Archive for Con Man

 Thumb up

Mancation 2021

It happened again.

We haven't seen Kevin in years.

Nick has been absent for too long.

The rest of us made it.

Mancation. One of the highlights of the year, any year.

This year was relaxed.

We played a lot of games.

We hung out.

We argued and yelled at each other like the old Odd Group that we are, sometimes playful arguing, sometimes ornery, cranky, and downright mean.

Our "hike" was a 1/8 mile walk to a small lake to play Kuub.

We ate good food.

We drank a lot of beer.

We farted.

I've already written up first play impressions of the new-to-me games on my new-to-me list. I won't cover that again.

Here are some photos. Not in any particular order.

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman
Twitter Facebook
Fri Oct 22, 2021 1:12 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
 Thumb up

Just Another Manic Mancation (2020 Edition)

Board Game: QE
Board Game: Meow
Board Game: Love Letter
Board Game: Jaws
Board Game: In Vino Morte
Board Game: Hula Hippos
Board Game: High Society
Board Game: Here Comes the Dog
Board Game: Babylonia
Board Game: Walk the Plank: Deluxe Edition
Board Game: Schotten Totten
Board Game: Oh Hell!
Board Game: Nidavellir
Board Game: Draftosaurus
Board Game: Condottiere
Board Game: BraveRats
Board Game: 6 nimmt!
Board Game: Telestrations
Board Game: Evil Dead 2: The Board Game
RPG Item: Dungeon Crawl Classics 2020 Convention Module: The Accursed Heart of the World-Ender
Board Game: The Quacks of Quedlinburg
Board Game: Downforce
Board Game: Bus
Board Game: Adrenaline

Even in the best years, Mancation is needed to restore and refresh. This year, I believe the entire world needed us to get together to have a joyous time, not only for ourselves, but for the sake of the whole world. I'm fairly certain that the earth itself would have skipped a beat if we had skipped our Mancation. It had to happen, and it did. It happened greatly. I'm not saying that our play ushered in any sort of world peace, but that maybe, just maybe, our play created enough of a buffer to keep away the world forces of despair for another year.

Most of the photos below are courtesy of
Michael Wagner
msg tools
Microbadge: 5 Year Geek Veteran
(except for the raccoon and Telestrations and route sign 50 photoshop, all by Josh).

Wednesday, the 16th

The long weekend started with back-to-back-to-back-to-back plays of Meow. 29 plays. The 'Not-a-Game Naysayers' whose panties bunch up at the thought of The Mind have to walk around naked around Meow for fear of getting crotch burn at so much not-a-game panty bunching happening all at once. 29 plays is enough not-gaming to kill any not-a-gamer.

No panty bunching happened on Mancation. We played Meow as the game it was designed to be. We played Meow in the early afternoon and giggled like grown men should. Yams was the Meow tournament champion with 11 wins. That man looks a lot like a Not Meow for such a great Meower.

From gallery of trawlerman

After so much rigorous meowing, we were tired of having to think so much, so turned to Maus nach Haus for some light fun. I had been afraid of mice flying everywhere around the rental house, but Mike's extraordinarily nice table topper kept all of the mice in place, which I guess is good since he paid the price of a used car for that beauty. 4 plays of Maus nach Haus.

From gallery of trawlerman

Then, we were ready to ease back into some deeper gaming, starting with Here Comes the Dog. Dice rolling, take that, and dog meeples all added up to a pleasant experience. 2 plays. It kinda reminded me of a nice roll n' write in which you don't have to write, but instead get to steal resources from your neighbors.

Finally, we had quenched our thirst with enough beer to feel ready to tackle Babylonia. Parthe won. Mike liked it enough to request an immediate rematch. The second game, I won, but mostly because of some wicked kingmaking coming from Yams. 2 plays. Babylonia is still easily the best game of the year for me.

Next, 4 quick plays of In Vino Morte. It's not as great at 4 as it is with more, but it's good enough to still shine and show off what it is.

And then what became the feature of the night was Jaws, with me as the shark, looking something like this:

They fell for my telegram line each time, and I crushed the first half of the game. The second half, though, went to the heroes on the boat, who just could not miss. I guess I had taunted them too much already.

I liked Jaws, but didn't love it, which is pretty much how I feel about the movie, so that's how that goes. I was a huge fan of Clue: The Great Museum Caper as a kid, so hidden movement used to be a thing I loved, but these days I find myself liking it less and less each time I experience it in a game, including here in Jaws (with Hunt for the Ring being the other most recent example, also a fine game that I don't care if I never play again).

From gallery of trawlerman

The tequila came out way before QE came out. I remember enjoying the game, but I also think that my evaluations at that point in the night were semi-random at best.

Then, High Society 3x in a row because again Mike liked it and demanded it. I think he's slowly discovering that he's also a Knizia fan. It should go without saying that the decadent high life is nothing but a blur.

From gallery of trawlerman

A blur which led into 5 quick plays of We Didn't Playtest This At All, which led to a few laughs, which is why I still hang on to the game. 5 plays was more then enough, but I'll be happy to play it again in two or three more years for another 5 plays.

Then was the end of the night for me, as I tried to teach Love Letter, which should have been a supremely simple task, but I had overindulged in aforementioned tequila and could feel it. After I was made fun of for attempting to read the rules upside down, I proceeded to teach the game from memory, teaching it perfectly. During the first round, I drew the princess. Yams had a guard (or whatever card lets you name other cards), pointed at me, and said, "you've got the princess." At which point I revealed the princess, cursed, got up, and went to bed.

Some late night crokinole then went on without me.

Thursday, the 17th

As is entirely typical, I was awake before anyone else, but surprisingly Mike and Yams weren't too far behind me. I taught them both Air, Land, & Sea, which I think they both enjoyed. Parthe woke up and him and I played my new copy of R, which was fun, but now I'm wondering why I paid $10 for the Kanai artwork when the BraveRats edition is just functionally better all around. I continue to be pretty terrible at the game, no matter which edition, and lost 4 out of 5 plays.

I brought Schotten Totten hoping to get in a match with Mike. Thursday morning was when that happened. It was close, going to the final card, 5 stones to 4, with Mike taking the win. Re-match next year.

We were ready for a full group game so Mike busted out Nidavellir, which was pleasant fun. I kinda regret that we didn't play this immediately a second time. It's an example of the best of light-medium Euro design happening right now. Bidding for turn order followed by fairly simple set collection. Paying attention to everyone else at the table is important. I won our game mostly because no one tried to stop my purple reign. Which is surprising because Mancation is usually all about in-your-face messing with one another. I think that the reason that that didn't happen here was because the interaction isn't immediately obvious here and because we all settled into a different color path in the game, making for less competition over colors. I liked Nidavellir a lot, but not enough to buy it for myself. The amount of pieces and amount of set-up, while not as bad as so many games, is still more than I like. That said, I think I'd always happily play someone else's copy.

We played Draftosaurus, which I'm glad went over well. We played 4x, two times on the regular board and two times on the winter side. I won the first 3 games, then started bragging about it, so we played the 4th, and Parthe took the win.

From gallery of trawlerman

Then, Condottiere. I wasn't sure how it would go over because I've had mixed experiences in the past. But this play went pretty well. I won two spots almost immediately, followed by the rest of the bastards at the table working together to give each other wins in the spots around my area, cutting me off from a third spot. I managed the win in the end, but it was tooth and nail, and was close down to the last hand.

Josh was arriving soon, so we had one more chance to play 4p Babylonia before it became an impossibility. This play was extremely close for everyone, with sometimes huge point swings bringing someone from rear to front, and other creeping along steadily. We were all in each other's business, not allowing any easy points for anyone. It was nasty. It was lovely.

Parthe went out on a liquor store run. While he was gone, we played Walk the Plank: Deluxe Edition, which was exactly the right sort of stupid fun. Two plays and then a car showed up. We thought it was Parthe returning, but it was Josh arriving early because his flight came in sooner than anticipated. Josh came in looking something like this:
From gallery of trawlerman

Parthe made it back. Finally, all 5 of us were there. (Yeah, Nick couldn't make it. Boo. Sad face. Yeah, Kevin hasn't even tried to make it in 5 years. We still hold out hope for his return.)

Parthe had been talking earlier about how he'd like to play Spades. We talked some about trick-taking games and traditional games and such things. Since there were 5 of us now and Spades was an impossibility, I convinced everyone to play Oh Hell!, which was a lot of fun, except that it really just pissed Parthe off that it wasn't Spades. It didn't help that he just couldn't make his bids, repeatedly overbidding to the point that it became a running joke. The scores were close at the end, but I squeaked out a win by a few points.

Then, Josh tried teaching us a Denver game that he called Up and Down the River, but I haven't found anything like he taught us anywhere going by that name. It was just a simple game of attempting to make a run or 3 of a kind in your hand, with the number of cards held equaling the card that is wild for the round. I tried passing off a '7' as a wild when the hand size was 4. I have no idea what I was thinking, because I was truly convinced that this was a legal play even as I could articulate what the actual rule was that made this play illegal. I got a lot of grief for this stupid mistake and could not at all defend myself. We tired of it and Josh said that his girlfriend said that it's probably better with two decks with 5 players. But I don't know if it mattered. We were all arguing about everything, which was funny, but also didn't lead to great play.

We moved on to playing 6 nimmt!, but Parthe wasn't feeling it and I think that Yams was starting to revolt as well. The play was not as good as it should have been, falling pretty flat. After this play, more arguing ensued. I went to bed. I'm pretty sure that a little bit of Crokinole eventually happened.

Friday, the 18th

Friday, we went hiking.

From gallery of trawlerman

We played some 5p In Vino Morte while on the trail just to be able to say we played a game on the trail.

Then, later, back at the house, it was DCC Day. I had not really planned in advance. I think it was Monday or Tuesday that I finally even read the funnel module that I was going to run. I had considered also finally running a Level 1 adventure as well, but that definitely didn't happen.

What did I run? Dungeon Crawl Classics 2020 Convention Module: The Accursed Heart of the World-Ender. I warned everyone before I ran it that it is the worst DCC module I've ever read. I hate to say that because I've met and like the author. But the book really needed an editor. And the adventure admits that it is excessively linear, but just admitting that fact is not enough to get over exactly how overly linear it is.

So, a bad adventure. But still mostly a fun time? Yeah, I think so. A born loser wielding the Royal Spear while riding his buddy-turned-into-a-centaur straight into a flying demon heart? It can't be that bad, right?

We also played Draftosaurus again, this time 5p. I can't remember if we played it before or after DCC. We fit it in somewhere.

After DCC and after eating, we played Evil Dead 2: The Board Game, which is a totally fine game that I hated for art design reasons. The board is a puke stain, with lines that are needed visible for play just not at all easy to see. The game is aggressively non-functional in its aesthetics. The board, but also the mass of gray plastic. Maybe it'd be better painted, but I don't care enough to see that. But, to be clear, and to be fair to the designers, I'll repeat that the game itself is just fine, if nothing new. I was having fun before I got too annoyed.

Then, six rounds of Telestrations. We all won, but I'm personally giving the gold medal to Yams for making me lose it with this drawing that is not safe for your eyes. I'm sorry.

From gallery of trawlerman

At some point during this night, we were visited by two raccoons. Josh and Mike tried to make friends, feeding them on the porch. I kinda want to share the 'nom nom' video, but you'll have to settle for this cute photo.

From gallery of trawlerman

Saturday, the 19th

Saturday was definitely a more laidback day.

1 play of The Quacks of Quedlinburg. I repeatedly busted, but still had fun chasing those rattails.

2 plays of Downforce, in which it was revealed that I'm pretty good at racing cardboard, but no good at betting.

We all threw out possible things to play. Mike said something like, "You've been saying out great Bus is. Let's play Bus." Which sounded like a good idea, but I was also hesitant, and I should have just said no, because I was feeling that the vibe in the house was just not a Bus vibe. And it wasn't. And it was a big mistake. And it even soured me on Bus a bit. Mike immediately disliked it after a turn. Parthe didn't like it at all. Josh went silly with an all bar all the time strategy (literally 'all the time' as we somehow let him repeatedly stop time to always make it bar time). Yams cashed in on the bars and got the deserved win. But, yeah, this play should have never happened.

Then came Adrenaline, one of the games that had been the topic of argumentation on prior nights. The game is just fine. It is what it is. I mostly had fun, and I won, even though I was the jerk this time and spent most of the time of the game curating a live playlist commenting on the in and out of game action. I did this instead of, you know, actually paying attention to the game most of the time. To be fair to myself, there was just too much downtime between turns looking up stupid rules stuff and the board state was easy to read quickly. It just didn't demand that much of my attention. Sigh.

The last game of the last night was High Society again. Parthe was playing virtual Star Wars with a VR headset. Yams decided to sit the session out. I had to teach Josh the game, which went fine, but we somehow screwed up the first game and played past the 4th green card. We called that one a learning game, reshuffled the deck, then played again. It was very close between Mike and I, and he would have won if I had busted, which I came close to doing, but Josh just couldn't help spending all his money, which led to my victory.

After that, we all turned in pretty early to get a good start leaving in the morning. In a rare turn of events, I was the last one left standing, drinking my lonely last beer all by myself, reflecting on the good times already over.

The next day, we all dispersed, recharged and ready to face real responsibilities.

There's no doubt that the rest of 2020 will be absolutely bonkers, and it's not at all a sure thing that 2021 will be any better. But!, there was a Mancation 2020, and there will be a Mancation 2021, and that's just enough to make us all feel a little better about the world.

From gallery of trawlerman
Twitter Facebook
Sat Sep 26, 2020 11:31 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
 Thumb up

PAX Unplugged AAR #3: Games Played

Board Game: Absolutely Aces
Board Game: Bus
Board Game: Cobra Paw
Board Game: Cooper Island
RPG: Dungeon World
Board Game: Fast Sloths
Board Game: Feudum
Board Game: Finger Guns at High Noon
Board Game: KLASK
Board Game: Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds
Board Game: Pax Pamir: Second Edition
Board Game: SHŌBU
Board Game: Smart10
Board Game: Tak

 6   Absolutely Aces x2 (4 all-time)
I brought this one with me. I had only played a couple of times with my 13yo daughter. It’s a perfect little bar/lunch game, so it got played at a bar, Yards Brewery thursday night with Kevin, and at a Vietnamese Pho place with Jake on Friday.

Kevin was not impressed.

Jake was not impressed.

I still find the game charming. Part of it is obviously the artwork and the theme, but it’s more than that. Yes, it’s about counting and tracking cards, but the very central thing is a timing choice, exactly when to play pairs to force the endgame. The whole game plays out in less than ten minutes.

I don’t know that I always want to play Absolutely, but I do intend to keep it, waiting for an opponent that is as charmed by it as I am.

 8   Bus x2
Bus was easily Game of the Con for me. It’s very close to being an Instant Favorite, maybe all-time Top Ten material.

Late Friday afternoon, post-lunch, everything lined up right. Kevin was free. Jake was free. Jake’s friend Kyle was meeting us. A copy of Bus was open and waiting for us in the “First Look” area. So, we sat down to learn the game. Jake is the best among us at quickly absorbing rules, so we gave him the task of quickly learning and teaching. Of course, quickly learning and teaching often leads to rules errors, and this was no exception. At the end of the game, we learned from the table next to us that we had misplayed, effectively playing on “hard mode” by restricting building options, mandating that if an intersection had two spots for buildings, they MUST be different types of buildings. Even with this minor mistake, the game was great. I did awful, taking last place.

Saturday evening, after spending hours walking around the city, I returned to the con and headed right over to the First Look area to see if I could get another play in. Sure enough, as I got there, there were three guys standing around the table, considering whether or not they wanted to learn the game on their own. I asked them if they were looking for a fourth and offered to teach. They accepted, and we were on. Vrooooomm!! This play was even better, and I was rewarded in my second play with first place, now that I knew what I was doing, taking advantage as a brand new shark among guppies.

 6   Cobra Paw
Jake and I spent a couple of hours walking around the expo hall on Saturday, chatting and checking out every booth. I made him stop and demo simple family games when I’d come to something that looked interesting.

Cobra Paw is a very simple speed matching game. Roll the two dice. Find the domino on the board that matches the two colors and shapes rolled. Very simple. The twist is that you can always grab a tile that someone else has already grabbed if that color-symbol combo gets rolled again. It had a nice tactile element to it with thick, chunky dice and thick, chunky domino tiles. I’ll probably pick up a copy of this for the kids.

 3   Cooper Island
Cooper Island irritated me so much. I’m reminded of Demetri’s post from earlier this year on Architects of the West Kingdom. That pretty much describes how I felt here. It was already 9:30 when we started playing. The girl teaching us the game did a wonderful job. Everything mostly made sense, though I made a few placement mistakes early on because I hadn’t been paying attention quite well enough. It didn’t matter. I didn’t care.

Cooper Island’s board layout shouts out its intent. This is not Cooper Island. It is Cooper IslandS. Everyone is doing their own little thing in their own little place. It’s a worker placement game, but everyone can go to any worker spot. The penalty? You have to pay one resource to whoever took the spot last. But that doesn’t matter because you’re always generating a little more spare resources than you need. And that one resource payment? That’s the extent of the interaction in the game. It’s a token acknowledgement that players are sharing a play space while the rest of the game gives each player their own little puzzle to do their own little thing with.

It drove me nuts.

We had just finished playing Bus, in which re-routing passengers off of shared lines onto your own personal lines is a key thing. We had just finished playing Fast Sloths, a game that I didn’t love, but at least featured the ever-present possibility of someone stealing your unicorn ride while they also greedily hoard all the eagle cards.

In comparison, Cooper Island didn’t even feel like a game to me.

At least it gave me something fun to rant about the rest of the weekend. :-p

 N/A   Dungeon World NEW!
I’m linking to Dungeon World because Princess World is not in the rpggeek database yet. PW is pretty much DW with an adorable princess theme. It was my first time playing a “Powered by the Apocalypse” game. I had a blast. And it was pretty much an accident that I even played this.

Saturday morning, I slept in until 8:30am. This is unheard of for me. I must have needed the sleep. Instead of heading right over to the con, I went downstairs to the hotel gym and tossed some dumbbells around for a while. Saturday was a weird day for me. I was kinda satisfied with Friday’s gaming and wasn’t sure what to do with my Saturday. Cooper Island had at least taught me the lesson that I didn't want to sit down with any more eurogames in the First Look area. I'd much rather wander around.

I got over to the con a little after 10. I headed upstairs to registration, intending to register for the Tak tournament. But the registration line was very long. While I was waiting, I noticed that the Tak tournament was listed as 11:30am to 4:30pm. I wasn’t sure how it could possibly last five hours. I knew that I didn’t really want to be held hostage for five hours and I wasn’t excited about waiting in the registration line.

So, I left.

I walked down to the rpg area to check it out. I made it to the Indie Games On Demand area at about 10:55am. There was already a long line for the 11am session. I decided to stand at the end of it and hope for the best.

By the time I got to the table all of my first picks were gone, but there were still spaces for a game called The Ward. It sounded like a good time, so I picked it and headed to the assigned table. There were five of us waiting at the table. The GM wasn’t there. The GM got there late, complaining about the copy place and transit and whatever. She began pulling things out of her bag and it was clear that it had nothing to do with The Ward. There had been some serious miscommunication. She was not prepared to run The Ward. She was prepared to run Princess World.

This was not a good start.


I was already there. I was up for some story gaming. I was willing to give the GM the benefit of the doubt, that she could run this game well.

Princess World? What the heck? Let’s embrace the cuteness.

One of the players couldn’t take it. He got up and went his way. That left four players. The GM handed out player roles. There were five options. Fairy Princess. That was me. Proper Princess. The grown man to my left. Pirate Princess. The young girl across the table. Space Princess. The young guy to her left. No one picked Skateboard Princess.

The Weaver (name for the GM in this game) started things, “So, it’s time for the Princess Council to meet. Where does it meet?”

Space Princess: “On an island.”

Fairy Princess: “It can’t be on an island. That’s Pirate Princess’ turf. It needs to be somewhere neutral.”

Proper Princess: “On a cloud island.”

And so it began. At the Princess Council, we enjoyed tea and biscuits and gave reports on our Kingdoms. Then, we got to the heart of the meeting’s business.

Weaver: “So, what problem is happening in Princess World?”

Pirate Princess: “I’m concerned that Skateboard Princess hasn’t shown up to the meeting yet. She hasn’t been around for a long time. She’s missed several meetings.”

Fairy Princess: “We NEED to find Skateboard Princess.”

And just like that, we were on an adventure to the Skateboard Kingdom to find the missing Skateboard Princess.

Much adorable silliness ensued. It was a great time.

 5   Fast Sloths NEW!
Friedemann Friese constantly disappoints me, but I continue to find him interesting. I love his freedom in designing games that are uniquely his own. Fast Sloths looked like it was more in Fearsome Floors space than Power Grid space, so I was excited to try it.

It’s a great idea. The theme is perfectly applied. The fact that any animal can be used by any sloth at any time is fantastic. But in actual play, we all moved around efficiently, scoring the leaf points we needed at roughly the same time, with one person leaping ahead at the end for the win before anyone else could. I was the one who won. I didn’t really care. There was surprisingly little drama for a race game. Still, I mostly enjoyed the game. It reminded me of Elfenland. I liked it better than Elfenland.

 4   Feudum NEW!
Feudum is such a beautiful beast. It’s a shame that I don’t really want to play it again. It’s a better game than Fast Sloths. It’s definitely a better game than Pooper Island.

Honestly, it reminds me of The Cones of Dunshire. The designer of Feudum loved everything about his game and refused to throw any part out. And you know what? It all works. It does all hang together. It creaks and groans in a few places, but it’s marvelously alive. It's also not all that difficult once all of the pieces click into place.

I like this game more than my rating indicates. I made the comment after our play that this would be the perfect game to discover when you’re 12 years old, to then obsess over with your friends for the rest of your teenage years, having marathon weekend sessions, organizing local tournaments, creating your own in-jokes, etc.

Because the thing is, the game almost demands this level of obsession. You’re either all-in or you’re out. It’s just not worth being a casual Feudum player.

A huge thanks to Joshua for teaching this beast. I probably never would have played it if it weren’t for him. I’m very glad to have had the experience.

Part of me wants to rate the game an '8', buy a copy, and force everyone around me to play it with me. I get why Joshua keeps giving it chance after chance.

I'm probably not going to ever play this again, I don't feel the need, but....

I could be convinced.

 6   Finger Guns at High Noon NEW!
Saturday afternoon, I wandered around the dealer area alone before wandering around the city alone for a few hours. It was just getting really stuffy in that overstuffed area.

Finger Guns was straight up silly fun. I played with five strangers and still managed to giggle and guffaw. The booth was selling it for $20. I passed, thinking that maybe I’d come back for it on Sunday. Saturday night, I saw it for $13 on Amazon. Done. Purchased. In the collection.

 7   KLASK (8 all-time)
Jake had never played before, so I roped him into a game. It was a close match. I mocked him for scoring on his own goal, so of course I finished the last scoring point by pathetically scoring on myself. What a dud. Good fun.

 5   Mouse Guard: Swords & Strongholds NEW!
I don’t really appreciate cards messing up my combinatorial abstracts. This game is first and foremost about the card play.

I’d be willing to play it again. I had fun and could see repeated plays revealing a little more depth to the game, but I don't think I'd ever love it.

 9   Pax Pamir (Second Edition) x2 (8 all-time)
After my second play of Bus on Saturday, I had the good fortune of stumbling immediately into a table with a flag looking for players for PP2e. I let him know that I could help teach the game if he needed it. We hit it off right away and the play was great.

I’ve got this thing I do when playing PP. I confidently lead the first two or three dominance checks, then I get everything swept out from under me. That’s what happened in this 4 player game. It’s what happened the next day in our 2 player game. In the 4 player game, I definitely made a few mistakes, passing on cards which I should have purchased.

In the 2 player game against Joshua, I think I played a mean game. It was fascinating. I let him get pretty much every purple card that came up. He was running something like 15 cards in his court by the end. It was disgusting. It was awesome. On my side, I was able to lead through the first and second checks (triggered together) and the third. Joshua had all his discs on the board, but I was pushing blocks, getting the win in the successful dominance checks. Then, in the final, fourth check, I had the event card that only needed two blocks for dominance. I had it locked up, except... I didn’t. :-) The game went on longer than I could keep control. The last dominance card was the second to last card in the deck. Joshua’s powerful court wreaked havoc on me, stealing away the dominance that I had, pushing it to another faction, which I could switch to, but wouldn’t be able to catch up in influence. It was a great play, one of the best of the year for me.

SHŌBU is a really good game. I could see my rating go up much higher if I found someone who wanted to play it all the time. I played against one of the guys working the booth. I played fast and loose because of the setting. He showed no mercy. I could see this one slowing down a lot (in a good way) with players seriously thinking about their turns.

 6   Smart10 NEW!
This was another family weight game that I suckered Jake into trying with me. He beat both me and the demo guy. It’s a pretty straightforward trivia game with a neat push-your-luck aspect. I’m considering buying it as I think it will get played around the house.

 8   Tak x3 (21 all-time)
Ah, Tak. I brought my copy with me and played with Kevin at the bar on Thursday night. I destroyed him the first game. Then, I pointed out to him what mistakes I thought he was making. Kevin took the lesson to heart and immediately crushed me in games 2 and 3. I guess that right here is also a good place to note that, unlike me, Kevin actually made it to the tournament he was interested in. He’s a longtime WBC attendee so he’s used to the tournament scene. Not only did he make it to his tournament, he won the whole thing. That's right, folks. I roomed with the PAX Unplugged Puerto Rico Champion!

That's it. Not all that much game playing after all. PAX Unplugged was surprisingly relaxing for me. I took it at my own pace, dipping in and out of it, enjoying every moment that I was there. Yes, even that terrible play of Cooper Island. I've got great memories of the entire weekend.
Twitter Facebook
Thu Dec 12, 2019 1:07 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
 Thumb up

PAX Unplugged AAR #2: The Photos

I don't usually take a lot of photos. Normally, I don't carry a cell phone with me at all, and I can't remember the last time I used an actual camera (my wife has a fancy dslr that she uses all the time; I've at least touched it).

Below are photos and a few screenshots from my time away in Philadelphia. There are a lot of pictures of food. Abigail does not care what games I'm playing while I'm away. She does want to hear about the great food I'm eating.


I'm a huge fan of Immortal Hulk. I was painfully aware that the new tpb was arriving at my home while I was riding in a car away from it.
From gallery of trawlerman

Playing Tak with Kevin at Yards Brewing Co Thursday night.
From gallery of trawlerman

One fun aspect of temporarily having a cell phone was sending goofy messages to my father. I've always half-joked that my father wakes up in the morning and drinks a cup of coffee in order to have the energy to drive down to 7-11 to buy a cup of coffee.
From gallery of trawlerman

I took this photo while I was walking around early Friday morning. One of my daughters insisted that I get a cheese steak while I was in Philly. A one pound option sounded good. It made me wonder what the average weight of a cheese steak is. I didn't end up eating there.
From gallery of trawlerman

The very first thing I did at Unplugged was sit and listen to Cole and Drew Wehrle tell me everything that I wanted to hear to convince me that Wehrligig is easily my favorite publisher right now.
From gallery of trawlerman

Delicious Vietnamese hoagie.
From gallery of trawlerman

1st play of Bus. My all pub "strategy" did not work.
From gallery of trawlerman

"Double Love" shaved noodles.
From gallery of trawlerman

I don't need to explain this one.
From gallery of trawlerman

Princess World.
From gallery of trawlerman
From gallery of trawlerman

My friend Mike backed Trick Shot on KS. I never did get a chance to sit down and try it, but I took this photo and sent it to him.
From gallery of trawlerman

I took a photo of Revolution of 1828 to remind myself to look it up later. I'm not a Feld fan at all, but the historical topic intrigued me.
From gallery of trawlerman

Saturday afternoon, I needed to get away for a while. I snuck out a side contractor exit.
From gallery of trawlerman
From gallery of trawlerman

Liberty Bellfie.
From gallery of trawlerman
From gallery of trawlerman

District Taco burrito.
From gallery of trawlerman

Late night messaging with Jake.
From gallery of trawlerman

Ending the experience with a Carmen's Kamikaze.
From gallery of trawlerman
From gallery of trawlerman
Twitter Facebook
Tue Dec 10, 2019 2:56 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
 Thumb up

Pax Unplugged AAR #1: The Loot

I'm back home. It feels comfortable to be back home.

But while I was away I had great fun.

I'm now going to post "after action reports" on various topics every day from now until I get tired of it (probably tomorrow).

Today's topic: What did I buy?

The short version: Not much. Maybe still too much?

From gallery of trawlerman

The still short but less short version:
I walked around the entire vendor hall twice, once on Friday with Jake, once on Saturday on my own, then brief targeted buying on Sunday.

Friday, I picked up the Unmatched Bruce Lee promo. Demetri's recent Unmatched write-up has me excited to see Bruce in action. I've only played Unmatched once. My 9yo daughter used Robin Hood's constant card draws to just grind away at my Bigfoot. It was a sore loss. Is it wrong to hope for some revenge with a little help from the Dragon?

Friday, I bought Circle the Wagons and Sprawlopolis based off of general recommendations from some of you.

Friday, I was given a promo bag with a Ryu/Ken starter pack for a Street Fighter card game. It made my day when the guy gave it to me after just hearing me talk in the distance how I thought the idea was cool and wanted it to be better than the video game.

Saturday, I obtained no new games.

Sunday, I bought a copy of Bus and more wallet games. In Vino Morte, Avignon Pilgrimage, Penny Rails. Again, based on reviews and mentions by people I like here on BGG.

That's it. I'm on a microgame kick at the moment. And the only brand new big box game that I bought is a reprint of a 20 year old game.

I had more fun playing short demo trivia and speed games than looking at any of the euros in the First Look area. None of the new euros appealed to me, and the ones I played.... but I'm getting ahead of myself. A games played report will be coming soon.

If you, like me, buy too many games and need to do something about it, then head over to the2020 Mindful Spending Challenge and add a geeklist item detailing the specifics of your spending plan that you intend to fail at next year. I'm going to add my foolish attempt there now. :-p
Twitter Facebook
Mon Dec 9, 2019 9:02 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
 Thumb up

Wayne Wins the Poconos Push It Championship Cup


The following report is my interpretation of the events of Mancation 2019. You may hear differing reports from different sources.

You might even hear that Zimby Mojo should be burned on an altar as a suitable sacrifice to ward off future bad games.

Don't believe a word that comes out of Wayne's mouth. He's not burning anything.

Brining though? We hope so, far into the future.

We've adopted the pickle as the perfect food to eat at all times throughout Mancation. We certainly get pickled ourselves. Salty. Piss and vinegar. Guilty. We dill with it as best we can.

(*groan*. Yams was missing this year; otherwise, I might have been able to show up here with some better puns!)


Wednesday, 9/11, I drove down to Scranton to pick up Josh at the airport. We then trusted his phone as navigator to get us to our destination. This included a lengthy trip through PA State Game Forests, with all of the nasty twists and turns and sudden elevation changes that you would expect from Pennsylvania back roads. The adventure had begun.

Meanwhile, Mike and Parthe had already arrived at our rental, Barbie's Dream House. No kidding. It didn't look like this at first, but we got it there pretty quick.

From gallery of trawlerman

Then, hugs and brief catching up followed by a couple of us doing meal prep while a couple of us ran into town to buy a few more supplies.

Snappy Grillers with a vegetable couscous side for supper. Then we fell into Hole in the Sky. Earlier this year, I met Brendan LaSalle at MepaCon, playing a session of MCC and a session of XCrawl, the MCC adventure being something he had written himself and the XCrawl being the work of a friend (or some collaborative work). I knew that Brendan could write and run a great RPG session with everything that I love in it, so I was excited to run an adventure module that he had written.

Hole in the Sky did not disappoint. In fact, it exceeded my expectations. I had been nervous about the way that some aspects of it would work. There's an early section that is heavily dependent on dice rolls. It was unlikely, but completely possible that the entire party would die in a freak windstorm that they could not possibly prevent. Honestly, that's what I love about DCC, that it allows for wild swings of fate. My worries were unfounded. That section, along with the rest of the module, worked wonderfully. Adventures were had. Foul deeds were committed. Heroism happened. Unexpected reversals surprised everyone. A door was knocked on. Good times were had.

From gallery of trawlerman

It was late. What to do when it gets late? Push It.

We pushed it.

We flicked it. We tapped it. We flubbed it. We witnessed minor miracles.

Parthe won the first game. Josh won the second. Which of course meant that Mike and I had to insist on a team game in which us, the underdogs, would challenge the two current winners. We paired up. We pushed. Not only did we push it, Mike and I pulled it off, the first team game win against these previous gloaters. Unfortunately, roles were soon reversed. Josh and Parthe got the next team win.

From gallery of trawlerman

(Looking back now, I note that this was the first emergence of Wayne. Mike's persona had started to fracture after DCC spinned his world. We were losing Mike as Wayne, the Push It Champion, emerged.)

At this point, I did the sensible thing and went to sleep. Parthe tried to teach a simple game to Josh and Mike, but they weren't having it. Parthe came around to the sensible option and joined me in slumberland. Josh and Mike abandoned the table to pursue digital gaming in the form of some rowdy Nintendo Switching. I'm not even sure what they played.


Thursday morning, Josh and I were the first awake (typical). I taught him KeyForge.

I gave Josh Complicated Thorpe of the Chateau and gave myself Qing, the Healer of Farmers.

Let's move on quickly by saying that things are still complicated in Thorpe's house while Qing has healed all the farmers. Josh did well for his first match, but could not compete against The Qing of KeyForge.

Mike witnessed the final moments of the desolation of Thorpe's house, so challenged Qing with Allip, Spawn of Loneshark. The match was a long slugfest with lots of grabs for keys followed by lots of powerful denials. The game dragged on, always fun, always a give and take. In the end, Qing's healing of farms became undeniable. Who could love the selfish spawn of Loneshark? Qing won the day to the rousing cheers of farmers everywhere.

Josh cooked us something good for breakfast, then I convinced everyone to play Pax Pamir 2e before the beer started flowing too freely. There were many good moments. Alliances were made and broken. Britain dominated, then didn't. Afghan power rose. Russia was largely ineffectual. Us tribal leaders spied and intrigued, built for ourselves and betrayed one another without a second thought. The final scores were 11, 10, 5, 3. I won, but just barely, with things threatening to spin out of my control at every moment. It's that "riding the barely-controlled chaos" feeling that I love.

Next was Champions of Midgard with Parthe teaching. I made bad decisions and the dice betrayed me as often as I had attempted to betray others in Pamir. It was more like Chumpians of Mehgarrrgh for me. Almost without fail, I failed. Parthe reigned as Champion, with both Mike and Josh giving good showings. Not me. I had fun, but Midgard confirmed for me that I'm just not a big fan of dice in my Euros. Dice in general? Well, see my comments on DCC above. I love dice. Dice in my Euros? I just can't get over how much they hate me.

From gallery of trawlerman

Next up were a couple of plays of Northern Pacific. Parthe won both plays. I still really love NP as the perfect thinky filler that it is.

From gallery of trawlerman

We played No Thanks! a couple of times. Another staple filler for me.

We played The Mind. It turns out that we're not at all on the same wavelength. The Mind proved that we're all possibly completely mindless while together on Mancation, that our four minds combined barely register as half a mind together. Blame it on the beer.

From gallery of trawlerman

I taught Res Arcana. It went over well, except that Parthe pretty much declared the game broken due to Horn of Plenty. I don't agree, but then again I had the Horn of Plenty, and indeed my horn was always full, with the win mine and mine alone. Seriously, based on what I've read here on the 'geek, my win was pretty pathetic. I'm still definitely very much exploring the ins and outs of RA.

Mike taught Quacks of Quedlinburg, a game that has been on my radar, but that I hadn't had the chance to play yet. You know what? The Spiel judges were right. The popular audiences were right. Quacks is just good, quick, simple fun. I did great running my potion each turn, followed by a hugely anti-climactic Big Bust on the last turn, in which I did nothing but draw white tokens. So it goes. Turns out I'm a quack like the rest of Quedlinburg. Good times.

From gallery of trawlerman

And of course there was more Push It. Team play only. Parthe and Josh won the first match. Something changed about Mike. Wayne came out. Wayne and I won the next match. But Wayne could not rule for long. Mike's energy waned without Wayne (see what I did there?). We lost. Suddenly, Wayne resurfaced. "Mike" hit all shots true. I barely contributed a thing besides some flubbed defense. Another win for Team Wayne. We left the evening with this tie in effect.

From gallery of trawlerman


Another great Josh breakfast.

From gallery of trawlerman

The weather had been drizzly rain and heavier rain, mostly cloudy with a little chill. Friday was the day theat the forecast called for slightly better weather so we claimed it as our dedicated hike day. We've done some epic long hikes in past years. This year, we settled for a beautiful but short hike, only a couple of miles, but through some lovely PA woods bordering a river (we never knew which river and I still haven't looked it up), close enough to major traffic that we never got far enough away from the din of cars, but far enough into the woods that we startled some bedded down fawns that didn't know what to do once we'd roused them.

From gallery of trawlerman

Here's a group photo with Nick making a magical photoshop appearance:

From gallery of trawlerman

And here's me leading Sasquatch in a cheer for Qing, Healer of Farmers.

From gallery of trawlerman

At some point, we made it back to the Barbie Dream House.

I suggested Zimby Mojo. Zimby Mojo should be the perfect Mancation game. We're a bunch of old friends who love "shit disturbing" (a phrase that we learned from Nick's Canadian friends decades ago). Zimby fell flat. Even in the quick set-up, the ramping up takes too long. It really just takes too long and the constant die-rolling to run the king and his thugs wears thin. The last time that I played, the second half felt like it would go on forever, which felt unsatisfying. This time, it hardly went on at all. The crown changed hands a couple of times after the couple of rounds after the king's murder. Then, Parthe just had a clear shot to walk it off the board.

From gallery of trawlerman

It's certainly possible that I'm a bad teacher of Zimby Mojo or that I just have not found the way to get people to love it. I want to love it myself. I bought it. Even now, after two frustrating plays, I still find it rather charming, an odd duck that refuses to bow to what anyone cares about in a game. I just can't personally look past its rough edges enough to keep giving it more trys. In both plays so far, I've had players that were just not having fun. That's enough for me to be done with a game. But last game, at game night, one of the players did thoroughly enjoy it and champion it, so I will now gift the game to him, which means that I'll probably play it again if he wants to. I do still want to love the game. But I'm really not so sure that I want to keep playing it. Sigh.

Next, we played Meeple War. I don't know about Meeple War. I know that I played poorly and that Parthe took advantage of his starting set-up (catapult) with no interference and won easily. The game was fun enough that I'd play it again, but I just didn't love it.

From gallery of trawlerman

Parthe then taught Throw Throw Burrito, which was truly stupid fun. We somehow managed not to break any bones, though we did break some furniture (to be fair, it was ready to break!). The set collection 'game' aspect is really there to give players a break from the burrito throwing, but the burrito throwing is the game, which isn't really a game, but an excuse to play pseudo-dodgeball face-offs with your adult friends.

We played Yogi. We fought over the first round because that's what happens when you've been drinking and being competitive all day. No win for anyone. Then, a few real rounds of Yogi in which we got back to being stupid and not caring who won because it's stupid goofy fun.

And finally Push It. The ascendancy of Wayne.

Now, so far I've neglected to record this day's lunch. After the hike, we hit Zack's Taco Shack, the best eating in the area (which we learned last year).

From gallery of trawlerman

Mike and Josh ordered together first. Parthe ordered. I ordered. Parthe's quesadilla was done quick. An order for Wayne was called. No Wayne there. We checked around for Wayne. No Wayne. My order was ready. Pause. A call for Wayne. No Wayne. More time passed. Eventually, Mike realized that he might be Wayne. He went to the counter looking for his food. There it was, waiting for Wayne. Mike became Wayne, taking Wayne's food, no going back, Wayne Wayne Wayne. We double checked and there was no order for Mike. Wayne the Push It Champion was hungry. He was the one who had ordered the food. We'd wonder later why Mike was still so hungry, but it was because Wayne had received all of the nutrients and stored them away towards future Push It play.

Back to late night Push It. Wayne, fully fed, resurfaced. I think Josh went upstairs while we were arguing some more, this time over the proper way to divide the table for a 3-player Push It game. Mike insisted that he take the "disadvantaged" seat. (Little did we know that Wayne was hustling us at the time). As unlikely as it seems, I won the first match. Parthe won the second match. Then Wayne, using Mike's body for his own purposes, took two wins in a row. We all called it a night.


We had talked big about playing ALL the games on Saturday.

Instead, we played a few games.

In the morning, Mike, Josh, and I played Mario Kart. It had been a long time since I last played Mario Kart, but I managed to steal second slightly behind Mike and slightly ahead of Josh. A close race. Satisfying fun.

By early afternoon, we were ready for the tabletop.

We played Cyclades to get the afternoon started. There was a lot of back and forth and it could have been anyone's game. Well, except Parthe. I'm not sure now why he couldn't ever get in a good position, but it definitely seemed to be a 3 way jockeying between the rest of us, with maybe Parthe biting the bullet a couple of times to prevent someone else's win, but not getting an advantage himself. I was close to a philosopher win, but my peacenik bro-philosophers got wiped out by invading hordes repeatedly.

We had agreed to play Gùgōng next.

From gallery of trawlerman

Gùgōng is a happy mess of interconnected systems with its own iconography. It looks overwhelming like most Euros typically do, but it's pretty quickly grasped and its system of 'exchanging favors' by swapping out cards is oddly satisfying, even if I usually sucked at it, or got hosed by the actions of players before me. I wouldn't call it elegant, but I do think that it is satisfying in a similar way to something like Mombasa or Great Western Trail, two positive examples of recent Euros that I like, in that the basic actions taken every turn are simple, but there are real choices and subtle ways to interact with the other players at the table.

I taught Irish Gauge. I shared a tie victory with Josh, which felt good as it's the best I've done at the game so far. I feel really good about teaching the game as I've got the simple 2-page rules down completely, but I did feel guilty when Mike made a possible error in bidding because I had misunderstood a question that he had asked and given a misleading reply based on my misunderstanding (which was all immediately cleared up at the next dividend phase), but, even with this minor rules glitch, Irish Gauge went over pretty well, which is pretty impressive for any economic/rails game at a Mancation.

At this point, we all proposed games, but all suggestions got shot down.

We spent a decent amount of time watching homemade movies from the past and just generally chatting.

And of course there was a final Push It session. Four player every man for himself. First to two wins takes the Poconos Championship Cup. Wayne won the first match. Josh won the second. No more suspense. We all know what's coming. Wayne won the third and final match.

Wayne won it all. Mancation 2019 Winner. Congratulations, Wayne.

From gallery of trawlerman

Good times as always. I'm already looking forward to Mancation 2020.
Twitter Facebook
Mon Sep 23, 2019 12:17 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
 Thumb up

The #1 gaming event of the year is less than a month away....

It's already been a year since the last Mancation. It's almost time to do it again. 9/11-9/15. It's even more exclusive than Alan Moon's Gathering of Friends because our Gathering is not open to new friends. It's capped at 7. Unfortunately, this year there will only be 4 of us.

Here's the list of games that I'll be bringing:

Mike and Parthe will also be bringing games. I'm pretty sure that there will at least be Blood Rage, Cyclades, Wildlands, Throw Throw Burrito, etc.
Twitter Facebook
Sat Aug 17, 2019 11:46 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
 Thumb up

April '19 Review - "Already a nonchalant breed, silently emerging, appears on the streets," -WW

Games Played

 10   Tigris & Euphrates (16 all-time)
 9   KeyForge: Call of the Archons (15 all-time)
 9   Mutant Crawl Classics Role Playing Game NEW!
 9   Root (8 all-time)
 8   Scythe (9 all-time)
 8   Xcrawl NEW!
 7   Kanban: Driver's Edition NEW!
 7   Mombasa (2 all-time)
 7   Northern Pacific (2 all-time)
 6   Battleball (7 all-time)
 6   BraveRats x2 (6 all-time)
 6   Chronicle NEW!
 6   Meow x7 (16 all-time)
 6   Rhino Hero x2 (7 all-time)
 4   The Dragon & Flagon NEW!


I had meant to write up a separate post about Mepacon, but never got around to it.

The only board game I played while at Mepacon was The Dragon & Flagon. I had a good time, and was glad to get the chance to try the game, but I wouldn't play it again unless someone else was begging for it. The biggest problem with the game is that it takes longer than a bar fight to simulate a bar fight (the sort of criticism that I've heard of the game Gunslinger, and the same problem that I eventually had with Worthington's Cowboys game). What should be fast and wooly and wild becomes programmatic and highly procedural. The shifting and emerging "chaos" caused by the programmed movement doesn't amuse me here any more than it ever did in RoboRally. D&F is a good design, but it's not for me.

The big reason that I drove down to the con was to get a chance to play DCC-ish games with Brendan LaSalle.

Saturday morning, 9a-1p, was a session of Mutant Crawl Classics, an adventure that Brandon was playtesting called "Canyon City Rain."

I could recount the plot for you here, but you wouldn't find it all that compelling. I'll tell you that the most memorable moments were the player-driven ones. One sentient bush attempting a peace talk with another sentient bush. A character charging down a hill into combat only to stumble and roll further down the hill, becoming the laughingstock of the adventuring party. Following a mind map. Hurling rocks into combat. Stepping on giant faces. Negotiating through pantomime across a language/culture barrier. Just good times.

Saturday, 2p-6p, was a session of Xcrawl, Brendan's own baby. This newest version of XCrawl also used the DCC system, which was satisfying.

The Xcrawl setting is a ton of fun:
"In Xcrawl, the players are superstar athletes taking their chances in a live-on-pay-per-view death sport. It’s a modern-day world with a fantasy twist, and the game is simple: the Dungeon Judge, or DJ, creates an artificial dungeon under controlled – but lethal – conditions. He designs the maze, and stocks it with monsters, secret doors, magical traps, treasure and prizes. The players must go through the dungeon and fulfill whatever conditions the DJ puts forth in order to win."

This session of Xcrawl was a little less satisfying than the MCC session. It was another playtest (this time an adventure written by a friend of Brendan's) which had a couple of really great moments, but also had some snags, elements that didn't quite work for any of us as players. Still, it was fun, and these combined plays of MCC and XCrawl are among my favorite gaming moments of 2019 so far.


Tuesday nights continue to be my primary gaming fix. More often than not, I find something satisfying to play with people that I like. April was a good month.

We played a 6 player game of Scythe a couple of new players, which was probably a mistake, since the game dragged on longer than it should have, but it was still fun. The other John bought a copy of Rise of Fenris, so there will probably be much more Scythe this year.

This was my second play of Mombasa. It's a good game, and I'll play it whenever anyone wants to.

As expected, I liked Northern Pacific more with 5 than with 6. I'm excited to try it with 3 and 4.

This play was my first time playing Root with 6 players, so also my first time playing with the Lizards and the Otters. I played the Lizards. It took me a few turns to get a handle on what I should be doing with them, then I experienced a few turns during which my plans got shut down by the movement of other players. So it goes. The final turn was very close. It could have been anyone's game....except my Lizards, which weren't in the running. The Eyrie player took the win.

One of the newest members to our group has a taste for The Heavy. This was my first Vital game. I was not disappointed. I confess that I was turned off by the busyness of the board and the generally large amount of different tokens, the sorts of things that will sometimes turn me off to Euro games. Well, my fears were unfounded. All of those things were true (the busyness, crowdedness, etc), but the game played ever so smoothly. There were moving parts that I forgot about that affected my end score, but overall I wouldn't say that the rules were more complex than any other midweight Euro with an iconography learning curve. I actually think that it was easier to learn the "language" of the game here than in something like Great Western Trail. The decision space was comparable to the Pfister games that I've played, maybe deeper. I'm not sure. I'd definitely play it again.

Loser's Club

After missing a couple of sessions, I made it out to Mark's house for an evening of good food and good games.

I got in a great play of Tigris & Euphrates with Brice and Eric. Lots of conflict, lots of dramatic swings and reversals. The game was close, with me winning the tie breaker by a point.


At home, there wasn't much gaming, but what gaming that did happen with the kids was fun.

Rhino Hero

Of note here are the plays of Battleball and Chronicle.

I played Battleball with my 7yo son. This was the first time that I had played the game in 12 years. I had held onto it because I had great memories of playing it with my wife when it first came out, in my pre-BGG days. Battleball was significant for being a really fun game available in wide release through mainstream channels. It awakened in me a desire to get back into seeing what was happening in the hobby market, which led to discovering so many other games.

I played Chronicle with the five oldest children. It's a good design. I appreciated it, but it went a little bit longer than I would have liked, I think partially because of the higher (maximum) player count, and partly because I was playing with kids (the two youngest in particular) who were pretty new to trick taking games generally and were learning this new system in particular. So, I think that the game has potential, and I expect my rating to rise.

Favorite Game-Related Writing of the Month:

Blades in the Dark - A Minor Complication, Pt. 3 - Why our dumb, beautiful stories matter.

I used to think roleplaying games were a form of escape, an acquired entertainment taste that, despite its idiosyncrasies, served basically the same function as TV—a way to step outside yourself for a while before being sucked back into our everyday drudgery. Now, though, I think they serve a higher, more essential function, but this cognitive shift could only happen once I began rethinking the terms of my own failure.

Looking back at my Blades in the Dark group and our little three-month jaunt, I don’t think we told any sort of exceptional story. If I tried to recap the characters and the plot for someone else, it sure wouldn’t come out like a literary masterpiece—it would sound like blithering nonsense from a second-rate hack. But of course, that’s not the point. When I think on my time with Anatoly, Dr. Blebton Lucius Mooney, Orlan “Daddy” Skelkallan, Bogsworth Vein, Abbascu, Cass, and the other peripheral members of our badass gang, the Friends in the Dark, I think about the weird and beautiful alchemy that happens when you and your friends smash your brains together to come up with something that is only yours. A story that can’t be marketed, resold, submitted, evaluated, broadcast, or otherwise eaten up by the economic machinery that can feel like it is sucking us dry.
The whole thing is worth reading.



I've still been avoiding new stuff, mostly listening to Will Oldham's Merle Haggard cover album on repeat:


I was reading a lot, but not finishing a lot. My re-read of Lafferty's It's Down the Slippery Cellar Stairs was easily the book of the month. My bathroom reading has been the Goodman Games 2015 GenCon book, which I'd highly recommend for your bathroom, too, if you need a book in your bathroom, which of course you do.

Motion Pictures

Twitter Facebook
Wed May 1, 2019 10:53 am
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
 Thumb up

Am I conning myself?

I wrote all this after reading Matt's question on the Deep Cuts guild:
MplsMatt wrote:
I was curious what conventions folks here attend and what you think they're doing well. Do they nail the venue or the crowd or is it just the gaming on offer? Maybe it's just simple geography that drives attendance.
For me, it's definitely people and geography first, followed by the games.

I've never been to a "big" convention. No Origins. No GenCon. No whatever.

My first board game convention was Niagara Boardgaming Weekend in 2007. It's a pure "open gaming" convention. I loved this format, meeting many great people. I had just moved to Binghamton from Buffalo. Driving up for NBW was also an excuse to get back up north to play games with the group that I missed.

NBW - more fun than a barrel over the falls

Going to NBW got me an invitation to a small private con run by Scott Nicholson in June '07, which was a ton of fun, and led to me meeting Alan Moon, which got me an invite to the Gathering of Friends in April '08, which was a WEEK of fun.

In '09, I went back to NBW. I decided not to go back to the Gathering for many reasons, but mostly because I couldn't justify the cost and time involved in what was essentially a week-long selfish vacation, abandoning my growing family to do my own thing. My wife has always been gracious towards my gaming, but I didn't want to abuse that grace. Also, at that time, the event always took place the week before Easter, which just made it even more difficult to get away from family at that time.

NBW - better than casinos AND cuban cigars

'09 was also the year that I met Bill Ashbaugh from Oneonta and got invited out to Billapalooza, his gaming birthday bash.

In 2010, I took a break from all cons, public or private.

In 2011, I went to GMT East, after having slowly become more involved in wargaming. This was a blast, but I slowly realized over the next year that I'm not really a wargamer. I definitely like many war and historical games, but my family and general life situation is such that long, involved games are just hard to get to the table.

GMT East 2011 - One Newbie's Experience

2012 and 2013 were years in which I did not go to any cons, and at times thought that I might be cooling on being so deep in the hobby.

2014 was the year that I started regularly reuniting with childhood friends for 4+ days of renting a place, hiking, gaming, drinking, relaxing. At first, we called it NOMAAM Weekend (my friend Josh had to explain the reference from Married with Children), but we've just referred to it as Mancation every since. It's been great for me and made me realize that I need at least one weekend away a year for my own mental health. We've been doing it every year since. This past year was the first year that I wrote an AAR.

You guys really call it Mancation? And you just live on beer and board games for days?

Last year, in 2018, I also made it back to Billapalooza in Oneonta for the first time in a long time. I also made it back to NBW in 2017, which I did write about:

NBW XIII - Getting Stopped at the Canadian Border with a Backseat Full of Board Games

I still tell people that NBW is my favorite public con, because it is. Unfortunately, the cost involved and the 5 hour travel time, just makes it hard for me to get to, especially when I've already taken time off from work for Mancations (and they keep seeming to get longer!) and more important family trips and events.

So far, in 2019, I've been to one private event at a friend's place.

PartheCon 1: Parthenogenesis

This sort of weekend of gaming was something that we could have easily done when we were younger. Now it's a special event. But you know what? It is special, and I'm grateful for these moments of being able to get away and act like a teenager with the same guys I was acting like a teenager with, and playing games with, when we were teenagers!

These weekends, and Mancations, are great for getting the trashier dudes on a map stuff played, great for rowdy days and nights. They definitely scratch that itch. What I haven't really found yet is something similar to scratch the heavier longings. I'd love to go to an Age of Steam Con, Heavy Con, or something like Trains & Chits, a place where everyone was agreed on the task of melting their minds. I know that I could go back to GMT East for a wargame fix, but the hotel is expensive and the drive is far enough to discourage me. I've got to dig around local groups and the BGG 'find users' feature, and find the weird gamers in nearby upstate NY areas, the kind that wouldn't mind playing Soo Line followed by Sea Evil followed by Time of Crisis. I'd like that.

What's next in Cons for me in 2019?

I've already registered for MepaCon in Scranton, PA, and have signed up for sessions of Mutant Crawl Classics and XCrawl. I'm excited for that.

Later in the year will be Mancation (ManCon VI) and the inaugaral CuseCon in Syracuse, NY (about an hour north of me), where I'm hoping to play some DCC as well as find plenty of open gaming. I'll probably go to RoberCon again here in the Bingo area. And then there's always FATFROG, which I realized I didn't mention. It's the Friday After Thanksgiving Family Reunion Over Games that happens at my place on Black Friday.

So, what have I learned about myself after writing this? It's what I already knew. I don't care about the big cons. I want to play games I like with people I like. If that means being silly and calling a planned day of gaming at someone's house a "Con", well, I'm not above doing that. Because those are my favorite Cons. And sometimes it feels like the amount of effort that we put into planning and coordinating everyone's schedules to make something like this work has got to be as difficult, or more difficult, than what it takes to pack a stadium with new shiny things.
Twitter Facebook
1 Comment
Tue Mar 19, 2019 8:58 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls
 Thumb up

PartheCon 1: Parthenogenesis

Board Game: Blood Rage
Board Game: KeyForge: Call of the Archons
Board Game: Root
Board Game: Gloomhaven
Board Game: The Mind
Board Game: Wildlands
Board Game: Attack on Titan: The Last Stand
Board Game: Onitama
Board Game: Dungeon Derby

 9   Blood Rage (2 all-time)
 9   KeyForge: Call of the Archons x3 (14 all-time)
 8   Root (7 all-time)
 7   Gloomhaven NEW!
 7   The Mind (7 all-time)
 7   Wildlands NEW!
 6   Attack on Titan: The Last Stand NEW!
 6   Onitama x3 (6 all-time)
 5   Dungeon Derby NEW!

Every year I get together with good friends for a Mancation.

PartheCon is not Mancation.

PartheCon is two days of gaming at Parthe's apartment. Parthe agrees to stop chasing skirts long enough to host games at his sweet bachelor pad. We all agree to show up and play games.

These are the essential elements of PartheCon: Friends. Board games. Pizza. Beer. Farts. Shouting. [Optional: picklebacks, stale chips.]

PartheCon 1

Friday the 1st:

I was the only one driving in from out of town. The drive sucked. Cross Bronx. Ugh. Enough said.

When I showed up, Mike was already there. I walked in on Mike and Parthe playing Hive, one of my favorite games that no one will play me in any longer, because I'm pretty danged good at it.

After they cleaned up Hive, we played a session of The Mind to see how attuned we were to one another. We were Level 5 attuned. No further.

Mike was on a mission to get me to love Onitama, a game that he likes a lot. My previous experience with it was frustrating. I disliked having to learn new moves each game, resulting in AP, with little reward. I rated it a '4', 'not so good - but could play again' according to the BGG scale. I wanted to like it, but didn't. Still, I was willing to be convinced. We played with the Wind Spirit expansion, and a Wind card did come into play, which opened up some interesting decisions. We played a best of 3, and I won 2-1. Result? I like it a little more. I raised my rating to '6' and it could go higher. I think that the major difference between this time and last time is that last time I played (with Parthe), we changed the cards every game. That was just too much. This time, we played with the same cards for the entire best of 3, and I would have been willing to play even more, going for a best of 7. I realized that my problem wasn't so much with the game, but with one way of playing the game, with a new set of cards each time. Now, I think that I'd actually like the game a lot if we just stuck to one set of cards for long best of 7 matches, then switch it up. That seems like a good sweet spot for scratching my need for exploring stable systems, while also providing variety each session.

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

After Onitama, Parthe and I faced off in a game of KeyForge.
Complicated Thorpe of the Chateau (me) vs. Dutchdotter McIver-McIver, Baron (Parthe)
Complicated Thorpe simply mopped the floor with McIver-McIver. It was embarrassing. What was more embarrassing was the amount of baby whining that happened about how Thorpe was over-powered, cry cry cry. I offered to swap decks for a rematch, but the offer was declined. We moved on.

Yams showed up at this point, so we moved on to the serious Dudes on Maps action that we had all showed up for.

We played Wildlands, which was as wild as its title suggests. I lucked into two easy gems at the beginning of the game, but that only marked me as a target for the rest of the game. I really like how the game allows for "unfair" situations like this, then encourages the players to do something to deal with it. In this case, everyone else heavily guarded my other gems from me, picked off my weak characters, all while scoring their own gems and kills. I managed to get the win by running with a character through several spaces, surviving two attempted kill interrupts, and grabbing a gem in the most unlikeliest of rooms for me to get to. I also killed an owl. It was a wild time, much fun.

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

Mike was the only one of us who hadn't played Root. I gave him the Marquise, did a quick rules teach, including quick review of other factions, then we were up and fighting in the woods.

It was a close game the entire time. Mike's cats ran a tight business, expanding business centers and profits each turn. Yams' Chaos Lord Trash Bandit saw a good thing and began allying himself with Big Cat. My Woodland Alliance was the mole being whacked, consistently getting points, but struggling for a board presence. Parthe's cute lil birdies aggressively expanded, eventually hitting turmoil, only to be reborn unstoppable. It was my 7th play of the game, and the first time that I saw a bird victory.

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

We also ate pizza, drank beer, farted, and shouted. A lot.

Saturday the 2nd:

Mike and Yams had gone home the night before (or early the next morning, really). I woke up too early at 8 and putzed around. Parthe woke up at 9:30. We went to a local deli and got great breakfast sandwiches, then returned and played...

Gloomhaven. Parthe had a copy of Gloomhaven because, like so many people, he chose to have Gloomhaven instead of having kids. Also, after the sad death of his dog, Gloomhaven provided the loving company that he needed, demanding the same attention and care.

All jokes aside, I played Gloomhaven. I liked it. The hype, the praise, it's all legit. Do I see myself playing it 100+ times? Nope, though I did tell Parthe that I'd be willing to commit to a scenario a year, so if we don't replay any of them, we should get through the entire game when we're 140 years old.

From gallery of trawlerman

From gallery of trawlerman

After Gloomhaven, Mike showed up. Parthe played tiny people games on his tablet while Mike and I played forging keys. This post is already getting too long. Short version. Complicated Thorpe killed it again against a deck name I don't remember, then got seriously owned by The Noxious Barkeep of Antiset. Friggin' noxious barkeeps. That last game played long, but it was satisfying the entire time.

From gallery of trawlerman

Yams showed up while we were finishing KeyForge. After screwing around for a little bit, we decided to play Lazer Ryderz. During set-up, it was obvious that the table was too small, so we then spent the next half hour (at least) pushing and pulling on Parthe's uncooperative table to get the flyleaf out. I cannot stress enough how epic the moment was when success was achieved without the table falling apart, and no one being injured. We finally had a big enough table to play. Then, Parthe's friend Sean showed up, and we couldn't play the 4 player Lazer Ryderz any longer. We put it away. So it goes.

From gallery of trawlerman

After a short bit of debate, we settled on Attack on Titan: The Last Stand, which was an adequate adaptation of the anime in the sense that we felt hopeless and ultimately all of humanity perished in a tragic final slaughter. We came close a few times to offing the Titan, but it's also clear that we misunderstood and mismanaged the use of the tactics deck. I'd like to play it again. I had fun, but right now, I still think that Attack on Titan: Deck-Building Game is better than this one.

From gallery of trawlerman

After the catastrophic end of the world, we were ready for the catastrophic end of the world. It was time for the main event. Blood Rage. The main event consisted of lots of swearing, threatening, and more swearing and threatening. Arguments. Shouting. Farting. Blooding. Raging. I was doing well, carrying the lead, until the end of Age 3, in which everyone at the table decided to shower Parthe with free victory points, out of sheer love for his greatness, I guess. He won by a large margin. Blood Lame. I kid. It was a great time.

From gallery of trawlerman

Throughout all of this, there was also once again the always important elements of pizza and beer alongside the above mentioned shouting and farting.

Mike's girlfriend showed up near the end of Blood Rage (the fact that she could survive amidst all of this gnarly gamerly testosterone must mean she's a keeper). After BR, we all played Dungeon Derby, a simple racing and betting game with lots of luck and chaos, perfect for the end of the night. Except by this time of night, I'm usually asleep. I wasn't asleep, but the pizza and beer was warring in me to get me to go to sleep so that it could colonize my belly without any further resistance. I was dopey through the game, but I managed to win through a lucky bet, followed by overly cautious management of my immense wealth.

From gallery of trawlerman

Then, goodbyes and sleep.

Early wake-up and early travel to beat a snowstorm the next day. The Parthenogenesis is over. We'll do it again next year, PartheCon 2: The Parthening.
Twitter Facebook
Mon Mar 4, 2019 12:25 pm
Post Rolls
  • [+] Dice rolls