Or should I say, Apple-Con!
My annual long weekend getaway with my game group is now over and, as usual, I’ve got the post-con blues and can’t wait until next year. Last year, and all previous years, I’ve always booked one of the big “forest” cabins at Lake Hope State Park but this year we moved to a different location. Lake Hope’s cabins are rustic, economical, and meet our needs but one member of the group had an inside scoop to a “cabin” in Apple Valley so we took a chance.
I usually book the Lake Hope cabin a year in advance but last year the way the convention fell over MLK day I couldn’t book the 2016 dates until we got back and the big cabins were all gone. So I quickly booked two side-by-side smaller cabins so that we weren’t completely out in the cold. As 2015 progressed I was getting more and more concerned that having two cabins would ruin the close-knit camaraderie that we enjoy when we’re all together. Luckily, the Apple Valley connection came through and in the end, the cabin was nicer (it even has wifi!), it cost less, and is about 30 minutes closer to Columbus. A win all around in my book. With no strong sentimental reasons to return to Lake Hope, we’re all hoping we can use the Apple Valley connection for years to come.
This year I got a bit goofy and generated Machi Koro-based “name tags” for everybody and threw them out on the gaming table. Each person had to locate the one that had the center icon that the most identified with. I made it way too obvious but I had fun making them and enjoyed watching people pick them out.
The new cabin had plenty of room in the separate kitchen and after moving some furniture around in the living room we quickly made room for the long gaming table. After all seven of us arrived, we ran through two heats of PitchCar joining the best two from each heat into a final three-lap race. The ultimate goal, initially, was for the winners to get the two beds in the cabin and everyone else would sleep on inflatables but in the end, the snoring club got one room and our connection to the Apple Valley cabin got the other room. Seemed only fair regardless of the outcome of the flick-fest.
We all pitch in and sign up for a meal (we have two a day) and attendees bring food to cook and share for everybody else. We all seem to try to outdo each other which isn’t a bad thing in my book. I always try to sign up for the Saturday breakfast/brunch time-slot and always bring a sausage and egg breakfast casserole, spiced fruit, and homemade cinnamon rolls which are always a big hit.
Friday night we split into two groups with one end of the table playing Endeavor and the other playing Freedom: The Underground Railroad. It was my first true two-player playing of Freedom and all I can say is, wow, I don’t see how it’s winnable. We had a really rough time making progress.
Over the course of the weekend we would come together for lighter games and split apart for more thinky games but in general I think this year’s con proved to have a lighter mix of games overall.
We did tend to talk more between games and simply chat more over snacks, drinks, etc. I used to stress a lot about trying to pack in as many games as possible during the weekend but I’m finding that just letting the gaming happen when it happens is a much more enjoyable experience. I have really found a great group of guys and very much enjoy spending time with them.
I did, however, have a die-hard compatriot that was willing to take a shot at playing Antiquity with me. We had a lot of fun working through the rules and playing the game right up until we both chose our winning conditions and could rearrange our cities. When that happened, the theme bubble burst, the game turned into a Tetris-puzzle and it was immediately obvious who was going to win and in how many turns. Maybe we got something wrong but it just burst the bubble for both of us.
On the lighter side we did play another round of PitchCar as well as two rounds of Wings of War: Famous Aces (one “game” kept us up until about 3am!). What a fun game. We had enough bits for all seven of us and although it was a completely different kind of game than what we’d usually play, we had a blast.
I can’t more strongly encourage you to try to find some time to get away with your game group. We’ve found it a great bonding experience for everybody in the group and so far, everyone commits every year and looks forward to it. It takes a bit of work to get it running smoothly initially but once you’ve done it a few years in a row, it almost runs itself.
Thanks guys for a great time again. I look forward to next year.Views: 1040