I had such a great time at Carnage this year!
It was amazing to see so many familiar faces and get to play some games in person.
Carnage was held at Mt Snow, VT, this year. It was the 25th Anniversary, and I have had the good fortune of attending 5 of them now, since 2015. As usual the Con is well-organized and staffed with friendly people. I enjoy attending this Con because it is well-run and, as a Regional-sized Con, it’s not too crowded. I think we had about 800+ total attendees this year. This is a good size, it keeps things manageable for the staff and gives the attendees a chance to get into the games they want to play.
I’ll have a little more to say on the way Cons are staffed and run at the end, thanks to a thought-provoking tweet/blog post I saw yesterday.
Running the Games
As in years past I ran two linked games, with the starting conditions of the second game determined by the outcome of the first. A mini-campaign, if you will. This year it was Cowboys vs Aliens using a fast & loose version of Fistful of Lead rules. This is the first time I’ve run FoL, as I usually lean waaaay in to Pulp Alley. I am a little ashamed to say that I think these rules are actually better for a Con game than Pulp Alley…
FoL handles tasks and perils and combat with only two rolls of a single die. Yes, you need to consult a chart, but by providing every player with a QRS on their clipboard they were handling it on their own in two turns or so.
One thing I added for the Con game was a roll at the end of each turn giving each Character mini that was “down & out” a chance to get back up and keep playing. This did help keep the game going and led to some pretty dramatic moments. In the first game, at the end of turn 2 there were 3 minis down. ALL THREE PLAYERS ROLLED A TEN!
As usual for Con games, I provided a set of rules for Victory Points, but the Players started off by launching an all-out battle. LOL. Every time!
The Aliens won the first game, out on the range at the Bar B ranch. The second game then, was a raid on the town of Rock Ridge.
My version of Rock Ridge came complete with townsfolk for the Aliens to capture and carry off the board. The Townies were worth 5 VP each, but the Aliens didn’t even try to get any!
Instead the Players decided they would have an easier time getting some cows off the board, for 1 VP each…
Apparently it’s NOT needless to say, but the Aliens lost the second game, as the Cowboys were able to protect the town and kill off two of the big, brute Aliens.
I used some cardstock, printed buildings I found on teh interwebs for the scenery. Mainly because I just didn’t have time to scratch-build the number of buildings I would need for the whole town. Also, now that they are done, I can keep them boxed and ready for other Cons!
The scratch-built towns and forts will be part of the ImagiNations campaign, coming next year.
Playing New Games
The third-best part of a Con is checking out new games and seeing the creative ideas from other gamers on display.
One dude had a Dragon Rampant game going, with a Caveman theme! Not only was it mucho creative, but the Players were going nuts, really enjoying the action.
Turtle- and snake-warriors!
This table-cover is very similar to my own!
Devil in the Wilderness, by Dave Valentine
This looks GREAT! The premise: Witches are real!
At least they were in 1689… This is a skirmish-level, card-driven, miniatures game with a built-in campaign structure. I got to play a bit with the author and his son, and it is good fun. The cards represent various items and special abilities your miniatures can collect and use against their enemies.
Written for 28mm, I see no reason why it could not be used with 15mm minis and terrain. I’ll have to seek those minis out for myself, but if you’d like to give this a go in 28mm there is a useful list of minis in the book.
Check it out on Bloody Scotsmen Games, and watch the yootoob channel for a review and playtest. (After I get the minis sorted out!) Setting up for this game might be a video series all by itself!
The Pros and Cons of Cons – Are they Worth It?
I saw a tweet on Monday about Cons, are they worth the effort? I responded yes, before even looking at the blog post linked in the tweet.
It turns out that Indirect Fire had a bad time at a Con this weekend, While I was off having a blast at mine.
When I finally got to the hotel where the con was being held there was a sign in the lobby directing me to the left for registration and to the right for the vendor’s hall. I was anxious to hit the vendor’s hall but figured I should grab my badge first. After I made my way down the hall and down a flight of stairs I found a large room filled with gaming tables. Maybe about a quarter of them being used at that time. There was a table selling dice and t-shirts for the con and a decent library of board games to be checked out. But there were no signs for badge pickup. I walked around a while like a lost little puppy before making my way back to the souvenir table.
While looking at the dice for sale I happened to notice a pile of badges sitting on a chair. I assumed that meant this must be the registration table and flagged down someone working there to get my badge.
Go read the whole post about his poor experience at the Con, it’s terrible what happened!
For my part, I honestly can’t say if this is a common thing in the world of Miniature Gaming Cons or Cons in general. As I said, I’ve been to Carnage five times and will continue to go back. There is another Con, within a few hours drive, that I won’t go back to. It is not well-run and/or the hotel they chose is a terrible location.
What I can say is that a well-run Con is a thing of beauty, an experience simultaneously exciting, stimulating and creative. You can read all of the tweet responses here.
A group of dedicated gamers, some of whom have been involved with Carnage for years, are setting up a new Con in NH for 2023, April 21-23. Join us (Yes, I’m one of them!) in April for miniatures gaming fun at Mayhem Convention!
I will have a few prototype copies of Project FantasyGrid on hand for playtesting!
I look forward to seeing you there, or on the Design Journal substack, where the design journal for this game and others is being published!
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