Saturday, May 14, 2011

WBC West 2011 - Final Preparations

Tomorrow I leave in the morning for what is arguably the high point of my gaming year, our "WBC West" nanocon in Central Oregon at the Sunriver resort. This year we will have ten gamers attending, eight of them present and accounted for by Monday night. Every year there are more challenges and problems to solve, and this year has been no exception. Fortunately, almost all of those problems have been because we have more people, and soon we'll see if throwing money at them helped or hurt.

No doubt the biggest issue this year is not only where everyone will sleep, but where everyone will game. Ten gamers means up to five games going at once, some of which will require more space than you can generate using a card table. Our vacation house can barely accommodate four games (as well as Mimi's jigsaw puzzle) and we need that kind of space fairly early this year (Tuesday morning). Starting Thursday, we need the fifth table, but we've rented an extra house this year to ease the pressure, and it has a table that should hold two more games if necessary. While I like having all of the games going on in a single space, at the same time it's becoming harder and harder to do without renting some sort of event space.

A few things were still up in the air as of my last prep post, all of which have been resolved (I think there may still be a couple of people with open slots, but I'm not one of them). What Eric, Tex, and myself were going to play on Tuesday was a huge mess, but we ended up getting a white knight in the form of Matt R, who is coming out on Monday evening with Alex and Dan. This fills the house, as we had every bed filled on Monday night *without* them, but at the same time we have an odd number to match our existing odd number and that's a good thing. It looks like Eric and I will be playing Fighting Formations that day, Matt and Tex playing Labyrinth, and Alex and Dan playing Attack Vector. Chuck and Mike are playing a two-day game of Ardennes '44 starting that day.

We were also able to get a copy of Maria, the Frederich descendent on the War of the Austrian Succession, so Eric and Mike and I are set to go for Monday afternoon.

For our Fleet game, after a bit of wrangling I decided to go with the 2nd Fleet ruleset rather than try to cobble together the correct pieces and use the 3rd Fleet rules/counters/charts. If we played these regularly, a unified ruleset would have been awesome, but we don't and so using 2nd Fleet's rules will be fine. I prepped two play aids for this session, one a player-by-player set that covers what air units are based where (very handy for remembering where they all go after the strategic units return at the end of the day), as well as limited ammo units and victory conditions. The other is a breakdown of detection, how it is acquired, and how it is lost. The combat processes are already in play aid form. I'll post these to the 'Geek after we've used them and vetted their correctness and usefulness.

Dinner has been arranged for every night. One of the side benefits of renting a house that only two of the people attending are funding is that the two of us get out of cooking. Yeah, it's *my* rule, but I think it's a good one. Keeping the kitchen clean will be a challenge, and we'll need to institute a regular "sweep" to keep it tidy, that and use of paper plates and plastic cups (particularly the latter, which we put our names on with masking tape) help too.

As for my personal prep, it has gone fairly well, and I am ready to go on almost everything. Almost. There are two issues here - the first is that I'm not ready for any of the "new" evening games that we'll probably play, such as Wealth of Nations and Mansions of Madness. Hopefully someone else will have those games down. I'm also not ready just yet for PQ-17, which Tex knows but I'll need to know as well. I am going to do a quick read-through of those rules today, and will try to get in some refresher reading as the week goes on, although I frankly will need that for Burning Blue as well. No matter how much I try to get things managed out front (and I did that this year) it always seems like I'm scrambling at the end. Perhaps next year I'll go solely with games I'm familiar with.

I also ran out of room and have to decide if I'm going to bring some of the bigger boxed games like Wrath of Ashardalon or Cosmic Encounter which will sit outside of the bins. I was a little amazed at how well the games I am bringing fit in, but then wargames typically come in smaller boxes than Euros and I fit nearly every game I'm playing during the day into one bin. Nice.

I also have the necessary information for the second house we've rented starting Wednesday, which is a good thing to have. Fortunately, it's all done by lock-box, so no extra trips out to the realty office, which is about a 25 minute round trip.

The last surprise was kind of a big one, at least for those of us who go to Sunriver regularly. The Trout House restaurant, which has sat at the "marina" for 20 years, has gone out of business to be replaced with a Mexican/Peruvian restaurant called "Hola!" The last Hispanic restaurant, located in the mall, had gotten worse and worse as time went on, and I think they went out of business as well. It's a very difficult climate to run a small business out there, as the clientele is extremely seasonal (skiers in the winter, and the real bonanza of summer families), so I'm not surprised to see businesses come and go, but there has been an enormous upheaval over the past five or six years, partly due to the recession and partly due to the owners of the space who are either indifferent, hostile, or clueless depending on which owner we're talking about and who is doing the talking. It will be interesting to see who is still there this summer, as we won't spend much (if any) time at the mall on this trip. Regardless, Hola! is where we will hold our Saturday dinner festivities.

My last issue is getting a bike down to the shop for some major work, and I'll probably need to take a bike rack for my car to get it there and back. It's my own bike, purchased about ten years ago, and I've since learned a lot about what makes a good bike and almost nothing about this bike qualifies if you plan to ride it more than about five miles. It certainly doesn't work for off-road use, largely because the shifters are integrated into the handlebars and a tight grip can result in downshifting far too often. It's more for use as a "anyone can use it" bike, but it needs major maintenance so I might as well bite the bullet and get it done now.

This is our ninth WBC West, and it's gratifying to have seen it grow so much over the years. What started out as Chuck and I getting in five days of gaming has turned into a full seven days and ten gamers for most of the week. In some ways, this iteration will be a bellwether for what is to come. I'm hoping to keep the overall intimate vibe while making it possible for more people to attend, but those may not be possible. We will have a much better sense of where we want to go in another week.

Regardless, I am very excited about the trip this year. Now all I have to do today is finish reading the rules for PQ-17, do my laundry, get my food together, pack my clothes, carry two heavy bins of games out to the car, collect the hooch (bourbon, peppar vodka, and Benedictine, not to be combined at the same time of course), run a few more errands, and I'm done.

This year, I plan to make three posts a day, one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. Getting in my posts is one of the more difficult challenges in a week that is already busy, but it's also one of my favorite parts of the week since it reinforces the memories so well. I hope you enjoy following along!

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