Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Origins Game Fair 2013 - Final Days

Friday and Saturday I destroyed the entire world twice.  In between times I played T&T, attended a lecture by Maxwell Alexander Drake and played several other games in the Boardroom.  Keep reading to learn about the good, the remarkable and the unusual.

Nuclear War

The The three of us entered a Nuclear War tournament, and I had the great good fortune to have the old man himself, Rick Loomis, as game master of our table.

Nuclear War Spinner
For those of you who aren't familiar with this game, Nuclear War is a card game that's easy to play, requires limited strategy and even more limited tactics.  As a player, your goal is to win by killing off your opponent's population.  You do this most effectively by dropping nuclear warheads on your opponent's country.  When you are eliminated, you are given a final strike against any and all players remaining in the game, so it is not only possible but somewhat likely that no one will win - everyone having been blown up, you see.  I played three rounds and made a fatal mistake my first round, and so was eliminated.  Drat!  The other two rounds were complete loses since no one survived.

The game is great fun, but it's even more fun when someone like Rick is running things.  Good job, Rick!

Tunnels and Trolls

We showed up first thing in the morning to play Tunnels & Trolls with Ken St. Andre, the author of the game.  T&T is a lot like the old Dungeons and Dragons game played more for fun and entertainment, and there's nothing like playing with the game designer to learn how the game is supposed to be played.

We survived the dungeon, much to Ken's amazement, and collected our reward over at the Flying Buffalo booth; a six sided death die, and the expression of absolute amazement from the fellow manning the booth when we explained that we'd survived.  I gather we were the only players to do so.

This was another worthwhile game, and was very enjoyable thanks to the other players and the game master, Ken.  Good job, Ken!

Drake's Lecture on Writing

I attended a lecture by Maxwell Alexander Drake on the creation of fight scenes, and found it rather... different.  To begin with, Maxwell Drake is so manic I suspect that he's got a nose full of the old Bolivian marching powder, but perhaps not.  Maybe he just runs at double the normal speed all the time.  Drake begins the lecture by talking about himself and his accomplishments to excess, and I suspect the lecture will be a few techniques as applied to Drake's writing.  I'm only partially correct about this, as Drake does give a worthwhile lecture that lasts about thirty minutes out of the hour.  At the end of the lecture, Drake informs us that he'll be reading some of his own work that is as yet unpublished - then looks expectantly at the audience for applause.  When none is forthcoming, Drake continues with a preamble that's as lengthy as it is tedious.  Someone in the front row finally stops Drake and tells him to read the work, and he does.

The excerpt is several pages of a fight scene that Drake uses to illustrate the points he covered in the lecture.  There are several problems with this.

First, the work should be good enough to stand on its own, and in fact it is good enough to stand on its own.  Why give some kind of prequel disclaimer for decent work?

Secondly, Drake spends a solid five minutes insisting that he, Drake, welcomes criticism and never takes anything personally.  He loves to be criticized, Drake announces, for that's how we all learn to be better writers.  Truly, any and all criticism is always more than welcome.  Are we all crystal clear on that point?  Drake loves criticism.

Drake then reads the selection, which is pretty good stuff, and points out how the work conforms to the rules about fight scenes that Drake laid out earlier.  Drake then asks for comments or criticisms, and no one even moves a hair.  Drake begs for comments, and you can hear the heavy breathing out in the hall from the people who just got out of a symposium on romance novels.  Drake insists his life won't be complete unless he gets at least one little comment or criticism.

I don't believe a word of it, but when an old guy up front points out that Drake has confused two words (agony and anguish, as I remember it), Drake acts like the man kicked his dog and mumbles something about editors being mentally challenged.  Then the same guy points out that the hero in Drake's fight scene chopped his way through fifty or so opponents with about one third of the business end of a spear hanging out of his midsection, Drake tries to justify it.  And fails.  And pouts.

This isn't to say that the lecture wasn't any good at all, because that isn't the case.  I found it informative and the delivery, when it finally happened, was good.  I just think the lecture would have been much better had Drake removed himself and his fragile ego from the lecture.

Trade Show

We spent a good deal of time walking around the trade show, which was well attended this year.  The steam punk gear has dwindled but there are other options available.  There were several cutlery vendors, including one who had a plethora of combat ready swords including the ubiquitous katana, wakizashi and tanto set.  All were made of carbon steel and ranged in price from several hundred up to seven thousand.

Trade Show
One display I liked was Alice in Wonderland, as shown below.


Mad Hatter's Tea Party

Tea Table

I find the detail amazing.  I could never make anything like this.  My regret is that I didn't get the name of the exhibitor.

Picture with a Hottie
Another booth offered the once in a lifetime chance to get your photo taken with a notable hottie.  I didn't get any names, but she looked about as happy to be here as any low ranking government worker facing a meeting on budget cuts for the coming year.  I note that there wasn't a line at the booth, either.  Oh well, such is fame.

Barley's Downtown
We generally ate at Barley's, for several reasons.  The beer and food are excellent, and in spite of the huge convention crowd the service was prompt and courteous.  The place is within easy walking distance and will offer the adult conventioneer a haven against the rabid teenagers they keep tripping over.

The Boardroom

Some of the best gaming to be found in the entire convention is in the boardroom.  This is where participants can set up a game and advertise for players.  If you don't know how to play the game in question, someone will teach you and help you along.  We played several here, and had a great time.  So good, in fact, that I think next year I'll skip a few of the official events and just hang out in the boardroom.

I enjoyed the Origins Game Fair and will likely attend next year.  Further tips on events to avoid will be in my next post.

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