GrandCon

Another weekend, and another convention. This time, I met up with the Dice Hate Me crew at Grand Con in Grand Rapids, MI. I arrived around 11:30 Friday Night, and discovered that I couldn’t get in to the open gaming without a badge. Now, I didn’t plan to buy a badge Friday, since I was coming in so late, but it wouldn’t have mattered because badge pickup was closed at 10pm. But fortunately, I didn’t have to wait too long before Darrell Louder spotted me. He and Chris K. happened to be playing with Marc Spector, one of the founders of Grand Con, who waved me inside. It’s good to be the king!

I discovered that they were just learning a game of Thunder Alley from legendary designer Richard Launius. I had the privilege of sitting next to him and watching the game. I know nothing about NASCAR, which Thunder Alley is based on, but after watching the game, I felt like I gained an appreciation of it. It was exciting just to watch. That game closed out the night.

Saturday was my day in the Unpub Proto-zone. I got through 3 full plays if New Bedford, trying out some new elements of the game. All of the games incorporated new buildings. I don’t want to ruin any surprises that Dice Hate Me has in store, so you’ll have to check out the Kickstarter for details, which is tentatively planned to start on November 2nd. But these are additional buildings that dramatically change the gameplay, and add a ton variety to the setup and strategy. Also being tested was a new expansion that adds special events, some good and some bad. But instead of just flipping a card and following the instructions, these events have to be selected instead of whale tokens, giving an extra level of strategy to consider. The final new element is a change to the setup to balance the early round and streamline the game somewhat. I’ll write more about that later in the week. There’s still some balancing and adjusting to be done on all of these changes, but I’m excited to seem them all working.

Saturday evening, we had dinner with the fine folks from Happy Mitten games. I had a glass of Dragon’s Milk from New Holland Brewing. I don’t know exactly what the alcohol content was, but I’m pretty sure the bottle I had later had the number 12% printed on it. It was delicious, but I think I’ve got a one-per-year limit. After dinner, we returned to record the State of Happy Mitten Games podcast, a crossover between State of Games and the Happy Mitten podcast in front of a live studio audience. Well, I didn’t contribute much, but I enjoyed it anyway. I may even be asked back some time. But it’s an excellent opportunity to hear Chris open up about how and why he started Dice Hate Me games, and what his vision for it is.

Sunday, I had to leave to catch my flight home, so I didn’t have a chance to do any more gaming. I would have liked to have tried out several new ideas I’m working, but at least I got to test out some of the things I’ve been developing for New Bedford. It was great meeting and hanging out with a lot of people that I haven’t had much time to. I had some great conversations, most of which I remember. But I hope I’ll have the chance to return next year! Thanks to Dice Hate Me, Unpub, and everyone who made the weekend so much fun.

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  1. Notes from New Bedford: Part 10 – Balancing Turn Order Advantage | Oakleaf Games
  2. The State of Games Podcast, Episode 71 | Oakleaf Games

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