Day 1 at GenCon 2003

Jacob and I just wrapped up day 1 of our GenCon adventure in Indianapolis. We
arrived downtown (after driving from Shelbyville where my parents live) around
9am and headed to will call to pick up our badges. Man I’m glad we pre-
registered – I heard the line for day passes was over 1 hour long, and the
line for generic tickets was 1-2 hours long. GenCon uses an interesting model
– you can pre-register for specific games (this is really required for some of
the more popular events like tournaments and the various RPGA events), and you
can also purchase generic tickets for about $1.50 per 2 hour gaming event.
Open (free) gaming is pretty scarce – it is pretty much all pay to play. Jacob
and I registered for games in about 75% of the timeslots we’ll be there, so
our gaming day started about 10am this morning. We used the time before our
first event to play
Senjutsu, the new
game from Salvador Games. This is a very
unique abstract strategy game with a Samurai theme. Imagine a combination of
Chess, Stratego, and Star Wars Epic Duals – there’s a degree of hidden
deployment (foot soldiers get equipped with 3 items each that can be weapons,
armor, ninja, or scroll). The goal is to capture the opponent’s scroll or
destroy all of the opponent’s soldiers. I barely beat Jacob – we were each
down to just two soldiers and he ran out of armor on his soldier that was
guarding the scroll. We both enjoyed the game and we might just have to pick
it up tomorrow.

We were scheduled to play Seafarers of Catan at 10:00, but
there was only one other person and we noticed a woman sitting by herself with
one of the historical scenarios for Settlers. Since she was the only for her
event, we joined forces and decided to play the Trojan
scenario. I’ve played Settlers quite a bit, but never one of the scenarios and
we thoroughly enjoyed it. In this scenario, players are secretly vying for the
success of either Troy or Mycenae, and they pay tribute by contributing
resources secretly to the war effort. Once enough tribute has been paid, a
battle happens with the victor determined by the quantity of resource cards
played for each. The players on the victor’s side get extra victory points for
each successful battle. In this game, Jacob opted for a strategy of staying
land-locked (so that the sea people could not raid his port) and building
cities while actively support the war effort. It worked – he beat the three
adults by a wide margin, scoring 14 points and forcing the last battle for
Troy to be fought. I finished second with 11 points.

Next Jacob and I joined three other games for a game of Puerto Rico – the
first time I’ve played with 5 people. Jacob has played twice and the others
were new, so I spent the first 15 minutes explaining the rules (that’s me on
the left in the picture). The three newbies caught on quickly and started to
pick up on some of the nuances of the game (such as it is best to not be
producing what the player on your right produces, and it often makes sense to
mimic what the player on your left is producing). I opted for a strategy of
building valuable buildings and producing a diversity of goods. I started very
slow, but my gold production hockey-sticked (ramped up dramatically) and I was
able to build two of the large buildings. I think I finished with about 49
points and won the game with the closest finisher about 10 points behind. My
first PR victory, though hardly against a seasoned crowd.

Next it was time for Jacob and I to tour the exhibit hall. I was wearing my
Plenary Games t-shirt, and a surprising number
of people approached me wondering if I was associated with the company
(notably a game distributor and the folks at GameTable
, who are interested in doing a
licensed version of Fresh Fish). I met some
interesting folks, including Eric Hautemont of Days of Wonder games, Steve Ellis of Rainy Day Games, my local game store on Portland’ west
side, and Andrew Looney from Looney Labs. We
picked up a couple of new games: the Battlecards
expansions for the Pacific Theater and Russion Front, and the Game of
collectable card game. We stopped by
the Mayfair booth and got a chance to play in
a Bang! demo. We
loved this game! Players secretly take on the role of sheriff, deputy, outlaw,
or renegade and have different respective victory conditions. I was an outlaw,
Jacob the deputy, and I somehow managed to con the sheriff into shooting his
deputy! It was a close finish with both the sheriff and the renegade trying to
do me in, but I managed to draw a Bang! card at the right time and do in the
sheriff. We are definitely going to pick this game up (using our Mayfair demo
bucks discount of course!) tomorrow.

Finally, Jacob and I returned to the boardgame hall to play Tigris and Euphrates.
Unfortunately nobody else showed up for our game, so we played a two-player
game. I avenged my loss in the game where I taught Jacob and had a resounding
victory of 24 to 5. Jacob made the mistake of building monuments much too
early, allowing me the opportunity to attack and steal his hard work.

One tip for those planning on attending the board gaming sessions at GenCon –
don’t bother buying tickets for the specific games unless you are playing in a
tournament or it is a demo for a new game that might have limited instruction.
Stick to generic tickets and use the flexibility to play different games
without feeling pressured to play the one you signed up for. Jacob and I were
supposed to play Samurai at 7pm, but we decided to head back to Shelbyville to
have dinner with my parents and Matthew. The folks at GenCon were nice enough
to exchange our Samurai tickets for generic tickets that we’ll be able to use
tomorrow when I bring Matthew for the morning.

Safe Arrival in Indy

Julie, Jacob, Matthew, and I arrived safely in Indianapolis tonight. We had a great dinner at my sister’s place on the northeast side. Julie stayed there so that she can head up to West Lafayette tomorrow to see her grandmother, and I took the boys down to Shelbyville to stay at my parents’ place. Jacob and I will drive downtown and try to arrive around 8:30 or so to pick up our GenCon registration and get our bearings. Our schedule tomorrow is:

  • 10am – noon – Seafarers of Catan
  • 12:30pm – 2:30pm – Puerto Rico
  • 2:30pm – 5pm – Free time for exhibit hall and dinner
  • 5pm – 7pm – Tigris and Euphrates
  • 7pm – 9pm – Samurai

Not sure if we’ll stay that late – really depends upon how Jacob is doing. Don’t know if there will be connectivity at the show – if there is, expect some mid-day updates. Otherwise I’ll post a report tomorrow evening (my parents have broadband wifi – how cool!).

FreshFish 0.2 Available for Download

I finally have a working standalone version of Fresh Fish available for
. In the download you will find the
executable (just run FreshFishGUI.exe out of the /bin directory) and the
source code. You will need to have the .NET Framework Version 1.1
Redistributable Package
to run this game (sorry non-Windows users…).
I’m calling this version 0.2 – it still needs a lot of work, but is playable.
I would love to hear your comments, so either post them here or join me at the
boardgamecoders Yahoo group
and ask questions there.

Picture from Brooklyn Session and We’re Heading to Indy

I promised to post a photo or two from my session in Brooklyn last month.
Here’s a photo of Mikael, Lev, and Jonathan (left to right) during our game of
Wallenstein. As I
mentioned before, I loved this game and I recently placed an order at
Funagain. It is on backorder and I should see it
sometime in August. I also picked up
Serenissima (haven’t
played yet) and Capt’n Clever (played with
the boys last weekend – very light but a good bit of fun).

Mikael, Lev, and Jonathan in my first ever play of Wallenstein.

Julie, Jacob, Matthew, and I fly to Indianapolis tomorrow for a combined
family visit and trek to
GenCon. My parents and sister
live there, and Julie’s grandmother is up in West Lafayette (she turns 90 next
month). Jacob and I will spend Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at GenCon, and
I’ll probably bring Matthew for a half day on Friday. I’ll try and post some
daily reports of our adventures there.

Keuka Lake Wrap-up

We had a great but too-short time at Keuka Lake this year. I managed to stay
there for 9 days while Julie, Jacob, and Matthew were there for about 2.5
weeks (they normally spend 4-6 weeks there). It was a fun-filled, busy week
and a time for both sides of our family to enjoy the lake and surrounding
areas. My sister Jennifer and her family (husband James and 5 kids!) joined us
for a week, and Julie’s brother Mike is there for the entire summer learning
the ropes of cottage, boat, and lake management.

Speaking of Mike, he recently earned his pilot’s license and took Jacob,
Matthew, and I flying around the finger lakes for about 90 minutes. It was a
fantastic trip – we over-flew the cottages and the length of Keuka Lake,
headed over to Seneca lake, passed by Watkins Glen and the racetrack there,
then returned via Corning and Canisteo. I didn’t get any solid pictures on my
digital camera but I got a few great shots with Julie’s Canon Eos body and
telephoto lens. That’s Mike on the left flying the plane (a Cessna 172
4-seater). The only downside was that Jacob got a bit motion sick.

As usual Jacob and Matthew spent the bulk of their time in the water. Jacob is
now a comfortable water-skier (2 skis for now) and even managed to get up on
the wakeboard once. Matthew prefers tubing and he was a madman this year,
including several rounds of “battle tubing” where we towed two tubes and did
some stunts and wrestling between the two.