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Mace West Cudgelcon

Hoping to bring news of Dust to Dust to the tribes of North Carolina, Kainenchen and I went with three other friends to Mace West Cudgelcon in Hickory, NC. We had not exactly realized the small size of this convention ahead of time, nor its general character, which was not especially interested in learning about any LARP. Having said that, we enjoyed ourselves, played games, saw several more games we wanted to play, and got a lot of writing done.

Prior to Saturday, the last time I had played Magic: the Gathering was sometime in 1996; the last cards I had bought were from either Alliances or Mirage. Kainenchen and one of the other people were especially interested in buying some cards and building decks. At first, I said to myself, "Gee, I'm sure the game has changed a lot, and I'm not sure I'll even know how to play anymore." This gave way to, "Yeah, okay, no one is using all those white cards, a pure white deck might be fun. I'll at least see what happens and show willing." I got lucky and put together a deck that did quite well, given the somewhat draft-like limitations. This deck was, in brief, more successful than any deck I played back when I was an active Magic player. We ended with a five-player free-for-all game, in which my really obnoxious life-generation and creature-inflation cards were shut down early and I never really recovered. I enjoyed the five-player game quite a lot, though, and I find it easy to imagine that we might pull out those decks and play again. I was surprised at how much of the game felt familiar, since Mirage was one of those sets that really started to go nuts on odd, obscure mechanics. Reading through the Wikipedia entry on M:tG rules, it looks like I've dodged some crazy stuff and just didn't have a problem with the crazy stuff I did see (Metalcraft, for example, or Infect). The tightly limited range of cards we drew from helped me a lot, as it narrowed my choices in a way that kept me from being paralyzed with indecision, and narrowed other people's choices in a way that stopped them from having all of the cards they needed to completely smoke me.

We twice tried to play Battlestar Galactica with the Pegasus expansion, but circumstances thwarted us, such as the fact that Mace West closes its board game room at 1 a.m. This did, however, renew my interest in buying a copy of this excellent boardgame. The cooperative-competitive hybrid model that they use appeals to me strongly, though I am terrible at being an unrevealed Cylon.

We are long-time fans of Arkham Horror, and Kainenchen and I like Descent pretty well (though I'm not enthralled with the full-on DM-as-antagonist setup), so Mansions of Madness is of great interest to us. DM-as-competing-player is still tough for me to support, but that doesn't make me reluctant to at least give it a try.

As a quick PSA and digression: those maniacs over at FFG are doing something I was sure they wouldn't be able to do! It seems that I gravely underestimated their ability to find new design space in a very tightly designed game. There will be an expansion for Chaos in the Old World, called The Horned Rat. The basic board game is amazing, and I look forward to seeing how Skaven fit into it.

Also, one of the other people in our group picked up the Castle Ravenloft and Wrath of Ashardalon board games by WotC. All I can say from what I saw is that they are big and heavy boxes, which would seem to indicate lots of Stuff inside. I guess we'll see, if we can ever schedule a game.

Even though I don't have an active 4e game at the moment, I bought a box with four plastic beholder minis. They look super cool and they make me want to run 4e again a little bit more. I almost bought a rulebook for Musketeers fantasy swashbuckling (ahem, other than 7th Seas), but couldn't really justify the expense.

This was the first time I've gone to a convention and spent most of my time playing games. It is only the fourth convention I've ever been to that was not Dragon*Con (the other three being one Chattacon, one GenCon, and the Festival of Dreams - well, okay, I did spend most of my time at the Festival playing games, but those were SI and KG events). Mace West Cudgelcon was more like Festival of Dreams for me than it was like the other cons, but I didn't walk into Mace West knowing almost everyone in the con. Being outgoing and meeting new people is not what I do best.

Going to the other Mace Con in High Point, in November, is a distinct possibility, especially since I can just drive home at night. It would be even better if we could get more people I knew to go...

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