Bits or cardboard?

Blaugust 2015 Day 06

I think I’m nearly recovered from GenCon last weekend. Today’s the first day that I didn’t end up taking an hour nap after the kids went to bed before waking up in a panic realizing I hadn’t done my blog entry yet. Anyway, I thought I’d continue with the GenCon theme a little longer, and write about what happens when I get an app version of a boardgame that I love.

In some cases like Star Realms and Summoner Wars, I barely or never play the board game version. I don’t think these games make good examples though, since they offer online play and are two player games, giving me many more opportunities to play the app than the board/card game. Not really a fair comparison.

Sentinels of the Multiverse is a better test case. The card game has a lot more content available for it than the app, yet I haven’t gotten my cards out once since Handelabra released Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Video Game. The convenience of having a device handle all of the housekeeping is just too nice to pass up, not to mention being able to play it in situations where I don’t have the table space for the card game. Base on my GenCon demo expierience, I think the upcoming multiplayer will have me playing the app even more than the card game.

I don’t see myself giving up boardgames ever, but I wonder what it would take to get me to prefer an original game over a well-done app conversion. Maybe miniatures?

Any bets on how many more blog entries I can wring out of GenCon for Blaugust? Don’t forget to go check out the Blaugust Initiate Page.

GenCon 2015 Part 4

Blaugust 2015 Day 05

2015-08-02 09.42.18Sunday at GenCon is Family Day. Sunday is also the day I’ve been bringing my oldest son with me for the last few years. On the drive down Sunday morning I asked him what he wanted to do at GenCon and his reply was: eat at a food truck, collect buttons, and say hi to Todd. I knew he really enjoyed the button hunt that we did last year for the first time, but I hadn’t realized how big an impression the food trucks had made. I guess for a six year old, getting food out of a truck and sitting on the sidewalk to eat is a pretty cool experience.

2015-08-01 09.07.03The new thing we did this year was watch and participate in the destruction of the balloon monster. This year it was a Kraken. These are made and then an auction is held to pick a winner to destroy them at noon on Sunday. This year they did something a little different by holding an auction just to destroy the head and they let all of the kids assembled take on the arms. I have some video of this that’s just insane to see, I hope to get it posted later this week. There were a few dozen kids turned loose and going feral. Balloons were popping so fast that it sounded like the end of a fireworks show.

2015-08-02 14.18.12The most surprising thing to me that Thing 1 enjoyed was a World War 2 tank game. This was near the end of our day and usually by then he’s tire and beginning to have trouble focusing, yet we stood for nearly ten minutes watching other people demo this game. Then he actually sat down and played through a demo himself for nearly fifteen minutes. I was amazed, to say the least. The guy doing the demo recommended that I check out Brikwars which is a set of miniatures combat rules for use with Lego.

That’s it for my GenCon recaps, now I have to actually come up with topics for the rest of the month. As always go check out the Blaugust Initiate Page if you’re interested in joining in.

GenCon 2015 Part 3

Blaugust 2015 Day 04

2015-08-01 09.17.27On Saturday, started out back in the Golem Arcana area of the play hall. Enough of the east and west coast regional players hadn’t been able to come to GenCon, that most of the midwest regional players got into the national tournament, including me. So I got to play far more than I expected.

2015-08-01 11.23.22My first round was against the ten year old son of one of the other players, Alex76. The game started off badly for me but I managed to tie it up, and then we ended up going back and forth both trying to get the last point we needed to win. In the end it came down to our last two golems, each down to their few hitpoints when I managed to get a successful attack and win the game. While I like to win, I’m not a super competitive person. Most of my favorite games of Golem Arcana were super close ones like this one, some of which I’ve lost and some I’ve one. This one has some great close calls one both sides.

The other thing I really enjoy about this game is the community that’s building up around it. Likely because the game is so new and the player community is small, but everyone is very friendly. Case in point being in this match, where partway through I noticed Alex was having trouble thinking through all of the moves in a turn and I told Alex’s dad he could help him out. I didn’t want to do it myself because I didn’t want to accidentally give him bad advice. There were a lot of instances like this of players helping each other out, and while I hope that the game continues to grow, I really want this friendliness in the community to continue.

Unfortunately for me the next round in the tournament wasn’t nearly that close and I lost about four turns in. As it would turn out on Sunday though, I lost to the play who ended up winning the entire tournament.

Fleet Captains MeetupBesides the Golem Arcana tournament, the other big thing I had planned for Saturday was a meetup with Wininoid, Todd, and Greendragoon, fellow Star Trek Online player and Foundry fanatic, for a game of Star Trek Fleet Captains.

We had a lot of fun and what turned out to be nearly a four hour game flew by. This was the first time I’d gotten a chance to actually get the game out and really play aside from a brief solo attempt to learn the rules. I was really impressed by how well the game captured the different feels of the Federation, Klingons, and Romulans, something Todd commented on as well. I’m already hoping to get a chance to play this again with them next year.

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up my GenCon recap. If you’re curious about this Blaugust craziness go check out the Blaugust Initiate Page.

GenCon 2015 Part 2

Blaugust 2015 Day 03

I spent the first half of Friday at GenCon in the Exhibit Haul Hall.

2015-07-31 10.37.18Harebrained Schemes was demoing a new game called Necropolis.  It’s a take on the Roguelike genre, which I’m usually not a fan of, with a really cool art style that reminded me a bit of Massive Chalice, which I really liked. I didn’t get very far the few times I ran through the demo, but it’s definitely something I’m going to keep an eye on despite the fact that I’m not totally sure it’s the kind of game I’ll enjoy. Not to mention my already ridiculous backlog of games to play.

2015-07-31 11.27.44The other video game I demoed was the new multiplayer for Handelabra’s Sentinels of the Multiverse: The Video Game. This is a really great adaptation of my favorite super hero card game. Sentinels the original card game has been criticized for being too fiddly. I can sympathize with that but don’t mind it myself. If that did bother you or your just interested in trying out the game without investing in the tabletop version, the video game adaptation is really excellently done.

The multiplayer session I tried out is still in beta but looks to be just as high quality as the single player game. Too be honest I wasn’t super enthused about it before my demo, but I’m pretty excited to play more multiplayer in the Steam beta and cross-platform on my tablet after it launches.

Besides video games, I demoed and purchased Apocalypse Chaos from Z-Man games. It’s like a puzzly smaller cousin to Space Hulk. I picked up a Kickstarter edition copy of a interesting looking tower defence game called The King’s Armory. And despite my preordering the most recent Firefly the Game expansion through my local shop in order to  keep from impulse buying it at the convention, Gale Force 9 had a gorgeous playmat version of the board for $40 that I just couldn’t pass up.

I only attended one panel the whole convention. The Writer’s Symposium track at GenCon included a panel on Interactive Fiction that Joe Dever was on that I couldn’t miss.

IMG_0303I also go the chance to meet up with Nos (in the center of the photo), one of the hosts of Kerbalcast. We hung out for forty-five minutes with another listener who was there and got to talk about the podcast, Kerbal Space Program, and board games. I’ve guest hosted on podcasts before, but this was the first time that I’ve met someone I listen to regularly in person.

After that I met up with Todd again and we did a D&D session of Harried in Hillsfar. This was my first ever role-playing experience at GenCon and my first in-person D&D session since college. I was a little nervous about it to be honest, but it went very well. I had a lot of fun, and my Dragonborn Sorcerer Kaar narrowly survived his ordeal.

Todd and I finished off the night playing Android Netrunner ( he won) and Apocalypse Chaos (we lost).

2015-07-31 23.53.49

One “small” section of the GenCon Play Hall

It was another early morning, late night for me but well worth it.

As always, it isn’t too late to join in and catch up. Well it is if it’s not still August 31st, but go check out the Blaugust Initiate Page anyway, there’s always next year.

GenCon 2015 Part 1

Blaugust 2015 Day 02

GenCon kicked off on Thursday morning and I started off the convention in the giant Will Call line. It stretched across the length of the convention center and looked pretty daunting, but I had been through the same thing the year before and found that the line moved pretty quickly. I ended up getting through and picking up my event tickets in about fifteen minutes.

I passed even that short of a time pretty quickly by talking to the people in front of and behind me in line. That isn’t the kind of thing I normally do, but it’s part of the magic of GenCon for me. It’s four days surrounded by thousands of people who are at least as weird as I am. It’s a very liberating experience.

Lone Wold 1 SignedThe high point of the first day for me and possible the whole convention was getting to meet Joe Dever and getting my copy of Lone Wolf #1 signed. He was super friendly and very generous with his time. The Lone Wolf gamebooks were a big part of my childhood, second only to Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, and it was a complete thrill to get to meet Mr. Dever and tell him that. I was giddy the rest of the day and thinking about it still makes me grin.

2015-07-30 13.56.34Most of the rest of the day I spent in Hall F which is where Harebrained Scheme’s Golem Arcana play area was. I had signed up for the Midwest Tournament and a large number of the other people in it were from my playgroup here in Indy (note the bowling shirts), so there were plenty of other games to watch when I wasn’t playing myself. I had a bye for the first round as a result of League Play earlier in the year, and I managed to narrowly win my Round Two game. Unfortunately I lost my Round Three game so I didn’t play in the semi-finals on Friday, but it was a super close game.

2015-07-30 16.41.27By the way, I say “super close” not cause I’m trying to mitigate losing. I really enjoyed that game. Both myself and my opponent played extremely well, and the game literally game down to dice rolls on the last two rounds. Had I’d rolled a hit, or had my opponent rolls a miss on the following turn, the outcome would’ve reversed. I totally prefer games like that over just steamrolling someone. Although winning is always nice.

I capped off the day by meeting up with my friend Todd (Wininoid) and playing games in the convention center until they shut the lights off in the play hall at midnight. We had to pack up by cell phone flashlight.

I’d gotten up at 7 am Thursday and didn’t get home and get to bed until 2:30 am. I was pretty amped up from the day even though I was exhausted, so it took me an hour to wind down enough to sleep.

One last thing! It’s not too late to join in, unless you’re reading this after August 31st. Visit the Blaugust Initiate Page to see how.