Been very busy with finishing business for the release of the game, or I might have been writing more of these. Please note many of the demo elements mentioned below are in playtesting for an expansion, and are not part of the main set soon to go on sale.
Dexcon and Dreamation are the conventions where the Oh My God! There's An Axe In My Head game began, and the loyalty was palpable: The evening game slot was overfilled, and the morning slot was filled within minutes, as I ran into some fans in the lobby who were just trundling in from their car.
In the end, I awkwardly had to turn players away from the morning slot, even with the expansion-demo rules allowing seven players.
This was the first-ever game we attempted with seven players, and the game ran over the slot designated for it. Even though it was called early (at 2.5 hours of play time), everyone was satisfied they had had a blast (and everyone had another slot to run to, including me!)
All of the new demo Great Powers were in play: China, the United States and... Haiti.
China's demo Sovereign Power was the Three Principles of the People-- the Chinese can get one new Delegate of each type if they are killed (including the Ambassador), but they have to restart back at a Starting Position, and they lose their ability to play Diplomacy and Trades on the Turn(s) they use it. The idea is that China is going through its Warlords period, and a new delegation might show up from another Chinese faction at any time. (Their Territory Victory Points were equal to Japan, plus Afghanistan and Tuva).
The United States' demo Sovereign Powers were Manifest Destiny: Every Territory is worth 2 VPs-- or Speak Softly and Carry A Big Axe: The American Bodyguard can instantly arm himself once, but every Territory becomes worth only 1 VP.
Haiti's demo Sovereign Power was that of Zombie Vengeance, whereby Minor Delegates slowly come under the sole control of the Haitian player. None of this modern brain-eating business, mind you, but an axe to the head will still take them out. (Territory Victory Points were equal to France.)
Despite these clever new additions, their Sovereign Powers never came to the fore. China's lost none of her pieces, and was even the closest to getting out when the game was called. America lost her Bodyguard early on, spoiling that possibility. Finally, Haiti was trying a strategy of trying get an Axe and hurl it into the mass of Minor Delegates preceding them out the doors (an unattended Axe being the source of the first zombie), but was taken out when the seemingly-pacifist Italian player suddenly decided to get violent.
I recall the morning slot being extraordinarily civil for an Axe game, with at least two players trying to emphasize cooperative strategies. I'm used to games being full of backstabbing, but cooperation in the early game seemed to work well in a crowded game.
Seven new demo Action and Treaty cards were also in play, and they saw use in both games. One, "Pile Up At The Doors," caused Minor Delegates next to the exits to not move that Turn; I was afraid it would slow down the game, but it fact the Great Power pieces were little hampered the first time it's used. Another, "Fear the Clowns," allowed an Axe to be Thrown from the Stage at any time. That one was popular.
The evening slot turned out to be 5-player game, as some of my players mistook the starting time by an hour, and then got distracted by the dozens of games filling the board game room, as happens at 9 PM on a Saturday. However, the 5-player game did not run over, despite a lengthy explanation to start.
This time China and the USA were not chosen, and I picked Haiti just to test how effective these zombies might be. An early Axe inspired me to turn the first row into my private defensive shield, as opposed to hoping for a Axe to fly past everyone and hit the mass of heads between us and the doors. This proved to be a modest success, helped by my hanging over on the 3 and 4 columns.
The Russian Ambassador kept getting hit with a new demo hampering card, "The Gout", which means he can't move that Phase, but can be pushed one square by any adjacent Great Power Delegate. He kept getting shoved around by opponents, and ultimately, Russia could not get her Ambassador off the board.
Germany was in a bad way since opponents kept making Minor Delegates Duck at opportune moments. As for Haiti, perhaps it was my demoing skillz, or players wanting to win by favoring the co-designer, but I found myself in a three-way Treaty nexus.
As I mentioned in a different thread, Italy took the tactic of having his Ambassador and Translator run for the exit while his Bodyguard hung back, scooped up Axes, and started pitching them. Below is a still (click to enlarge, natch) with positions marked, and you can see why Italy's player found it tempting: There are Axes all over the place. There follows the video itself, taken just as mayhem erupts.
Why does everyone pick on Germany? Including random die results?
Shortly after this, every Ambassador except Russia's was off the Floor, and the last Turn played out. I plainly had the most VP, but since I was the demo-er, and Dexcon gives out prize points for win place and show, I bowed out. This left the UK and Russia in a tie. Since the UK had more pieces off the board alive, she won.