August 26th, 2004

Things I have learned in the last 24 hours

1. Power Grid is a well-enough balanced game that it still works with two players.

2. It is immensely irritating when, just as you are about to buy the raw materials with which to power all your cities and win the game, your opponent (who was buying raw materials first) reaches over and calmly buys one more unit of coal than they actually need, leaving you one short. ;)

3. Trying to run a mail system which includes a whitelist of 180,000 email addresses is a really bad idea. Unless you like watching Sendmail and SpamAssassin waltzing together in treacle, that is.

Saturday at GenCon: the ShopMaster +12

By Saturday we were more or less adjusted to GMT-0500, so getting up early was getting harder. Luckily the Hackmaster session we'd seen advertised on Friday night was at 9am and not 8am so we could at least sleep a little later.

Despite rotwang possessing pretty much everything which has been put out for Hackmaster, we've never yet had a chance to play it. As it happened, it was two of us with one GM, who ran us through the moderately complex character creation process; I was most amused by the flaws I wound up with (not listed here in a vain attempt to prove that I'm not really that much of a dork, honest). We then played through a couple of encounters -- I definitely want to do some more, there are times when all that role-playing gets in the way of just giving the monsters a right old kicking and stealing anything left on their corpses. (Did I say that in my out-loud voice? Damn.) Also, nice of Kenzerco to give us each a Hackmaster Player's Handbook to take away -- and all for the cost of one generic ticket ($1.50).

Our next booked engagement was a seminar about maps in gaming at, if memory serves, 4pm. The time was now about 11am.


T-shirts! Old Judge's Guild stuff (for rotwang's Runequest collection) at cover price! Dice! Shiny dice! Boardgames! Read Or Die DVDs! Bits of bent wire! (Go on, rotwang, explain that one.)

Um, anyhow. I saw on the website referenced from a recent Dork Tower cartoon that they reckon GenCon brings in $36 million to the local economy. Not quite all of that was from us...

We took what seemed to be a short cut to the hotel where the mapping seminar was, only it wound up being getting on for a mile. On a hot day. With lots of shopping. Oh well... (one might, I suppose, take this as evidence that mapping is Very Important) It also took us past the parking lot where a bunch of football fans were having a pre-match party before the big game that evening. Apparently the opposing team had left it late enough to book their hotels that they couldn't find anywhere to stay in downtown Indianapolis and had to make it somewhere out by the airport instead (gamers in forward planning shocker... it'd never happen over here).

The seminar was interesting, if maybe a smidge US-biased (not too surprising really, I guess). The focus was, to a reasonably large extent, on managing your maps -- should you be mapping the village, the town, the country, the continent, the world? and what should you be using to do it? We have a copy of Campaign Cartographer, but haven't really used it in anger all that much as yet. Still, it's not going to go off.

After the seminar, we headed back to the hotel to dump our stuff, and I got distracted by some shiny boots in the window of the TJ Maxx next to the hotel. I returned with two pairs of boots, one pair of really infeasibly pointy purple stilettoes, and two shirts. (And neither of the boots were the pair in the window...)

The evening's entertainment was live readings from the Knights Of The Dinner Table comics (to start and end the day with a good dose of Hackmaster). It was pretty amusing, as they picked names at random from people who'd volunteered to read and wound up with quite a few children involved -- all girls, oddly enough. I thought the youngster with green hair, who I suppose was about 12, made a great job of being B.A. ;) They also got various of the company staff, including Jolly Blackburn whose baby KODT is.

Pottered back to the hotel, just about the same time as the football was letting out (drat) and had some dinner in the hotel bar while watching some odds and ends of the Olympics (well, the US performance in the Olympics, mostly). And then there was the little matter of packing.

It is quite amazing how much you can fit into four bags if you really, really try. We only had to leave behind the shampoo and the shower gel....