Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Dice Tower Con 2018 Special Events

Dice Tower Con 2018 had more than just games to play. The organizers put on several special events, some of which I went to and some of which I didn't.

The first special event I went to was Magical Athlete, where they played a human-sized game with people from the Dice Tower podcasts and video channels as the pieces. Magical Athlete is a roll-and-move game where each piece has a special power, like the samurai who fights another piece when they land on the same spot (the victor moves forward). Audience members chose the special powers and rolled the dice for the "pieces." It was a fun game with a lot of banter and improv. When the game started slowing down (and the audience's interest seemed to wane), the referees stirred things up and got the crowd to cheer for players or bow to the King, etc.

Setting up the game

A row of dubious contestants

A battle going down!

Later on that night, they had the Opening Night Game Show, which was a quiz program for teams of six to eight players. I found a group to play with since I was a loner. The questions were multiple choice, which you would think is too easy, so they gave it a twist. Any team that picked the most popular answer didn't score any points. People able to pick the second or third best answer scored best. Questions were like, "Which game has the most dice: A, B, or C?" The highest answer didn't score, other answers scored according to the number of dic. It was fun and challenging (especially when the games were unfamiliar). The penultimate round had teams guessing board games from silhouettes on the game's cover. The three highest teams had a final round where they faced off playing Click Clack Lumberjack, a game where they had to chop plastic bark off a plastic tree without knocking the tree down. It was pretty hilarious.

Opening Night Game Show

The next night was the Dice Tower Awards show. I arrived late because an earlier game went long (but was lots of fun). I did see the last three-fifths of Gloomhaven's epic five-award sweep (including Game of the Year). The designer, who was accepting the awards for his team, was running out of people to thank and, indeed, things to say. So he started commenting on the fabulous background, trying to figure out if the dice layout had a pattern or not.

Isaac Childres accepts yet another award

The panel (and the cryptic but awesome background)

What the awards look like

The following night was the Jack Vasel Memorial Fund auction, which raised several thousand dollars. The Fund is used for board gamers who have suffered personal hardships. The fund is named after Jack Vasel, son of Tom Vasel (who is the founder of the Dice Tower Network). Jack died in infancy and his illness left many hospital bills. Members of the gaming community community came forward with assistance and now Tom is providing a way for the community to help others in their hour of need.

The con had two escape rooms running throughout the convention. For those who don't know, an escape room is a place where a group is locked in a room full of puzzles and challenges to be completed in order to get out of the room. Usually, the group has an hour to complete the task. The convention escape rooms were only half an hour long.

The first one I tried, Brain Battle, had two teams of three trying to solve all the puzzles in a box before the other team. Since I was a loner, I joined up with two other ladies who were dressed patriotically for the Fourth of July (I wore my Captain America shirt). We were making record time until we discovered one puzzle that was not set up correctly. Happily, an assistant was in the room and verified that the box wasn't working properly. She had the code we needed to move on. We would have beaten the other team if we hadn't been held back by faulty equipment! Since we were the very first players, I hope things went smoothly for others later.

The second escape room was called Spy Trap. The whole team of six worked together to solve puzzles in order to defuse a bomb in under thirty minutes. Well, we reached the end in under thirty minutes, but that was because we switched the wrong wire (no cutting wires since the room needed to reset for another team in fifteen minutes) and blew ourselves up! We still got (posthumous) bomb squad pins.

Pins from the two escape rooms

Several games had tournaments during the con. The only tournament I participated in was the daily King of Tokyo qualifier. The publisher ran hourly qualifying rounds during the day where up to 24 players would face off at six tables of four, with the winners playing a six-player semifinal to qualify for the 5 p.m. championship round. The daily champion won a full set of King of Tokyo and King of New York games and expansions. I didn't make it past the first table but still got some promo cards just for playing. It was fun to play even if I was eliminated in the first round.

My defeated Space Penguin!

Promo cards

The con also had various role playing games going on during the convention. One series of events was one-hour RPGs. Having been interested in the genre but never before delving in, I did an 8 to 9 p.m. session of Pathfinder. The adventure came from the Sliverhex Chronicles (of which I know nothing other than the name). Our group was hired by a local aristocrat to recover a valuable heirloom from the family mausoleum. The graveyard where the mausoleum is located had some disturbances of late, so we entered with weapons at the ready. The adventure was hampered by the fact that several people went in and out of the game and a bunch of kids suddenly joined, forcing the game master to adapt quickly to various characters coming and going in the story and tailoring the story for age-appropriateness. He did a great job, though we adventurers did, in my opinion, a mediocre job. We did recover the heirloom, but we had a big fight with a mysterious figure in the cemetery and never got the full story of what was going on. We charged in and wiped the figure out before finding out why she was there and what was her relation to the aristocrat. The kids went in with their swords swinging and never looked back. I did enjoy the game anyway.

The game master had some cool minis for us to use!

I played an adapted scenario from the Arkham Horror Card Game. Three adventurers (the players) were on a train that was slowly being sucked into a rift in the sky. The players had to get all the way to the engine, get it restarted, and escape the rift. The game was very exciting and thematic. I had terrible luck with some of my skill checks and almost tanked the game. On the other hand, I was able to find a lot of clues (I played the librarian and she is pretty good at that) and managed to inflict a bunch of damage on the big bad lurking in the train's locomotive. We managed to save the train by the skin of our teeth. The guy running the scenario did a great job teaching the rules, giving occasional advice, and providing color commentary on the situation.

My tableau (the play mat probably doesn't come with the game)

Daisy Walker, the Librarian

The highlight of the con for me was playing Memoir '44, a World War II combat game designed by Richard Borg. Mr. Borg was there, again providing color commentary and rules advice during the game. We played the Guadalcanal scenario from the new Through Jungle and Desert expansion.

The beginning set-up

The U. S. Marines were defending Henderson Field from a Japanese assault. The scenario is an Overlord game, using two game boards put together (though in this case, it was one long poster-sized printed sheet) and eight players. The players are divided into two teams. Each side has a General overseeing the battle and handing out the command cards to each zone of the battlefield (three zones, so three sub-commanders). I was left flank for the Americans. My troops were on the edge of the small hills separating the Japanese from the air base, so I didn't see the brunt of the action.

Soldiers in battle

I did have several exciting moments on the left flank and at least three very critical roles, two of which went spectacularly well. It was a lot of fun even though we lost (too many American units died--we didn't give up the airfield). Mr. Borg was gracious enough to take pictures with us and gave us awesome M44 Recon Team medals.

Here am I with Richard Borg!

The cool medal!

More from the con soon...

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