I moved back to Newcastle about a year and a half ago. We'd lived here for three years between 2001 and 2004 and ever since we left we'd being saying to each other 'I loved Newcastle, we ought to move back there at some point'. Since we moved back things have been pretty busy. The first two months I was here on my own during the week, then going home to the south on weekends, then The Wife joined me. We rented a house for six months, and spent a decent amount of time trying to find one to buy. Then we moved house again. And on top of moving house twice, we had a baby seven months ago.
All these excuses go some way, I hope, to explain why in the eighteen months since I moved back to Newcastle I've been to Newcastle Gamers (which is on twice a month) not 36 times, but 3. That's right, I've been less than 1/10th of the available opportunities. Can I refer you again to the excuses at the beginning of this blog post?
The third of those attendances was this Saturday just gone. Newcastle Gamers usually runs from 4:30pm until late, but since someone had declared Saturday International TableTop Day, Newcastle Gamers started at 10:00am, which coincided nicely with a kids birthday party The Wife was taking The Daughter to, so I got a pass!
I took Codename: Vacuum along, hoping to playtest it with a few strangers and get some feedback not coloured by personal affection. On arrival I was invited to join a game of Munchkin with Gareth and a few others. Gareth used to run Newcastle Gamers and used to come to my Thursday Games Night too, until he moved down south. I wasn't expecting to see him there, so it was a nice opportunity to catch up, and it made Munchkin a little bit more bearable (I'm not a fan!).
Afterwards, Gareth wanted to play Codename: Vacuum, so the two of us sat down to a quick game. I had to leave before too long, so we didn't have time for a learning game for 5 people, so the other players of Munchkin started another game and Gareth and I just did a two-player game. Gareth hadn't played before, and was keen to try it out. We set off after a brief explanation (which I hope makes more sense than the dreadful rulebook that I still haven't gotten round to re-jiggering) and got cracking. Gareth is a proper gamer, so despite the fact that he's a friend and so won't be able to give entirely un-biased feedback, his feedback will be very useful. He's much more experienced than the mates I've been playing it with at Games Night and at work, so his knowledge of other games will be useful as a yardstick to compare it with.
As it was, Gareth seemed to enjoy the game, and I'm hoping he'll get a chance to give me some more considered feedback once his play has sunk in. He said some very positive things and gave me a few nice ideas to work on.
After Vacuum, I had very little time left, so we had a quick game of The Boss, which was new to me and reminded me of Brett Gilbert's Divinare. Interesting.
Seeing as I've not been to Newcastle Gamers in ages, I wasn't expecting to know many people there and for there to be little knowledge of who I was or Codename: Vacuum. As it was, I recognised more people than I expected, and knew a couple of them very well. Plus someone (whom I'm sorry to say I didn't know/remember, or think to ask his name) came over and asked if we were playing Codename: Vacuum! When I said yes, he asked about progress on the new rulebook! Apparently, he lurks here! I'm famous! Yay! (Anyway, please introduce yourself, dear lurker, to make up for my poor manners/memory!).
It was a nice trip, and my first Games Club visit since I went to Beyond Monopoly last summer. It reminds me that I need to get out more!