Sunday, May 24, 2015

G&G X: Nine for Ten

There is a core group of 8 of us who comprise the majority of Gaming & Guinness events; sometimes situations preclude everyone's attendance, such as work or distance. For instance, this year, a rescheduled assignment kept Mike T. from joining us until Thursday morning, but Colin made it out from Vancouver Island to attend for the first time in six years.

This brought our total number of attendees up to nine, like the Fellowship of the Ring.  Or perhaps more like the Nazgul; it can be difficult to distinguish...

He brought the drinkers:teetotallers ratio down to a paltry 2:1, but despite a legendary beer being half of the name, G&G has never been focused on drinking. The half-dozen Edmontonians can get together for a game and an ale just about any time, and we often do, but bringing in the out-of-towners and having lots of people stay the night prompts a more carefree attitude and deeper fellowship. Sharing meals together gives us a chance to catch up, to chat in a manner that often eludes even those of us unseparated by time zones.
But dice and models and cards are the hub by which our wheel turns, and the gaming was good this year, as it is every year. Island Mike kicked things off Wednesday with a game of Wits & Wagers, a trivia game using exclusively numeric answers, and placing player guesses on a betting line. The game itself is a ton of fun, and the wagering angle means even those who aren't good at trivia can even things out very quickly, but Mike had also created a set of questions linked to the 9 previous G&Gs, making the experience absolutely exquisite.

Thursday saw Mike T. make it back in time for our very first game in Serenity Gulch. Despite the fact that I didn't get as far in building and painting the town and miniatures as I would have liked, everyone seemed happy with the 'work in progress' rendition we ended up with.
The quick and easy nature of the Legends of the Old West rules made the game easy to pick up. We gave each player two miniatures to run, one sheriff or desperado (hero level) and one vigilante or rowdy (henchmen level), and ran a straight up street crossing gang fight with 8 models a side. Then we kept the same sides and tried a scenario out of the book, with the Outlaws edging out a victory over the Lawmen, ably abetted by Mike T.'s Apache Scout.

Thursday night we played one of the best games of Formula Dé I can recall, with the lead changing hands many times on the Monaco course before victory went to Colin, who insists the game would be more interesting if the vehicles were armed.

Friday afternoon was the introduction to the X-Wing miniatures game for most of us, and we were all suitably impressed: fast, simple mechanics, a fairly elegant movement system that has players revealing their pre-set maneuvers simultaneously before using a template to move their ship, and very well done models that come pre-painted.

Earl set up a scenario in which Darth Vader and a hand-picked squadron of Imperial fighters ambushed Luke Skywalker and Han Solo in retribution for the destruction of the first Death Star.

Totty selflessly sacrificed his two TIE Fighters, keeping the Millennium Falcon tied up at one end of the table while Darth Vader, my TIE Interceptor and two other fighters went after Luke and his escort.
Astonishingly, the Force was not enough to save Luke and his X-Wing and the Imperial heroes restored order by eliminating the terror-pilot of Yavin IV with a jail of turbolaser fire! At least, that's how the press release will read. I'm sure he ejected safely and is awaiting his chance to return to the fight,

Friday afternoon we schlepped down to Windermere for a VIP screening of Mad Max: Fury Road, and it was a great movie I intend to review later. Friday night was our opportunity to return to Rock Band, after Jeff went out to pick up a power cord for his PS 3. We were all a bit rusty, but with suitable amounts of liquid courage, a good time was had by all.

Saturday got off to a late start since the last of us wrapped up Rock Band after four a.m., at which point I put the chili together for Saturday night. Thankfully, a modest amount of prep work and the use of a slow cooker meant I got to bed a little before 5:30.

Would that as much planning went into the Call to Arms: Starfleet Battle game for the afternoon, but judicious application of a club-style 'Every Man/Klingon For Themselves' meant we were still able to finish by supper time.
The cutthroat nature of the scenario meant that a few people ended up leaving somewhat early, but consoled themselves by getting in a game of Pimp: The Backhanding on the floor, so they could still keep an ear on the happenings in the Harp Nebula.
Three Klingon ships met their objectives, of which my beloved battlecruiser Vengeance was one, having successfully boarded the U.S.S. Excalibur, subsequently destroying it, and then chasing off another Federation lapdog. Truly, a dark day for Starfleet!

Saturday's traditional chili dinner, like most of our meals, was taken outside. The weather broke Alberta G&G tradition by not snowing as well as being very, very warm. This also gave us a chance to take the group photo and show off the amazingly suave jackets Pete had made to commemorate our tenth (tenth!) year of Gaming &Guinness.
The final marquee game, as always, was Circus Maximus. This year we allowed everyone to take a medium chariot for free, hoping to tip the scales a bit more towards carnage, since our favoured light chariots are useless for ramming.

Thanks to two players thinking along the lines of, 'well, if a medium chariots good, then a heavy must be even better,' those scales tipped like a teeter totter after Shaquille O'Neal gets off his end. Of the nine chariots that started, only six came out of the first corner.

I took myself out of contention early on by swerving instead of braking to evade one of the heavies, but stuck it out and managed to finish the race. Island Mike was again the victor, taking the coveted Circus Maximus trophy back to Vancouver Island, with Earl and Scott rounding out the podium.

As always, G&G is a happy blend of the old and the new: new games, like Legends of the Old West and X-Wing and Wits & Wagers. New beers, like the Mellow Moon Pineapple Hefeweizen or the growler of Hogsbreath from Hogshead Brewing. And the old? Well, Saturday morning, that felt like us, frankly. But many tried and true games as well.

A decade later, I can't tell you how we did it: how we kept the momentum up on something that was initially a one-off event, prompted by the vision of filling a long empty basement with friends and games, and not having anyone need to drive home if they didn't want to. Somehow those first crude t-shirts made with iron-on inkjet transfers made it into an event, and captured the imagination of friends whose companionship I count among my most valued possessions, and whose commitment to fun and fellowship will keep this silly tradition going for at least another decade!

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