As mentioned in a couple of threads, the girlfriend and I (not pictured) went down to Ravenwood Castle to take part in Hoop and Stick Con, a gaming convention put on by the castle that raises funds for Extra Life (previously, the fundraiser was for Child’s Play… both are worthy charities). This year’s goal was $9,500 of which $50 from each $75 ticket was donated, as well as half of all room rental costs for the weekend (room rentals included convention tickets). So it’s a bunch of geeks getting together to play board games, role playing games, eat, drink, and have fun… all while raising money to help sick children. This is the sixth year of this convention, and the first one I have attended. Below, I’ve got some pictures and comments on some of the games I was able to get in.
Arrived after watching the girlfriend freak out after driving on country roads. It was raining (this was a common theme to the weekend). We were told our cabins were a short hike to the castle, which while true, did not include the fact that the hike was uphill, on a poorly marked trail that was nearly washed out. We did not attempt to walk up the path again. Since we were walking up, we just brought a couple of games. After dinner we got a ride back to our cabin and drove back up, allowing us to bring up more games. I managed to teach Topiary to several people, as well as Mexica:
Both games I taught have simple rules, with some deep strategy. Both also allow some cruel blocking of other players in the game. Topiary is a light filler, taking about 20 minutes to play, while Mexica takes about 60-90 minutes to play and has a deeper strategy with less randomness..
Woke up to rain. Got cleaned up and drove up to the castle, after a light breakfast we looked around to decide what to play. More people had arrived, and there seemed to be about a 60/40 split between roleplayers and boardgamers. The items for the silent auction had been set up, and the girlfriend and I looked over the options.
She decided she wanted the B. Nektar basket, while I went for the Bell’s basket, the Jackie-O’s basket, and the Heavy Seas basket. After writing down some bids, we then got some games in. Today I got to teach Torres:
Another action point based area control game that the girlfriend had never opened or learned to play that I enjoy. It plays in about 60 minutes, and has gone through many printings with different variations on the rules. I also got to teach a game of Isle of Skye, a nice tile placement game with an interesting auction mechanic. I learned a game called Dragon’s Delta which was an action programming game that had a very mild dexterity element to it. I played more games of Mexica (I really like this game, and the Iello version is a beautiful printing). Then I played an Ameritrash game called Fate of the Elder Gods:
This one I wasn’t too big of a fan of, it seemed to overstay its welcome, and I don’t know how well the elder gods powers are balanced. But that’s an initial impression after several days being low on sleep, and playing with a bunch of new players. I’m more than willing to give the game another shot.
The rain continues… today after breakfast, I got into a big heavy worker placement game by Uwe Rosenberg: A Feast for Odin:
This is not a short game, as it took 4 new players about 3 hours to play through. Surprising (to us players at least), we all managed positive scores in the end (you start with -86 points). I won with the lowest winning score in the history of the included score pad at 55. More games were played, and beer consumed. For a size of the scale of the castle, this is the main room:
There were at least three other gaming rooms in the basement, split up between the main pub and two side rooms. The downstairs area was mostly running RPG’s through the weekend. Although they did have a Crokinole board in the pub:
That finally made me realize how big this game is. Looking at most of the pictures, it looks to be about the size of your standard Monopoly game. This is shockingly wrong. The playing area of the board is over two feet across. I got to learn how to play this while waiting for dinner to be ready, and am now looking for a board for my basement. This is the day that the silent auction completed, and the girlfriend and I won three of the items we had bid on (the B. Nektar basket, the Bells basket, and the Jackie-O’s basket). During dinner, we found out that the convention had raised $11,587 for the Extra Life charity:
After this, we played a couple of quick fillers (Topiary again, which I failed to take any pictures of at the convention) while waiting to pay for the silent auction, then went back to the cabin to deplete the alcohol stores we had brought down with us.
Today was a slacker day. Wake up, clean up, pack everything up, and then head up to the castle for breakfast. No real gaming today, just saying goodbye to the people we met, and watch the girlfriend exchange Facebook information with others. I then convinced the girlfriend that we should go to Athens, were I saw this appropriation of Libertarian culture:
And had to find solace in the beers of Jackie-O’s: