In the past, we've held the "casual" Sunriver Gaming Retreat (the one where we play mostly strat and euro-style games as opposed to wargames) twice a year, then a couple of years ago we decided that the weather was just too dodgy in November going over the Cascade passes, and Chris took over doing his December retreat at the Oregon coast. With Lorna's EGG party in Eugene in early February and GameStorm in March, it was my sense that we really only needed one Sunriver retreat (other than our modestly named WBC West wargaming nanocon) per year.
It's been a long time since the last one, nearly 16 months. That's because we decided to shift the WBC session from late August (too hot) to May, and thus had to shift the May Sunriver retreat to September. Bookending the summer seems like a good way to go, and I suspect we'll do the same next year. We had excellent interest this year, although we've had the usual dropout problem. A total of ten of us will be attending this year, and thank goodness for Ken from Corvallis, who is putting up a couple of people at his place about a mile from our house. Beds for everyone! Hooray!
The past several months have been difficult ones for some members of my family, me included, and I'm really looking forward to getting away from all of this for a few days and playing a lot of games. I will be very interested to see how well my brain holds up with teaching and learning new games more than once per day. In prep for this retreat I literally spent four days going over the rules for the new release Endeavor, which is not a complex game by any stretch. It seemed that every time I sat down to try to parse a paragraph, I was required to do something else, and even when I did the rules felt like they were bouncing off of my forehead. I did get through the Omaha Beach rules pretty well, but have been finding myself unable to locate rules and having to ask questions on the 'Geek. This is an unusual situation for me, as I used to get *paid* for looking stuff up in manuals, even ones I wasn't familiar with.
In the past, I've run into brain-burn at Sunriver, and I found that drinking a *ton* of water helped a lot (although I also found that I was peeing every 20 minutes too). Getting sleep helps too, and I'm packing a full bottle of melatonin to help with that this time out. I'm still very concerned that I may run out of gas within a couple of hours rather than enjoying the weekend, but we'll see. We've avoided that problem at WBC West by studying up on the games for literally months ahead of time, but it's nearly impossible to do at the Euro/Strat retreats.
And I have a ton of new games to bring. Space Hulk and Federation Commander to play with Alex on Sunday afternoon and Monday, Ad Astra, Middle Earth Quest, Endeavor, and a few expansions for games like BstarG and RftG. I've put off bringing older games I've yet to play like Metropolys, Notre Dame, and Leonardo daVinci because it's just too much. I'm even leaving one new game behind (Mechanisburg) because I've read the rules are difficult to get through.
An obvious choice is to let other people pick up this load, but I find that teaching games is a skill that not everyone has. In a conversation with my good friend Mike the other night, he said that he and Eric (the other half of the fantastic Two Sides Of The Coin blog) have a great arrangement - Eric comes over and does the 'splainin', and Mike sets up the game ahead of time. I fear I'm getting to that point, and it makes me wonder what other things I won't be able to do like I used to (besides the obvious).
Of course, all of that is unimportant when compared to the wonderful sense of community that these retreats bring. Seven to ten people living in one house for a long weekend, enjoying games and each other's company. Many of these people won't have met each other before, which I think is even cooler. At a time when conservative talk radio is dismissing community as socialism, it's nice to know that those around me don't buy into that at all. And I'm still hopeful that the research showing that dementia can be put off or even avoided through social gaming holds, because I'm clearly going to need something and I'm only 46.
Regardless, off we go. I will be posting session reports regularly as the weekend progresses, so keep your dial tuned to A Boy Named Dug. Game on!