Every year my FLGS Spirit Games hosts a gaming convention at the local town hall called Beer & Pretzels; I normally have a wander down each year and this year was no exception, after trundling down to the store to buy Age of Rebellion myself and Hannah (my lovely wife) headed back to the town hall and stopped in.
There is normally far more wargaming and boardgaming than RP that goes on at the convention, it’s good fun if you love those things, but as anyone who knows me will tell you, my wargaming years are far behind me and i’ve never really been one for boardgames; the idea of spending hours allocating resources and pushing playing pieces around a board may be some peoples idea of fun (and if you love that stuff, go for it, have fun) but to me it sounds like being trapped in some unfathomable level of hell (that’s right i’m looking at you Settlers of Catan). However today I was feeling decidely chipper with an excellent one-shot of Edge of Empire under my belt, a great number of energy drinks quaffed and the prospect of purchasing a copy of Age of Rebellion in the near future, so my wife persuaded me to give some boardgames a go.
I must say that in the few hours we spent there I actually had a great deal of time, perhaps my previous grumblings about board/card games (except Battlestar Galactica and Family Business, those games are ace) were unfounded, or rather only applied to a few games in particular.
First of all we played a game called Librium, it’s basically a cool variant on Jenga, where you put cards with slots into a centre card mounted on a magnet (normally stuck on a bottle top or from a pendulum, we bought a set that comes in a can serving as the base – well cool); we actually met the creator there and also spoke to him the previous year, very nice bloke and he gave me a complimentary clear plastic laser-cut keyring which is has now proudly taken it’s place on my big bunch of keys (love a freebie).
We then went on to play a game called Trax which is all about building the longest line of your colour out of tiles in an eight-by-eight grid, i’m sad to say that this game looked a lot more fun than it turned out to be; originally it looked like there was a limit on the types of patterns you had on your tiles but it turned out each one was double sided and had the same design. It was an interesting concept but not one I’ll be racing back to revisit.
Myself and Hannah then returned this game to the extensive lending library of games that is provided at Beer & Pretzels (a great feature of the convention that, whilst not possible at larger cons, does make B&P stand out) and pulled out a game called Forbidden Island.
Forbidden Island turned out to be an excellent co-op game where you race as a team (playing randomly dealt character each with a special ability) to collect four mysterious treasures and escape in a helicopter as the island sinks around you. This was a great fun game, simple to understand that we played a number of times, the first we escaped with a sizable time margin, the second we lost because in the first couple of turns Hannah’s character drowned as the part of the island she stood on sank and, if a character goes out of the game then it’s game over. Our friend Guy turned up just as we were about to pack the game away so we had another game, this time missing out by the narrowest of margins, the helipad sinking as we ran towards it; although we’d lost we reversed that turn and did things slightly differently (christening it a ‘directors cut alternate ending’) to see if we could’ve won. Turns out we could have, but I suppose that’s the benefit of hindsight.
Another cool thing was one of my friends from LARP, Andrea turning up and say hello so that was cool; unfortunately Hannah had work to do and I was itching to read some Starwars goodness so we heading home at about 5pm.
Overall a very enjoyable day and, if you’re ever in the Burton area of the UK around this time of year I highly recommend you give Beers & Pretzels a look.