Monday, May 19

Let's Convene

The focus of this week has been Beer and Pretzels. Oh, and parenting. But mostly Beer and Pretzels.

My parents came up last weekend so that I would have some help looking after The Daughter while The Wife was away for work. It's been great having them up, I'd not seen them since January and they were incredibly helpful, making my period as primary care-giver much easier. I even managed to get a new version of Zombology ready for this weekend in the evenings after The Daughter went off to sleep.

The Wife got back on Thursday so I could head off to Beer and Pretzels on Saturday morning. I've been to Beer and Pretzels four or five times now, initially as a publisher trying to drum up interest and trade for the games I was making and for the last two years as a punter, just playing games with friends while drinking a small amount of beer and eating the odd pretzel.

The venue: Burton Town Hall

Saturday was an early start, up at five (though actually 4:30, The Daughter was waking up early all week with her cold), then a 6am departure to get a train to Burton to arrive in time for the 10am convention start.

On arrival, I came across a few old friends, Paul, Carole and Nick and then Terry, one of my gaming buddies from the South, arrived. We started with a quick game of Zombology, using the new version I'd made last week. I think the new art was much clearer (except accidentally missing out the requirement information from some of the cards) but the new version seemed way too easy. Though this may have been at least in part to a poor shuffle of a newly printed game leaving the aggressive cards out of the deal. People seemed to enjoy it, but in a low key way, there was no-one clamouring to play it again or buy it. More work required methinks.

After Zombology we ploughed through another 9 games, mostly with the same crowd. At home we play games at my house using my collection. I rarely buy games I haven't played and enjoyed, so we mostly play games I know. Conventions (and Beer and Pretzels is the only one I go to these days) are the main way I have to come across new games. Saturday was the first time I'd played Elder Sign, Las Vegas (which we played twice), Il Vecchio, Gear & Piston and Istanbul.

Particular favourites were:

  • Las Vegas - like a simple, cleaner version of Alea Iacta Est, with plenty of opportunities to screw each other over. Terry had apparently owned it for ages but only played it for the first time recently, after which he's racked up a bunch of plays.
  • Las Vegas: Simple, yet vicious and fun
  • Istanbul (just nominated for the Kennerspiel des Jahres) - another of Terry's purchases, you're racing around the city trying to be the first to collect five (or six with two) rubies to win the game. I enjoyed its simplicity and the speed at which things proceeded and the ability to lay the tiles out differently each time you play, increasing its replayability.

We called it a night around 9:30, half an hour before the venue shut. I was knackered, twelve hours of gaming on top of the 4:30am start had done for me. Terry and I were staying in the same hotel so he gave me a lift and then I had an awesome night's sleep.

Sunday started at ten, but we arrived a bit early (as we had the day before). They weren't letting us in early though, so we sat in the sun for half an hour and played half a game of Stone Age on the iPad.

I'd brought two versions of Zombology with me, so I asked yesterday's victims and Neil if they'd try the other version and compare and contrast. This was a noticeably more vicious game that proceeded more quickly since almost everyone had played before. Most people enjoyed it, but Nick found he rarely had a good card to play and Paul would have liked higher cards in the first deck to aim towards.

Sunday was a much shorter day, I wanted to get the 3:30 train so I could be back in time for the daughter's bedtime, so I only had five hours of gaming. After Zombology, we played a couple of longer games: Euphoria: Build a Better Dystopia and Praetor. I think Euphoria was my favourite game of the weekend a 60 minute worker placement game with loads going on, plus nice art and fantastic wooden pieces (I admit it, I'm a sucker for nice bits!).

Euphoria: a very fluid worker placement game

All in all, it was a great weekend. Great to catch up with Terry and everyone else, great to learn some great new games and play some old favourites.

The only downside was that Zombology wasn't as well received as I had hoped. Needs a bit more tweaking I think, time to consider some new ideas.

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