DrunkenCon IX - The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same
Dave Sokolowski
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Sunnyvale
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Note that I am writing this about my annual gaming event that took place last year. Only six weeks until this year's event. Huh.


As one of my favorite lyricists once wrote:
Plus ca change
Plus c'est la meme chose

Never did this seem more appropriate than July 2009, when I was preparing my house for not only the arrival of my friends at my annual gaming weekend, but my family was in the middle of the most chaotic and stressful move we had ever decided upon (from small town Oregon to Silicon Valley, California).

So while I was certainly happy to drive to the Eugene airport to pickup Glenn, who was flying in from Texas, my head was jammed full of all the madness that accompanies moving your family 600 miles in just 10 weeks. Glenn and I drove back to the house, where the keg was cooling and the moving boxes were stacked. DrunkenCon Oh-Nine had begun!

Find the previous year's adventures tracked here:
http://boardgamegeek.com/geeklist/40620/drunkencon-2008-a-re...
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1. Board Game: Small World [Average Rating:7.32 Overall Rank:186] [Average Rating:7.32 Unranked]
Dave Sokolowski
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Glenn and I sat down to jump right into one of our new favorites, Small World. This is another one of those games ideal for DC: it's quick, easy to learn, has enough conflict to keep it interesting, and scales well for multiple players. The first game zipped along as I began to crush Glenn, when the headlights of Stu's BMW flashed over our windows...

Stu and Rich were here! Many hugs and handshakes were passed around, fresh beers were poured, and we all sat down to look at Small World. Now, every year there is a 'DC Core' - a handful of focused, dedicated players who are not only ready and able to just focus and game as much as possible, but who are also available for nearly all of the weekend. Rich and I are the only people who have been to DC every year, but since Stu and Glenn started coming, they have usually helped form the DC Core. So for DCIX, the Core was complete, and we were off and gaming!

Once I clobbered Glenn, we set up again and hit Small World again, closing out at 2 am before passing out in beautiful gaming bliss...

Small World Game I: Dave
Small World Game II: Rich
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2. Board Game: A Game of Thrones: A Storm of Swords Expansion [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.84 Unranked]
Dave Sokolowski
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Awake at 8 am, breakfast cooking and tunes blasting... and ready for another game. Ah, the beauty of DC. Two years ago Steve and Rich showed up on Wed night (instead of the normal start of Thurs morning) and thus another tradition was born: DC now begins Wed night and goes through Sun morning (though gaming usually does not happen on Sunday). That means Thursday morning is a moment of gaming nirvana only comparable to, uh, Friday morning!

I had pinged the group on which game would be funnest for the DC Core, and we decided on the four player version of AGOT, which I owned but had never played. So we set that up and I ran through the rules (which are a bit complex), while everyone ate breakfast and the first beers were cracked. We dove right in and were having a blast when we noticed that Rich was getting close to the victory conditions. I could have hurt him with a card play, but chose to take the advantage to myself... and 15 min later, Rich took the game. To quote Kevin Kline as Otto: I'm disappointed!

With this game only lasting ~2.5 hours (instead of usual 4), we should have just dived right in and restarted. But sometimes, as DC President, I get too wrapped up in trying to please too many people, and since Steve and Dan were supposedly on their way over, we just cleaned up and waited. I wish we had just played again, so this is DCIX Lesson One for me.

A Game of Thrones, Storm of Swords: Rich
 
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3. Board Game: Chez Geek 3: Block Party [Average Rating:6.39 Unranked] [Average Rating:6.39 Unranked]
Dave Sokolowski
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And so when Steve and Dan showed up, DCIX had officially begun! We have our usual kick-off game of Chez Geek, which always serves well to bring everyone together. And Steve also showed up with a ton of his own games, so between the two of us we had more than enough to keep us occupied.

DCIX was underway!

Chez Geek: Steve
 
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4. Board Game: I'm the Boss! [Average Rating:6.81 Overall Rank:936]
Dave Sokolowski
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Every year I plan out which games I think will serve everyone best, but every year there is one surprise game that we return to over and over again, usually because, once learned, everyone wants to have another stab at victory.

With Chez Geek out of the way, Steve was digging around in his own games when I spied I'm The Boss, which we always wanted to get onto the table at DC, but never could. This DC, though, we would return to this Sid Sackson classic repeatedly, usually at my behest, because it features so much of what makes a perfect DC game: quick learning curve, shorter gametime, and multiple opportunities to screw your neighbor.

Over the course of the weekend, we played this game three times, and certainly will play again if given the chance. Gotta love the Sackson!

I'm the Boss Game I (Thurs): Dan
I'm the Boss Game II (Thurs): Steve
I'm the Boss Game III (Friday): Stu
 
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5. Board Game: Shark [Average Rating:6.65 Overall Rank:1791]
Dave Sokolowski
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At this point, I stepped aside to help unpack some materials (games, food, beer, and general cheer) and the rest of the boys played Shark. Perhaps one of them can illuminate how this game played?

Regardless, things were just humming along. July in the Oregon Willamette Valley is really my favorite place in the world. The mild climate is abundantly green with life and my house is far away enough from crowded craziness that one can't help but feel relaxed. It's the perfect place for DC, which is why I was sad to move. That doesn't mean DC won't be at my house up there again (I didn't sell it but am renting), but I still miss it.

Sigh.

Shark Game: Rich
 
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6. Board Game: Quo Vadis? [Average Rating:6.45 Overall Rank:1720]
Dave Sokolowski
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Dan sought fit to hit the road with the 'girls' who had accompanied he and Steve. So we jumped into another game of I'm the Boss, as listed above, as I was drawn to its delicious backstabbery again.

That done, we wanted another chewy political game, and I bring out Quo Vadis? as often as possible. This is another one of those games I love to play but never win. It's a true political game by the Doktor himself, so what is not to love?

Well, that I never win is one. Anyway.

Quo Vadis?: Stu
 
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7. Board Game: Formula Dé [Average Rating:6.99 Overall Rank:580]
Dave Sokolowski
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Stasey showed up by now, and so we jumped right into our annual game of Formula De. We have a long and storied past with this game, and much stake is put on the line for a Formula De victory.

Of course, I died early, as is my wont in life. At this point, we figured that I had died in six concurrent games. This became a bit of a joke for the weekend, as for our Friday game, Dan put his money behind me and my breaking of the bad streak. He lost everything on me, although I was in first for half the game.

At this point, I would be interested in finding a racing game that is as easy and holds up to ten people, because FD is the only thing we have that fills those two requirements. Now we play it every year, and every year I lose.

Now, I don't have that we played FD on Friday, but I know we did. Who won?

Because Saturday was the big haul and Steve took it handily. Guh, I hate him *so* much.

Formula De' Thursday game: Glenn
Formula De' Friday game: ???
Formula De' Saturday game: Steve
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8. Board Game: Medici [Average Rating:7.15 Overall Rank:442]
Dave Sokolowski
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By now it was getting late, and it looks like Rich tottered off to his tent for the night, so the remaining five took on Medici. I have no memory of this game, so figure it must have been about 10 pm on Thursday, nor do my notes indicate who won, though it was probably Steve.

While I do hate Steve immensely for his continued abilities to trounce me, he does have a great game collection that he always wants to jump into and pull out something new. He and I both love the challenge of a new game, and that's why I love to have him around.

He's still a jerk, though.

Medici game: ???
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9. Board Game: Stone Age [Average Rating:7.62 Overall Rank:79]
Dave Sokolowski
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Now, please recognize that I'm reading from wine-stained notes from nearly a year ago. I'm lucky I kept track of them after the move. Guh.

Glenn wanted to play Stone Age, so I bet Stu and I took him on. Maybe Steve? I know we stayed up until 2 am every night, so I'm sure it was midnight and we hit it again. I pretty much walked all over Glenn and Stu, as they were newbs and I had played quite a few sessions over the previous cheer.

Glenn got me to drag this out again on Saturday, with Rich joining Steve and me, and I took that one too. Glenn made a great point about how every gets an opportunity to play all these new games over the long weekend, but sometimes it's nice to play something you know so you can compete at it. So, yeah, sure.

I guess that's one way to win games: pick something I'm good at.

Stone Age Thursday game: Dave
Stone Age Saturday game: Dave
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10. Board Game: Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game [Average Rating:7.75 Overall Rank:62]
Dave Sokolowski
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So then, Friday morning - my favorite moment of DC. At this point, gaming really doesn't get better than this. We had just sat down at the gaming table after a great breakfast made by yours truly, and decided that BSG would be ideal, when Stasey showed up, having left work early to get down to my place.

Now it was Rich, Glenn, Stu, me, Stasey and Steve ready to play the perfect DC game. It had big spaceships, sexy robots, and the wonderful ability to deceive and backstab everyone. We loved it, and even played twice that weekend.

The Friday game was particularly fun, with Rich raising suspicions over the course of the game (even after Glenn revealed) to the point that everyone knew he was the cylon but he would not reveal. This was highlighted at a point late in the game when the humans were running on fumes but still holding on, and every choice and die roll was critical.

I rolled a die and needed to roll low, but rolled a 4, slightly cocking the die against the board. Steve, ever vigilant for technicalities, said 'That's a cocked die,' to which Rich responded, 'No.'

The table erupted in laughter at Rich's obviousness, but still he would not reveal. Finally, in the last play of the game, he, as a human, took on a winner-takes-all die roll with the fate of humanity literally in his hand. On the last jump of the game, and choosing to take this responsibility on himself, he could kill off humanity by rolling 1-6 on the d8, to which he rolled...

a 7. Guh indeed. Humans win.

Of course, I reached over and flipped over his loyalty card, revealing that he was a cylon. Something he has not forgiven me for, and to which he continues to evangelize a house rule that even after the game, loyalty cards do not need to be flipped.

Rich has always been a sore loser. Heh.

BSG Friday game: Humans
BSG Saturday game: Cylons
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11. Board Game: Dungeoneer: Tomb of the Lich Lord [Average Rating:6.11 Overall Rank:2601]
Dave Sokolowski
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Stasey always like to play a game of Dungeoneer at DC, and since neither of his usual opponents (Chris and Tony) were there, he was nice enough to let Glenn beat him.

I think I would like this game, but there always seem to be better alternatives.

Dungeoneer game: Glenn
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12. Board Game: Trumpet [Average Rating:6.13 Overall Rank:4214]
 
Dave Sokolowski
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Steve has a lot of these games that I would never explore or see, and they're just great fast games you can eat and chew up in between bigger games. He beat Rich and Stu (as he has beaten me many times) while I wrangled dinner and helped Stasey set up our Friday night prestige game...

Trumpet game: Steve
 
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13. Board Game: Android [Average Rating:6.73 Overall Rank:1023]
Dave Sokolowski
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So Stasey and I had been talking up Android for people, and we dragged Dan, Glenn and Stu into this horrible mess with us. Firstly, if you're going to play this game, you need to know it up and down and be ready to jump in. If you actually own this game (*cough* Stasey *cough*) then you need to spend the time and familiarize yourself with it, with the gameplay and pieces and overall everything. For this is not the game to start setting up at 6pm and think you're going to just try and remember the rules as you try to teach them.

This is not against Stasey, actually, but the game itself. Whew, where to start. Well, firstly I want to love Android, I really do. I love Arkham Horror, despite the too many pieces and iffy end-game. I can teach a room full of newbs and we will (usually) have the time of our lives. Sure, AH is not perfect (which is why we didn't play it at DCIX), but it's there and it is what it is.

Android doesn't even know what it wants to be. A bleeding edge cyberpunk noir role-playing hybrid? An overly complex piece chasing board puzzle? A system of subgames attempting to remind you of why you hate taking driving tests?

This game is all things and nothing, all at once. It does lots of things kinda alright, and nothing particularly well. I wish, I really do, that this game were better.

But when we finally started playing at 10pm, and Dan had to leave at 1am, and we thought we would finish it in the morning... we were just fooling ourselves.

Glenn was really turned off by this, and what I *should* have done is cut him free on Saturday morning to game with Rich, and Stasey and Stu and I would have finished the three player.

Android game: none

Which is why Stu and Stasey and I will play it at DCX.
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14. Board Game: Vikings [Average Rating:7.28 Overall Rank:312]
Dave Sokolowski
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While Stasey et al set up Android, Steve suckered Rich into a couple of games just for the two of them. I like Vikings and definitely would have played, though I was clearly trying to undo the confusion of Android at this point.

Note that, despite his friendly facade and willingness to try all sorts of new games, Steve regularly kicks our asses around the game board.

Chumps - all of us.

Well, it does look like Steve played this again on Saturday with Dan and me, and since I was in the mix, I was able to take a win away, because, for some reason, games like this and Stone Age really click with me. Something I need to remember this year...

Vikings Friday game: Steve
Vikings Saturday game: Dave
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15. Board Game: Feudal [Average Rating:6.01 Overall Rank:3749]
Dave Sokolowski
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Not sure if Rich and Steve played my or Steve's version of this game, but I picked mine up for cheap at Goodwill, so it's cool that they dragged out this strategy classic.

Oh, here's something else about moving (back) to California - the Goodwills here suck. Bad. Oregonians appreciate the economy of scale for second-hand items much better than Californians, who treat their thrift stores like dumps. But the Oregon Goodwills are clean and well organized and people are actually treated like customers. I don't know if the company is organized regionally or statewide, but there is a clear delineation between the two stores.

Guh.

Feudal game: Steve
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16. Board Game: The Battle for Hill 218 [Average Rating:6.66 Overall Rank:1490]
Dave Sokolowski
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Looks like Stasey and Dan busted out a copy of Steve's card game at some point. Steve and I played a similar game the previous year, and they're much fun. So alright then.

Hill 218 games x2: Stasey
 
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17. Board Game: Pandemic [Average Rating:7.66 Overall Rank:73]
Dave Sokolowski
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Here's my confession: I don't really like Pandemic. And that's just my opinion, too, as I think it's a well designed game that has a lot going for it. I know, someone on the internet admitting their opinion is actually just a single perspective. Who would have thought.

Anyway, at this point it's midnight Friday night, and we are squeezing as much fun out of the weekend as possible, so Stasey brought this out to play with Stu, Glenn, and me. Sure, sure, it's a great little cooperative game with some really neat mechanics, but I always finish the game not interested in playing again, which, as you can see from games like Small World and I'm the Boss, is not a feeling I look for in the game.

It also doesn't help that Pandemic is difficult to win, too.

Pandemic game: LOSE
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18. Board Game: Hunter: Deadly Prey [Average Rating:4.99 Overall Rank:14205]
Dave Sokolowski
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When the rest of us went to play Stone Age, Stasey and Stu pulled out this game and lost to the game/time. I have no idea if this is fun or not.

Anyone?

Hunter game: Time
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19. Board Game: A Touch of Evil: The Supernatural Game [Average Rating:6.98 Overall Rank:738]
Dave Sokolowski
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It's now Saturday morning and we're all looking for something to bring us together, so Stasey busts out Touch of Evil, which is like Arkham Horror lite. It takes us a while to get the hang of it, but I enjoy the game with Stasey, Stu, Glenn and Rich and myself.

Oh! Here's Tony arriving! Classic DC moment - Tony pulls up in his convertible, gets out, but before he takes two steps, everyone says, 'Hey Tony! Did you bring bourbon???' (Running out the previous night had been a bit of a joke as I had got angry at Stu for drinking the last of it, but then when I woke up in relatively decent shape, thanked him for taking the hit for me), and Tony reaches in his bag and pulls out a near-full bottle of Woodford Reserve to hold above his head, saying, 'You mean like this?' and the table erupted in cheer. Always good to have Tony (who was a relatively new dad at the time, so we were glad to have him for the day) show up at DC.

So I let him finish out my character in Touch of Evil, while I prepped the Saturday Formula De game that Steve would go on to sweep.

We actually tried to play ToE late Saturday night, when looking for another large group game to play at 10 pm, but we really should have picked Chez Geek instead. We tried to learn the cooperative rules (why?) as the last game of the weekend and that just wasn't smart on my part. One of the most important things I can provide as host is a pace that is compatible for everyone.

For instance, I used to try and have everyone included in every game. This was fine when DC was just five people, but the moment we opened it up for people to choose their own games, the weekend really took on a life of its own, and people's satisfaction increased immensely. Same thing with starting a game after 10 pm, especially if I'm trying to include everyone.

We ended up giving up on ToE around 130 and pretending we were going to finish it Sunday morning, but no one is interested in gaming Sunday. More of that later. In the meantime, I just keep learning lessons.

Touch of Evil game I: Glenn
Touch of Evil game II: None
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20. Board Game: Clean-Up [Average Rating:0.00 Unranked]
Dave Sokolowski
United States
Sunnyvale
California
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So with the last game of BSG, and then the failed game of ToE, the weekend came to a close. Overall it was a great success and fun was had by all, but...

Well, I'm not sure it was the best DC ever. From DC06 to DC08 the weekends got better every year, so expectations were pretty high. I really loved having it at my house, but mentally I just wasn't there the whole time. We also had Dan come and go, sometimes with Steve, and that threw off my pacing. I think sometimes I try to force stuff too hard and I need to just let people and games be.

That said, the most important lesson that I learned at DC08 and was able to put into play in 2009 was making a cleanup list. Everyone go one chore, from taking out garbage & recycling to cleaning toilets, and everywhere in between. Oh, did this make a difference. Holy smokes. I still had a large amount of stuff to do myself, but it was nowhere near the amount of cleaning I did in 2008.

So big thanks for everyone and all their efforts: all the travel (especially Glenn flying in from Texas), and the great attitudes and friendliness and people digging on what I'm trying to do.

Now, it's just sad that I have to wait a whole year to - what's that? It's already the middle of June?? DrunkenCon X is 5.5 weeks away?

Well... guh.
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