Sunday dawned a bit later for me than Saturday (I'd wanted to be very sure to arrive by 9am for Here I Stand), and I struggled to get out of bed. One of the things I learned about long cons (like WBC, or even our own homegrown WBC West) is that you really have to learn to pace yourself. With WBC West, we have learned o play lighter games, or at least games that require considerably less thinking, in the evenings, which lets us maximize the heavier wargames the rest of the week. With the short cons, I'm finding that I'm good for about two-three days max of euro gaming before I start to get a bit weary of it all.
This time out, I was not doing a lot of teaching of games, but instead a lot of learning (although i did a *lot* of teaching in Here I Stand, to my detriment as Josh the VIII put the hammer on Paris - you still think playing England is boring, Mike?) With two full days of gaming spread out over three days, that felt about right given that I was staying about 10 miles away and we had to eat out all of the time. With Sunriver, that's worth about an extra day and so I can go from Friday into Monday without too much trouble, so long as I keep it light at night.
Once I arrived at the hotel, I noticed that there weren't nearly as many other people there - in fact, it was Lorna and a couple of others, plus Chris coming in just after me. As such, we played Kingsburg with Lorna, Jennifer, another guy who I'm ashamed to have forgotten his name, and Chris. I guess this is an elaboration of To Court The King, and I'm hearing that it's a better game. It's certainly a *bigger* game. With a lot of artwork that doesn't do much. This is another civ-building game, where you get resources to purchase advances that improve your abilities. With 20 advances on four tracks, it can be difficult to understand what "path" is best, but in truth you spend most of your time parsing dice.
That's right, a Euro with dice. Lots of them. Every turn you roll three or more dice, then assign them to different numbers on the board. For example, if you roll a three, a four, and a six, you could place one or more dice on the 3, 4, 6, 7 (3+4), 9 (3+6), 10 (4+6) or 13 (3+4+6) spaces. If someone else has already placed dice in that space, you usually can't play there as well. There is also an abundance of die bumpers that let you add two to a given die roll, which makes for a lot of choices that can take a while when you are learning the game. In the above example, you can pick from 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 15. That's a lot of choices, in fact it's almost all of them. There are other factors involved, and a couple of "sandbagging is good" mechanisms to keep players in the game.
Which didn't help me at all. I fell behind in VP early and never really caught up. Much of the time, I was going late in the player order and didn't get the chance to get the spaces I needed to advance. Since you can't really do much to determine player order (it's based on who rolled the lowest dice total), the net effect is that the game is really playing you more that you are playing it. Had the game been an hour long or less, and with a less busy (and smaller) board, I think I would have liked it more. However, it took two hours to get through our game (partly because people kept wandering off), and I was happy when we finally finished. I'll play again, but it's not going to go on the "to buy" list anytime soon.
Which left Chris and I a measly 45 minutes to try out KC's latest game, which must remain nameless. It involves bacteria, though, but not like you'd think. There, I've given it all away! ;-)
I did pretty well in the raffles, which were a fantastic idea. Sure, I got Munchkin Cthulu and Flanders 130something, and ended up with Wits and Wagers in the game exchange (I later learned that the woman who went first had been instructed to get Age of Empires III, the game I'd brought, but at the last minute her husband told her to get something she wanted), but it's not about that. It is all about the fact that Lorna threw in these extra micro/mini events that kept everyone on their toes and happy to get something just for showing up. If you were lucky, of course.
Again, a huge thanks to Lorna for her hard work putting this together. It really is a lot of work, just from the perspective of getting the venue, and I appreciate her efforts to build community that goes beyond just her local area.
I will probably skip Gamestorm this year, partly because it is held in Vancouver and thus I can add 30 minutes to travel time because of the Interstate Bridge (I quit a band that rehearsed in that general area for the same reason), although I am considering trying to make it to GMT's Weekend in late April. That's a much different group, of course, and not one I have an in with. Still, there are a lot of very good GMT games that are playable in a half day, and if I can get a traveling companion we might consider a train trip down and back. It would be a long trip, though, and not long before the Sunriver Retreat in late May, so it may not happen. I'm not going to be doing any cross-country cons this year, hoping that maybe something will work out in 2009.