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Let’s Never Do That Again

May 2, 2011

Starbase Leicester goes to Con-Quest & Friday Night Gaming

Two great events in one day. It sounds like a good idea doesn’t it? What could be more perfect than a day at the annual Roleplaying convention Con-Quest 2011 in Derby followed by an evening in Loughborough at the monthly Friday Night Games Club (which for reasons which are unlikely to become clear anytime soon was on a Saturday).

The first challenge with any convention of course is getting everyone there, but we had that covered. Usually it’s a squeeze to fit everyone in one car since for many years SBL has had only one designated driver, namely myself. This also has the effect of limiting attendance to any event to just 5, unless anyone’s brave enough to go by train. But this time we had another car driven by Kaltak, who has recently renewed his licence.

The problem was that having been a pedestrian and bus passenger all these years, the one skill he’d forgotten to brush up on was navigation. Knowing where you’re going is often the hardest part of driving and I’m sure it’s the reason sat nav has become so popular over the years. So having collected Jaffa and proceeded to the ren-dez-vous point for the planned 9.15am meeting, we found that we were more than a little early. About 9.30 we got a call that Kaltak had just left town and was now on his way – so not much chance of getting to the convention for 10 o’clock then.

Eventually we did meet up, and got ourselves to Derby, but not in time for the morning slot. I found my old RPG friends from Leicester with their game already in full flow and decided to break out one of the board games I’d brought along since we now had some time to kill before slot 2 at 3.30pm.

As so often happens with gaming conventions, we quickly found ourselves playing a board game in a corner, in this case the excellent Formula De, with ourselves. We did manage to attract one guy wandering past into the game though, and everyone had a great game.

Then, when that was over, it was time to wander around for several hours. I didn’t want to spend any more money so tried to avoid the many stalls and ended up going out for lunch with my old gang.

Then it was time to go to the pm game. I had picked Ghostbusters, but pretty much everyone else had picked something different (you’ll have to read their accounts to find out what). There was a huge choice of games on the day and there really was something for everyone. The Ghostbusters game was great fun as I had hoped it would be, but my only gripe was that everyone else in the game was part of the same group, they were all friends, so I felt like I was a little bit of an outsider, though I didn’t let that hold me back (quite the opposite). I do like going to a con and playing in games where there’s a good mix-up of people who haven’t played together before. I don’t know, it sort of makes everything a bit more about the game and not about the individuals.

After all that was over there was some more waiting since GB had finished early and almost everyone else was still playing. Eventually, by about 7pm we all went back to collect the cars (the parking cost more than the convention had!) and started on the second leg of our excursion.

We rolled into Loughborough and sorted out some food for ourselves. Then we played Formula De again, and with ourselves again! I’ve noticed that Friday Night Gaming tends to be mainly about Magic and Dominion and nobody seems to be interested in board games. By now most of us were getting pretty tired and after a spirited game of Dixit someone decided it might be a good idea to explain ‘Humans’ to me.

I have written extensively in the past about the simple versus complicated idea in gaming. It’s true in both video games and board games, but the simpler games tend to be more fun for me than the ones with endless expansions (Munchkin) or pointless tinkering with an already perfect rules system (Fluxx). Humans is another great example. They have taken a very simple game of Zombies and added a load of new rules, taken away the nice 1D6 to kill mechanic and made something which used to be relatively quick and fun into a headache, which takes too much effort to explain. Or maybe it was just because I was tired.

Eventually it was time to go home, and I was longing for my bed, but knew that it was several hours away since I had to drive back to Leicester then Rugby. I still had one more video game style ‘Escort Mission’ to perform, guiding Kaltak back to the city as he didn’t know the way. This seemed to involve driving over more badgers than your average driving game though, but we eventually made it, parting ways at St. Margarets bus station. It was fun having a wing-man for the day Kaltak!

So what have we learned? Well, next time we need to be on-time (I am as bad at this as anyone, so I can’t blame Kaltak for being late). We could have maybe got more people since we ended up with a few spare seats in the car. Kaltak needs a sat-nav or at least some people who can read a map. Conventions are always disappointing and you never really meet anyone except the people you went with. Trying to do 2 events in one day is a very bad idea unless they are in the same street, near a cafe and you have somewhere to sleep before driving back home.

So would I do it again? Maybe, well no.

Mark E. Cotterill

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