The gaming japes continue!
Friday Evening, in to Night:
I went for a lie down as the afternoon moved in to the evening; my brain fugged by seven hours of concentration: answering rule questions, noting play behaviours, watching for awkward/unclear situations. Refreshed - and hungry (having missed lunch) - I ordered a tuna mayo & cheese baked potato and Polygonia-ed with David J. Mortimer.
At a loose end, I wandered down to the far end of the main hall where Paul (Gameslore) and Martin (one of the BGT&CUK Mods) were up for a few distractions:
We whet our whistle with Ponzi Scheme - something I've had my eye on over the years but never acted upon - and it was a blast. Like Tulip Bubble, The Estates and North American Railways Ponzers is an escalating shitshow - a game of mental musical chairs - where you rack-up increasingly impossible mountains of debt in the hope that (like that toddler who'd wandered in to the fairground Waltzers) you can hold on long enough until the ride comes to a safe stop. Like that occasion I went jetski-ing and fell off on the first corner never to get back on the bloody thing again (the propulsion jet of water punching me repeatedly in the bollocks), my fear that I'd be the single Deutschmark in the handful of Sterling change was realised: a crashing market left me not-so-much 'The Wolf of Wall Street' as 'The Div of Devon'!
Next - joined by various luminaries (Vital, Handycon Paul, Matt Dunstan and others) - was a recommendation from Martin:
Collect/swap cards to make the biggest Hand Point Total when the middle of the table fills up (10 cards). Quick, light and fun, the VERY MANY if/then/else bonus rules (certain cards like to be together) meant Martin's copy of the scoring App was a gods-send; it couldn't disguise my blithering ineptitude, however, even with the pretty graphics.
For a change of pace, six went pushing-and-shoving in to Tickets Please; I sat out and did the 'scoring rule' admin and let them get on with it! Martin won the first couple of rounds which meant both Paul and Matt took to body-slamming him out of the way for the rest of the proceedings. Occasionally, one could hear Vital Lacerda calling out for help at the far end of the table but - in a terrible foreshadowing of Brexit Britain to come - we all ignored 'the foreign guy'.
The main room - and the upstairs bar - closed at midnight, so we decamped to a downstairs suite for more alcohol (two friendly Night Porters manning the optics) and - yes - Polygonia:
I sat this one out too, letting Matthew Dunstan get a look-in; it was an absolute pleasure to watch as, quickly, the game settled in to a busy rhythm of building, scoring, over-building and micro-combos. In-jokes about phallic towers, and tit-for-tats, emerged and were chuckled over.
Eighty lively minutes later, Matt emerged victorious and it had survived yet another hurdle.
A long, hot bath woke me from my Guinness-blurred torpor. Sausages and scrambled egg siren-sang along the corridors: time to be up-and-at-'em!
First on the agenda was a light filler:
Myself and the Paulls were joined by a newly-arrived stranger who sat to my right. Charlie ran through the (outstandingly simple) rules and we started. In summary, you either draw two 'pollen' cards (playing one and discarding the other) which gets you pollen gems and everyone else fewer gems OR you can cash in a set of gems to claim a Honey card - that's ALL. Nothing else. We're not talking Mara-fucking-caibo or anything. And, yet...the stranger kept drawing Honey cards instead of pollen cards, taking the wrong gems, trying to cash in for pollen cards, trying to claim gems off honey cards and pretty much every possible combination of arsing-up the incredibly light, Haßa-esque rules. Once or twice I let this pass but, soon, the consistent fuckwittery began boiling my piss; sweet baby Jesus on his Heavenly Hoverboard, I thanked the gods for the finish and skedaddled to my next appointment with steam coming out of my ears!
With precious few moments before the start, I set out on a Quest to find the "Champagne" conference room for my much-anticipated playtest of Keyfoundland; unfortunately, the room was tucked away amongst the far-end bedrooms where NEITHER the hubbub of gamers NOR useful signage could penetrate. After a few wrong turns (narrowly avoiding entry in to bloody Narnia!), I found it - and my fellow testers - waiting patiently in a serene and contemplative atmosphere. Naturally, after "The Bees Incident" - and bursting with unexpressed frustration - Richard and Graham and Mark were subjected to a short, ranting outburst and then we settled in to the gentle work of the Keyfolk.
In summary: set your six, differently-coloured dice to unique values from 1 through 6 (behind a screen) and then there's rounds of single dice placement (earning the placer a bonus) with other players following with a same-coloured, less-than-or-equal-to die of their own. Placement is across 12 'harbours' that provide in-game actions for resource collection (animals, fish, wheat, gems, building stuff, more workers) and worker movement (to be able to participate in harbour resolutions) and, for the end of game, scoring categories amplified by the number of workers you have there. Resolution comes when you have run out of dice to place (directly and/or by following others' colour/pip count leads) when stuff is divvied out.
Clearly an evolution of Keyflower and Keyper, Keyfoundland's core mechanisms of dice leading and following feel smoother and more intuitive than the standing/lying down/rolling over shenanigans of Keyper and, despite the busy table hoggage, is nice and straightforward. The end-of-game scoring is a bit of a beast, however; it looks like someone's tax return! 'Point-salad' doesn't really cut it: "point garden centre" would be more accurate.
The prior late night, a hangover and the inauspicious apiaristic start to the gaming day served me up a massive headache as I nipped upstairs for the first Attention All Shipping demo of the day. Unfortunately, my demo table had been dismantled and was now occupied by a surface-hogging, sci-fi minis-and-chits game with nowhere else in the room available as an alternative; tin-hat duly installed on the 'sitch', I abandoned both demos and retreated to my room for a couple of hours sleep. On waking, still head-fuggy, I located some paracetamol and ordered a baked potato for supper (low blood sugar not helping).
Matt and I chatted and pondered as we snuck in a quick Polygonia before Phil joined us for a long-promised Res Arcana. Table 13 became ours for the rest of the evening and hosted several more 'Poly's (Dávid Turczi coming in a bemoaning last in one, Phil (who had demolished us in 'Res') took the second and long-time gaming buddy (and TCG expert/MtG Judge) Ray powering through combos / testing the stretching limits in the third. While we had Ray on the table, there was a slick transition in to Attention All Shipping which Phil then broke with a £25 'first turn' (Jeebus!); all thanks to 'get extra action' cards, of which he had three...rest assured I have now neutered that particular loophole!
We were kicked out of the upstairs room on the spit-spot of Midnight in to the main Bar downstairs; there we found four footballing residents (local team, away team) and I invited them to join us for the 'roll-and-grab' daftness of Tickets Please!; two of the chaps scarpered sharpish BUT the other two joined in and waxed lyrical about what we were all doing at Gridcon. Indeed, they were sore-amazed at the range of themes and complexities; not used to anything beyond 'the usual staples', the frenetic pattern-recognition of TP caused them to struggle but - hey! - baby steps on the road! We then sat back and chewed the fat about minor league football, motorbikes and - for a bit - more gaming; at 0130HRS they bade us farewell - ambassadorial duties achievement unlocked.
No games for me today: I breakfasted with Matt Dunstan, so we could sort out the 'next steps' for Polygonia, took a look at a collaborative Snowdonia: The Card Game concept/opportunity of his (which I quickly shoved towards 'Glory To Steam' territory) and, finally, chatted over a few Keyfoundland thoughts with Richard B.
Home via the Sunday-driven motorways to find one more surprise waiting:
Gridcon was absolutely fantastic. Paul and Vicky did a marvellous job putting on this show and I fervently look forward to doing it all again next year: another 'must go!' date for the British gaming calendar!
Time for a cup of tea and sit down...for about a week.
Life and Games (but mostly games) from Tony Boydell: Dad, Husband and Independent UK Game Designer.
02 Dec 2019
- [+] Dice rolls