jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
I'm at the Gathering.

I'm doing better this year than last year. Partly that's due to having a room to myself. I like Scott R quite a bit but our schedules collided just enough that I never really felt comfortable there. (As opposed to Christine, who was asleep when I woke up and otherwise basically never in the room at the same time as me.) Partly it's just, you know not being horrifically depressed. Which I'm pretty sure I was last year. I'm also taking a bit better care of myself, both before and during.

Anyway. I've only been here since Wednesday night, because time off is a valued commodity and because Erin vanishes for the far north in a couple of weeks and squeezing in as much time with her as possible is important. It's been good. No super-duper new games this year, not really even anything on the order of last year's Ponzi Scheme. Some good 18xx games, some good shorter games.

The passage overnight through Toronto and training down still seems to be the best way to get here. I had a middle seat for the flight but they gave me some sort of nicer, roomier seat, so it wasn't bad at all. Redeyes are still the most reliable way to get me onto East Coast time.

I feel like this is the con of my heart, in the way that BGG.con isn't. A lot of it's the venue: the light's better, the noise level is lower. Some of it's just that I've clicked really well with a lot of people here. I could do that at BGG.con if I went back ... but it's loud, and glaringly bright, and super-busy, and just not really a thing that interests me, not if I've got the Gathering.

The people. My first year here Eric B started teaching me 18xx games about midway through the week, and my second year he and his gaming friends sort of took me under their wing, so I've pretty consistently been able to find people to game with and to talk to. And I'm gradually meeting other folks as well and recognising them from year to year. And vice versa, which will probably never fail to surprise me. People remember me! They even sometimes seem excited to see me! It's ... neat. Eric hasn't been here the last couple of years due to life stuff, and I miss him and hope he can make it next year, but Joe R and Jeroen and all have been fantastic as well. I really like the sense of ... community, I guess, that I have here.

In a few minutes I'm going downstairs to play what will probably be my last big game of the weekend, and then tomorrow I'll maybe play some lighter stuff and fly home through Newark, with another Vancouver local who got the same flight I did.

Home. That's a thing.
jazzfish: an open bottle of ether, and George conked out (Ether George)
0) ... and still insists he reads of ghosts.

1) One amusing in retrospect bit I didn't mention earlier: when I arrived at the train station in Toronto (after an unpleasant redeye flight featuring loud drunk bachelor-partiers, and a wholly pleasant ride on the new no-longer-$38 train from the airport to the train station) I attempted to present my passport so I could pick up my ticket and ... opened to a picture of [personal profile] uilos. Apparently our passports got switched for the wrong wallets the last time we travelled (down to the used bookstores with Steph in December). Luckily I had my own Nexus card and my own PR card, and the train folks were happy enough to take the Nexus card, but it made for a somewhat tense ride down.

E FedExed me my passport so I could get on a plane to go home. I could *probably* have worked it out with just the Nexus card, but I had used the passport to buy the ticket, and better safe than stranded in Buffalo.

2) Speaking of, home from the Gathering as of eleven-thirty last night. Still tired, still heavily overpeopled. I didn't take care of myself as well as I could have this year; the weather was miserable for the first half of the week and for whatever reason once it nicened up I still didn't go outside and wander. Something to bear in mind for next year.

3) More on this later, but: consider this another plug for Graydon Saunders's Commonweal novels (available in ebook from the Google Play store). Reread the first (The March North) and read the first third or so of the second (A Succession of Bad Days) over the week. Comparisons with the work of Mr Ford are not inapt. The bone-deep understanding of trauma and healing and loneliness and identity is still there in Graydon's work, it's just even further down than in The Dragon Waiting. Or maybe I just haven't reread these enough times for it to be obvious to me.

4) It seems I have a strong predilection for flawed characters in difficult situations who are trying their damnedest. I have no further use for stories about terrible people being terrible, and I think this means I should let the Joe Abercrombie books go.

4a) Losing people you’re responsible for hurts. If it didn’t, the Line wouldn’t give you a warrant of commission.

If it stops, they take the warrant away.

--Graydon Saunders, "The March North"

5) I am returning the nameless new laptop. A week with Taranis has convinced me that I don't need to spend an exorbitant sum of money on a new machine, not yet and likely not for another couple of years. I *do* need a battery replacement and could do with a clean reinstall, but that can wait for the weekend.
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
Not really up for wandering the gameroom, and I could probably do with some downtime anyhow.

The Gathering is a week-long smallish (400 people?) gaming convention in Niagara Falls (US). [personal profile] uilos and I were first invited two years ago; sadly she hasn't made it back. Maybe next year.

I'm rooming with Scott, a guy I met at random last year. He's a fine roommate but very much an extrovert. As with Christine last year, I've not had to be this sociable in the mornings in a very long time.

Eric B--'s absence this year is notable: he welcomed me into the morning 18xx games two years ago, sort of took me under his wing last year, and is generally one of the Good Ones. Hopefully he'll be back next year.

Two years ago Splendor was obviously the Big Hit; last year it was Codenames. I haven't seen anything this year that would really qualify. There's a lot of Codenames Pictures being played, which is exactly what you think it is.

Perhaps it's Ponzi Scheme, which Dave E-- described as "a party game for economic-gamers." Every round, everyone takes a scoring tile and a funding card, which provides an infusion of cash now in exchange for a payment in a few rounds. Then there's a flurry of 'clandestine dealing' where you're exchanging money and score tiles with the other players, and then the round increases. You can pay for your ruinous interest by ... taking more and larger funding cards, but those will come due sooner or later as well. You're hoping for "later:" the game ends as soon as one player can't make a payment, so if you're going to go bankrupt in two turns that's fine as long as someone else crashes out next turn. Ponzi Scheme is currently extremely unavailable; there's a new edition coming in a few months, I believe.

The weather's been horrendous: cold, rainy, I think there was unpleasantly wet snow a few days ago, and so very very windy. I have not left the hotel except to make a grocery run the day after I got here. I may go out to the falls on Friday or Saturday, I haven't quite decided yet.

Three more days of gaming, and then travel on Sunday. It's been good to not be at work.
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
I'm at the Gathering again this year, spending a week-plus playing games and hanging out with people. Financially it was likely an unwise decision to go... but I found a roommate, and a cheapish flight to/from the vicinity, and darnit, it just seemed like fun.

It feels different this year. I went last year and had a blast, but it was all sort of overwhelming. It's a lot calmer-seeming now. I'm used to it, I guess, or maybe I'm just in a better place myself. [personal profile] uilos didn't make it due to some work shenanigans plus the general hazard of being on an academic schedule, that's a pretty big shift as well.

I'm rooming with Christine who I met once when we first moved out to Vancouver. She's an excellent roommate and a fine person, but she's very much an extrovert. I have not had this much conversation in the mornings in a very very long time.

Been getting up pretty much every morning to play 18xx games. I have consistently come in last or next-to-last in every one so far. No great surprise considering that a lot of these guys have been playing since well before I started doing any serious gaming at all. It's been really excellent regardless: I've learned a bit, and I've had a lot of fun.

Hard to believe it's nearly over. Not sure if I'm coming back next year; it's not easy to justify the expense when I'm not making a stupid amount of money. But it *is* a very very good trip. Eh. I don't know.
jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
Spring in Vancouver is mostly like winter. It's still grey and rainy but there's a subtly different quality to the rain, and it's not so cold.

Except for days like today, when the sky clears and the sun's brighter than anyplace else I can think of. Days like this I just want to go out walking for hours.

We got a three-month extension on our lease, so we don't have to try to find a place to live while we're on the wrong coast for most of May. As a nice side benefit we'll also get to watch this year's rooftop crop of baby seagulls.

Although one of the regular nesting spots has been taken over by a grumpy Canada goose. Looks like geese lay a little earlier in the season than seagulls do. Not sure if the seagulls will attempt to share that particular tiny roof or just go elsewhere.

Leftover bits from the Gathering:

The secondary highway in Niagara Falls is the Robert Moses Parkway. I suppose that's appropriate enough. If you're going to run a road through a park you may as well name it after the guy who destroyed NYC and screwed up North American city planning for a century with his love of running expressways through poorer neighborhoods.

I came home with a copy of 1862 from the prize table. This is one of those overly complex 18xx train/stock games I seem to have become fond of. Not sure when I'll get a chance to actually *play* one around here, but hey. I look forward to trying to explain to new players that "In this game trains can only change direction at cities, no matter what tiles you want to place or upgrade: eventually you will need to yell that THERE IS NO FORKING TRACK."

Other games of note: Coal Baron, a fast (45 minutes), reasonably deep worker-placement-y game with less annoying blocking than it might have. Splendor, light and fast, with tough decisions; reminds me of Piece Of Cake in that "argh what now" feeling. Roll For the Galaxy, which is not Race but looks suspiciously familiar: I think it's lighter than Race but I could be wrong, and it's worth more plays (whenever it finally comes out) regardless.


Apr. 19th, 2014 10:16 am
jazzfish: five different colors of Icehouse pyramids (iCehouse)
I am currently ensconced in a hotel room on the morning of my last full day at Alan Moon's Gathering of Friends, a smallish (400 people total, spread over a week and a half) boardgaming convention in Niagara Falls.

Let me first say that I am a big fan of having conventions right on the Canada border. Means I get cell service and data without having to prepay an arm and a leg.

[personal profile] uilos and I went out to see the falls, which are as impressive as advertised, and met up with [personal profile] culfinriel for lunch, which was neat. Other than that it's been all Gathering all the time.

The Gathering... I feel more consistently like myself here than I have in ages, since Farthing Party I think. I've played an awful lot of games with an awful lot of people, and nearly all of them have been good experiences. Even teaching games have for the most part gone smoothly.

I think I've played more games, and more good games, in the last week than in the previous six months combined (excluding Netrunner). I've missed this, and I don't know how to get it at home. Slowly, I guess. Building up a group one gamer at a time.

The last two mornings I've gotten up early to play an 18xx game. These are long (short ones are three hours) games of railroad building and stock market shenanigans. I came in unsure whether I actually like the games or just respect them. After these two I am pretty sure I like them, at least when they're focused on the building-good-railroads aspects. Now to find players at home. *sigh*

Tomorrow back home, to fighting with work and other fun things.


jazzfish: Jazz Fish: beret, sunglasses, saxophone (Default)
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Adventures in Mamboland

"Jazz Fish, a saxophone playing wanderer, finds himself in Mamboland at a critical phase in his life." --Howie Green, on his book Jazz Fish Zen

Yeah. That sounds about right.

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