The Games We Play

The Games We Play

A repository of reports on the Wednesday night sessions of the club and anything else related to the club or boardgaming in general, which may be of interest to anyone who may be passing by.

Friday, 21 November 2008

MidCon 2008

MidCon 2008

Dave Cooper (Brass Jester)

Another year rolled round and Ben and I headed off to MidCon. We arrived around 10.30 on the Saturday, this time coming in on the train from Cradley Heath. Our room was ready when we arrived, so we took the case upstairs, then headed down to the Wroxton. It transpired that our name badges had gone missing overnight, but we were wearing Halesowen Boardgamers T-shirts. Said hi to lots of people; Halesowen was well represented with me, Ben, Dave D, Mike, Andy and Julian. Met up with Richard Denning, who introduced Ben and I to Red November, a game of trying to survive on a crippled Gnomish submarine (!). The aim is to survive an hour (game-time) against all the disasters happening to the sub. It ended when Ben had to defuse the malfunctioning nuclear missiles; to do so he had to drink a bottle of vodka ( to give him courage to enter the burning compartment); he put the fire out but then passed out due to the vodka, so the missiles exploded, killing everyone, with only four minutes to go! A fun game; could easily be turned into a participation game.
Mike then joined us and we played Colossal Arena, has been around for a long time under the name Titan: The Arena. Ben and I headed for Bishop Games stand; Ben bought Super Munchkin and I bought After the Flood (Martin Wallace’s latest). After this, Richard introduced a prototype game for playtesting. Called London 1667, it was about the Great Fire of London. Basically, played on a map of medieval London; the fire is raging and spreading via play of cards by each player. You are trying to protect your properties (distributed at random on the map at start) at the expense of your rivals; plus you have Secret Objectives to gain extra Victory Points. It was mentioned that the Great Fire was in 1666; maybe it broke out again. We played two games of this, tried a short game of Super Munchkin with Dave (?), then broke for tea. Deciding not to risk the hotel’s horrendous prices, Ben and I went up town to Kentucky Fried Mollusc
On the way back; I was stopped by the police! It transpired that the officer knew me from 20+ years ago, when I worked at Halesowen Jobcentre; he used to be on the training side.

Back at the hotel we met up with two guys from Swansea, Rob and his nephew Tony. It was their first MidCon and they were keen to try lots of different games. We were joined by Paul (from Telford, a frequent visitor to Halesowen Boardgamers) and introduced them to Power Grid, on the American board, using the original deck. Paul won, Tony was second and the rest of us tied. Ben was third, Rob fourth and I was last on the money. Tony and Rob went for something to eat (I gather they’d had a marathon session of Arkham Horror at the hands of Great Cthulhu himself (aka Nick Kinzett).) They left Ben and I playing The Awful Green Things from Outer Space, a re-release of a game I first saw given away in Dragon magazine sometime in the ‘70s. I was the crew of the spaceship, Ben was the Awful Green Things that swarm and multiply. I get to use lots of potential weapons, but the fun thing is that you don’t know what the weapon’s effect on the Awful Green Things is until you use it (determined by a chit draw). Some cause them to multiply and spread faster! My last ditch defence was hurling drums of fuel out of the engines at them. Special mention must be given to the marine with the pool cue who attacked an adult Awful Green Thing on Round One and finally fell around Round 20! Eventually my entire crew was eaten.
Rob and Tony had returned so they got out a game called The Red Dragon Inn. This is a fantasy drinking game; you are brave adventurers relaxing in the Inn after your latest adventure and you are having a drinking contest. Your Fortitude starts at 20, your Alcohol at 0. If the two ever meet then you are passed out under the table. Each player runs a character with a unique set of cards; you play these to do Actions, then drink your Drinks card. Unless you can avoid the effects; you get steadily more drunk. I was playing the Priestess and managed to change wine to water a few times to keep sober; Tony went out first; Rob was barely hanging on; he survived a nasty drinking contest with Ben so I offered him a drink to help him recover! That left Ben; another drinking contest and a Water to Wine spell took Ben out. A fun game. There is another game (Red Dragon 2) that is stand-alone but can be combined to take the players up to 8.
By now it was about 01:30 and the Wroxton was emptying. We arranged to meet up the following morning, then Ben and I turned in.

Sunday, breakfast was excellent as usual, then we checked out and returned to the Wroxton. Tony and Rob arrived and we were joined by Dave D from Halesowen Boardgamers. We started off with Nottingham, which was close-run but Ben eventually won with 60+ gold. Ben then went off to play Galaxy Trucker with Tim (?), a game he’s wanted to try for some time. The rest of us played Race for the Galaxy, another new one for Rob and Tony. Dave D won this. Ben was busy winning Galaxy Trucker so I headed out to get some lunch. I watched the prototype of Steam being played on the next table with Martin Wallace, Richard Drewsbery and a couple of others who I’ve met before but whose names I can’t recall.
In the afternoon, rejoined by Ben and Mike, we played Bolide. This is a motor racing game with an intriguing vector movement system. You move your car, then the ‘bolide’ marker moves ahead from your car, mirroring the exact move the car just did. On your next turn, your car can move to any of the legal 25 vertices surrounding the bolide, thus steering, braking and acceleration are all handled. The bolide then moves again and so on. It takes some planning to move to keep the bolide where you want it for your next move and it is very easy to find yourself heading at full speed off the track. I liked the bolide idea and have already adapted it for a space combat game (Full Thrust, if anyone’s interested)’ but I found the game was way too long to play and quite fiddly with several players, it also helps if you can keep vector mechanics in you head. The race lasts two laps of the circuit, we played for over three hours and only managed one. Maybe if the circuit was shorter, but this would need a complete redraw of the map.
This was the last game we played, we said our goodbyes and headed home on the bus.

Overall, this was one of the best MidCon’s we’d attended. It was Ben’s second one and he really enjoyed it. After The Flood looks really good, I played a solo set up on the Sunday evening prior to introducing it at the club.


  1. Thanks for that interesting read. I hope my report will be up tomorrow, although I'm still mulling about how negative to be about Le Havre.

    Bolide could probably bear playing with a smaller number and definitely needs the players to get a handle on the movement system. Incidentally, although people seemed to be using the term Bolide as the marker pawn, that is actually referred to just as the pawn in the rules. Bolide apparently is a French word for racing car or fast car and also, apparently an extraterrestrial body which collides with Earth to make a large crater.

  2. Interestingly, that's exactly what Ben said about Bolide. Most racing games thrive on lots of cars; Bolide probably would play well with four cars (any less and slipstreaming etc. wouldn't be so easy)

  3. Thanks for the reports guys. I missed going to MidCon this year. I am keen to know if the attendance is holding, going up or declining.

    Dave D I have La Havre which I would like to play at Halesowen before you decide you don't like it. I have not played yet. I wonder if we can get a group together to play through St Petersburg with the expansion again?

    Dave C Having read your report I am still not sure which games you liked and which you didn't. In general I know you like most things Martin Wallis but beyond that I don't know which games you prefer.