game fest

So, I went to a mini-gaming convention run by some employees of Wizards of the Coast last weekend. I haven’t been surrounded by so many nerds since I was at Reed. Robin and our friend Ari went with me on Friday, I went alone on Saturday, and then Ari joined me on Sunday.

Anyway, some of the gaming sessions I was in were sort of okay, others were awesome. Of the okay ones, they were mostly combat oriented role-playing sessions using the d20 rules. Here’s a break-down.

1. Pirates Cove! — Amazingly fun and simple board game. It’s got pirates, how could it be bad? This is definitely on my to-buy list maybe a couple of months from now in time for the holiday season to play with family and friends.
2. Homestarrunnerball Rally 2000 — the characters from are detailed using d20 rules, get in pairs, and race to Vegas from Strongbadia. I was playing Homestar Runner and I got paired with Coach Z. First we had to make cars out of playdough; then it just sort of turned into a genre mixing, time traveling race against other pairs like Strong Bad/Strong Sad and Strong Mad/the Cheat, ending in a climactic finish racing along side the original Cannonball racers from the movie of the 1980s. Anyway, this was pretty fun when I think about it, but while I was playing it it was a little tedious.
3. Royal Turf — This is a relatively quick horse racing/betting game that lasted about 45 min. It was fun, but I think I wasn’t into the theme as much as the other players.

driving home that night was insane; rain was coming down in sheets.

4. D&D Maxitures — this was a live action interpretation of the relatively new D&D Miniatures game. It was fun in a novel way, and we got to go outside and play in the backyard, but the game itself didn’t work so well since the teams lost their balance in such a small space. Any ranged units were at a distinct disadvantage. Of the two rounds I participated, I was on ranged teams and we got wiped pretty quickly. I was supposed to play two more hours of this (about two more rounds) but I decided to check out other stuff.
5. Gloria Mundi — this game is coming out next year some time. Did I mention that almost everyone in the house was either a game designer from Wizards or had been one at some point or was an independent game designer. Because of that, Robin got to play some word games that are in development on Friday and I got to play Gloria Mundi. (Coincidentally, the word games and this game were all designed by the guy who played my partner Coach Z.) Anyway, this game is very hard to describe and it took maybe a couple of rounds to fully comprehend the rules, but once underway, it really picked up and was quite fun.
Storm Giant6. D&D Miniatures sealed box tournament — I joined a tournament in which the boxes were supplied by the hosts who got to keep them afterwards. I gotta say, this game is tremendous fun. George and his friends Johnny and Claire, et. al. would love this game. It’s sort of like HeroClix but a little more like D&D and a little more like a regular miniature war game like Warhammer. What makes it really fun is the way all the special abilities and spells from different units combine with each other to make really interesting mixes. It has a very rich background, too. Maybe it also helped that I came in 2nd in the tourney (of 8 ). The only guy who beat me was one of the lead designers. πŸ™‚ As a prize I got a rare huge model, the Storm Giant. Nice. I found all the stats of all the minis online and I have a ton of miniatures which I finally brought up from the Bay Area earlier this summer, so I figure if I could find some people to play with, I have all the stuff. Come visit George!
7. Return, etc., to Elemental Evil — this was pretty fun, though there wasn’t much role-playing involved. We played a special FBI unit created with the d20 Modern rules who were sent through a portal to the Temple of Elemental Evil. It turns out that this was one of the recurring events at the mini-con and we were the 3rd group sent through the portal, this being the 3rd annual time this event was run. It was basically one huge fight as soon as we got there. I was the only one role-playing, saying things like “What the hell is that?!?” when any sort of monstrous creature appeared. It might have helped that I truly didn’t know what some of the creatures were and that of the ones I did know I didn’t know their stats. The other guys were all Wizards guys and were saying things like “Oh don’t worry about that; it’s just s Shambling Mound, not that powerful.” !!!
8. Who’s the Werewolf — this is like the party game you have at sleep-overs called Mafia or Assassin, and it was really fun.

9. Rise of the Legobots — bring a whole bunch of characters from TV shows and movies, stick them all in an old western, send some robots from the future to kill them, and make all these characters, robots, and buildings, terrain out of Legos. Basically, I was the Highlander (from the TV show) and had crazy insane stats (d20 rules). It was pretty fun, though early on, at one point I looked up and saw myself surrounded by middle-aged men and women arguing about if Xena was this way or if Dumbledore was that way… I was surrounded by nerds! πŸ™‚ But it picked up really well mid-way through, and I embraced my own nerdiness.
10. Vampire: the Requiem — this was totally a role-play session rather than being so combat or roll-play oriented. I joined in really late with only an hour or so left in the session since the Legobots one ended early. This would be great if I had a group of friends who wanted to role-play for hours like every weekend.

Between sessions, I was able to check out many games including the Game of Thrones boardgame, Risk: Godstorm (also by Coach Z), and Betrayal at the House on the Hill. The latter two come out later this month. The Game of Thrones game looks like a mix between Diplomacy and Risk/Cosmic Encounter. Might be worth getting, if only I had more hardcore gamer friends living near me. Risk: Godstorm adds a lot of interesting things to the game like artifacts, spells, and gods. The House on the Hill game looks really promising as a tongue-in-cheek horror themed tile/map building rpg-lite. What makes it cool is that you don’t know what the objective is until about half-way through the game, and then you find out that one of the players will turn traitor and it turns into a player and monsters vs. players game. I think I’ll try to get it before Halloween and play at a Halloween party this year.

Anyway, had a fun weekend, and I hope to be playing games with you all again some day… πŸ™‚

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