The Vodka God (allah_sulu) wrote,
The Vodka God


Here's a late, brief recap of Labor Day weekend at TCEP with pictures. The gaming convention, three miles away from my home, is held every Labor Day weekend; but somehow, I managed to be oblivious of that fact until recently. It started on Friday, 29 August 2008; I didn't get there until Saturday (after checking out Richard's bowling). (By the time I got home Friday evening I was beat and didn't want to go back out – since it was raining and it was the Friday before a long holiday weekend, rush hour was horrible. It took me an extra hour to get home.)

One of the games I played on Saturday was pretty epic. It's called Die Macher, and it's a simulation of German politics. It's supposed to run for seven rounds, each of which involves all the stages of setting up platforms, spending money, influencing the media, getting votes, and several other steps; but we only played for five rounds – the "short version". It took us two hours just to learn the rules (by watching an explanatory video on someone's iPod) and set the game up – here's a close-up picture of the boards, cards, money, wooden pieces, notepads, and so forth that were involved. I managed to get in a couple of quick Fluxx games with someone else during the set up; and then, when kmusser had to make a run out to the Metro station to pick someone up, I got into a game of Cartagena with stevemb and others. Finally, Die Macher began. I was the Die Linken party, which allowed me to make jokes about John Wilkes Booth ("No, really, it means 'The Lincoln, The'"). After a few hours of playing, we had to break for the poker tournament, since a couple of our players were participating and/or overseeing. At this point, I think I was in the lead, but it was really hard to say.

During the break, some other games were played such as Shear Madness and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the board game). In Buffy, one player controls the evil characters (the "Big Bad" and his underlings) and the otber players take care of the various members of the Scooby Gang. I chose to play evil, and picked (at random) the Judge from season 2. I came very close to winning; I managed to kill Willow and Xander and was one point of damage away from killing Buffy before she managed to kill the Judge. There was also a game of Guillotine in there somewhere.

Once the poker tournament ended, we had at least another hour and a half of playing yet to go before we finished the "short version" of Die Macher. I ended up coming in third (out of five), which I didn't mind at all. It was a fun game, but I'll wait a while (mabe until next year) before I start another game of it. By the time that game was done, it was after midnight and I was beat, so I headed home.

Sunday, I only got to play two games because both were new to me and somewhat long (although neither was in the same class as Die Macher!) The first game was called War on Terror. It was similar to Risk, although with various elements added (the players attempted to acquire oil in order to get money to fund their activities; although it was the only resource in the game, its distribution was similar to the manner in which resources were distributed in Settlers of Catan). In addition to their own pieces in territory that they controlled, players could fund terrorist units anywhere on the board. Of course, once the terrorists were on the board, anyone else could also control them, so the terrorists you funded in one turn could turn around and attack you in the next. There were a few ways that a player could win, under normal circumstances; but any player who had all of their territory wiped out, or who simply felt that had no shot at victory, could "go terrorist". At that point, they relinquished any territory and normal units that they had remaining, and operated only terrorist units henceforth (they also had a separate deck of action cards to draw from which was obviously stacked almost entirely with attack cards, unlike the balance of attack, defense, financial and other cards in the normal deck). Terrorists had their own victory condition; and if there were multiple players who "went terrorist", they shared the victory if they won. (One of the players went terrorist early; I was offering her clandestine support which eventually got blatant, causing massive retaliation against me from another player.) Eventually, all of the players but one turned terrorist and shared the victory against the single sole superpower remaining (who was, ironically, the designated "Axis of Evil" at the time. There was a spinner that occasionally selected which player was the "Axis of Evil", who got special powers and penalties).

That's right, the terrorists won. I am so ashamed.

The other game I got to play on Sunday was Cosmic Encounter (close-up picture). In this game, each player chooses (at random) a different alien race, each of whom has a different power and philosophy. I ended up with "Terrorist" (I think that was from an expansion set, not the original set). Quelle coincidence! As terrorist, my power was to secretly designate, in advance, five planets (belonging to me or other players) which were booby-trapped to explode if anyone landed on them. Since the object of the game is to move your pieces to establish five bases outside your system, this made people very wary about where they chose to go. (Shortly into the game, I got a "power booster" card which let me place even more bombs. Up until then, the other players had kept track of which planets were so far known to be safe. Now, since I placed new bombs, they had to start keeping track again from scratch.) This put me into a great negotiating position; people would allow me to support their attacks (which would allow me to establish a base on the target planet, too) in exchange for me designating which planet was safe to land on. They assumed that if I joined in on an attack, that the target planet must be a safe one. (I cured them of this assumption by sacrificing some martyrs of my own units on planets that I knew to be unsafe, just to take some of the other players' units with me.) I even turned down a shared victory at one point, leading two other players to a booby-trapped world, just because I thought it would be funny. It was! (Some of the players agreed, depending on which side they were on.) Later on, I did manage to get into another shared victory (almost blowing up the person who was willing to share it with me; he forget to ask me, as part of the deal, to designate a safe world. So, he had to guess – and with 50-50 odds, he got lucky. Note that I never once in the game actually lied; but if they specifically forgot to ask me if a planet was safe, I didn't always feel compelled to volunteer the information. Of course, on another occasion I told them quite clearly that a planet was unsafe, but they thought – for a while, at least – that I was bluffing). This meant that, out of two entirely different games, I had twice managed to secure a shared victory while in the role of terrorist. It wasn't too late yet at that point to start another game, but I didn't want to end the streak by starting another game unless it also had the potential to allow me to share a victory as a terrorist. My mind is not entirely hobgoblin-free.

One of the rooms had to be cleaned out Sunday night, while the rest were still going to be in use on Sunday, so I helped with moving all of the stuff out of one room and into another. I tried to do so in a terrorist manner. Terrorist crossed with Eddie Izzard, that is.

Monday was only a half-day of gaming, since they only had the remaining rooms until about 2 PM. I played a couple of shorter games; one was Car Wars (along with the expansion Battle Cattle). I won this game, using the Tough-But-Fair algorithm – I did not deliberately target anyone unless they attacked me first; and then, on my next turn, I attacked them back. Of course, on every turn you have to attack somebody, so if I didn't have a designated target, I chose a victim randomly. There were eight players total IIRC, so at first I used a seven-sided die to select a victim. As people's cars/cattle were destroyed (the winner is the last one remaining) I had to keep changing dice. Fortunately, I had my full set of dice with me; so I also had a d6, d5, d4, d3, and d2. I did not need a d1 when I only had one opponent left (plus, since he was only attacking me, Tough-But-Fair required that I direct all of my attacks back at him).

The other game was one I'd brought with me, so I had the advantage of actually knowing what I was doing: Zeus on the Loose. It's quick and easy – especially when Q is playing, with her penchant for sudden death-type strategies – and I did well. I think there were multiple games of this played, but I don't recall how many or who with. There were a few familiar faces (to me) at TCEP, but not many. I have, however, added a couple more people to my f-list as a result of meeting them at TCEP.

Looking forward to next year.

Tags: games, geekery, pictures, plug
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