Boss Goes To Winter Fantasy 2013
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How I spent my Winter Vacation in 1,000 Words or Less.

People: "So, where'd you go on vacation!?"(with enthusiasm)
Me: "Fort Wayne, Indiana."
People: blink. blink. "Oh. Okay. And... did you have fun?"
Me: "O.M.G. YES!"
People: shocked look. "Okay then."
------------------------------------------
Yeah, I know. Who would've thought.
But WHY does Boss go to Ft Wayne every January with some friends?
First: D&D. Yes, I admit it. But it gets better this year!
Second: This year Winter Fantasy (formerly The D&D Experience, or DDXP) added the GenCon Boardgame Library!!! woot.

Met some terrific people this year, played in some GREAT D&D rounds. This year's Battle Interactive turned out to be the best yet!
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Mark & I rolled into Ft Wayne Thursday around lunchtime and headed straight to the Convention Center to check in. Mark had an Event ticket for the 1-6pm slot. I decided to grab a ticket to jump into the D&D Next Playtest. Especially since they were running a revamped version of one of my all-time favorite modules, The Steading of the Hill Giant Chief.

It was alot of fun. Our DM was the author of the re-boot. I played the Wizard, a little outside my usual roguish comfort zone. I like what they're doing with Skill Dice (Dice different classes use to trigger/power special abilities). Not sold tho on the "New Vancian" spellcasting (we're back to memorizing spells, spellbooks, & spells readied), tho I do like the swap-out nature of spells (I threw 2 jacked-up Fireballs late in the game to good effect)!

Sneaking around the giants' fortress was cool, very tense, & very fun. We pulled some clever ploys and used the party's skills well. Our DM was impressed.

Still struggling with the Theater-of-the-Mind aspect of Next, tho. The board-gamer in me still likes my minis and battlemaps. Plus my Home Group won't likely buy into it either, they're pretty dice-y, tactical, and hack-n-slashy.
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2. Board Game: 10 Days in Europe [Average Rating:6.61 Overall Rank:1641]
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After dinner, Mark went back to the D&D tables, but I went to the Game Room. Our Old Friend Don (Rick of the Lake's nephew & NWIBGA's Eastern Ambassador) came over to meet us. Other gamers were already mid-game, so I offered to teach Don a 2-player game. I hadn't actually played Europe, but I owned USA and wanted to try it myself. I liked this iteration of the 10 Days series. Adds ocean travel in place of cars. Don liked it enough that he would teach USA to his friend Liz (who you'll meet shortly) the next day.

Oh, I won.
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3. Board Game: Citadels [Average Rating:7.11 Overall Rank:329]
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Next, we met a cute couple from Chicago and Neil from Cincinnati.
Jessica suggested CITADELS, so we obliged. Don was a noob, and I felt it was a game he needed to add to his cred (esp since he's such a Puerto Rico fan). It was a little long (as CIT tends to be) but fun. Everyone enjoyed the cutthroat nature of the Assassin and Thief. It was great that total strangers could play a game like Citadels and enjoy it so much, with no hard feelings or anything!

Don won (and was surprised, questioning how good can a game be that let's the guy who has no clue what's going on win? He has a point there...)
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4. Board Game: CATAN 3D Collector's Edition [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.89 Unranked]
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Jessica & Rob didn't want to stay late, so we bid them goodnight. In their place, little Mary appeared. Mary is a character, coming from a LARPing background. We had all been drooling over the big wooden chest Settlers Special 3-D Edition, so we agreed "Why not!?"

I haven't played Settlers with people in awhile (I play online mostly now) but this was a really fun game. Neil stayed we had a 4P match-up. We went for Random Set-Up. Oops. REALLY bad number distribution caused some weird ebbs and flows of resources. I had an early lead but Neil (then Don) stealing my Longest Road card right before I would've won turned the tables!

10 - DON, 8 - Scott & Neil, 5 - Mary.
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5. Board Game: No Thanks! [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:395]
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While we were scouring the Library for the next game (it was 11:00pm now, btw), Mary got pulled into the Live Action LARP of a new game by Jason Morningstar (Fiasco author) that was going on beside us. We were all dragging too, Don had headed home (had to work in morning), but Mark had joined us, so I pulled a light filler out of my backpack.

I won the 1st round (Mark must've thought a HIGH score was better...)
2nd Round, Cincinnati Neil bounced back and edged me out narrowly!

51 - 69 - SCOTT
62 - 64 - NEIL
102- 78 - Mark
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6. Board Game: Memoir '44 [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:116] [Average Rating:7.55 Unranked]
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Friday morning now. Mark got up early to do another D&D session. I stayed in hotel and got some work done (vacation? right.)

I headed to the Game Room before lunch and found Neil there again.
Other games had already begun, so I offered him an hour or so of 2P fun until Mark got done. he had NEVER PLAYED Memoir '44!!! I know, right!?

We played a scenario with lots of tanks and artillery (he was a Gamer, he didn't need a Training Mission). And actually he beat me!

Round 1 (Me = Nazis, Him = Allies) I didn't play it smart and he won 4-1.
Round 2 I played similar to him, but he played the Germans SMART and we ended 4-3. So he takes it on aggregrate... Boo.

(Homer voice) Stupid Germans.
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7. RPG Item: Player's Handbook (D&D 4e) [Average Rating:6.74 Overall Rank:882]
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After lunch, I settled in for my 1st D&D 4E LFR (Living Forgotten Realms) session. I opted for the Convention Special (Morgoth's Mansion), since they're tougher but you can get cool unique items as rewards (if you survive). Without going into boring adventure details, my group wasn't too bad,even tho we had an odd mix of character classes. It was an interesting twist on the Con Game design, as we stayed in same location the entire time, defending it against waves of attackers. I kind of liked what they did with encounter design, but our group was a bit pokey and we missed out on the last encounter... Booo. I lived, tho (well, barely. Dropped twice.)
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8. Board Game: Lord of the Rings [Average Rating:6.77 Overall Rank:720]
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After dinner, Don came by again, this time with his friend Liz in tow (and later Monster Troy*).

Don and I had discussed this game some time ago. He knew I had played and liked it. He had gotten a copy but wanted to learn from a Master.
(cracks knuckles) No problem. Um. Okay. The board whupped us so bad after only 3 players of 5 had gone, that we started over.

On 2nd attempt, things went badly for us, but we kept squeaking through! In the end, we lost Frodo (Don), Pippin (Troy), and even Sam (Mark). But, miraculously, Fatty (Liz) and Merry (Scott) plunged the ring into Mount Doom and saved Middle Earth. I miss playing this game, but this time through reminded me how god-awful HARD it is. And add Friends & Foes expansion and forget it!


* I call him that, because the dude is a walking Monster/Amp energy drink commercial. Chugged them constantly, went to work next day (12 hr shift), came back to play again next night, all with ZERO sleep... Certifiable.
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9. Board Game: Cosmic Encounter [Average Rating:7.57 Overall Rank:104]
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After they kicked us out of the Convention Center at midnight, we still had the gaming bug, so we adjourned to Don's house for some late-night madness! Liz, Mark, & Troy had never ENCOUNTERED this game, so we ZAPPED them with it. What a hoot! Liz kept saying she wasn't sold on it, but gee, what do you know, she wins, then suddenly it's all "I like this game" and rainbows and petunias* and unicorns... sheesh. Women.

I would've won, too, but there was some unspoken alliance against me so that no one would Negotiate with me even when it was mutually beneficial to do so! Well timed Cosmic Zaps made for some funny and exciting moments. And Liz's betrayal at the end to sneak the Solo Win instead of sharing with me was classic.

* see what I did there...?
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10. Board Game: Cable Car [Average Rating:6.72 Overall Rank:1880]
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Not quite done yet at 1:30am, Don busts out this oldie (looked old anyway, I guess it isn't really tho). Kind of a TransAmerica-meets-Tsuro thing going on. Very puzzle-y (which I like) and interesting. Went a little long, but might have been the 5P thing. Some AP kicked in too (and I was as guilty as anyone there). But a neat filler-ish game (tho the fiddly set-up almost kills it's Filler status). Try it, tho, if you get an opportunity.
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11. Board Game: Witch's Brew [Average Rating:7.04 Overall Rank:701]
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Now it's Saturday. Mark and I have our big all-day D&D LFR Battle Interactive 1:00p-12:00m, but got there early enough to hit the Game Room with Don (who, btw, had made us breakfast at his house, what a great host)!

Don was surprised I had never played WITCH'S BREW, esp since it's quite popular in the NWIBGA. So, I agreed to toil at it. It was no trouble, picked it up pretty easily. Some familiar mechanics (Don admitted that Citadels' role selection inspired him to want to play WB) made it pretty intuitive. Actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I felt bad for Mark, tho, EVERYthing he tried, I had the counter for. He and I just think WAY too alike for that game.
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12. RPG Item: Ed Greenwood Presents Elminster's Forgotten Realms [Average Rating:7.30 Overall Rank:3357]
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Ahhh, the Battle Interactive. The Double Slot D&D Event that only occurs at this convention. 40+ tables of 6 Heroes each, all involved in the same big adventure. Last year, we failed to defend the city of Elturel and it was overrun by the spell-plagued forces. THIS year, we get to back and try to take the city back.

The adventure started with each table picking from a list of Mission types (which was done quite well). We found missions that we thought OUR group was best suited for. After each mission, we ran our result to the HQ table, where they tracked the movement of all the groups/tables on a big map projected onto the wall for all to see.

Our group did well enough, choosing a diplomatic mission (find the Resistance fighters hiding out in the woods), and an escort mission (help the Dwarven sappers take out a heavily-guarded section of City Wall with explosives), etc.

After dinner, events resumed with most all of our forces now inside the city battling the spell-plagued army. We chose more diplomacy (we were a low-level, under-powered group) by running around helping the civilian populace evacuate, escorting said evacuees, then defending a block of the city from the evil army's agents who were trying to catch/kill the evacuees before they jumped into the river to safety.

The really interesting twist this year was that we all had failed in the 1st half to do enough damage to the occupying villains, so we would have to leave. A decision was to be made: help the Dragon Lady (our patron) perform a ritual that would destroy the city as we fled, -OR- just run away with as many civilians as we could save. A catch: another neighboring (evil) kingdom was sending their entire army now, trying to finish us off. Destroying the city when they arrived would end them for good and deal the Netherese (the spell-plagued occupiers) a major blow. Each table had to vote. We had the chance to walk the room during dinner break to chat with NPCs (played by the Con organizers), each of whom had a stake in the outcome. Each NPC tried to persuade our table spokesmen one way or the other. In the end, the room had voted (narrowly, 23-21) to destroy the city! It was a cool role-play and a tense moment in what is traditionally a combat-heavy adventure.

Best Battle Interactive i've played. Great fun.

Oh, funny enough, despite being 300+ people playing, Mark & I ended up with Chicago Rob & Jessica in our party! Small world!
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13. Board Game: Village [Average Rating:7.55 Overall Rank:115]
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Sunday morn. We slept in. Weather looked bad, but Mark is a brave driver and wasn't worried, so we decided to stay, play one more game, then take Don to lunch (for letting us crash at his pad), then head back west.

Don had been talking about Village all weekend, so we agreed to indulge him. Better than I thought it would be. I generally stink at Worker Placement, and this was no different. I always feel like I'm doing well, then final scoring comes along and... huh. I suck. Dead last.
Don & Mark finished oh so close, but Mark edged Don out in tie-breaker.

I like the Planned Obsolessence mechanic, tho I got hosed on the whole "1st Gen must all die before 2nd Gen, etc" thing. grrrr.

Pretty fun tho. I'd play this one again.

It's fun to play at the
YYYYY - M - C - A
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