After missing last week's inaugural Newcastle Playtesting session due to a tough week last week, I arranged with Dan (the real organiser, I'm just a dilettante) to hold an impromptu one on Tuesday so I wouldn't have to wait until October for my next fix (it's on the first Tuesday of every month, and I'll miss the September one).
It started at eight, an hour later than the last one, which caught Paul and John out (they turned up at seven, and didn't know each other :-( ), I arrived, met John and had a look round for Paul, whom I didn't know, but knew was there from his Meetup.com message. Then Dan and his mate Mark turned up, and Dan knew Paul, so we were all set.
We tried to settle on a game to play, there were five of us, and Vacuum goes to five, but it would be a slow game with four newbies, and I knew that Amo was turning up fairly soon, so we opted for two three player games instead. Our table (Paul, John and I) sat down to a game of Vacuum. We played the basic rules to keep things simple, using just the five standard decks, not some of the advanced ones as well. The game lasted about an hour and ten minutes (so about 23 minutes per player - not too bad for a first game). John seemed to grasp the strategies very quickly and was playing a good game, Paul seemed to find it a bit heavier going. I asked the guys for feedback afterwards, and there was a conspicuous silence. So I asked them to email me with some feedback once they'd had a chance to digest their play. John has since posted a review of the evening (including a complimentary discussion of Codename: Vacuum).
After Vacuum, we played Paul's game 'Mad Monks', it was a much lighter game about monks racing through the abbey to get a barrel of beer back to their cell. The prototype was beautiful, the art had been done by someone with real comic-style art skills, and the player pieces were laser-etched wood. I enjoyed it, but it was a bit lighter than my usual fare. I made a few suggestions to Paul, it'll be interesting over the next few months to see what (if anything) he does with them.
I really enjoyed the evening, and I'm keen to increase the frequency of the meetups, so that if I miss one, I don't have to wait two months been attending. Maybe twice a month?
With a game of Vacuum under my belt, I skipped playing Vacuum at lunch this week. Instead, I've been making a Windows Phone app for Codename: Vacuum in my lunch breaks for my Nokia Lumia. First I made it pick a random selection of advanced decks for a game of Vacuum, then the second thing was to set it up to record the length of a game. The next step is to get it recording the information I current scribble on a sheet of paper after a game into a database instead so that I can start easily querying it. I'm inordinately pleased with the little progress I've made so far.