Meetup event, and my Facebook event.


Tim

12th July 2017

Board Games And Beer on 25th June 2017 – After Action Report

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.

 

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.

 

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.

concept pic1907628
Image from BGG

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

Links:

Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers event page on Meetup.

Event page on Facebook.

McGregors website and Facebook page.

144 Los Angeles Ave, Moorpark, CA 93021

Tel 805-553-9818

Board Games And Beer – 25th June 2017

This Sunday, the Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers are holding an event at McGregors Craft Beer & Wine, in Moorpark, CA from 2pm-8pm.

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.

Tim
20th June 2017

Links:

Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers event page on Meetup.

Event page on Facebook.

McGregors website and Facebook page.
144 Los Angeles Ave, Moorpark, CA 93021
Tel 805-553-9818

A Good Dog Is Hard To Photograph…

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!

Fletcher
A rare, in focus, photo of Fletcher
Fletcher
A tail strong enough to clear a game table in seconds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

High Frontier Capture
High Frontier
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.

Blurry Ben
Blurry Ben playing Viticulture

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.

This examples below show James, Ryan, and Bob playing Mech Vs. Minions.


The distance shot is the best way to show the people playing the game. This is where the players are the focus of the photo.

James, Ryan, and Bob playing Mechs Vs. Minions
James, Ryan, and Bob playing Mechs Vs. Minions

The closeup shot is to show the art, or the details, of the game itself. It is hard to combine both into one photo.

A miniature from Mechs Vs. Minions
A miniature from Mechs Vs. Minions

Together they make a great combination set to show off the game, and the players.

 

The key points to remember about taking and posting photos are:

  • Take lots of pictures.
  • Take closeup detail pictures of the game components.
  • Take distance pictures of the players.
  • Post pictures that are interesting.
  • Post pictures that show the games, and the gamers in a good light.
  • Edit, or crop photos to remove bad content.
  • Do not post pictures that are not flattering.

Tim

Associated Articles

Running A Game Group – Photo/Social Media Policy

 

 

 

 

Don’t Mess With the Formula

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.

The Plan

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.

1Capture
Aquasphere – 9th May 2017
2Capture
Trajan etc – 9th May 2017
3Capture
Flamme Rouge + Clank! – 9th May 2017
4Capture
Terraforming Mars etc – 9th May 2017

 

Can 30 Minutes Make A Difference ?

Yes, is my answer.

 

Tim

 

Table Top DOG 2017 After Action Report

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.

Game played

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.

Raffle Bingo

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”.

 

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.

  1. 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.
  2. Better prizes. Either buy some prizes, or get some ‘good’ quality donations from people before the event.
  3. 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 ?

Tim

30th April 2017

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Night And Preparing For TableTop DOG 2017

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.

VCSB 25th April 2017
VCSB 25th April 2017
VCSB 25th April 2017
VCSB 25th April 2017
VCSB 25th April 2017
VCSB 25th April 2017

 


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…

The TableTop DOG Raffle Bingo sheet
The TableTop DOG Raffle Bingo sheet

Boeing B-29 FiFi at Camarillo Airport

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.

This really wants me to break out my copy of Wing Leader: Supremacy.

Wing Leader Supremacy 1943-45 box cover
Wing Leader Supremacy 1943-45, by GMT Games, is a tactical squadron level air combat game. Unusually the game focuses on the vertical element of air combat.