Archive for the “Conventions” Category

The 2010 Brunswick Game Day is less than one month away!  Make your plans to attend and see World-Famous Cartographer Karl Musser!

Really, you want to attend.  I've been there for the last two years, and had great fun each time.

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Carrie and I got up, packed everything out to the car, and then went to check on the Puerto Rico semi-finals along with Cathy Raymond.  Cathy didn't make the semi-finals, but Eric made the semi-finals for Monsters Menace America.  Carrie and I went to breakfast at Perkins, nicely beating the after-church rush.

We went back to the hotel to check out, reserve a room for next year, and socialize.  Carrie helped Ken "Burnsy" Burnside organize his demonstration pieces-parts while I sat down with Eric and Cathy and learned how to play Steam, which is a simplified version of Railroad Tycoon (which itself was a simplified version of Age of Steam).

Eventually we went out to Jennie's Diner for lunch with Eric and Cathy, then with a quick stop back at the hotel, drove home to Sterling.


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Much like Friday, Saturday started at a sedate pace.  Carrie and I had breakfast, then I headed down to game, then Carrie went to spend the day with Beth and Diana.

  • 11am, Puerto Rico (PRO), Heat 3 of 3, won (in fact a tie for first place).  This win plus the earlier one earned me a bye for the quarter finals.
  • 1pm, Race for the Galaxy (RFG), Heat 3 of 4, won.
  • 2pm, Race for the Galaxy (RFG), Heat 4 of 4, 2nd place.  Collectively, close, but not close enough to make the semi-finals.
  • 3pm, Dominion (DOM), Heat 3 of 3, third place of 4.  Collectively, not enough to make the semi-finals.
  • 4pm, Ticket to Ride (TTR), Heat 3 of 3, lost.

At this point, I went out for a quick muffin and hotch with Eric and Cathy Raymond.

  • 6pm, Puerto Rico (PRO), Quarter finals, third place of 4.  I had earned a bye for this round, but chose not to take it as a favor to the GM (he needed one more player to round out the game).  This ultimately wiped me out of the competition, but I was in the mood to play, and I played well -- just not well enough.

Carrie came back, so we went out to dinner at Cracker Barrel with Eric and Cathy.  I hung out to see who would go to the Race for the Galaxy semi-finals (Cathy Raymond and Ken "Burnsy" Burnside did, Kathy Stroh and I didn't), then socialized for a while, before heading back to the room.


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Friday started off more relaxed, so Carrie and I were able to get a leisurely breakfast and stroll through the dealers room before gaming commenced.

  • 11am, Dominion (DOM), Heat 2 of 3, 3rd of 4?
  • 2pm, RoboRally (RRY), Heat 2 of 2, 4th of 5.  Yeah, I lost, but I never died, and I had a lot of fun.  The game was set up with 2 boards and 3 flags, so that the start and flag 2 were at one side of board 1, and flags 1 and 3 were at the other side of board 2.  At one point, I was so far behind that I was just leaving flag 1 while the leader was approaching flag 3.  I deduced that he was going to take advantage of a certain conveyor belt.  I changed my program so that I met him as he left the conveyor belt, then proceeded to push him back up the conveyor belt, shooting him the whole way ... with ramming gear.  I did 8 points of damage to him, and someone else shot him in the back for one more point.  He ended the turn with all 5 registers locked ... and I finished him off the next phase with the ramming gear.
  • 4pm, Puerto Rico (PRO), Heat 2 of 3, 3rd of 4.  This was a close game; I made a mistake and Mayor'd when I should have shipped (I miscalculated the value of my shipping).  I ran a factory where I was producing 3 sugar, 4 corn, and 1 indigo, feeding either the corn or the sugar to my wharf.  A lot of fun.

Carrie and I met up with Paula and Dave Matuszek for dinner at Perkins, then we taught them how to play Dominion.

Afterwards, I met up with Eric, Cathy, and Jordan, and they taught me Maori, which should be a fun game for Ludus.


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Thursday's games started early (9am) and I woke up late (8:15am).  Carrie helped me rush around to get ready, and even get breakfast before gaming.

  • 9am, Vegas Showdown (VSD) Heat 2 of 2, 4th of 4. I dominated in people and money, with beaucoup bucks, but just didn't have the  fame.
  • 11am, Power Grid (PGD), Heat 3 of 3, 3rd of 5 on the Italy map.
  • 2pm, Dominion (DOM), Heat 1 of 3, won.

Met up with Carrie and Cathy Raymond, and taught Cathy (and some kid named Max) how to play Dominion.

At 9pm, Carrie and I went out to dinner at Perkins with Eric and Cathy Raymond, Ken "Burnsy" Burnsides, Ken Watanabe, and Jordan Malokowski.  Afterwards, we played a couple of 6-player games of Race for the Galaxy.


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Wednesday, Carrie and I slept in, ate breakfast in the hotel, and then I prepped for the day's games.

  • 12pm, Power Grid (PGD) Demo, I volunteered to run the demo so that the GM would be able to get Heat 2 started sooner.
  • 1pm Power Grid (PGD) Heat 2, 5th of 5, on the USA map.  I made a critical mistake early on, and just wasn't able to recover the pace.

Carrie and I went to dinner at Perkins with Beth and Diana, a couple of Carrie's friends from college.  Afterwards, we went to our room and crashed for the night.


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Carrie and I drove up Tuesday afternoon.  We got checked into the hotel (and I into the convention) in time to grab an early light dinner.  Appropriate use of Tylenol, rest and food avoided my traditional Tuesday night migraine.

After the game, Carrie and I met up with Eric and Cathy Raymond, along with Rich Shay and went out to Perkins for dessert.  Afterwards we played Race for the Galaxy and chatted until midnight.


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Just a reminder that Brunswick Games Day 2009 will be held Saturday January 3th from 10:00 A.M. to 11:00 P.M.

I went last year and had a lot of fun, and plan to go this year as well.

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Just a quick reminder that Tad and Craig's Excellent Party 15: The Elder Party will be held, as usual, on Labor Day weekend this year (Friday, August 29 - Monday, September 1, 2009).  For all the details, download the flyer.

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I woke up early, packed everything into the car, checked out of the hotel, had breakfast and got over to the convention with a few minutes to spare.

  • 9am, RoboRally (RRY) Finals, I washed out attempting to escape the third flag, but I had a lot of fun getting there.
    The RoboRally tournament had a strict 2-minute time limit on programs. On the first turn I picked up the Recompile option (discard and redraw your entire hand, then take a point of damage), but using it meant that I would have to evaluate my current hand (30-60 seconds) and then have to do it again for the new hand. I actually used it successfully 4 or 5 times, including once when I already had 3 locked registers. Sadly, even the recompile couldn't save me from a robot backing up (and pushing me) after I pushed him. The resulting mess killed both our bots, and neither of us were able to recover momentum after that.
  • 9am, Ticket To Ride (TTR) Heat 3, skipped in favor of RoboRally Finals.

After that was the drive back to Sterling, which was tedious, but uneventful.

All in all, I had a great time this year (better than last year) and I'm already making plans to be there in 2009.

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Saturday started out like Friday: I lost consistently, but enjoyed myself.

After playing Puerto Rico, Eric, Cathy, and I made a pilgrimage to the Wilbur Chocolate Factory in Lititz, PA. What we didn't know was that the entire town of Lititz was shut down for some sort of craft festival. We eventually made it to the Wilbur factory store, where we stocked up on chocolate and sweets, but it was cutting things close.

The Manifest Destiny heat was pretty miserable -- I was stuck playing with people who bitched, moaned, threatened, and cajoled about every single decision someone made. The leader frequently whined about being targeted by the other players. This dragged out a 3 hour game to being only 2/3 done at the 4 hour mark. Shudder!

Finally, and 9pm, there were the RoboRally semi-finals, which were the highlight of the day. The game was close and hard-fought, with lots of robot interaction. Three of the players from my board advanced to the finals, including myself.

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While I did pretty awful today, I still enjoyed myself, which is the important thing.

I spent a lot of time with Eric and Cathy Raymond, and Ken Burnside, playing Race for the Galaxy and commiserating about how badly we were losing games that we should have been winning.

We ended up playing more Race for the Galaxy, followed by a trip to Starbucks for hot chocolate.

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I met up with Eric and Cathy Raymond after Power Grid, and we ended up playing a couple of rounds of Race for the Galaxy so that I could improve, and so that Ken Burnside could learn. After that we went out for dinner.

  • 12pm, Power Grid (PGD) Heat 3, I took 3rd in a 5-player game on the Benelux map. I don't think I made any mistakes, but I got squeezed early on, and had some poor luck with power plants early on, which left me a day late and a dollar short for the rest of the game. I may still make the semi-finals; tomorrow will tell.
  • 1pm, Race for the Galaxy (RFG) Heat 1, skipped in favor of Power Grid.
  • 7pm, Puerto Rico (PRO) Heat 1, I took third in a 4-player game. At one point I bought the Harbor when I should have bought a wharf, and I didn't make good use of my factory.
  • 7pm, Manifest Destiny (MFD) Heat 2, skipped in favor of Puerto Rico.

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I got rid of the migraine, eventually, but only got a couple of hours of sleep. At 6am I gave up and decided to go get breakfast and hit a supermarket. After a short nap, I headed over to the conference center, where I met up with Eric and Cathy Raymond.

  • 10am, Empire Builder (EPB) Heat 2, took second in a 4-player game. This wasn't good enough to make it to the semi-finals (no surprise) and I decided that I'd rather play something else instead.
  • 2pm, Power Grid (PGD) Heat 2, skipped, in favor of Manifest Destiny.
  • 2pm, Manifest Destiny (MFD) Heat 1, took third in a 4-player game.
  • 2pm, Empire Builder (EPB) Heat 3, skipped, in favor of Manifest Destiny.
  • 6pm, dinner with Eric and Cathy Raymond.
  • 7pm, RoboRally (RRY) Heat 1, won! This qualifies me for the semi-finals. I actually made it through 3 flags on 2 boards, against 5 other players.
    This game was funny -- all of the players were laughing and having a good time. The funniest bit for me was where I had taken enough damage (5 points) to call a shutdown. Another player was behind me, and he did more damage to my bot, including pushing me along. I 'woke up' with 5 points of damage and a locked register. I drew 4 cards and declared another shutdown. I ran away (and got shot for 4 more points of damage), but when I was done, I had traveled a full board length (in the right direction) and was fully repaired. This is probably what allowed me to win.
  • 10pm, Vegas Showdown (VSD) Heat 2, I took third in a 5-player game. Not good enough to make the semi-finals.

At one point during the day, I was able to purchase a copy of Race for the Galaxy. Hooray!

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I drove up from Sterling this afternoon. Traffic was good, until I got to York. The US-30 bridge over the Susquehanna River is restricted to 1 lane in each direction, sigh. By the time I got to my hotel, I had a raging headache, which eventually turned into a migraine.

  • 6pm, Power Grid (PGD) Heat 1, won!
    I finished my board (France) with 16 cities powered and 17 cash, in spite of the headache.  Second place had 16 cities, 8 cash, third place had 15 cities, fourth had 14 cities, and fifth had 13 cities.  Going into the last round, I was leading with 14 cities, but with only (3) 5-plants, so I wanted to buy a 7-plant to be able to power 17 cities.  All three of the 7-plants came up for auction, and all of them went to other players (eventual 2nd, 3rd, and 4th placers) -- for much more than they were worth to me.  I eventually bought the 39 (nuclear 6-plant) at cost, leaving me able to power 16 cities.  After the other players had built their connections, only one player had connected (and could power) 16 cities -- the others had either overbuilt cities or plants.  I decided to connect 3 cities (all of Paris) and end the game, for the win.
  • 6pm, Empire Builder (EPB) Heat 1, skipped in favor of Power Grid.
  • 10pm, Vegas Showdown (VSD) Heat 1, skipped because of the migraine.

Went back to the hotel and crashed.

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World Boardgaming Championships Logo

The World Boardgaming Championships is a gaming convention, held yearly since 1999 by the Boardgame Players Association. This convention replaced AvalonCon which had been run from 1991 to 1998 by Avalon Hill.

Last year I showed up without much pre-planning, and without any goals beyond (1) play games, (2) have fun.  This year I decided in advance which tournaments I wanted to try to win, and actively practiced those games at Ludus and other gaming opportunities. Noteably, I decided to skip Age of Renaissance, which I like to play, but (1) takes too much time, and (2) is not one of my strongest games.

Most of the tournaments are structured with several qualifying heats (enter as many times as you like, must win one or more), followed by single-elimination semi-finals and finals.  Others are strictly single-elimination rounds, played until there's a single winner.  Since there are 100+ tournaments running over the course of 6 days, there's a lot of overlap.  Consequently, my performance in some of the early heats will dictate my schedule for the following days.  In particular, Sunday morning there are 4 different final rounds that I might be eligible for, depending upon how well I do throughout the week.

More or less in order, I'll be participating in these tournaments:

  1. Power Grid (PGD)
  2. Puerto Rico (PRO)
  3. Vegas Showdown (VSD)
  4. Manifest Destiny (MFD)
  5. Empire Builder (EPB)
  6. Race for the Galaxy (RFG)
  7. Ticket To Ride (TTR)
  8. RoboRally (RRY)

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This year the World Boardgaming Championships will be held in Lancaster, PA, on August 5-10, 2008. I will be going again this year, with the intent to participate in these tournaments:

  1. Power Grid (PGD)
  2. Puerto Rico (PRO)
  3. Vegas Showdown (VSD)
  4. Empire Builder (EPB)
  5. Manifest Destiny (MFD)
  6. Race for the Galaxy (RFG)
  7. Ticket To Ride (TTR)
  8. RoboRally (RRY)

There's some scheduling overlap between these tournaments, so if I'm good/lucky enough to get to the semi-finals/finals, I might have to drop one in favor of another.  Last year I wasn't that lucky, but I've improved with Power Grid (some) and Puerto Rico (significantly), and stand a strong chance of being competitive.

One consequence of this is that I need to play these games frequently over the next two months, particularly the more strategic games.  I also need to play a wider variety of opponents, so that I can cope with different strategies.  Towards that end, I'm going to try to schedule some all-day-Saturday gaming sessions before August.

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Next weekend (March 28-30) will see me at Enlightenment XI, a weekend-long convention devoted to Age of Renaissance and Manifest Destiny.

In order to get in the spirit of things, Carrie and I went over to Vienna to play a game of Manifest Destiny. In theory, I was going to play, and Carrie was going to watch and learn. When we got there, Bill Crenshaw (the game designer) and Greg Stripes (a former champion) badgered Carrie to play, so that there would be 4 players. Reluctantly, she agreed, and play commenced. I have played Manifest Destiny once, and Carrie had never played before, so neither of us knew the rules, much less the strategy. At the end of the game, Carrie had won, followed by Bill, myself, and Greg.

At this point Carrie announced that, having beaten the game designer and the reigning(?) champion, she was going to resign, undefeated, from playing Manifest Destiny.

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Karl Musser runs the more-or-less monthly annual Brunswick Games Day. BGD is what I would call a self-organizing event. Karl has a sweet deal with the town of Brunswick, MD whereby he gets the use of function space for free once a month year, as long the event is non-commercial, and he advertises that it's sponsored by the town. The space is roughly 100x40 feet, with fold-up tables and chairs. He has a game library that he brings, and then people just show up. People show up, bring out a table and chairs if needed, and start playing games. Towards the end of the day, people start putting away extra tables and chairs, and policing the area. Karl's nominally in charge, but has such a deft touch that everything 'just happens' without appearing to need his direction.

A lot of the Ludans have been going to BGD for a long time; today was my first time. I got there somewhat after noon, and things were already in swing. Grayhawk, B, and F were there, as were Brian and Lije. A couple of people were running a snacks table as a 'please donate' for a kid who's doing an exchange trip to Europe next year. There was a square of tables set up for an RPG, with more than a dozen people playing. Everyone there was involved in a game, and the tables were all full, so I setup another table and sat down. While I was doing that, Bruce and Cheryl appeared. Within moments, it seemed, I was teaching Cheryl and two other people to play Ticket To Ride. I didn't win, but everyone had fun, so I count it a success.

After a short break I pulled out Power Grid and ended up playing a 4-player game on the USA map with Grayhawk and two new players: Ethan and Mary Ann. After a slow start (4 plant the first turn, but nothing worth bidding on for turns 2 and 3), I acquired the 15, 25 and 30 plants, and eventually added the 40 plant. I won by powering 17 cities, when no one else could power more than 16.

Somewhere in there, Tony and Dana appeared, followed by Sallie and Dave. Brian and Lije had recently purchased Khronos so we sat down and learned to play with Tony and Dana. I ended up going first, and everyone else learned from my mistakes ... <grin> Still, it was an interesting game and I'll probably buy it.

Brian spent a lot of time teaching people to play Race for the Galaxy, and we played two games. I did better in the first game than in the second, but still lost both games -- not unexpected. I'll probably buy this one as well.

By this point, it was getting late so we helped strike tables and clean up. While we were playing Khronos, some folks borrowed my Power Grid set. They ended up being the last game, and it ended around 11:30, so there was a mad rush to clean that up before the Brunswick Police kicked us out. I'll probably keep going back, schedule permitting.

I got a lot of comments about the Flying Buffalo Box Bands that I use on some of my games to keep them from opening up at inconvenient times. They're available in small, medium, and large, and they're reasonably priced: 6 for $5. If you haven't seen them, they're 4-way rubber bands that slip over all 4 edges of a game box at once.

EDIT: Corrected -- The full up BGD is annual, not monthly.

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Enlightenment XI

March 28–30, 2008, Days Hotel, Timonium, MD

Age of Renaissance and Manifest Destiny

The Boardgame Players' Association is pleased to announce the 11th annual meeting of its Age of Renaissance mini-con gaming conference. Coming off its smallest attendance ever in 2007, Enlightenment will go to a new format in its effort to draw a minimum of 25 players or host its farewell performance in 2008. Manifest Destiny will join the program as two four-round events are held in three full days of gaming. Only one of the eight rounds will conflict on Friday evening—giving players a choice as to which event they want to play the extra round. Note that it will be possible, but more difficult, to win both events since each tournament allows players to drop one of four scores.
Manifest Destiny play will begin promptly at 9 AM Friday with rounds at 2 and 7 PM later in the day. The fourth and final round will be Saturday at 2:30 PM.

The Age of Renaissance action begins Friday night at 7 PM and continues with two more rounds on Saturday at 9 AM and 6:30 PM. A fourth round will be played Sunday morning. The winner for the weekend will be that player with the highest total for any three of the four rounds.

Only the Friday 7 PM slot conflicts and forces players to make a choice which of the two events they'll play for all four rounds.

Enlightenment uses a unique scoring system that keeps most players in contention for a prize throughout the weekend rather than being eliminated by a poor showing or relegated to the "losers' table". Every player scores points as a percentage of the winner's score. This provides a real incentive to play against the leader to prevent run-away victories. In subsequent rounds, players are grouped according to their finish in the previous game ... with all Round 1 winners paired in Round 2, all second-place players together, and so on. The winners compete with each other—earning a bonus point for each other table's winner in that round they best by posting a wider margin of victory. Slow play is discouraged by penalizing all scores in games that take more than five hours. This scoring mechanism has resulted in nearly all Renaissance games finishing in under five hours, with some ending in less than four.

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