By the time I finihsed my gig on Saturday morning, it was 9:30am and I was exhausted. I debated going home to get an hour of sleep vs just going straight to the con to run my 12pm Combat Commander games. In the end, I went and sat behind the Kniziathon desk again, and fortunately no one needed any actual help.
At noon, I went and set up the games, one set for scenario 1 for newbies, the other set for scenario 7 in case I was teaching (as the Russians are so hamstrung). Walt and Wilhelm played the former, and Matt Riley (from our group) and I played the other. I explained the game to Wilhelm and Walt, although Walt had gotten in part of a scenario once before, but not enough to really lock in the rules. Of course, by now my voice was going quickly, but somehow I not only got Walt and Wilhelm playing, but also explained well enough to Matt that he was grasping the game very quickly (plus he's a quick study).
Walt and Wilhelm looked like they had a really exciting game, in the sense that all sorts of wackiness ensued and Walt won in a squeaker in the final seconds. Wilhelm professed to dislike the game, preferring something that allowed some sort of strategy. He felt that Up Front! provided that control, although I have to say that I really like CC:E, and even though I don't know that things work out the way you'd like them to, the narrative is so strong and the visualization so effective that I'm quite happy with this game and don't feel any need to learn Up Front in any more detail.
Meanwhile, Matt started on one end of the board and worked his way toward mine. I am fairly sure that the way to work this scenario as the Russians is to give the satchel charges to the teams, and the LMGs to SMG squads near the various objectives. Walt had actually set up the board, and so I just left things as they were, but I discovered that since the only way you're going to use those satchel charges is to move/assault fire the teams holding them, you might as well just waste teams instead of squads. However, things were generally going pretty well for me, and I had a definite chance of winning the game when I managed blow a three point advantage in a melee with one of my leaders against one of his leaders, even with several swaps of the initiative card. At that point, I was down over 10 points and we were running out of time so I conceded.
Nevertheless, I ended up winning, if only because Matt loved the game, and now I have the advantage of two more local players (both Matt and Walt) that I'm sure to get games up with in the future. The people who like this game love this game, and I'm even considering a mini-tournament at WBC West in August.
By now I was feeling like I was starting to hit a wall, and had four hours to kill, so I ended up sitting at a table where Walt was teaching Fire and Axe, a game about Vikings raiding, trading, and settling Europe. I am not going to spend a lot of time describing the game except to say that it's quite a bit like Settlers in that there are fairly limited options for screwage and when it does present itself it's in the form of action cards that may or may not help your position. There are many interesting mechanisms, and several ways to score points that I quite like, but the game felt like multi-player solitaire in many respects and it went on for a couple of hours. Oh, and one guy bailed right as Walt finished explaining the rules and I ended up taking his seat, so there went my rest period. I'll want to give it another play before I consider buying this one.
After an hour break where I got chili from the hospitality suite (was this really wise?) and bought the three second edition Columbia East/West/Eurofront game, I went and ran the newbie table of Arkham Horror. Yes, another game I frantically tried to explain rules with a voice that could barely be heard across the table. I was the only person who had played (other than Walt, who seemed to be my constant companion for the day, which is a good thing), so I did all the explaining. Unfortunately, I did get a few things wrong, most of which aided the players, but by midgame everyone had a good sense of the game and things were going pretty well, if a bit slowly. Compared with the "experienced" player table, who thought they were only a few turns away from winning two hours in, only to still be playing two and a half hours later, we weren't doing that badly. Monsters were getting handled pretty well, gates were getting closed (although with eight players, you only need five gates open to face the Bad Guy, and since our Elder God was the one that automatically wins when that happens, that would mean a loss). The problem we had was that people were using their Clue tokens to gain extra rolls most of the time, so we had only gotten three of the six gates sealed by midnight, and at that point everyone had definitely hit the wall, including me, so we packed it up.
Even though we didn't finish, everyone had a good time, and it was a very pleasant group to play with, as opposed to the other table that had mostly loud ubergeek types. One person I knew said that the real horror was playing the game with eight, although I felt that we generally had good opportunities to get bathroom breaks, and the company was good. I was out the door by 12:30am, and at home by 1am. Since we had overnight guests who had come in fairly late, and I was more or less out of gas, I chose to stay home on Sunday and rest, and that was also a very good choice. As I type, I feel like I've lost a couple of days of recuperation, but I got in a lot of good gaming at a convention that I frequently miss, so I figure it was a good exchange.
Special props go out to Chris Brooks, who made the Kniziathon a huge success, to those members of Rip City Gamers who made our presence known and tirelessly promoted various games, especially Mike Deans who seemed to be everywhere. Next year, perhaps I will be both healthy and unencumbered with other events on this weekend, but I'm not holding my breath.