Cult of the New and Love of the Old – July 19
I will explain the title somewhere near the bottom of the article.
Since everyone writes articles, blogs, reviews, recipes, and general stuff on the internet, I figured I needed to get in on the action. My motivation came from attending the Origins Game Fair in Columbus, Ohio a few weeks ago. I had a great time and thought I would share some stories and news with you. Origins is a very big, national convention that has been around for many years. I started going a few years ago. Since it is only a 3.5 hour drive from my home, a couple of friends of mine have always driven up and back on the Saturday of the show. Sure it is a long day, but you can visit the vendor room, buy some new stuff, play a few games, visit with friends, eat some Krystal burgers on the way home, and be in bed by 2 am. This year I was invited to volunteer, in exchange for a free badge, so I decided to go for the full 5 days. Here is how that happened and why you might want to try it.
The Kanawha Riflemen club (our local miniatures club) is part of the Historical Miniatures Gaming Society - Great Lakes Chapter. The HMGS folks run a ton of games at Origins. They are an awesome group. As part of that group, the Kanawha Riflemen and friends have been running games for several years. The more hours of games/events you run, the more free stuff (badges, hotel rooms, discounts) you get. This is all part of Origins volunteer program. Once CharCon got started, the staff decided that we should and could run events and advertise CharCon as well. So last year, several members of the CharCon staff ran some games under the HMGS banner. We did this again this year but made sure that CharCon got a fair amount of publicity also. The games we ran were for Jolly Roger Games. The owner, Jim Dietz, basically designed a structure (Jolly Roger Booty Grab) to show off his games and we run the show. It has been a great relationship. This year we had game sessions for Victory & Honor, Four Dragons, Graverobbers, Knock! Knock!, The Great Chili Cookoff, Clocktowers, Scream Machine, Dynasties, and the relatively new Surf's Up, Dude! The Jolly Roger line has a variety of games and something for everyone. I had a great time teaching and playing the games. If there was any kind of trend at the Jolly Roger events, I would say that we taught games to lots of families. I especially loved the family that played Four Dragons because they forgot to bring their copy to Origins and had to get a grudge match in. Anyway, that is one of the reasons I stayed all 5 days.
The second reason for attending the whole show was that I wanted to talk to the vendors about our game convention, CharCon. We need sponsors, door prizes, raffle items, swag bag stuff, and maybe a vendor or two to attend CharCon. This was a golden opportunity. What better place to find these things than a huge room full of vendors? Anyway, a few designated CharCon staff criss-crossed the room about 15 times while the hall was open. We made some great contacts and signed a number of companies for sponsorships. We are finalizing these contracts now so it may be a few days before we make any announcements. Watch the CharCon site.
Ready for a third reason? The BoardRoom and WarRoom that are run by the Columbus Area Boardgame Society (CABS). What a great job they do. For $16 you can buy one of the ribbons ($32 for both) and you can play all day in the specific room using the CABS library of games. The WarRoom was a little smaller this year but the guys and gals playing over there sure looked to be having a great time. I am a boardgamer so I got a BoardRoom ribbon. I spent most of my time before 10 am and after 6 pm (when the vendor hall was closed) in the BoardRoom. I played Tikal, Cutthroat Caverns, Glory to Rome, Key Largo, Metropolys, Nefertiti, Stone Age, Web of Power, Dungeoneer, and Yahtzee Free for All during my time in the room. Plus a prototype or two. The Yahtzee Free for All is a good story. It was a brand new game. No one had seen a production copy of the game. I believe Richard Borg, the designer, only had one copy of the game and he just walked into the room and gave it to the CABS library so anyone could play it. How cool is that? Speaking of donations, Jay Tummelson of Rio Grande Games made an incredible donation of 9 pallets of games to CABS. I think 17 different games were included. All they had to do was give them away. HaHa! The officers of CABS decided to give 2 games away to any ribbon holder (BoardRoom or WarRoom) at Origins. So the excellent deal to pay $16 for access to the CABS library just became a crazy, wonderful deal to get 2 games in addition to the regular stuff. I got Dragonriders and Toppo. If that wasn't enough Jay also gave away a free drink coupon and bought the colas one night in the BoardRoom. If you want to thank him, just go buy a Rio Grande Game. By the way, CharCon owes CABS a big thank you, that I will explain in a later column.
How about a Fourth Reason? Seeing my gaming friends. Really, this is the reason I like boardgames. I love the social interaction between real, live people. Watching a player get that AH HAH moment, as they see the great move for them, as well as, the laughter when they don't. Games have been part of my life since as early as I can remember. Counting started with a deck of playing cards. I really thought nine, ten, jack, queen was the way everyone did it. My introduction to conventions was Avaloncon, which later became the World Boardgaming Championships. That led me to eurogames, BGG, invitational events, Appalachian Gamers and CharCon. I now have friends from all over the world and I cherish their friendship. Seeing them every few weeks or months or years is why I attend conventions.
OK, so what's with the title of this article, “Cult of the New and Love of the Old”? Well, there is a phenomenon in the gaming world where some people only play new games and often only one time before moving on to something else. This is the “Cult of the New”. They really like to try the new stuff and normally don't delve into repeated plays of games. They buy the games on pre-order and the really, really hard core ones get the games from Europe before they are ever printed in English. As for the “Love of the Old”, I know some gamers that have become very “jaded” over playing new titles all the time. They want to play some of the older games that have been sitting on their shelves for a while.
So here is what I propose. I want to gear this column toward relatively new boardgamers. First, I will write about one or two “new” Eurogames that are available and worth seeking out. That is the “Cult of the New” for those not paying attention. Second, I will expound on the virtues of an “older” game that might be out of print but one that I think is worth looking for. You may not need to buy a copy but you can at least find a friend that has a copy. That will be my “Love of the Old”.
This week's new game is Tinner's Trail, by Martin Wallace. Currently, this game is only available from Great Britain. Our wonderful CharCon buddy and world traveler, John Daniels, just happened to get a copy from Mr. Wallace on his recent trip to Europe. If you don't know John, you are missing out. Back to the game. Tinner's Trail is based on the mining industry in the Cornwall region of England. This region has two major mineral ore deposits, copper and tin. At the beginning of the game, the players will know how much copper, tin, and water are in some regions, while other regions will remain unexplored. It turns out that water is a bad thing for mining. Water adds to the cost of mining and as you remove ore, the mine fills up with more water. This water mechanism really makes this game. The price of tin and copper can go up or down each turn. Some players don't like the randomness of this but I find it acceptable for a business type game. The turn order changes as the players do things because the action track is based on days and how long specific actions take. Each player will have the option to put an area up for bid (winning allows you to place a mine and cost days), buying other things to get the ore out of the ground, mining the ore, and buying pasties. At the end of the turn, you must sell all of your ore at the current price. You then buy stocks (victory points) but don't spend all of your money or you can't buy anything on your next turn. I really liked the game. It can be played in an hour and is challenging to win. (Watch for Dave Gilligan's more detailed article here on the CharCon site.)
For an older game, I am going to pick one of my all-time favorites. Kremlin Originally published by Fata Morgana Speile and it is STILL in print in Europe and was later reprinted in English by Avalon Hill. It is out of print in the US. Kremlin is about the Soviet politburo during the cold war. In this game, there are 26 politicians that can potentially hold an office in the politburo. Of these 26, 8 will start in an office (Party Chief, KGB head, defense minister, Ideology chief, etc.), 5 will be at the Candidate level (ready to move up into the politburo) and the rest will be in the People. The players will secretly place influence points on 10 of these politicians. You MUST place 10 points on one, 9 on another, 8, 7, ...so that at the end you have 10 politicians that you have from 1 to 10 points on them. The turns are done in phases. Each turn has a cure, purge, spy, health, funeral, replacement, rehabilitation, and parade phase. During the phase, specific offices (not player) will have a chance to influence the other politicians. The KGB head can attempt to purge other politicians. The Defense Minister can put politicians under spy investigation and later put them on trial. The politburo can promote others below them. So how do the players do anything? The influence points (IP) must be revealed for a player to control a politician. If I have 4 points listed on my secret sheet on the KGB head, I can announce I have 1 IP (up to the 4 I have) on that politician. During the Purge phase, I can then attempt to use the power (purge) against another politician. Another player could then say no, announce 2 IP on the KGB Head and that player would have more announced IP so would then get to take the action. This can sometimes go back and forth but eventually, someone will win. At that point, these points are then noted on the politician card with counters. The object is to get control of the Party Chief and have him healthy enough to successfully wave at the military parades during the parade phase. Controlling the Party Chief 3 times wins the game. There are a lot of details that I left out but the game is easy to understand if you have an experienced player to lead everyone. I love the unknown of who controls who. Give this one a try if you can.