A day in Nottingham…

Yeh well. I’ve been meaning to make it to one of these evening social meets for a while now — they’re organised by the rather grandly titled Nottingham Tabletop Industry Collective on a monthly basis. They have a coffee morning, too, but I’ve no chance of making it to one of those, coming down from York…

Anyways, I finally got myself organised to attend this one in June (Tues 18th 2019), and better yet, decided to try and make a day of it and have a wander and nosey around the rest of Nottingham’s gaming scenery… *see what I did there? 😉*

First stop was Chimera in Beeston… an open space ripe for gaming at most scales. A D&D campaign session was in progress when I arrived, which is a good sign for sure…

This was followed by a quick trip on the tram to Games Workshop’s amazing Warhammer World…

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Next was a quick pitstop at Forbidden Planet before popping my head in at the Kitty Club Cafe and Ludorati Boardgame Cafe. Actually, I tried to chill a bit at Ludorati, and was the only one in there for the majority of my time inside…

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A short 20 min trek across the Old Market Square, and in stark contrast to Ludorati, the Dice Cup Board Game Cafe was positively heaving with people and its walls bursting with games. Friendly, chatty staff and a strong core audience of MTG and other gaming groups made this a particularly pleasant place to be…

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Finally, I toodled over to the Horn in Hand pub where I immediately spotted a couple of very recognisable Twitter peeps, namely Ross and Sophie (@moregamespls and @sophisaurus_rex). They promptly introduced me to Nathan (an experienced RPG GM), and we moved upstairs for what proved an enlightening and pleasant meeting discussing all manner of game-related things.

A couple of fellow graphic designers joined us a short while later, and a few others later still, but in all honesty I was feeling a tad ‘beat’ at this point, and all too conscious that I still had a 20 min tram ride and a 90-100 mile drive back up to York.

All told, a pleasant and packed day which saw my step-count climb up to 20,000 from its previous average of 12,000…

Holy schmoly, Captain Stepalot!  A great day out, though, and I get to do it all again next month, on Tues 16th July.

 

LPO Day 5: Coming home… :-(

Friday felt like the shortest day I’d had in a long time…

We were up relatively early, and after spending an hour or so chatting over breakfast, it was time to get all my stuff sorted ready for the trip home…

The check-in and security process at Nantes Airport was super smooth – why do UK airports struggle so much with this, especially for those leaving the country? Apart from the plane being delayed, and Nantes Airport being somewhat sparse of anything other than a café and duty free shop (oh, and a watch shop), there’s nowt much to report on that front.

A delay on the M1 meant a 2½-hr journey (approx) home stretched to 3½ hours, but other than that, ’twas a short day indeed…

Lovely as it was to see my family again, I crashed a short while later, and woke bright and early on Saturday ready to tackle my gargantuan email pile…

A couple of quick stats for my personal Le Pas Opton ‘Boardgaming Week’ (Mon-Fri)…

Total games played: 26
New games played or introduced to me: 10
Number of games that I introduced to others: 9
Number of new gaming friends: quite a few…
Total hours spent playing games: erm… also quite a lot
Total hours sleep from Mon to Fri morning: approx. 21½ (give or take a couple of ‘nod off’ times!)

A short list of games that I really wanted to play but never got the chance to…

Keyflower
Glass Road
Luxor
Die Quacksalber von Quindenberg
Ex Libris
Lowlands
Essential Viticulture

Favourite game(s) of the week: Euphoria, Rhino Hero, and Rajas of the Ganges

Pleasant surprises of the week (excl. above):

Actually spending some time in the pool!
Fuse, High Society and The Lost Expedition
Playing Azul and Nusfjord again…

As I may have alluded to yesterday, this was indeed an enjoyable getaway.

LPO Day 4: Well, actually…

Anyone following this series might be surprised to hear that Paul and I both woke before 8.30am on Thursday… he was already in the garden enjoying the morning birdsong before I got downstairs, but there’ll be no prizes for guessing what we played…

I don’t think I’d laughed so much in such a short period of time the entirety of the week… If you have young children (or even if you haven’t) you should really get a copy of Rhino Hero… so much fun in such a tiny box!

Next up, we decided to try out a new FlickFleet scenario I’d concocted the previous evening, involving three Star Destroyers facing off against each other, but neatly separated by a string of… wait for it… space rabbits!

To be fair, the rabbits represented space debris (an asteroid field), And the game itself proved a titanic battle of attack, hide, and counter-attack once we’d blasted/navigated our way through the space lanes…

I know a lot of people aren’t fans of dexterity games, but I genuinely like FlickFleet, and flicking dice and spaceships around is definitely something you get better at with practice…

We headed over and joined the rest of the LPO (Le Pas Opton incidentally, sorry!) gaming community and the first thing we chose to tackle was a game of Nusfjord which I haven’t had to teach for awhile, so despite a rocky start with set-up, we did finally get underway… At one point I thought I was going to run away with this, but Paul had smartly picked up the 11VP Castle tile and the 7VP ‘6+ shares’ tile in the previous round… Ahh well…

Next on the list for us was Rajas of the Ganges, a classic eurogame with elements of worker placement, tableau-building, a pretty river of goody-collection, and a delightful selection of dice manipulation spaces… all of which help to ensure multiple paths to victory and an assortment of workable strategies.

Round 2 of the Codenames tournament saw us enter the game full of confidence, only to then be handed our candy assess in a gift- wrapped sleeve of merriment and social innuendo… we were comfortably turned over and shown the door in double-quick time by a team who I hope will deservedly win the tournament.

After this, I got the opportunity to play Minty’s Bootiful Football Game a couple of times… the first game ended in a 1-1 draw after my team had led 1-0 for the majority of the game: a cunning late formation change by my opponent meant my team frantically scrambled to clear the ball from its defence throughout the latter part of the second half, only to be caught by a jammy Xtreme Success roll in the 87th minute that gave my opponent the equaliser!

For the second game I had a superior core team throughout and a fair bit of positive luck, which led to some one-way traffic and ultimately a thumping 3-0 win!

I also got the chance to teach a lovely couple how to play Azul, which I really enjoyed and proved strangely satisfying, especially given I only came second!

It was getting late now, so we returned to the chalet for more games, and given it was my last proper night at LPO, managed to get through 6-player games of Celestia, Fuji Flush, 6 Nimmt! and a 4-player game of Valeria Card Kingdoms before finally retiring at 2.30am-ish — this was definitely not a holiday of early nights and lazy mornings!

That all said, I’ve had a great time, and was particularly pleased to have played so many games with such a varied selection of people from all walks of life… and of course to have made lots of new gaming friends and acquaintances!

LPO Day 3: Carry on, carry on…

Wednesday proved not dissimilar to Tues, although it started off with a short roadtrip to McDonalds to see if their breakfast menu was anything like the UK one – it isn’t… and you lot at the back commenting on my food choices can shush your noise! McD’s wasn’t even open ’til 10am, so we checked out the local superstore for a wee bit while we waited for the doors to open…

We got back super-sharpish after that, and it was very nice to start off with several games of Aliens Ate My Planet! with a young chap who was evidently very familiar with Dominion, and thus at some points was teaching me how efficient the engine of my game was – it was almost revelatory to see someone else take my design and show me how smart it allowed him to be with his various combo actions. A splendidly satisfying morning, to be sure!

High Society was the next one on the list, and although I’m not a huge fan of Knizia a lot of the time, I do like this new ‘Art Nouveau’ fancy version. And I won, which is always nice… 😉

I got the opportunity to teach and introduce Century: Spice Road and Rise of Tribes to various people during the afternoon and early evening, and am pleased to say both games seemed to go down well…

We had foolishly entered the Codenames competition at the start of the week, but our 1st Round game proved a bit of a breeze, so we’ll say no more about that for now: we got through to the 2nd Round quite comfortably!

The evening was finished off with a gorgeous-looking game called Imaginarium back at the chalet… I did terribly, but ’twas nonetheless quite the experience! The game is an engine-builder about repairing antiquated and bizarre looking machines to try and produce the resources req’d to fix things that in turn can help you produce victory points… And did I mention it’s rather pretty?  I’m a terrible photographer, but hopefully you can see how totally OTT these player meeples are…

We went to bed shortly thereafter (about 2.30am), but I was sharing one of the rooms with a fellow member of what I like to term my ‘classic’ gaming group (as opposed to my ‘regular’ group), and Paul Willcox and I accidentally got talking about classic role-playing games and campaigns… Oops – we finally piped down and turned the lights out at 4.57am precisely… OMG!

LPO Day 2: At last, some gaming…

Yesterday proved a better day gaming-wise, and the list was quite decent…

I started the day with a couple of games of FlickFleet from Eurydice Games, a rather fun dexterity shoot ’em up that’s due on Kickstarter soon-ish…

This was swiftly followed by a playtest of Tsuxnet Strikes Back (an Agents in Time ‘sequel’) which proved illuminating and of course, rather fun for all concerned – It looks cool on the table, too!

Bunny Kingdom was up next, and although I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I romped to victory in this one, the important thing was that the players I taught it to really enjoyed it!

We were joined by a few more players and split into groups, but our group was fortunate enough to then play Euphoria (“Build a Better Dystopia!”) which is a classic worker-placement Stonemaier game with the emphasis on squeezing your workers to the bone without them noticing you doing so… No doubt many readers who work in bigger companies probably know how that feels! ‘Twas a good game, though, and it came down to the wire with three of us all in the running for the win.

Lighter games followed, starting with a co- operative survival game called The Lost Expedition. This is a fun but tough jungle survival game, but of special interest to me because the artist is Garen Ewing, a very old friend from many years ago, back in the days when I edited fanzines, ran postal games and the like, etc. He was one of my best artists!

Still, we did survive the jungle trek, and ’twas the lovely Ynes that finally scraped us through the jungle in one piece…

Next in line was the somewhat silly and childish Crossing — a game in which players are trying to steal and squirrel away sets of gems from the centre of the table and each other!

This was followed by Fuse which was a rather frantic timer-based game in which you play a bunch of bungling bomb disposal ‘experts’ tasked with trying to diffuse a stack of cards which are dice-based constructions involving physically matching dice to the required pattern indicated on the cards – it’s fun, chaotic, a bit crazy, and we played it on a harder mode, and lost several times! Great fun, though, and that’s the important bit!

Trekking back to the chalet at near midnight, I thought we might end up playing something else, but I was whacked by then, as were some of the others, so it was evidently time to turn in…

LPO Day 1: A rocky start…

Well, after failing at Leaving Earth this morning (see Leaving Earth from an Airport…), I did at least manage to land safely in Nantes, France, Earth — and given it was a cheap flight, I do believe there were only four bags on the plane, three of which belonged to us and were full of games for the forthcoming week.

Organising the 7-seater car we’d hired was also ‘fun’ if you’re one of those masochistic types who finds fitting a big round peg into a tiny square hole exhilarating… And being ‘slight of frame’ shall we say (compared to the rest), not only did I get the short straw and have a special ‘seat’ next to half a dozen cargo bags and suitcases, but I envisaged my getting out again to be akin to playing the part of a bean in Baked Bean Jenga…

The trip to LPO was relatively short, but a shopping jaunt to a French supermarket was the first point of order… And some food.

Gaming itself didn’t start until 8pm, and I kicked off my evening with a game of Rise of Tribes… which I lost convincingly… nowt new there, then!

This was followed by an effort to learn Uwe Rosenberg’s 2-player Caverna implementation: Cave vs Cave which ended badly… oops!

Finally, a quick game of Tantrix finished the evening off relatively early (11pm-ish)… Ready to go again tomorrow… at some point…

Leaving Earth from an Airport…

Yup, you guessed it… I went for a solo game of Leaving Earth, albeit with a reduced set of Missions (2 x Easy, 2 x Medium, 1 x Hard)… and did terribly, killing Guy Grissom in the process. Oops! That’s what I get for not testing my Atlas Rockets thoroughly first… 😦

This photo is just showing my first steps of the initial set-up – I ended up moving to a larger table with the help of the staff… lol

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