Wednesday, June 06, 2012

KublaPros and KublaCons

Last weekend I attended KublaCon, as I've done every Memorial day since 2005. Most years I log about 30-40 games played, and I've developed a long list of people who I see only once or twice a year. It's been a few years since I've been eligible to enter the Kublacon Game Design Contest (or as I call it, the "KublaContest") - but I still choose KublaCon for my Memorial Day convention over the closer, cheaper to get to, Gamex convention in Los Angeles. This year KublaCon was a little different for me - here's a brief account of some of the pros and cons of my trip this year:

Right off the bat I had a nice opportunity - I had bought a direct light to SFO, and they said they needed someone to bump. I generally don't like to do that at the beginning of my vacations because I want to get where I'm going. This time however thy were able to route me through LAX with a short layover (which gave me time to eat), and for $311 in flight vouchers I arrived just an hour or so later than originally planned!

I got to visit with a number of friends who I never get to see - this year that included Andrew, Paul, Rick, Helen, Marlin, Fred, Miguel, Peter Hansell (TableStar games), Leah and Matt, Ceej, Chris and Susan McKinley Ross.

This year I got to spend a lot more time than usual talking to James Ernest, which was fun (he's a funny guy!), and I met the special guest from the convention, Martin Wallace. I've never met Martin before, and for some reason I expected him to be standoffish or something. I don't know why I thought that, but I'm happy to report that Mr. Wallace was a really nice and friendly guy! I also met the Game Whisperer himself, Richard Bliss, and spoke briefly with Doug Garret and Scott Alden as well. I even met Evan Denbaum, who would have been a part time employee of Tasty Minstrel Games, if not for receiving a position at Electronic Arts. Finally, I met Dennis, a $250 supporter of Eminent Domain (he named a planet after his daughter: Echo Rose).

Oh, and I got a chance to see a game by Candy Weber which sounds like it will be published soon! Congrats Candy!

I don't mean to complain, but this year was not the best for me. Mostly it's my own fault - I feel like I was underprepared for the con this year. First off, the night before every convention nowadays I seem to have trouble sleeping. I don't know if it's anxiety, or anticipation, or what. This time I was up all night creating a final art prototype of Ground Floor to take with me, and I only got 2 hours of sleep (if that). With how little sleep I tend to get at conventions, it would be nice if I could at least get a good night's sleep before the convention!

I normally head out to KublaCon on Thursday night, so that I can enjoy the con all day Friday. By contrast, the Strategicon conventions in L.A. tend to not really get started until late Friday afternoon. I suspect that's what I had in mind when I was shopping for plane tickets, and I ended up with a flight arriving at about 4pm on Friday. When I arrived at the hotel (about 5:30pm - see above) it occurred to me that I was actually a day later than normal, and I'd missed out on most of Friday!

For the second time in a row now I appear to have forgotten to pre-register for the convention!

While this convention was a good one for me socially, it turned out not to be a very good one game-ially. I only played about 8 games, 2 of which were Yahtzee Free-For-All, and none of which were on my list of games I really wanted to play while I was there. Here's what I played at KublaCon:
Battle Line with Miguel
Alter Ego playtest with Miguel
Castles of Burgundy with Evan Denbaum
Eat Poop you cat with Miguel and company
Yahtzee Free-For-All with Chris and Susan McKinley Ross
Yahtzee Free-For-All with Andrew, Elmer, and Andrews other friend
Glory to Rome with Andrew, Elmer, and Andrews other friend
Unpublished Martin Wallace game

In addition I did demo Ground Floor several times, and Eminent Domain: Escalation once. But while it's important, demoing games is not the same as playing games!

I would have preferred to be better prepared going into the convention - if I'm going to demo games, it's better to get them on the schedule, have specific times for the demos. Also maybe I'll try harder to arrange specific games if I want to play them - I didn't really play anything on my list this time. It never seemed to be a problem before, but I think there are more demands on my time nowadays, so I would do better to plan ahead a little more.

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