Geekway 2012 >> What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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This year's Geekway to the West was the eighth year in a row it has been run in St. Louis, Missouri. Each year, the Geekway has grown -- but this year saw massive growth. It seemed like almost 25% of attendees were attending their first Geekway.

Jay Moore, Chris Darden, Todd Reed, Marshall Jansen, and fellow Beard of Doom Jeff Hiatt once again did an amazing job. Running a convention is no simple task. It takes a lot of work, energy, and sweat. And with more than 400 attendees this year -- that's a lot of sweat. Extra thanks to all the volunteers who helped behind the scenes with setup, library duty, teardown, etc. It went incredibly smoothly, and attendees had a great time.

Even if I hadn't gotten a single game in this year, it ended 100,000% better than last year... I was feeling sick the last Sunday of the 2011 Geekway and left early for the long drive home. Adjusting for construction, my nine hour drive became an eleven hour drive.

A blood clot formed on the drive home, and I had to go to the ER that Monday. As many of you know, the following day, Tuesday May 24th, 2011, I suffered an LAD Occlusion (the Widowmaker) and was in a coma for three weeks as my organs started shutting down. There was a very real fear that the 2011 Geekway would be my last... ever.

It's easy to crack wise at it now, seeing as how I lived and everything. Jay and Chris playfully joked that they did their best to kill me off last year, but seeing as how I came back anyway, they're not going to mess with me any more.

But my favorite moment of the con was when an attendee who didn't know who I was came up to me and asked me how far I had come to attend the convention. I thought about it and told him, "I came back from the dead for this -- that's how much I love the Geekway."
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1. Board Game: Drive [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:2078]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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I was understandably nervous making the trip down to St. Louis this year. Since being released from out-patient rehab in August 2011, I hadn't even been more than 30 minutes from home... the further from home I got, the more anxious I became.

To ease my mind (and my wife's), I had met with my cardiologist the previous week to get the green light to go, and she helped mention some precautions I could take to be sure.

For starters, instead of making the nine hour drive all in one shot, I left Wednesday night and crashed at my brother-in-law's house, which is just outside Cedar Rapids, Iowa -- a perfect halfway point.

Then I got up at 3 AM, restless and unable to get back to sleep... so I quietly grabbed all my stuff and snuck out to drive the rest of the way to St. Louis, getting there around 8 AM Thursday morning.
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2. Board Game: Omen: A Reign of War [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:648]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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After unloading the bazillion games from my car (I am fortunate that I get to spoil Geekway rotten each year), I wandered around, stretching my legs after the long drive.

That's when I ran into Aaron Belmer, fellow game geek, regular attendee, and up-and-coming designer. He asked if I had heard of Omen before, and I had not. In fact, for anyone asking about any game that came out between Geekway 2011 and Geekway 2012 that wasn't published by FFG: No, I probaby haven't heard of it.

Aaron was kind enough to teach Omen to me, and while I struggled through the cobwebs of sleep deprivation and general loopiness for a while, eventually I was able to grasp the concept. At it's core, Omen is a very simple game with some excellent art and quick steps.

There is a lot of small text on the cards, so it definitely takes a while to get familiar enough with the card interactions to be able to play effectively or quickly. Regardless, after a play or two, I can see folks getting a few games of this in over a lunch break.

In the end, my strategy to slowly build up resources and set up one big final push to end the game after my turn worked... But after seeing that work, I doubt I'd be able to pull that off again.

Aaron: 10
Jay: 21*

* This matches my win total from 2011... so everything else from here on out was just gravy.

Also, kudos to John Clowdus for the game. It has great production values. I was excited to hear it was a Kickstarter success story -- I've been slowly trying to polish some of my own work with an eye toward using Kickstarter on some personal projects. Seeing it's success rate in the gaming community, I'm optimistic.
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3. Board Game: Kingsburg [Average Rating:7.26 Overall Rank:196]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Next, I grabbed Kingsburg, one of my all-time favorite games (and a perfect game for teaching on the fly at a con like this). Then, I ambushed a bunch of people milling around and guilt-tripped them into sitting down for a game.

We played with the basic rules since I don't believe any of the others had played recently... so, quasi-refresher. Wow. What a crazy game. Rather than having the d6 king levies during winter pretty much handle the oncoming horde by itself, we rolled "1" on three of the five turns, and there was much burnination. In the end, Steven Ward pulled out a narrow victory by investing in just enough buildings with battle bonuses to fend off one attack everyone else failed, and earn the +1 VP for victory the following year.

Jason Monroe: 14
Celina McGinnis: 22
Jay Little: 31
Steven Ward: 34

This was the first time I recall playing with any of them (and if I had played with you and just don't remember -- sorry!) It was great to get things started off on such a positive note. All three players were friendly, comfortable, and generally cool to game with. Thanks!
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4. Board Game: Tichu [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:59]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Timothy Hunt, boardgame meetup organizer extraordinarre, and his wife Karyn sat down to teach Celina Tichu. It's a bit overwhelming at first, but Celina and I did our best against the polished powerhouse that is Timonthy & Karyn. Or "Karmothy" as the power couple will now be referred to.

We didn't finish the game, but we got enough hands in to see that Karmothy were going to absolutely grind us into a pulp -- especially after pulling off a Grand Tichu on the 2nd(?) hand.

Karmothy: 1 bajillion
Jay & Celina: A couple
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5. Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:164]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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I never get tired of teaching or playing Blood Bowl: Team Manager. I'm really proud of the design, and even after 50+ plays, I love playing.

I taught the game to several folks who hadn't played before, and didn't catch everyone's last name, but it was a gritty, injury-riddled season. Just the way I liked it as the Dwarfs.

Dmitri (Wood Elves) 15
Marshall (Chaos?) 18
Charles (Orcs) 25
Jay (DWARFS!) 29

This marked my second win -- in just four games! I was batting .500 and briefly considered retiring to maintain a strong winning percentage.
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6. Board Game: Piece o' Cake [Average Rating:6.60 Overall Rank:1068]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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What's my favorite part of San Marco? The whole "I cut, you choose" mechanic. So when I found out about Piece O' Cake, I fell in love. It plays quickly, and the whole thing is "I cut, you choose." That's it. My only disappointment is that it could have been called Easy as Pie instead of Piece o' Cake -- CUZ THEY ARE ALL PIES, NOT CAKES!!! Either way, playing the game makes me hungry. For pie or cake.

Becky Immer: 9 *
Jay Little: 19 *
Brian (Middleton?): 20 *
Rob (Something): 24 *
Steve Immer: 25 *

* Not to take anything away from Steve's well-deserved win, but the final scores had the potential to swing greatly. On the last round, I found myself in the uncomfortable position of having to select a portion that would essentially determine the winner... insomuch that one choice I had would have nullified three pie collections, and three players (self included) would have only scored our banked points. Faced with this decision, I opted for what gave me the highest score, rather than relative ranking.
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7. Board Game: Eminent Domain [Average Rating:7.16 Overall Rank:300]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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With all the socializing, that was all I got in the first day. So I was looking forward to getting more games in, and possibly learning a new game or two.

Arthur Dobson obliged by letting me in on a game of Eminent Domain -- just after he had explained the rules to everyone else at the table. Thanks for the patience, guys!

I don't know why, but we constantly struggled with the difference between "Action" and "Role" ... I chalk it up to being sleepy. Otherwise, we're all veteran gamers, smart, and stunningly handsome, so it must have been some other factor.

I ended up liking ED much more than I thought I would... not that there was anything "iffy" about my opinion going in, I just didn't know what to expect other than hearing folks refer to it as "streamlined deckbuilding." Kudos to Seth Jaffee on such a cool game!

Arthur Dobson: 19
Jay Little: 17
Aaron Bianco: 17
Mary Dobson: 13
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8. Board Game: Chaos in the Old World: The Horned Rat Expansion [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked] [Average Rating:8.00 Unranked]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Aarons Bianco & Belmer (the gamers, not the lawfirm) had expressed interest in getting a five player game of CitOW together, which of course I was all over. So I ambushed two other players and dragged them to the table. I should have ambushed two different players, as the two of them pretty much ran amok.

Congrats to Dave for pulling out the win with master corruption manipulation, as three regions tipped that final round -- and he was the sole presence in one no one thought would fall.

Dave Moeller (Slaanesh): 63
Mitch Brenner (Nurgle): 43
Jay Little (Tzeentch): 38
Aaron Belmer (Horned Rat): 37
Aaron Bianco (Khorne): 29

I don't think anyone was close to a dial victory. Khorne had bad dice on round one, and didn't earn a single DAT... then we pretty much played keep away from him the rest of the game. With the events that came up and our constant running away from the big red daemons, Aaron definitely had the table stacked against him but still bloodied our lips sufficiently.
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9. Board Game: Beowulf: The Legend [Average Rating:6.44 Overall Rank:1242]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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This turned out to be the best decision of the weekend. I was staring at the enormous game library, trying to decide if I wanted to play something I already knew (which I also knew meant I'd end up teaching it), or try something I hadn't played before. I settled on a game I love, but hadn't played in a very long time. Grabbing Beowulf from the shelf, I turned around to find three first time attendees looking over the Play & Win and game library, seeming uncertain what to do.

So being me, I roped them into playing Beowful. I am so glad I did -- these guys were great to game with, and had the sort of attitude and game humor that I knew just minutes into the game that they're just the sort of people I love gaming with the most.

They were also patient with me as I fumbled through the rules. I kept telling them how straightforward and simple the basic concepts were, but then kept forgetting things, and had to refer to the rulebook far more than I usually do.

So it was with great satisfaction that I utterly crushed them underfoot -- claiming my 3rd win of the con, and it wasn't even time for lunch on Friday yet.

Jay Little: 29
Nichole P: 25
Joseph P: 18
Jerry Bolla(?): -4*

* While on the surface Jerry may seem like a good sport, we teased him mercilessly during the game. At the end, when he found out he had a negative score, and would have actually done better had he not played at all, he mockingly tantrumed and "flipped the table" (for pretend, not for realz).

It then became a running joke for the rest of the con. In my little black book where I tracked all my gaming, I wrote down some notes:

Jerry: -4 *

* Sore loser, sucks at games
FUN HATER!!!

He was able to redeem himself later on in the con by losing to me in some other game, so I agreed to cross out "FUN HATER!!!" and replace it with "not so bad, I guess."

Great sportsmanship, great senses of humor, just a great group of gamers. Thanks guys -- I just wish I could remember how to spell Joe & Nichole's last name...

Talk about coincidences, toward the end of the con Jerry came up to me and said we had actually met before -- three years earlier I demoed Chaos in the Old World to him at GenCon. My memory is still a bit hazy, so I'll take him at his word. Even if he is a funhater.
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10. Board Game: Ticket to Ride Map Collection: Volume 1 – Team Asia & Legendary Asia [Average Rating:7.77 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.77 Unranked]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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I hadn't played Ticket to Ride in years, but was intrigued enough to give the Asia board a chance. My natural TtR pattern emerged almost immediately:

1) Get locked out of one of my starting routes by the third turn.
2) Collect blue cards, only to have the person to my right build the blue route I was saving for the same turn I finally got the last card I needed.
3) Repeat Step 2 with Green, Orange, and Red.

Brian Middleton: 90
Jay Little: 98
Celina McGinnis: 106
Steve Immer: 132

My score is a bit misleading -- most of my points came for somehow connecting the most cities, and on my last turn I drew route cards, and two of them matched connections I already head... otherwise, I probably wouldn't have cracked 50.

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11. Board Game: Neither Fear Nor Hope! [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.17 Unranked]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Friday night I also got to run a modded game of Little Fears I had been prepping for a while. LF is a horror roleplaying game where the protagonists are all kids -- in this case, 10 year olds caught in a creepy museum, confronted by their own worst fears...

I blinged the game out with a bunch of props and handouts. I really went over the top. Character creation was based on selecting a box of crayons -- inside were the character sheets, rules summary, and name badge. Then everyone had two secrets they shared with other players at the table, so I was able to make sure enough clues and information was sprinkled throughout the group... and it came out perfectly as the game developed.

Thanks so much to Steve for sitting in and playing after someone had to cancel at the last minute. Along with Steve, Jason, Chris Schott, Jeff M, Mark, and Steph & Haden Huffaker, we had a great group for playing. Without revealing too much, by the end of the evening all the childrens' souls were trapped in the Otherworld, and their evil shadow twins were loosed upon the real world to wreak havoc. So you know, a good time.
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12. Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:164]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Saturday morning I was too exhausted to do much thinking, so I taught a pair of newcomers BBTM to get the brain started. With only three players, we decided to all play from the OWA conference so we could use one less deck of cards. Yes, we were all that tired.

Steve Fraser (Dwarfs): 26
Tom Bolster (Wood Elves): 34
Jay Little (Humans): 51
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13. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:39]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Throughout the day, me and fellow beardmate Jeff Hiatt looked to reclaim our semifinal loss from the year before in the annual crokinole tournament.

My lack of a full beard really let us down. But also, I wasn't expecting this light manual dexterity motion to aggravate my neuropathy. Ever since waking up from the coma, I've had radial, ulnar, and distal neuropathy, which gets worse from repetitive tasks (like say, typing a Geeklist). That causes my arms and fingers to tingle, and eventually my fingers become insensate.

During the semi-finals, I don't think I made a single good shot. It felt like everything bounced off the bumpers. But I couldn't feel my fingers, so I had to play based on sight and muscle memory... without the tactile feeling in my fingers, it was incredibly hard to line up shots and know how much force to apply. Still, Jeff is such a good shot he was almost able to make up for it.

1st Round - Bye
2nd Round - Win vs. ???
3rd Round / Quarterfinals - Win vs. K_I_T & SuperKim
4th Round / Semifinals - Crushed by Matt Ihrig & Kirk/Kurt Thomas

Congrats to Matt and Kirk/Kurt (whose name I kept messing up all convention long) for advancing to the finals and winnign it all!
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14. Board Game: Unpublished Prototype [Average Rating:7.05 Overall Rank:1487]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Yeah, I brought one of these from my own collection. We played it up in my hotel room, real hush-hush like.

In the first game, we scuttled after learning the basics to play the more advanced game. Then, H defeated S using the devastating X + Y combo, followed by a crushing cosine of Z.

Congratulations!
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15. Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:164]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Gee, look what else I got in on. This time, Nichole, Joe & Jerry from the Beowulf game the day before were really interested in trying out BBTM. Jerry's wife Simone was also there, so I taught the four of them to play and helped them get up to speed and saw them through the first two rounds.

Then kibitzing called, and I left them to wrap up the game on their own. Later in the day, when I asked Jerry who won the game, he told me they pretty much quit and put it back in the library as soon as I left -- then went to the great Game Nite booth at the con and picked it up.
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16. Board Game: Dice Town [Average Rating:6.87 Overall Rank:533]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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> yawn <

Is it Sunday already? Indeed it is. We needed a game to play in the library. I saw a group of three and asked if I could join. They laughed because they had *just* finished explaining the rules. For the second time after the third player had stepped in.

I thought DiceTown was a new game, because somehow this had slipped under my radar. I don't know how -- it's exactly the sort of game I go nuts for. Yacht-style dice rolling, a bit of bluffing, and clean & straightforward gameplay. This ended up being my favorite game of the con.

Patrick (Russell?): 20
Todd Reed: 25
Chris Thomas: 26
Jay Little: 46

I won another game. I know, it creeps me out, too.
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17. Board Game: Blood Bowl: Team Manager – The Card Game [Average Rating:7.43 Overall Rank:164]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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The Geekway wouldn't be complete without one more game of BBTM. Tom B had played the night before, and was kind enough to sit in while I taught the game to two others. I kept my winning streak alive in an incredibly close game that came down to some very keen manipulation at the end -- and a Death Roller with six cheating tokens who ended up winning the Blood Bowl singlehandedly for the Humans when he miraculously was not ejected from the game.

Jason Nachtrab (Wood Elves): 30
Chuck Easterlin (Skaven): 38
Tom Bolster (Orcs): 39
Jay Little (Humans): 40

Talk about a nailbiter. That last round was one of the most intense I've experienced in a game of BBTM so far...
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18. Board Game: Monkey Madness [Average Rating:5.29 Overall Rank:9474]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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What a memorable 2012 Monkey Madness tournament. The competition was fierce. I was knocked out of the first round, but I think it was rigged... I'm pretty sure there weren't any green monkeys in that bag.

Big thanks to Mike Przxcqcka for keeping the dream alive and running the Monkey Madness tournament again this year. He also has done a wonderful job supporting the tournament with the Monkey Mascot -- a Build-a-Bear type monkey doll with a t-shirt with the Monkey Madness logo. Each year, the tournament winner gets to add his name indelibly to the monkey's shirt. It's a cool chronicle of the winners over the year.

Congrats to Matt Becker, this year's winner. As you can see, he was quite exuberant after the win. And rightfully so. What a final.



Who knows, maybe next year you can get your name on a monkey doll's t-shirt.

Keep practicing. Keep dreaming. You can do it!
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19. Board Game: 7 Wonders [Average Rating:7.88 Overall Rank:18]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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With the Geekway and my energy drawing to an end, I was finally able to get a game in with Tony Langasek, a long-time attendee whom I've only been able to get a few games in with over the years. Kathleen and Willie, two active boardgame meetup members, rounded out the table.

I said I had played before. I'm pretty sure I had, several times in fact. But looking at all the icons, I totally spaced and had to keep asking dumb questions. That didn't stop be from overcoming a slow start and my inability to build my 3rd wonder (which would have granted 7 VPs).

Tony L: 36
Willie: 44
Kathleen: 46
Jay L: 50

Yes, you saw right. I won another game. I would have gone out and bought a lottery ticket, but between the heart attack last year and the win percentage this year, I'm pretty sure I've mined that vein of luck dry...
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20. Board Game: Crokinole [Average Rating:7.81 Overall Rank:39]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Oh, and I cried a lot over the course of the con. I've been easy to push over the emotional brink ever since coming out of the hospital. All anyone has to do is mention Iron Giant and I start to tear up.

Over the course of the convention, the Geekway was selling raffle tickets for a beautiful, handmade crokinole board which Matt Ihrig and Andy Foulke had built and donated to the cause. This thing was absolutely gorgeous, with a really cool golden filigreed brooch-type-thing in the center.

During announcements Friday night, Jay Moore and Chris Darden announced a bunch of door prize winners, reminded folks about the various tournaments, and were kind enough to introduce me and let me talk a little bit about the history of the Geekway, and how it started from very humble beginnings (less than 20 people in my basement the first year) and grew into an amazing convention, attended and run by amazing people.

Then Jay Moore, a real doctor and everything, told the attendees a little about what had happened to me last year, and the medical challenges my family faced. It was pretty grim. Then he said that the Geekway was going to be donating all proceeds from the raffle to my family to help pay medical expenses.

I had not been told this ahead of time, and was caught completely off guard. And I cried like a baby. Gamers are great people, and very generous.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the raffle. I had a number of people who came up to me and told me they normally wouldn't buy a raffle ticket, but wanted to be able to pay me back in some way for getting the Geekway started. I was overwhelmed by everyone's generosity.
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21. Board Game: Drive [Average Rating:6.55 Overall Rank:2078]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Sunday afternoon, I headed out around 3:30. There was a torrential storm -- I had not seen a sheer wall of rain like that in years. I was soaked going just twenty feet to my car. Driving in it wasn't much fun, either. There were sporadic bursts of calm, punctuated by horrendous, pounding rain and hail.

It took my mind off of other things for a while, at least. But then I missed the turn to my brother-in-law's house. I had completely spaced and driven right by. I didn't realize that until I was about an hour past them.

Should I turn back and drive another hour? Or should I press on and just get home? Will I be safe driving for that long? I panicked. So I pulled over to take a break, sit down, chillax for a while, and call my wife to see what she thought.

Eventually, after some encouragement, a few Tylenol and a Xanax, I hopped back in the car and drove home. It was actually pretty peaceful -- there was barely any traffic at all. That made all those one-lane construction zones so much easier to manage and really sped up my overall drive home.

I finally got in around 12:30 AM, but I was wired. My body was physically drained -- everything was sore, my knees ached, I had a cramp in my right leg, and my arms were tingling like crazy from the long drive. But my mind was racing.

I ran downstairs to get down a few notes that had popped up during the drive... basically solving the problem I had kept running into with my current work project. Then I had to log in to Diablo III, you know, just to see how my Witch Doctor was doing after being gone for a week.

Exhilirated and exhausted, I finally crawled into bed around 2:00 AM, and let the Tamazepam take over.

What a weekend.
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22. Board Game: Thank God You're Here: The Game [Average Rating:6.33 Unranked]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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There are so many people to thank for my amazing experience at the Geekway to the west.

Thank you to everyone who purchased a copy of Come Back to Me, the book I wrote about my recovery. I took 45 copies to the con, expecting to bring most of them back, but I sold completely out of my supply. Probably a dozen people came up to me throughout the con and mentioned they had started reading or already finished the book, and were glad I had taken the time and initiative to write a book. If you're a Goodreads.com member, you can check out Come Back to Me there...

Between the game wins, the book sales, and the completely unexpected (and extremely appreciated) donation from the raffle sales, this was an unforgettable Geekway.

So a number of Thank Yous are in order for everyone who:

- Helped manage the Geekway
- Told a friend about the Geekway
- Volunteered in the library
- Purchased a book
- Played a game with me
- Attended for the first time
- Attended for the Nth time
- Purchased a raffle ticket
- Came up and gave me a hug
- Told me they were happy to see me
- Thanked me for founding the convention

And an especially huge, heartfelt Thank You to Jay Moore and Chris Darden. After the 3rd year of the Con, I was wondering if it was worth putting so much time and energy into the convention. Jay and Chris provided so much support, and stepped up in a big way to help make sure the 4th annual Geekway took place.

Once I relocated to Minnesota, they assured me Geekway was in good hands and would continue to grow. And what they have done is simply amazing. I had always dreamed that one day, Geekway might grow into something big -- but it was always a distant dream. Jay, Chris, and the rest of the staff have made it a reality. The Geekway continues to grow by leaps and bounds, it's become a familiar con name in the gaming community, and it's rare to have an attendee that doesn't come back again.

They have done a phenomenal job, and anyone who has attended the Geekway should thank them for all their hard work and dedication to a little dream that started in a little basement in the Little house.
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23. Board Game: Zombie Plague [Average Rating:6.76 Overall Rank:2094]
Jay Little
United States
Eden Prairie
Minnesota
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Special thanks to my good friends Stephanie and Haden. Over the course of Saturday, a conversation had come up about everything I had been through over the previous year.

I had quipped "We can rebuild him. We can make him, um... Weaker. Slower. Less energetic!" There were several conversations about what the hell I was right now... zombie? ghoul? homonculous? golem? But with all the steel and the electric gizmos, I'm also well on my way to becoming a cyborg.

Steph surprised me Sunday morning with a wonderful gift. Overnight, she had made me a t-shirt that read "Cybernetic Zombie" with a nice shuffling zombie image on the front. How cool is that?
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