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Gathering of Engineers

Ludographic considerations from the Silicon Forest

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

A brief look at Conquest NW

Late Sunday, I returned from the Conquest NW convention in SeaTac, WA. The show ran through Monday, but the portions I was most interested in ended Sunday, so I trundled home.

Some thoughts:

I did well in my DBM tournament. Finished 2nd out of 8. (Last year, when there was little cost associated in playing, we had 22 players. This year, 8 bagged out in the last week. Go figure.) Only game I lost out of four was to the guy who finished first (someone I've never beaten in competition). I've now won 10 out of 14 games with my Later Swiss army (6 of 9 in tournaments). I think I'll be sticking with this one for a while.

This convention was VERY lightly attended. They'll be lucky to have hit 250 total attendees. I'm sure much of that had to do with poor advertising. The miniatures room was usually full, but no other room was even at half capacity. The boardgaming room, in particular, was practically empty, and at best 1/4 full. Kind of sad – they must have lost a bundle on this show. However, they've apparently noticed things they did wrong, and they're really looking forward to making things better next year. Our tournament will likely be back, so I may try to make it a four-day thing and support other parts of the show on the other days.

Shows like this provide a STRANGE mix of people. You have hard-core historical gamers (there were both DBM and ASL tournaments), eurogamers, and RPGA fanatics in the same group. People that probably would snicker at the others from behind closed doors meeting in hallways and nodding to each other when noticing the convention badge.

I love reminding people of things they'd forgotten about. I actually used to role-play with Peter Adkison (Wizards of the Coast founder) back before he started WotC (I think it was 1988 when we were most active, maybe 1987). We lost contact a good 12-13 years ago or so. Anyway, he was a featured guest at the con, and happened to be at the registration desk Sunday afternoon when I was between games. I stopped by, introduced myself by reminding him of the gaming group we had first, then giving him my name. I was pleasantly surprised that he remembered me. We had a good chat after that remembering the old days. If you really want to see the brain power and enthusiasm that went into the founding of WotC before Magic: the Gathering hit, try to find a copy of The Primal Order, a generic RPG supplement. There's brilliant stuff in there (and the three supplements) that has never been equaled in anything I've ever seen. M:tG turned Wizards into a economic force, but it started out as most do – a company by gamers for gamers. They just happened to stumble onto a gold mine.

I followed the herd and took a handful of games down to the local game shop for their annual auction. All part of the process of removing stuff I'm no longer interested in playing. I think this is going to be a severe buyer's market... You just never know, though.

At Conquest, I picked up a copy of Twilight Struggle. You just have to love a CDG with only 8 pages of rules. I was surprised to see that it's currently in the geek's top ten games (as is Command and Colors: Ancients, btw – both games were seen all over the place at the con). I didn't realize it had been rated THAT highly. That said, I've seen nothing but good reports on it, and there's actually very little combat – it's more an area/political influence game than a wargame, thus increasing its appeal. There's apparently a little concern with the difficulty in getting the US to win the first few times you play, but it seems to be a style thing as much as anything. Looking forward to giving this one a shot. Jodie might even play... (Of course, Here I Stand has started shipping, so there's definitely going to be competition for gaming time.)

As a side effect of buying Twilight Struggle, I got entered into a raffle for other GMT product – surprise, surprise, I won a copy of 3 Days of Gettysburg. I've thought about buying this one in the past as it's the only battleground I've ever personally visited. I don't expect to ever actually PLAY the thing, but I'll probably punch it out and push some of the counters around as an interactive learning experience more than anything.

Finally, Jodie and I pulled out Elasund for a learning game yesterday. It plays surprisingly well with two, and we both enjoyed it a lot. (And we definitely enjoyed it more than Candamir.) This one should get a fair amount of play.


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