I've spent half of this week in Germany for work, on a flying visit which left me with little time to see anything of Berlin. I did however get to see Konrad, one of my core playtesters and a friend who's supported me since the earliest Reiver Games days, who just happens to live in Berlin. Convenient.
I knew that Konrad was interested in Codename: Vacuum, and I'd promised him a copy of it after he was so helpful during my NaGa DeMon 2013 competition. It wasn't quite ready to send then, so I tweaked it a little and then got completely distracted by Zombology and later Dragon Dance.
It's been over a year since I'd played Vacuum, and until recently I hadn't even really thought about it at all either. About a month or two ago I had some ideas to streamline some of the clunkier bits and simplify a few things (I was also intending to complicate some others!). I started work on those changes on a recent train journey, but then I've run out of time to finish them off.
Seeing as Vacuum comes in a box the size of Race for the Galaxy, shipping it to Germany wouldn't be cheap, so it made sense to take Konrad a copy while I was over. Konrad kindly invited me to his flat one evening and offered to cook me dinner, so we had a plan.
Like all the best-laid ones, it all went to pot. I had little time before the trip to finish off making the changes I had in mind for Vacuum (and what little time I did have I spent programming my new German language app), so I didn't have a finished copy to take with me. Instead I crammed my personal copy (with the cards from Feb 2014 and the rules from August 2013!) in my suitcase, and told Konrad I'd leave it with him and send him updated cards when I'd finally got around to finishing them.
We had a great evening, a lovely meal followed by a game (and great discussion) of Vacuum and then a couple of games of Alchemy, one of Konrad's designs, which I really enjoyed. Konrad was even kind enough to give me a copy of that (which thanks to a smaller box than Vacuum meant that I had room in my suitcase for a little souvenir for The Wife and The Daughter). The game of Vacuum was a little embarrassing (it had been so long since I'd last played that I'd forgotten a number of rules until halfway through the game), but really useful, refreshing my memory of what works and what doesn't. Afterwards we had a lengthy chat about what Konrad liked and didn't like and my ideas for the next version, which Konrad's input has already simplified further.
A great trip all in all, and it's good to get back into Vacuum, the game that started my second wind of games design, post Reiver Games debacle.