Two Cons, 500 Miles, 12 Games And One Prang

Last Saturday was end of three busy days of traveling and gaming. First was the twice-yearly GMT West – Weekend At The Warehouse, that was followed by the annual TableTopDOG gaming event on International Table Top Day.

GMT West April 2018

GMT West aka Weekend At The Warehouse is a four day, Thursday to Sunday, event held every six months at the GMT Games warehouse in California central valley. Up to 100 gamers get to play all types of game in the middle of a warehouse full of games. There are also new, as yet unpublished games, and their designers in attendance.

Over 3 days I only played a total of 6 games. The unusual thing was that I did not play a single game that was published by GMT Games. Many people are surprised that we go and take over a game company’s warehouse and we don’t have to play their games. All types of games are played: euros, team games, 18XX, monster wargames, and more wargames. If you look at the pictures albums posted below you will see all types of games were played. It should be no surprise that the most common games played are historical wargames. Most of these are also games published by GMT Games.

After arriving in early afternoon there were already many games in progress. There is a customary period of reconnaissance and re-connection immediately after arriving. Here are gamers who you may only see twice a year. Gamers have come from all over the USA, and from further afield too. After a wander, and lots of hello’s, it was time to push some cardboard around a map.

My first game played was a new release by Compass Games aka Red Poppies Campaigns: Last Laurels at Limanowa. Yup, another game on WW1. Myself and Karl K. setup Scenario 2. I was the attacking Russians. Karl was the defending Austro-Hungarians. We had previously played the first volume in the series: Red Poppies Campaigns: The battle for Ypres a few times before. The first thing we noticed was that elevation was more important in this single map game. The terrain was predominately hills with a scattering of woods. Lots of hills. As this volume is set in late 1914 it also means that there are no trenches on the map. If you ever want to comprehend why they dug trenches in ww1 then simply play the 1914 era scenarios in this series of games. You need cover. It was a tense game and a lot of fun too. Karl won the game despite the best efforts of my Cossacks. Bloomin’ Cavalry.

Friday was my only full day at this GMT West. I noticed that John Company was being played and Steve C. was going to run teaching games at 10am and 4pm. I first committed to the 4pm game, then changed to 10am knowing it would be a long and involved teaching process. Steve was happy to simply teach the 6 players who volunteered to play this economical/expand/embezzle game on the Easy India Company. Steve had declared that it was tough game to teach. He was not wrong. The individual game mechanics are simple. The game has lots of moving parts, and lots of subtle interconnections. Despite the best efforts of Chairman Brandon to fail the company we prospered for a while. Overall it was a fun, thematic, and tight game. The dice do play a part in the story it weaves. There might be too much dice luck for those who don’t like the fickleness of dice in their games. I still like it. Thanks to Steve to teaching the game. I went on to both teach and play John Company again the following Tuesday.

The Great War card game
Example cards from The Great War card game

One of the guests in attendance was game designer and historian Dana Lombardy. Among other things he was demoing a WW1 themed card game. Two regular decks of cards that have a trick taking game built into the cards. Dana gave me the run through on the rules and we went at it. It was a close game with bluff, deception, and brute force. Perhaps fittingly the game ended in a draw with Dana ahead by 74 to 69 points. It’s a fast playing game with lots of history on the cards. It was good to chat with Dana too. Streets of Stalingrad was a fave game of mine.

Mike Tan (left) and Dana Lombardy
Mike Tan (left) and Dana Lombardy. The game is Sturm Europa! designed by Mike.

Next was two games of The Cousins’ War by Surprised Stare Games. This one of the small format micro-games that has been a big hit for me over the last year. It plays in less than 30 minutes and has more than enough meaningful choices to make it worthwhile. It has bluffing too. Robert O. has a few minutes to spare, while waiting for his missus, so I taught him the game. Immediately after Dave T. showed up and I taught it again. He had recently bought the game so it was an opportune time for him to learn. This was a cracker of a game that came down to the last battle on the last turn. Whoever won the battle would win the war. I lost. Dice hate me, but in a fun way! Well done to Dave.

My last game of Thursday was Atlantic Chase by local-ish (Santa Barbara area) designer Jerry White. He had first demoed the game last October. This time I sat down to play for the first time. We played the ‘Bremen’ scenario. This is an excellent short scenario to learn about trajectories and searching. I took on the role of the Royal Navy commander versus Doug S. and his elusive cruiser liner SMS Bremen.  The SMS Bremen is attempting to get back to Germany on the eve of ww2. It is a quick scenario with some sneaky options for the German player. Unfortunately, I was both sneaky and lucky. I launched 4 task forces to scour the Atlantic. After successfully finding and detaining the SMS Bremen, without shots fired,  we reset the game for the next two players. This game went differently for the Royal Navy. Using the cruiser Graf Spee as a decoy the SMS Bremen made it safely to Germany.  This is another innovative and well designed game by Jerry. He is a very smart and a very likable chap. Check out his games.

This is one of my favorite scenes from this event. It sums up GMT West for me. A whole group of gamers gathered around having fun playing a game. Most of these gamer also happen to be game designers. The game is Tank Duel by Mike Bertucelli. That is Mike in the blue t-shirt in the left foreground.

Can you name all of the game designers in the pics?

If you want to see more pics of this April GMT West; here are more pics in Google Photo Albums from Thursday, Friday, and Saturday respectively.

Due to my prior commitment to TableTopDOG I had to leave GMT West late in Saturday morning. The fun and frolics continued had to continue without me.

GMT West


Saturday the 28th also marked International Table Top Day. April-Lyn had kindly offered to host our Meetup group event in Ventura.  Thus was held TableTopDOG 2018. This was the 5th year we had held an open and free day of gaming event on Table Top Day. Hence our DOG title for Day Of Gaming. No dogs were allowed, unfortunately.

TableTop DOG
The poster for TableTop DOG 2018

TableTopDOG 2018 was already jamming along by the time I arrived in the mid afternoon. Just as I settled down to learn the new-to-me game Whistle Stop a few newcomers arrived.  After several hours in the car I was okay with teaching some newbies some games that I already knew inside and out. The next few hours was spent teaching fun and enjoyable games to both new and experienced gamers. I ended up playing as many games in a few hours as I had in the previous days at GMT West.

Serge destroyed me at Azul, no shock there. Christieann beat my score too. Cool. My winning streak is done. I need to up my game!

One highlight of TableTopDOG was the game raffle. Group members had kindly donated, new and gently used, games for a prize raffle. Those who attend get raffle tickets for both taking part in the days activities and for teaching games etc.

The games played included: Dungeon Lords, Whistle Stop, Azul (x a lot), Qwixx (x2), Tsuro, Rhino Hero, Zombie Dice, Speed, Rising Sun, Castles of Burgundy, Dinosaur Island, Terraforming Mars (x 3), Photosynthesis, The Opulent, Santorini, Sushi Go, Win Lose or Banana, Power Grid, Dixit, 6 Nimmt (x2), Vast: The Crystal Caverns, Kodama: The Tree Spirits, Lords of Waterdeep (x2), Tiny Epic Quest, Dice Throne, Start Player, Scattergories, Delphi, Kingsburg, Fallout, Red7, Loonacy, Nyet!, Fuse, Wildcatters, Secret Hitler, and Indulgence.

As can be seen from the list it was a full and busy day of gaming. It was hard to estimate the total number of people who attended. I counted over 30 and I arrived late. People had already come and gone. After putting some heads together we estimate in the region of 40-50 people attended our 5th annual TableTopDOG. Woof!


The final act of the Saturday was a minor car accident when my gf and myself went off to get Jamba Juice. Her car got the worst of it and is now being repaired.  The important thing was that no one was hurt. Not a good end to an otherwise great few days.

Tim
4th May 2018

P.S.: FYI, it was not quite 500 miles of traveling, but it was close enough.
P.P.S: So I did play a GMT game at GMT West. It just has not been published yet.

One Last Hurrah

The last Hurrah for Chris Rollins

Young scamp Chris Rollins is leaving the land of endless summer for the fair city of Boston. Over the past 4 years Chris has graced us with his presence almost 200 times. He has been airlocked in Battlestar Galactica and he has hunted the Rebels in Star Wars Rebellion.

Join us for a session of gaming, and the odd adult beverage or two, to say farewell to the young lad. This may or may not involve Chris getting brigged or airlocked multiple times.

Kindly gather at McGregors craft bar in Moorpark on Saturday, the 7th of April, 2018 from 2pm – 10pm.

Please RSVP on Meetup or on Facebook. We need to let the venue know how many we expect. Kindly let us know if you simply plan on popping in to pay your regards or if you plan to stay for a while.

Tim

27th March 2018

More Boardgames & Beer at McGregors on January the 21st

Join us for a pleasant Sunday afternoon & evening of Board games and Beer (or wine etc) at McGregors Craft Beer and Wine, Moorpark.

Board games and Beer at McGregors in Moorpark
21st January 2018 – 2pm onward

The venue is a friendly craft pub that is open, airy, with great lighting, and large clean tables. There is plenty of free parking too.

Bring along games to play if you want, we will have plenty of fun games at hand. Beginners are welcome. There will be plenty of fun games to play that take mere minutes to learn. We will have plenty of games that are suitable for all types of gamers, from newcomers to experienced.

You can RSVP on the Ventura County Strategy Boardgamers Meetup or on the Facebook event. All our events are FREE to attend. The venue is a commercial establishment, people are expected to support the venue by partaking in the food and drink they have to offer. As the establishment serves alcohol there is a minimum age limit of 21.

 

 

 

Board Gamer Toy Drive 2017 – Updated

The Thomas Fire has greatly affected people in our local area. People have lost their homes, and their livelihoods. Our local community is hurting. Let’s help with the rebuilding. With Christmas fast approaching things are especially hard on the kids.

Board Gamers Toy Drive
Toy Drive for those in Ventura County affected by the Thomas Fire

So, we are holding a Toy Drive. We are gamers who can help people through the power of learning and play. For more details see the Toy Drive page.

Bring along NEW Toys, Games, and School Supplies to a Meetup, or get them to Tim or April-Lyn of the VCSB Meetup; or Blake, Chris, or Julia of the Simi Valley Games Meetup.

Help in anyway you can; donate money via places like the red Cross. People need all sorts of basic items. Every little bit helps.

Update – 21st December

Yesterday, I took a dozen bags full of new, and much needed, items to the Boys and Girls Club Thrift store in Ventura. The pop-up store was winding down and had passed their role onto the B&G Club store on N. Ventura Blvd.
Items donated to the Toy Drive
A dozen bags of items were collected, and donated. Many thanks.
 Many thanks to all the help and the donations for the BoardGamers Toy Drive, including: Christieann, Kimberly, Sudro, Kathy G, April-Lyn, and Brian (from Game Ogre in Westlake Village).

Many thanks for all the donations.

 
The items included: games, toys, school supplies (binders, books, pencils, highlighters), and hygiene products (tampons, wipes, razors, toothpaste, toothbrushes, shaving cream, deodorant). All of these types of items, and more, are still required.

 

Tim

14th December 2017 (Updated 21st December 2017)

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..