Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Strategicon: Gateway 2014

About a week ago I went to Strategicon's Gateway event in Los Angeles, as I've one for the last 10 years or so. This time was a little different, for 2 reasons:

1. I was invited to be Special Guest.

2. I brought a "plus 1".

I wasn't sure what to expect as Special Guest, and as it turned out the convention went pretty much the way it would have otherwise for me. It was nice of them to pay for my hotel room though, and it was nice to be recognized by attendees as the guest :)

The much bigger difference was bringing Michelle with me. I have never brought a significant other to a convention before, and I was very worried it wouldn't go well. When I'd extended the invitation I hadn't considered just how busy I'd be, and that I wouldn't have time to hang out with Michelle. Fortunately, it actually went quite well. Michelle met some of my friends, learned Eminent Domain from one of them, spent some alone time in the room and at the pool, and otherwise seemed to enjoy the convention just fine. What a relief! Because I was busy running Bomb Squad, Gold West, an EmDo: Legacy tournament, and Aquasphere, playing prototypes for TMG consideration, and hoping to play a few games for myself as well as visit with all the friends I've made at those conventions over the last decade.

I managed to play 10 different games on the weekend, some of them more than once:

Dog - Upon arriving at the convention, we ran into my old friends Steph and Chris. I asked them to teach us a game, so they pulled out the partnership game Dog. I'd seen them play this before, it looked like some kind of souped up Sorry... and it kinda was. Not too bad a game, but not the kind of game I really want to play often.

Got it! - Steph and I used to always compete at a few rounds of Got It! - which is like Set, but rather than looking for patterns, you're looking for math equations that resolve to a certain number. I got to play a couple of rounds of this, and it reminded me how much I like the game and how I ought to play it more often. It's tough to find people who really want to play this with me though. I'm glad Steph was up for it because we've always been pretty evenly matched, so it's always a good game!

Hanabi -Andrew and I played a few hands of Hanabi with a young woman who's name escapes me at the moment. We played 4-5 hands trying to get a perfect score (30, including the rainbow suit). Luckily, it only took us a few hands!

Train of Thought - I have been playing Train of Thought a lot lately because Michelle loves it. That just reminds me how much I really love it too.

Five Tribes - I played Five Tribes twice - once with Andrew and Michelle in the middle of the night at Denny's, and once the next day with 4 other players. I had one major concern going into the game: with all the possible combinations of moves on any given turn, I suspected a great deal of AP, or just people taking a long time to figure out what to do on their turn. In fact, I was surprised to hear it was so popular at GenCon, rather than hearing people complain left and right that turns drag on and on... after playing that 4 player game, I can confirm that it's very easy to take a long time on your turns. The game is still pretty cool, and I might play it some more, but I don't see that issue going away - if anything I see it getting worse as players know the game better.

Downfall - I got together with John Clair to play Downfall, an epic, post-apocalyptic game driven by an awesome card draft mechanism which TMG is planning on publishing. It was a 6 payer game and it took about 3 hours, which seems about right. Despite the fact that the big, epic, long games aren't usually my style, I really did enjoy playing Downfall.

Oceanica - I got together with Mark and Christina Major, of the League of Game Makers, to play a prototype which TMG was looking at for publication. I love the theme of that one, and the general structure of the game is sound, but currently I don't think the neat aspects are shining through properly so I returned the game to him with some comments. I hope he will address them and resubmit - I look forward to playing it again.

Unpublished Prototype -After Oceanica I played another prototype of John Clair's that had a really interesting format. Might be tough to produce, but it was certainly neat. I am trying not to talk about other people's prototypes (in case they don't want me to), so I'll leave it at that.

Concordia - On Monday morning I played in a Concordia tournament, which turned out to be just 1 round - the top 3 scores from 2 games claiming 1st, 2nd, and 3rd. I don't know if I really knew I was doing this, but when in a position to trigger the game end, I chose not to - dragging the game out a few more turns. This allowed everyone at my table to score more points... seems a little weird to use that as a strategy, but with that format it makes sense!

Glass Road - After picking up Subway lunch with Andrew, I spent the last hour of the con playing Glass Road. It took a little longer than expected, and I literally had to leave before the game was actually over. I calculated my score to be 19.5, which turned out to be just good enough for 3rd, I think. Not a very good performance, but at least I made my plane!


Unknown said...

Hi Seth, I posted this question on BGG but haven't gotten a response yet. I was wondering how the EmDo: Legacy tournament worked? Would you happen to have any rules you can share? Thanks!

Seth Jaffee said...

Here's how I ran it...

Round 1 was a normal game of EmDo - players started with the basic starting decks.

After Round 1, I recorded the contents of each player's decks - the number of each standard role card.

For round 2, You started with 1 fewer card in your deck for whichever Role card(s) you had the fewest of at the end of round 1, and you started with 1 more card in your deck for whichever role card(s) you had the most of at the end of round 1.

After round 2 we did the same thing again, but didn't count any card that you started with 0 of... i.e. if you started with 0 Warfare after round 1, then after round 2 you look at the card you had the fewest of BESIDES Warfare.

There were some really interesting starting decks in the final round!