After three years of spending a week or so out in Sunriver playing wargames until our ears bleed, we've learned a few things. Play lighter games in the evenings, or at least things that don't require everyone to look up things in the rulebook every 10 minutes and don't require as much careful planning and attention. Chuck noticed this trend at the one WBC we went to - everyone did much better if they played fun games like Slapstick or Paydirt in the evenings. I've learned to drink like a fish, quite literally - I over-hydrate like crazy because the week is so draining for me.
One of the more recent lessons has been the early scheduling and preparation of games. Once the week starts, there isn't a lot of time to learn games on the fly, at least anything with any complexity at all - SCS titles, block games like Gettysburg, these are pretty light wargames by modern standards, but there are still enough crazy little rules, sometimes confusingly written, that trying to wade through such a game eats up way too many brain calories. As such, we now try to have the first three days at a minimum planned out, at least for the daytime games, and have the rules for as many games as possible read and refreshed in advance.
The problem, of course, is that anything you do more than a week before the event has a tendency to fade right out without some sort of reinforcement. Chuck and Mike (and Dave) have been running practice sessions of games trying to get past the initial rules confusion and get at least a passing grasp on the overall situation. For me, I've been trying to learn OCS, but it's very hard to learn that particular game playing solitaire because even though the rules are pretty straightforward it's still difficult to retain all of those rules without someone to remind you when you're doing it wrong. I've gone through the Tunisia AAR that's online, and it's helpful to a point, but it's written in a very conversational tone that sometimes assumes that the reader has considerable experience with the game system. Mike thoughtfully offered to spend a little time going over the system with me, but I think we'll just have to wing it a bit. Fortunately, the initial Tunisia scenario is very good for learning as you see the situation develop as the counter density increases, and you get to go through the sequence of play several times.
So I've gotten through the OCS rules, and may even get through a few solo turns to try to embed the process. I was feeling pretty good about the other games coming up: A Victory Lost, FAB Bulge, Wilderness War, Here I Stand, Victory in the Pacific. We'd also discussed playing Kutuzov, which has just come out and I thought was going to be Wellington in Russia. Which it is, but there's quite a bit of difference, chiefly in rather involved rules regarding morale and attrition. The rules are actually well laid out, but are also rather extensive and I'm having trouble getting through all of them. We'll still give it a go, but it will be a rockier experience than I'd like.
In a related vein, Chris wants to play Napoleonic Wars, and he has the new 2nd edition. I got the update kit, which had a lot more in it than I expected. There are also a lot of different rules and I haven't played this one in a while. The delta between it, the original edition, and Welly/Kutuzov may be a little overwhelming for me, but I do enjoy multiplayer card-driven games so I'll at least get those rules skimmed. A game that may be a little tricker, at least if we play with five instead of four, is Sword of Rome. I really like this game, not least because each of the various factions has really unique motivations and styles of play, but I've not played with Carthage as a player and I *hate* having multiple rulesets to parse through. Much will depend on who makes it to the later part of the week, a roster still in some flux.
Fortunately, I have some spare time over the course of the next week. Unfortunately, my band is auditioning for female vocalists and that's going to take up at least some of my evening time as I'm the guy doing the screening vocal auditions, and that takes about 20 minutes not including my travel and prep time. My timing, as always, is superb.
I'm really looking forward to this particular WBC West - we are going to have a Manouevre tournament, some fun stuff during the evenings including some 2-player games but also a lot of fun multiplayer stuff including a "managed" game of Republic of Rome, Kremlin, all sorts of fun stuff that I don't get to play much. I'm a little nervous about the temperature out there, but so long as we don't have 90 degree weather we should be OK. I may look for an interior air conditioner unit (not a window mount, but one that transfers out the heat through water instead of freon or a gas), but I'm really not sure I'll have the time.
Back to reading my Kutuzov rules, I guess. That and running the first couple of turns through to make sure I have the system down. Then OCS. Then checking Nappy Wars. Then the 5 player rules for Sword of Rome. Then, if I've got any grey matter left, a solo session of Burning Blue to see if it will work. Then...