I am usually nervous when I walk into a convention for the first time (unless it's one I organized myself). Will there be anyone I know? Will it be a friendly con? Will I get invited to join a game? Or will I spend hours and hours wandering around friendless watching other people play games?
I needn't have worried. Within minutes of walkimg into the game rooms at MidCon I was greeted by a cheery Nick Kinzett whom I know from ManorCons gone by, and I was quickly sitting down to a game of The World Cup Game. Great fun this, with some clever ideas, like the simultaneous resolution of all the group games. I am not a fan of sports games, but I enjoyed this one. We were playing Nick's 1966 board, and my Russians got knocked out by W. Germany in the semi-final's, who went on to take the cup.
After that it was Railroad Tycoon, a 3-player game with Nick K and Steve Jones. I have heard people raving about the physical presentation of this game, but I have to say I was not impressed. Some of the worst faults:
- Gratuitously huge board with lots of wasted space. I spent the whole game stretching over the two tables to reach my network on the East Coast.
- Warping boards. A huge gap kept opening near Washington, a particularly busy area of the map.
- Terrible colour matching. It's especially easy to get confused between blue and purple.
- Some very impractical bits. Those plastic locomotives everywhere, falling over and slipping off the track, and making the situation impossible to read at a glance.
- Some just plain ugly bits. All those brown plastic water-towers. And the "elephant" - a black wooden locomeeple? Surely we could do better than that?
Nevertheless, it's a very interesting and challenging game, and I enjoyed it very much, despite losing hands-down.
Next up was Tara , an abstract game set in Dark Ages Ireland. The box said about an hour. Three hours later the four of us finally gave it up - it seemed impossible for anyone to make a bid for that second throne without the other three players thwarting him. Surely we were playing a rule wrong?! If not this game, though pretty and clever, is sadly broken.
Next morning: a late start, a huge breakfast, then a long day of uninterrupted gaming....
Um Krone und Kragen. So far I've not had much success introducing this to new players. But it was a minor hit here at MidCon. I was first of 5 to reach the King, but Dave Dudley snatched him from me in the final round.
Nottingham. This is rummy with thieving - a lot of thieving! About half a dozen different ways of stealing cards off your opponents. Great fun. And I won!
Then another game of Railroad Tycoon, with no less than 6 players this time! I started building in the New York/Washington area, competing with Nick Kinzett. I took an early lead in VPs, and from then on Steve Jones was relentlessly chasing me to catch up. By the end of the game he was only 5 VPs behind. I had failed to meet my Tycoon criteria, and I felt sure that he had. I was right, but it only gave him another 4 points, so I won by 1 point!! This was the highlight of the weekend for me, a very gratifying victory against stiff opposition. The whole game took about two and a quarter hours - not bad for a 6-player epic.
Last game of Saturday was 5-player Puerto Rico. I was feeling a bit rusty. Josh (2 seats to the right of me) was a PR newbie and getting a LOT of coaching from the other 3, so it took a lot longer than it should have. I came in 2nd with 37 points. Enjoyed this in spite of the length - I had forgotten what a good game PR is.
Retired to bed about 10:30, so Sunday morning was not such a late start. But breakfast was huge again!
First game of the new day was New England, ably taught to us by Mike Head. This looks a bit drab and unintersting out of the box, but the game play is subtle and interesting without being overtaxing on the brain. I would definitely play this again. I came 3rd out of 4.
After this another game of Um Krone und Kragen was requested. There were 5 of us this time, including Lindon Gordon who was new to the game but proceeded to win.
This was all I had time for sadly, After spending a happy hour unpacking and reading the rules to my newly purchased Space Dealer, I had to leave to catch my bargain basement train reservation back home.
On the buying and selling front, I sold Scotland Yard for £10 in the Bring and Buy sale, gave away Slick! (yes I gave away a game - makes me feel chilled just thinking about it!), and bought Space Dealer (which I am very excited about) with a convention discount.
It was a very sociable and friendly con for me, thanks to Nick Kinzett and the guys from the Halesowen Boardgaming Club. I will certainly be looking to go again next year if at all possible.