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.

 

 

Midweek Update – 4th April 2017

Unfair

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.

VCSB 4th April 2017
Games played at the VCSB meetup 4th April 2017
2Capture
Games played at the VCSB meetup 4th April 2017

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

Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Table Top Day 2017

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.

2Capture

VCSB 28th March 2017

VCSB 28th March 2017 Montage 1
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.

 


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. 

Please RSVP if you want to attend, here is a link to Table Top DOG 2017 on the VCSB meetup group. There is also an event on the official TableTopDay website.

To give an idea of the shenanigans of Table Top Day. Here are some montages from last years Table Top DOG 2016.

2Capture
Table Top DOG 2016
Table Top DOG 2016
Table Top DOG 2016

 

 

 

Tuesday Night in Newbury Park – 14th March 2017

Unfair
montage 2 Capture
Montage

Games played last night included: Clank!, Star Wars Rebellion, The Pursuit of Happiness, A Feast for Odin, Anarchrony, Ora Et Labora, Star Realms, Unfair, Mystic Vale x2, Hero Realms, and Love Letter Archer.

Attendance is now hovering around 25-30 on Tuesday nights, down from a regular figure of 30-35. After the expected seasonal drop just before Christmas, the numbers have not picked back up. This concerns me a little.

perplexed
Tim

Mid-March Update

As part of an ongoing process I have started to collate my list of useful game links.

While looking for some other photos, I found a bunch from the special one-day events that I help to organize back in 2012. A a tease here is a montage for our first FATDOG event. The full article can be found here.

FATDOG 2012
FATDOG 2012 Montage

As part of my ongoing goal of increasing the number of gamers, and game groups, who log their game plays. I had added a thread to BGG with a few polls.  From that feedback it looks like lots of people are logging their games played. There are many detractors, yet so far I have only convinced 1 (one) gamer to start logging. Success!

Tim – 14th March 2017