Hey! We've been back almost a week, those of us who went to the World Boardgaming Championships. You wish you'd gone? Well, wish no more, because I'm gonna give you at least one guy's perspective of how it went and what he did.
This first part is just the intro, and it'll talk more about the people and the beer and the trip up. I'll have some session reports in future articles - for instance, you'll hear how I almost considered divorcing my wife over a TI3 loss.
So now close your eyes and imagine you're me.... Your hair is gone. Your eyes are blue. You love TI3 and hate Alhambra. You like beer more than you like food. And now, the curtains open....
As you well know if you know me, I’ve been away for a little over a week to Lancaster, PA, playing a bunch of board games with 1500 other gaming fans. As YOU GUYS are certainly aware, the boardgaming hobby is growing, with a whole host of games being designed and redesigned every day by companies like Fantasy Flight, Rio Grande, Days of Wonder, Z-Man, Valley, GMT and Asmodee. There are thousands of us – people who have played war games like Panzer Blitz and Titan since we were kids, people who started playing Settlers of Catan in college and graduated to more and bigger pickings, and people like me, who got sick of the time and money we wasted in collectible card games (i.e. Magic The Gathering) but couldn’t give up the thrill we got every week from rolling some dice, playing some cards, and trying our damndest to outsmart the guy across the table.
The World Boardgaming Championships is an annual event hosted by the Boardgaming Players’ Association in which over 1000 people from around the world compete to be named champion of their favorite games.
I went to be crowned the champion of my favorite game, Twilight Imperium. Alas, I was not thusly crowned – a dude named Dan was – but I managed to come in 3rd. More on that later, since it happened later in the week. For now, I shall begin at the begin and simply highlight the things which left the most indelible impressions on me.
Now, since I’m a beer snob/fan, I have to comment on the beer aspect of the week. That is to say, which beers I took with me and what I ended up drinking when mine disappeared. And drink beer we did, almost constantly. Thing is, with the exception of this guy named Ben (what up, Ben!?), most of us never got unreasonably drunk – just playful enough that the table banter raged and the testosterone roared. Even with the women. If you have a thin skin, you would have hated it. You know who you are.
I took a whole bunch of: Dale’s Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Torpedo, Sweetwater Blue, and Flying Dog Road Dog. I was staying in a different hotel, one that my friend Jay got for us at a really awesome rate (thanks, Jay!). It had a fridge, so I kept all my beer there, and just brought out a six pack every day for that day’s consumption. Two days in a row, though, I brought my beer, put it in the cooler in my other friend Malloc’s room, and left it to go find some games. I generally didn’t start drinking every day until 2 or 3 in the afternoon (okay, so the alcohol consumption wasn’t constant), and when I came back to snag my beers, they were gone. Someone staying in Malloc’s room had found my stash and helped himself.
So two days in a row, I ended up drinking National Bohemian, which was what was left in the cooler after my stash was gone. Natty Boh isn’t a bad beer – much better than Bud or Miller Lite or swill like that. But it wasn’t Torpedo or Dale’s. And while I’m glad someone was turned on to the advantages of drinking better tasting, higher quality beer, I wish I could have enjoyed my stash a little more.
Someone’s a motherfucker, BTW. You know who you are.
I left the Sunday evening before the convention, my intention to drive about halfway, then get a motel room, then drive the last half the next day. Originally, I had intended to drive the whole shebang that Monday, but then the folks who were gonna go with me started dwindling. Turns out, I’m the only guy in Atlanta with the money and time to make such a trip – I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Anyway, when it looked liked I was going to be making the trip by myself, I decided to break it up. That way, I’d actually get to the con earlier on opening day, and I’d be fresh for some hot game lovin’.
So I laid me down to sleep in an overpriced Comfort Inn right on the North Carolina/Virginia border and… I couldn’t sleep. I don’t know if it was excitement over the coming day (I thought I was done with that sort of shit when Santa stopped visiting me), or if it was because I was so wired from Monster LoCarbs and Starbucks, or if the bed was softer than I was used to. Whatever – I couldn’t sleep.
Finally, at about 4:30 a.m., after tossing and turning for four or so hours, I gave up. I hopped up, dragged my ass to the shower, took a cold one, then threw myself in the car for another 7 hours of endurance driving. When I got to Lancaster about 4 in the afternoon, I was jittery from caffeine, and everything seemed like it was underwater. I’d been awake for 36 hours straight.
So naturally, I sat down and played some games.
Rob, Rob, Peter, Phil, Andy, and well, Ben
I went to play Twilight Imperium. Now online, I often play Malloc and Malloc's friend (and coworker?) Rob Olsson. They and a whole bunch of their buddies live in and around Baltimore – roughly an hour and a half from Lancaster – so they attend the WBC every year.
As much as I looked forward to playing games and drinking beer almost nonstop for 6 days, I looked forward even more to meeting Malloc’s “crew.” Boardgaming for me and my friends has always been a social outlet – which is probably why we gravitate to games with high interaction levels (there are some games which lend themselves to fat bearded guys and women – yes, bearded women – leaning over little wooden bits and shoving them around the board with no player interaction whatsoever). I’ve met Malloc on many occasions, and beat his ass in Twilight several times, but all I knew of Rob and the others was their name, their gaming “style”, and their e-mail address.
After meeting them, I can honestly say that I have no doubt any one of them would fit in perfectly with my own gaming group – the guys I hang out with weekly. They are all funny, generous, outgoing, and passionate about our hobby.
And though I may see them only once or twice a year, I now count Rob Olsson, Rob Buccheri, Phil White, Andy Joy, Peter Putnam, and Ben Stephenson as my friends. Even if one or more of them kept taking my beer.
Rob O., dude – I still owe you for that dinner. You need to come down here to Atlanta and collect.
OK then - this post is already getting long, so I think I’ll stop for now. Next time I bring this up, I’ll tell you my impressions of the hotel which hosted the convention, as well as a couple of stories about the games I played. Until then….
This article originally appeared at my blog: www.willkenyon.com. Please visit there and give me some love.