Friday, March 31, 2006

A Gamut of Games (part 2)

If you're joining the party late, you might want to read the first installment.

My cohorts and I survived the food court and met no zombies. Mallwalkers, sure, but no zombies. Chimaeracon continued.

Once returning to the gaming area, we wanted to catch a panel/event/discussion covering the art of making up games on the fly. It sounded pretty cool, so we had scheduled dinner and our travel time to go to the convention at all more or less around this event. In most cons, they will typically assign a room in the convention area to an event; this con assigned tables to their events. Coincidentally, the event we wanted to see was scheduled to take place at the same table where we played RoboRally. We waited about a half hour with no sign of anyone even remotely showing up. Well, we did see one person stop by while we were waiting, and they were en route to the costume contest. (See the photo.)

We noticed a nearby game of Dino Hunt (BGG, BUY ME!) happening as a demo, which Ryan had never played. Now, I'm not a big fan of the game- it's squarely marketed at the age-eight crowd. I'll give Steve Jackson Games credit for successfully pulling off an educational game in this market (well, ten years ago), but the game just isn't there. There's very little decision-making and way too much randomness. The special cards that do the sort of thing you'd expect a special card to do (lose a turn, reroll a dino capture attempt, screw your neighbor), but there's not enough of them to really make a difference in play. For a "demo," we also had way too many dinosaur cards in the deck and the game started to drag. At least the game comes with little plastic dinosaurs and the cards are pretty. (Yay, Dan Smith!)

I started to need more entertainment during play, so after Dan and I formed the Axis of Evil to try to squash Ryan, I decided to roleplay a little. Instead of a warm and fuzzy scientist trying to "Bring 'em back alive!" to my zoo for study, I declared myself CEO of Dino Burgers, Inc. I was bringing the 'saurs back for my burger meat. Remember The Muppet Movie? Like that. My crowning achievement was retrieving the Muttaburrasaurus, aka the Mutt-a-Burger-Saurus. I won't bore you with the details or the saga I underwent as I struggled to save my marketing budget, but suffice it to say it was epic.

Luckily, I happened to notice a fellow wearing a silkscreened t-shirt that matched someone else's, and I smelled small company doing a game demo. Lo and behold, I met Richard and Vincent from Pinche Games. They have a beer-and-pretzels RPG called THE Organization, a game basically about low-rent spy rejects. I ditched the Dino Hunt demo like a ton of bricks and had a blast playing their demo. I might've bought it on the spot, but besides not having anything for sale, the game mechanics as presented didn't really shore up the premise of the game. They basically had a GURPS-alike roll-low-on-3d6 mechanics with no frills. I should really give them some better feedback, but the fun in the game really came form the GM and the players, not the game itself. I can't really speak to whether or not the fun would translate into a printed format. Participating in this game totally made the whole con worthwhile.

Next weekend will probably find me at a local-to-Austin con called Horizocon. [UPDATE: TRUE!]

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