Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Gamethyme's Game of the Year

Those of you who keep track will remember that this week is GenCon.  Even though I'm not going this year, I'm still using this date to award my Game of the Year award.

This game is given to the best new-to-me game since the previous GenCon. It's an arbitrary cut-off, and it's never going to be exactly a year, but it works for me.

This year has been a good year for gaming. Terraforming Mars, Krazy Karts, Captain Sonar, Potato Man, Grand Prix, Subdivision, and Patchwork were all among the new-to-me this year. And they are all fantastic games that are well worth your time.

But, for me, the most fun I've had this year was a game called Adrenaline.

The game had a lot of early buzz, and I was interested as soon as I learned that it was by Czech Games. I don't think I've ever been disappointed by one of their games.

When I learned that it was an attempt to capture that First-Person Shooter (FPS) feel, I got even more interested.  I think I've discussed this before, but I really like FPS games, even though I am really terrible at them. Really terrible. There's a reason most of the videos on my YouTube channel are titled, "Watch Me Die At ."

The previous game I'd played that was themed around FPS gaming was Steve Jackson Games' Frag. And Frag just left me cold. It was too dice-heavy, with a ton of tokens and markers for special conditions.

So I'll admit - I was a bit nervous about Adrenaline.  Obviously, because it's my Game of the Year, these fears were unfounded.

Opening the box, I was greeted with five brightly-colored and well-sculpted characters. They're not pre-painted, but every one is sculpted in a different color.  There's no mechanical difference between the characters, but the rulebook has bios for all five of them that succeed in parodying the bios you see in games like Overwatch.

The board is multi-part and double-sided. This means that there are four different board layouts possible. While you can use any layout with any number of players, it's generally better to use larger setups with more players (the game plays from 3-5 players).  Each room is made up of 1-4 spaces, with three spawn/weapon points on the board.

In Adrenaline, you get two actions per turn, with three options to choose from:

  1. Fire a weapon
  2. Move one space (and pick up ammo or weapons)
  3. Move two spaces
There are no dice, no special conditions. There's no "on fire" or "pinned" or anything else.  Most weapons are line-of-sight. If you can see your foe, you can shoot your foe. And that line of sight is very simply defined - if you're in the same room, you can see them. If you're next to a door into their room, you can see them. A few weapons have special rules regarding range. One weapon can only be fired at foes that you can't see. One weapon can fire through walls at unseen foes.

To fire a weapon, you lay it down in front of you (face-up) and apply its effect. Most weapons have two firing modes - one is free, but the other might cost you a few extra ammo tokens.  Weapons do damage to foes (obviously). Some of them move your foes around, some of them move you around. Some weapons also mark your target. A mark is a promise of future damage. If I mark you, then the next time I shoot you, that mark turns into damage.

Once a player has taken enough damage that a kill is inflicted, the game pauses for a second for tabulation. The player who hit the foe first gets a small number of points. The player who inflicted the kill gets a certain number of points. The player who inflicted the most damage gets points, then the second-most, and so on. The game encourages you to spread your damage around so that you'll get at least a few points every time someone dies.

At the end of your turn, you can spend ammo cubes to reload any weapons you've fired. Weapons that do more damage usually require more cubes, and there are three colors of cubes. Each weapon requires a specific blend of cubes to reload.

The game ends after a certain number of kills have been made.

There are a few more nuances to it than that, but that's the broad sweep of play. There are a few variants included in the rulebook for people who don't want to play just deathmatch all the time.

It's bright, it's fast-playing, and it's just ... fun. I've enjoyed every game of this I've played.

I heartily recommend this one.

And there's an expansion releasing at Essen this year ...

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Epic

I always do the writeups after each session of our ongoing Legend of the Five Rings game. As the GM, I accept that as part of my responsibilities.

After our most recent session, Steph said to me, "You always make the game feel so much more epic that it does at the table." And I didn't have a good answer for that.

For me, epics are about the sweeping arc of story.

Interestingly, the dictionary defines epic as being "a long narrative poem recounting the deeds of a legendary or historical hero."  As an adjective (which is how we're using it), it's "relating to or characteristic of an epic or epics."

I set my L5R game in the past of the main story arcs described by the card game. In fact, I found a gap where very few events are mentioned in canon. And I did this deliberately - I have a couple of players who are very familiar with the canon.  I also warned them that we might not adhere to canon. The players have the ability to change the future in a limited degree.

But here's the thing that I think everyone missed:

Their characters are historical heroes.  We're telling the past of the setting. For them, yes, it's now, but for the players (and people familiar with the setting), it's then. My players' characters are currently only Rank 1. They're small fish, and I've already got them swimming with sharks.

Right now, they're trying to foil an assassination plot. The original target of the plot was the Imperial Governor of the Clear Water City, but a couple of idiots realized they could tweak the timing slightly and assassinate the Imperial Heir, who was coming to visit.

The party is so far out of their depth.  But the players aren't fully aware of how deep they are right now, which means the characters aren't realizing it.  Which sets them up for bigger and more challenges down the road.

While the story itself isn't epic in the sense of "huge, broad, and sweeping," yet, it's going to get there. These PCs are going to have the potential to change the face of Rokugan.

Small deeds - little things - snowball over time. And these guys are doing a ton of little things.

I can't wait to see what they do to the setting in the fullness of time.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Hitting the Table: Gekido: Bot Battles

Let me start with a heads-up for you: I'm going to say a lot of things that make this sound like a bad game. There are a number of things about this game which deserve criticism. But - and this is a significant but - I still think this is a fun game that is worth having in your collection.

At Origins, I spent a lot of time around the CMON booth. It's where a lot of my friends family were.  The first game that I demoed in the booth was Gekido: Bot Battles.

Remember how Rise of Augustus is often described as "strategy Bingo" when introducing it to a new person? Gekido is "strategy Yahtzee."

The game is themed around an arena battle with robots trying to destroy one another.  Each turn, you pick your target and then move and attack them. You can also hold your move until after the attack.  The arena is only nine spaces, so getting them in range is very rarely a problem.

All attacks are melee attacks with a range of "adjacent."

To attack, you roll dice. You get a total of three rolls, and can keep as many (or as few) dice as you want after each roll, trying to get specific combinations.  After your first roll, you need to lock dice into the attack you want to use.

Some attacks have a feedback issue - if, after three rolls, you haven't completed your attack, then you take damage instead.  More difficult attacks do more damage.

This all seems pretty straightforward so far, right?

Now let's add the wrinkle (that also adds most of the problems):

There are a ton of ways you can modify the outcomes.

As you take damage, you unlock powers. Some powers are simple (take less damage on attacks, for example).  Some powers are less-clear ("force an opponent to re-roll their dice").  There are also terrain modifiers for the board. And, of course, there are cards that can be used as part of an attack (or defense).

You can only use one power per roll. Keep in mind that each attack can be up to four rolls. And that's where this game introduces Timing Issues.

Each attack goes like this:

  1. Attacker rolls dice
  2. Attacker assigns dice to their board to choose an attack
  3. Repeat until either the chosen attack is successful the dice have been rolled three times.
But now we add powers, and the timing of power use is not in the rulebook.  There are some powers that let you roll additional dice (or that short your opponent a die for their first roll). Those are clearly played before Step 1. There are other powers that are clearly played after Step 1.

But what happens if I use a card to flip a die and then my opponent wants to force a re-roll?  Whose action takes priority, here?

Remember: Each player can only use one power per roll (whether it's the robot's powers, a card, or a board effect).

Suddenly the timing looks like it could be this:
  1. Attacker may activate a power or play a card.
  2. Defender may activate a power or play a card.
  3. Attacker may react to defender play if they did not do so in in Step 1
  4. Roll dice.
  5. Attacker may activate a power or play a card if they did not do so in Steps 1 or 3 above)
  6. Defender may activate a power or play a card if they did not do so in Step 2 above
  7. Attacker may react to Defender play if they have not used a power so far this roll
  8. Attacker assigns dice to their board
  9. Repeat until either the attack is successful or the dice have been rolled three times (four if an "extra re-roll this attack" power was used).
"React" is defined as "may play if the Defender did and may not play if the Defender did not."

Here's the thing, though: This timing sequence isn't spelled out in the rules. Maybe it looks like my nine-step list, only it should say "Defender" where I typed "Attacker." Maybe I need to flip "Defender" and "Attacker" only in steps 1-3 or in steps 5-7.  There are four different timing options, there.

This forum thread suggests that the process is:
  1. Defender may activate powers and/or use cards
  2. Attacker may activate powers and/or use cards
  3. Defender may play the "Cancel" card
  4. Roll Dice
  5. Defender may activate powers and/or use cards (if they have not already done so this roll)
  6. Attacker may activate powers and/or use cards (if they have not already done so this roll)
  7. Defender may play the "Cancel" card
  8. Attacker assigns dice to their board
  9. Repeat as needed.
There is still a minor issue with that thread as posted - it doesn't address the "only one power/card per roll" thing with regards to the Defender's cancel option. But that may be just for simplicity's sake in the post. The poster (Sean Jacquemain) is someone I know and trust (he's a former Asmodee Demo Guy, and an all-around great guy).

I may put together a reference with that timing that I can laminate, print out, and keep in the game.

Again, because this bears repeating occasionally while I tear this game apart:

This is a fun game. It is the only board game that we brought home from Origins that was 100% new-to-me. We'd planned to bring Delve home, and there are a few other games that we'll be picking up when they appear at Fantasium (which reminds me: I need to e-mail them to touch base ... ).

The game has a handful of (minor) component-based shortcomings, too.
  • The floor tiles are blank on the back. Had they been double-sided with different terrain on both front and back, there would have been a wider variety of arena types available. It's a missed opportunity, but not a deal-breaker.
  • There are only nine floor tiles, and there are a limited number of ways to assemble them into a "legal" arena, because four of those nine are corners and one of them is the center. It's another missed opportunity to make the arena more dynamic and interesting.
  • The insert is weird. It's plastic-molded to hold the robots perfectly, which is fine, only one robot is on the back of the insert (so you can see it through the window on the back of the box). So you need to remove the insert to put the game away. 
  • The game includes two kinds of dice and there are two spaces in the insert that could be for those dice, but it's really not clear. 
  • There's no space in the insert for the board itself. If the board were a traditional four-fold (or even two-fold) board, that'd be one thing. But when the board is nine separate squares, there really should be a spot for it in the insert.
  • The insert won't hold sleeved cards.  This is a very minor complaint and should be filed under "Eric whining."
Again:

THIS IS A FUN GAME.

I don't buy games I don't enjoy enough to want to play them multiple times.

There is errata for this game (follow that link and scroll down). Honestly, it's very minor. Two boards say "upgrade" when they should say "power" instead. Of course people are complaining about it. Personally? Errata happens. And sometimes you only find rules flaws once a game is in the wild.

So now that all that negativity is out of the way, let's talk about the fun of the game:
  • Timing issues aside, the game is very simple and easy to learn. You can almost play it with eight-to-ten-year-old children. And there are probably children in that age who could handle it.
  • The included bot figures are adorable and awesome. Which improves the Kid Appeal.
  • The dice are brightly-colored, and the player control boards make it clear which faces are opposite one another for purposes of "flip."
  • The bots themselves not only look different, they also (mostly) play differently, as each bot has a different set of powers and the attacks do different amounts of damage.
  • Each bot has a "duel" version for two-player games as well. Again, these play differently from the non-duel versions of the same bots.
  • There are six bots, and the game caps at 4 players. This, combined with the (somewhat) modular board means that it won't be The Same Game every time you play. The fact that there are cards is a further level of randomness to shake things up a bit.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

That Light Bulb Moment

I know I've talked in the past about "that light-bulb moment" that I get to see with some games. Mr. Jack is the one where it's most common.

What I haven't mentioned is how rarely I get to have those moments about myself.

See, I know what I like in a game, and what to look for. Most of the time, I can tell from a rulebook whether I'm going to like a board game or not, based on the elements in play.

For example, I love auction games.

But I'm not very good at trading and diplomacy. Part of that is because my circle of friends just assumes that I'm going to backstab, because I'm the experienced player, here, right?  Part of it is because people assume I'm really good at these games, and so they trade more harshly with me than they do with other players. And a not-small part of it is because I'm an extreme introvert. Trading games are exhausting, because of the amount (and type) of interaction with other players that they require.

A few weeks ago, I was playing Mega Civilization again. My on-board play was good. I had (mostly) non-aggressive neighbors, and I was able to support my cities. But I wasn't getting any traction. I wasn't going anywhere (I wound up in twelfth place out of eighteen players - and that was an improvement over the previous game).

The folks there were (mostly) friends that I'd gamed with at Phoenix. Folks I don't see very often, anymore.  Between turns, I would retreat to a quiet corner (or a separate room), because 17 people is an exhausting number to interact with. My friends know me, and they approached me in ones and twos to just chat during down time. Because they apparently miss me, too. It was a good time.

But I was complaining to one friend about how poorly I was doing. "I'm doing everything well but trading ... " and I trailed off mid-sentence.

Because the heart of that game is all about trading.  You can be perfect on the board, but if you don't trade well, you won't be able to afford any civilization advances. Or, more accurately, it'll be forever before you can afford the advances.  You can have passive neighbors and plenty of room in which to grow, but if you don't trade, you aren't going to win that game.

I traded decently well, but I'd do one or two trades, and then I was done.  A room full of people shouting, "Looking for Ore!" or "I have Wine!" is just draining.

But now that I've had that moment, I think I'm now better-prepared for next time. I need to grit my teeth and just trade.

And it'll probably make all the difference in the world for my score.  Provided people trust me enough to trade with me.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Designers

While playing a game a few weeks ago, discussion came up of one of my old favorite games, Snit's Revenge.  "Oh," I said, "That was one of my favorite Tom Wham games!"  Because it is.

Way back when I started this blog, I challenged folks to list game designers for some of their favorite games. And it was a challenge.  For many folks, it still is.

Tom Wham was the first designer whose name I recognized.  My friend Steve introduced me to his games with The Awful Green Things from Outer Space, which has been printed and reprinted and reprinted so many times ... but it's a great game.

The first Tom Wham game I ever owned was The Great Khan Game. It, sadly, has gone out of print and is unlikely to see print again anytime soon.

Tom Wham has a very clear signature art style (he did the art for most - or all - of his games). It's light, it's goofy, it's silly, and it's just fun.  The game itself was inevitably entertaining. Not always well-balanced or great, but playable and fun. I knew that when I saw his art on a game, I was going to enjoy playing it.

I think that Tom Wham did more to get me into game stores than anyone else. I bought a ton of Dragon magazines hoping for a Tom Wham Centerfold Game, and those are what got me hooked on Dungeons & Dragons.

My path into hobby gaming started with a playground D&D game. I dabbled, but didn't play much. Then in Jr. High, my friend Steve introduced me to Tom Wham's games at about the same time my friend Anna introduced me to Axis and Allies.  Steve also introduced me to Talisman and FASA's Star Trek RPG. Not much later, Zach introduced me to Illuminati.

Once I hit high school, I went to Strategic Games Club, expecting more Axis and Allies and Risk and the like. Instead, I played Gamma World and Shadowrun and (yes) Rifts.

If you'd asked me when I was in the midst of all of that, I would not have been able to name any game designers or RPG authors (including Gygax) other than Tom Wham. His games were that distinctive, and made that much of an impact on me.

So it's probably weird that I only (currently) own The Great Khan Game and Dragon Lairds.

...

I should fix that.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

ENnies

I'm not a big fan of ENWorld. Never have been, really. I'm not a fan of the board culture. It's not a toxic cesspit like other forums I've visited - it's just not for me.

That said, however I do pay attention to the ENnies, because usually, they reward decent things. And, flawed though it is, it is the most relevant award in the RPG end of the hobby gaming pool. Although the Origins awards keep trying to course-correct, and I think they'll eventually get there again.

The ENnie nominees were announced early last week, and I wanted to take a quick post to highlight a few things in there, because there are some really good things in there. And some interesting gaps.

Let's talk about the gaps first. You can see a complete list of everything nominated right here.  The process for the ENnies is this:  Creators (publishers, bloggers, whatever) submit to a jury, who narrows it down to a Top Five in each category (other than Product of the Year). Then the general public votes on a winner.

Things that are underrepresented on their list:
  • Wizards of the Coast, with one short list nominee (out of four products submitted).
  • Paizo with ... one short list nominee (out of ten products submitted).
These are shocking to me, especially given ENWorld's history as a d20 forum.

Things that are overrepresented on the list:
  •  Lamentations of the Flame Princess has four different products on the list (spread across seven categories).
Sorry, guys, I just don't understand the love.  I have the game, I have a few supplements. It's not a bad game, but I don't find it great, either. It's like ENWorld: Just not for me.

Also, this being ENWorld, LotFP is likely to win in most (if not all) of the categories where it's nominated. Not because it's the best product in each category, but because the publisher (and writers) are really good at motivating their fans to vote.

So let's go through a few categories. I'm going to ignore categories where I haven't seen or read enough to make an informed guess or have an opinion. 

Because you all care what I think, right?

Best Aid/Accessory
We have the 13th Age Icon Tokens. They're really neat and very well-done.  The Kobold Guide series of books has, without exception, been fantastic. Midnight Syndicate appears to have created a great album for a terrible board game. The Call of Cthulhu GM Screen is a beautiful thing. And I haven't seen the pirate coins.

This category is a weird one, because it's props and atmosphere enhancers mixed with tools. The Keeper's Screen is the most useful item at the table. The Kobold Guide is the most useful item away from the table. The others are - like I said - atmosphere items (although the Icon Tokens do have an at-the-table use).  I'm going to vote for the Kobold Guide, personally, but I expect the Call of Cthulhu GM screen to win.

Best Art, Cover
These are all great examples of cover art, but Blue Rose definitely has my vote.

Best Art, Interior
I actually bought into Polaris because of the art from earlier (French-language) editions. And I was disappointed by the system, so there's that.  

The Baby Bestiary series has been absolutely amazing, and Andreas is a really cool guy. I've flipped through the others on the list, and they're good, too. There is no bad choice in this category, but there's also no standout choice.

When all other things are more-or-less equal, I always vote in favor of things that support people I like, so the Baby Bestiary has my vote here.  And I think it has a good chance of winning overall.

Best Game
Tales from the Loop looks really awesome. 7th Sea is very good (and is playable). Timewatch is both the GUMSHOE system (which I love) and is a nostagia kick, as it reminds me a lot of the Time Wars series by Simon Hawke that I read when I was a kid). Bubblegumshoe is GUMSHOE Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys/Scooby Doo. It's a simplified take that you can play with kids.

I suspect that Bubblegumshoe will win Best Family Game, and isn't likely to win this one as well. I'm voting for 7th Sea, and I suspect that it'll be the eventual winner. 

Best Rules
This is a crazy-diverse category. I'm likely to vote for Bubblegumshoe, here. But Veins of the Earth is probably going to win. 

Best Setting
Tales from the Loop looks fascinating, and I've read a lot of stuff about the setting (but I haven't ordered it, yet).  Numenera was ... okay. It didn't push any buttons for me that the classic Dark Sun setting hadn't pushed for me two decades ago (Its sister game, The Strange, struck me as being much like Planescape).  Atlas of Earth-Prime is a superhero setting, and those are always a tough sell for me. The Dark Eye is the German game that fills the same local niche as D&D does here. It always struck me as a bog-standard fantasy setting with the darkness turned up a few degrees.  Polaris is a post-apocalyptic undersea game. It was innovative when the setting was newer - twenty years ago. These days, it's almost a by-the-numbers setting. It's only hitting awareness now because it's only just been translated into English following a Kickstarter.

I may not vote in this category, but I'm guessing Tales from the Loop is going to win this one.

Best Writing
I'm a sucker for Unknown Armies. I love The Book of Changing Years. The One Ring has consistently been excellent. But neither has a patch on UA for me. The third edition steered further away from "Modern Urban Fantasy with Horror Trappings" and into "Modern Urban Horror with Fantasy Trappings." Honestly, it's a very subtle steering, but it's done so very well.

But there's LotFP product in this category, so the probable winner is clear.

... and that's my thoughts on the short list.

As to my thoughts on the award as a whole?  

I think it's backwards. I think that the general public should narrow down the short list and an anonymous jury (as impartial a jury as possible) should pick the winners. The ideal jury will include publishers, distributors, writers, artists, designers, and at least one fan. That reduces the "I have a lot of fans that I can motivate into voting" problem.

There is no such thing as a perfect award. "Good" games are not always successful games. It's like the movies. Avengers: Age of Ultron made a pile of money, but it clearly didn't win (or deserve) the Oscar for Best Picture.

The Diana Jones Award frequently comes close to perfect, but there is only one winner, so it's not a great measuring stick for outsiders to use to see what's new and good (and/or hot). And I'll be shocked if GenCon doesn't win this year.

The Origins Awards are trying. They're now basically a juried award, but they also give out "people's choice" awards for the products that are most popular among the congoers. That kind of split is, I think good. Separate "We're in the industry and we like this product" and "I play games and I like this product" awards is more work for the award team, but (IMHO) worth it in the long run.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Origins: The Show

Despite the nightmare that flying to Ohio seems to be, we did eventually reach Columbus.  Jason Paul McCartan of Infinibadger Press was waiting in the airport for us - some of you may recall that he and I are engaged in a #PonyWar of exceeding viciousness.

This was the first time we'd met in person, and he'd driven to the airport multiple times over the preceding two days expecting to pick us up.

When we piled into the car with our stuff, we found a crocheted pony waiting for us. Apparently the Badger's wife decided that she wanted to be a party to the #PonyWar, too.

Steph and I were delivered safely to our hotel, and we thanked Badger several times. "It's no big deal," he told us, "You're family."

We heard that a lot over the weekend from a number of folks.

Thursday morning, we hit the exhibit hall fairly early.  The usual plan is "Do one pass without spending money and then go back later to spend."  And we mostly stuck to it.  We went back to the room and talked about every purchase we made at the entire show.

We ran into Stephan Brissaud pretty early - he's the VP of GAMA, and is the guy in charge of Iello US. He's also someone I worked with when he was with Asmodee (in fact, he's the one who first asked me to join their demo team).

We knew CMON was at the show, but we didn't see them in the exhibit hall, which confused us.  We later went back and found them in the gaming area next door.  It was Pete and Ruby and a ton of the Asmodee Demo Team in that booth.  They were all glad to see us. "You're part of the family," we were told several times.

I played Gekido: Bot Battles, and enjoyed it enough to pick it up. It's not a deep game, but it's fun. It's too long to be filler, but it's a decent enough warm up / cool down game. There are a few unexplained timing issues in the rulebook, but I expect CMON will publish a FAQ soon enough.

Pete co-designed a game with Richard Launius that I knew was going to be available at the show, so I asked him where to get it. "I'll show you," he said, and walked Steph and I over to the Indie Boards & Cards booth.  There were only a few games in the booth, but I looked straight at Pete and asked him which game was his.

I managed to keep a straight face, too, so it took him a minute before he realized I was pulling his leg.  The look on his face was priceless.  I later got him to sign my copy.

Steph and I got a sneak peek at the upcoming Cutthroat Caverns expansion. Cutthroat Caverns is one of those excellent games that I don't get to play very often. Everyone has to work together to overcome the obstacles, but only one player gets to win the game. It's very Republic of Rome or Castle Panic in that respect. The new expansion looks meaty and flavorful and awesome.

I walked past the Asmodee area a couple of times. It was really weird, because I didn't recognize a single person there. Not one. The crew were wearing a mix of uniforms - some were Asmodee shirts from years past, and some were wearing Fantasy Flight Games' "Flight Crew" shirts. But it wasn't uniform, and it (sadly) looked sloppy.

While wandering the hall, I kept getting stopped by people, too. "Hey, Eric," I'd hear, "You taught us to play [GAME] a few years ago, and you recommended [OTHER GAME], and we loved it. What are you teaching this year? Any new suggestions?"  Random people who I only vaguely recognized, because when you run 200 demos at a show, there is almost no way you will remember all of the faces.

I also demoed Rise of Tribes. It was decent enough, but I wasn't sure so I took Steph back the next day to check it out and she liked it enough to back. They'll be funding the day after this post is scheduled to go live, so if you're thinking about backing, look quickly.

"Kickstarter," is another of those words I heard a ton at the show.  "We just funded on Kickstarter," or "We're launching the Kickstarter for this shortly," or "The Kickstarter is live now," or (in a few cases), "We're currently fulfilling our Kickstarter for it, with retail copies hitting distribution shortly."

The number one question, by the way, that we asked at every booth was, "Are you in distribution?" Because getting books and games home from a show can be a huge pain, and we'd rather pay a bit more and support our Friendly Local Game Store.  If they were in distribution, we usually grabbed a business card and moved on.

I also demoed The Supershow. This game was not for me. I figured that out a few turns in, but gave it a full game just to make sure. It's because the game was so random. It's theoretically possible for one player to never get a turn.  Unlikely, but possible. And dice hate me.

Thursday evening, I went out for drinks with the Badger and discovered that I like Scottish Ale. Since I'm not a fan of beer in general, this is a useful thing to know.

Friday was more of the same, only we ran into Carol (formerly of Asmodee, now with CMON). Her face lit up and she gave us both big hugs.  She almost didn't recognize me initially, but she definitely recognized Steph.  Later in the booth, she introduced us to a few of the new people, and added, "They're part of the family."

I almost wanted to grab a CMON shirt and start working then and there, because it's a weird thing not having a set schedule at a con.

Steph and I demoed Onitama, which put it on my list to get eventually. It'd be higher on the list, but Steph beat me pretty quickly. It also has an expansion out now.  It was a surprisingly-deep game given how fast it was to teach and play.

I'd been meaning to check out Dropzone Commander since our booth was across the aisle from theirs at GenCon a few years ago, so I got a chance to sit down and play a demo.  The game has a lot going for it, but it was just a bit too fiddly for me. I definitely understand all the love it gets, though. The role specialization of each unit means that larger armies than the starter box will be significantly more interesting to play, but since no-one locally plays it, I'd need to buy whatever armies I wanted to play with or against. Or convince a friend to buy in, but that gets expensive for them, too.

That's how the whole weekend went, honestly.  On Sunday, the CMON crew invited us to join them for dinner, but Steph was asleep and I was pretty peopled out. Otherwise we absolutely would have joined in because they are family.

Over the course of the show, five different publishers/teams asked if we'd be interested in joining their demo team for GenCon or PAX Unplugged or even next year's Origins. Or other shows.  Apparently we have a rep of some sort. I almost want to eBay our services, just to see what kind of attention we can get (probably not much - getting approval to bid on eBay through your corporate office is not an easy thing to do).

On Monday, Badger picked us up and we headed to Bob Evans for lunch.  He'd been raving about it for a while, and we don't have them locally.  It was good, but I don't like it as well as he does.  It's like a cross between Shari's and IHOP.

After lunch, we headed to the airport for the trip home.

While on the way there, Steph's phone rang.  Our flight had been delayed.  When we reached the airport, we learned that it'd been delayed enough that we were going to miss our connection in Minneapolis, so we needed to be rebooked.

"I don't know what I can do," said the gate agent, "Because this is a United ticket."  We were booked to fly Delta.  Apparently when we bought the tickets, United sold us tickets on a Delta flight.

I don't know if I mentioned it in our last travel post, but we booked First Class, because I had never flown First Class before. I wanted to know what it was like.

After a bit of hemming and hawing and calling a supervisor, he got us rebooked to fly through Detroit instead on a flight that was supposed to be boarding right away.  So we grabbed our tickets and got through security as quickly as we could.  We got to the gate and discovered that the flight had been delayed.  In fact, that flight had originally been scheduled to leave before 11:00 that morning. It was now 3:00 pm.

Suddenly, we were in danger of missing our connection in Detroit.

But we got free (room-temperature) soda, water, and snacks.

After about 40 minutes, we were able to board. There were only five passengers going to Detroit at that point, everyone else having rebooked.  Spell check, by the way, hates the word "rebook," and it's very distracting.

Steph and I got off the plane and rushed to make our connection. I know I haven't mentioned this before, but Steph uses a cane to get around sometimes. Monday was one of those days. We got to the correct gate as they were about to start boarding. And ... we lost our First Class status, but we got onto the plane. We were going to be home a few hours ahead of our original schedule, so it was a mixed bag.

This sums up my thoughts pretty well:

We got home and just collapsed. It was an exhausting day, and an exhausting trip altogether.

A decade ago, I told someone "Origins is where you go to play games, GenCon is where you go to buy them."  And I stand by that statement.  There were no RPG dealers in the exhibit hall. There were RPG Publishers, but the shops that were there were all minis and board game shops.  In fact, it was impossible to buy D&D books at the show (despite an official presence there). It's probably for the best, otherwise one of the Badger's children would now own Tails of Equestria. And we would have needed a new ride to the airport.

I want to go again, but it really depends on a number of factors.

I guess we'll see.