Total Confusion kicks off Feb. 23rd! Here’s my official schedule and more about the convention

Every year in February, I have cause to celebrate! My favorite convention, Total Confusion kicks off and this year is no different! I’ll be in attendance all convention long, from Thursday the 23 through Sunday the 26th.

If you’re in or going to be in the area this February, you definitely want to check Total Confusion out. I’ll get to my tentative schedule in a moment but first I can give you a few other reasons to join us. How’d you like to play games with Tim Kask, Frank Mentzer, Mike Pondsmith, John Wick,  Michael Curtis, Jay Libby, Peter Bryant, James Carpio, the Dark Phoenix folks, the Iron GM folks and more?! Oh, and I’ll be there too.

For the last while, Total Confusion was in Mansfield, MA. This coming year they’re moving to the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel in Marlborough, MA. I’m bringing a bag full of games to play and I’ll also have some copies of Swamped and Ninja – Silent but Deadly with me as well.

Thursday

10am -1pm – Being interviewed, lunch, hanging at the flea setup, etc.

1pm-3pmAbove and Below.  Above and Below is a mashup of town-building and storytelling where you and up to three friends compete to build the best village above and below ground. tcaboveandbelowIn the game, you send your villagers to perform jobs like exploring the cave, harvesting resources, and constructing houses. Each villager has unique skills and abilities, and you must decide how to best use them. You have your own personal village board, and you slide the villagers on this board to various areas to indicate that they’ve been given jobs to do. Will you send Hanna along on the expedition to the cave? Or should she instead spend her time teaching important skills to one of the young villagers?

3pm-11pmFlea Market. I’m once again volunteering to help run the Total Confusion Flea Market. I’ll be setting up and then guiding excited guests through the maze of board game and RPG deals.

Friday

10am 12pmTerritorial Disputes – Eight Minute Empires, Ages of War, Guilds of Cadwallon and more. If you’re feeling like controlling some area in a few tiny games, this is the event for you. Explore some fun, fairly fast and not terribly large area-control games.

1pm – 3pm  – Cutthroat Caverns“Without teamwork, you will never survive. Without betrayal, you’ll never win.” I like to call this one Munchkin but for adults. It’s a semi-tccutthroatcooperating dungeon romp where you’ve already done the hard work, and gotten the magical gew-gaw! Now all you have to do is get back out. Easy, right? Right?! In Cutthroat Caverns, it’s every player for themselves, except  you need the other players to make it out! At least, most of the way out. 

3pm-7pm –  Scythe – Scythe is a 4X board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and tcscythevalor. In Scythe, each player represents a character from one of five factions of Eastern Europa who are attempting to earn their fortune and claim their faction’s stake in the land around the mysterious Factory. If you’re looking for strategic game play, beautiful artwork and resource tokens that will amaze, join us!

9pm-11pm – Kids Games for Adults – 2 Drink Minimum. What? Kids games? Where? At the bar. Why? If you have to ask, this event isn’t for you.

Saturday

I’ll be hanging out with friends, my daughter, my wife and playin’ games!

Sunday

10am – 12pm – Prototype Workshop. Join me with other industry insiders as we look at you board and card game ideas. Spend 10-15 minutes explaining your game and showing off your prototype. Receive 10-15 minutes of feedback from us!

1pm-3pm – Bohnanza – It’s Sunday, the convention is winding down and you’ve come to realize you have not yet fulfilled one of your bucket list items. To become a successful bean tcbeansfarmer. In the classic Bohnanza, players have a gas wheeling and dealing, making and breaking alliances and of course, planting lots of beans. This fairly casual card game could be the perfect way blow out the con.

And that’s my convention so far. I’m running a fair number of events and am reserving some time on Saturday for myself. I may participate in a panel, I hope to get in a game or two (maybe even *gasp* an RPG!) I’ll have my personal copy of Swamped and Ninja on me and I can easily teach either of these in a fairly short amount of time, so if you see me wandering around or stationary for a short time, feel free to come up, say hi and ask!

Granite Games Summit – a summary

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I dragged (okay, she really wanted to go) my 10 year old with me up to New Hampshire for 6.5 hours of gaming goodness that was Granite Game Summit and it was awesome! We played a bunch of games, connected with a bunch of cool folks and generally had a grand old time. We were only able to stay until about 4pm (the event goes until Midnight) but still crammed in a lot of gaming! Next time we’ll look into staying later to cram even MORE gaming in.

Our first play was Chip Beauvais‘ forthcoming Universal Rule – A fast, 18 card, 4x game reminiscent of Eminent Domain or Tiny Epic Galaxies with roles and the ability to follow. The facts that it’s an 18 card wallet game but plays like a much larger game make it a stand out and at about $10 and fitting in your pocket – highly recommend. It’ll be on Kickstarter from Button Shy Games in early November. I know at least three other folks I met who are planning on backing just from our plays at G2S. Luca enjoyed it as well and it was in her top 3 games of the day. I should note that the graphic design and artwork were spot on with this one too.

Coins not included - this is a prototype.
Coins not included – this is a prototype.

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I finally got to play Animal upon Animal, which I love. I own it but hadn’t gotten it to the table yet but it’s critical I do! At Total Confusion this coming winter I’ll be running a Kids Games for Adults event at the bar and this’ll be one of the games.

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We then stuck a finger in the eye of quick, light games and broke out Islebound. It was good to get a three player game in, even though I did terribly and was utterly destroyed by David who I know from my G+ Board Games community. I really still do like this game but feel like it’s perhaps… a half hour too long? I think Luca felt a little trapped with this one but will probably appreciate Islebound more when she’s a bit older.

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Luca dug up Donkey Kong Jenga from some forgotten corner and we took it for a spin – missing the rules though so we just played regular old Jenga with it. Not anyone’s favorite but still a nice, non-thinky diversion.

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From there we got into  The Climbers – a nifty, abstract of climbing! Well worth the play an something that’s peaked my interest as a game collector too. I’m not always into abstracts but there was something about this game that was a ton of fun. It’s made from chunky, wooden components which is quite appealing. Each player attempts to be the one at the highest point by the end of the game. You can only climb onto neutral (grey) surfaces and the color that matches your pawn in the game. Ladders can be used to hop up quickly, you can move one block on your turn and also block other players for a single turn. It turned out to be a bit more complex (in a good way) than first look. I may have to look into acquiring a copy of this. Luca chalked this up to her 2nd favorite game of the day.

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Luca then discovered Klask and it was a whole bunch of games of that before we had to take off. This was clearly her favorite of the day and has subsequently been added to a certain 11 year old game reviewer’s Christmas list. It’s a simple magnet powered dexterity game. Get the ball into your opponent’s goal without getting your magnet controlled (from beneath the board) pawn stuck in your own hole, hopelessly offsides or with two of those white magnetic pegs stuck to it. I very much enjoyed this one too!

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I also had a chance to meet and (for a very short time) hang out with Jason from Button Shy Games, along with two other Buttonshy designers, Chip who did Smoke and Mirrors and has Universal Rule coming out and Daniel Newman with the very successfully Kickstarter and soon to be arriving Ahead in the Clouds. That was great to meet everyone in the flesh – well, Chip I’ve met before but still great. I think Button Shy’s doing some really interesting things with small games, so pay attention to them.

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It was, all in all a wonderful, game filled day. The organizers of G2S did a bang up job. It took us perhaps 2 minutes to get through registration and in the door. Once there, there was a library of games provided by G2C and also every attendee was invited to bring games to play and add (briefly) to the public library. You put the games you’re willing to share on top of a table with a number, fill out a quick sheet of what you have and when you’re leaving and that’s about it. The system worked great!

My one regret the whole day was that I didn’t find the time to have Daniel teach me Ahead in the Clouds. I’ll have it in my greedy little hand soon enough anyway but I always like getting in games with their designers and publishers.

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Before 10 am with the room just starting to fill.

In addition to this, there was a raffle in place with a bunch of decent gaming prizes. Three tables were constantly in motion with designers and publishers showing off new and prototype games. I want to particularly thank Kimberly for being one of the organizers and also bringing this event to my awareness. We didn’t get a game in this time but we’ll get one in at some tiem in the near future! Bang up job!

Total Confusion 31 – This February 23-26 in Marlborough MA

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Every year in February, I have cause to celebrate! My favorite convention, Total Confusion kicks off and this year is no different! I’ll be in attendance all convention long, from Thursday the 23 through Sunday the 26th. I know it seems a bit early to be talking about this but first, I’m terribly excited about it and second, they’ve already opened up event registration.

If you’re in or going to be in the area this February, you definitely want to check Total Confusion out. Also consider running a few games! Because I’m excited, I’ve already gotten most of my events in! I’ll get to my tentative schedule in a moment but first I can give you a few other reasons to join us. How’d you like to play games with Tim Kask, Frank Mentzer, Mike Pondsmith, Michael Curtis, Jay Libby, Peter Bryant, James Carpio, the Dark Phoenix folks, the Iron GM folks and more?! Oh, and I’ll be there too.

For the last while, Total Confusion was in Mansfield, MA. This coming year they’re moving to the Best Western Royal Plaza Hotel in Marlborough, MA.

So, I’m bringing a bag full of games to play and I’ll also have some copies of Swamped and Ninja – Silent but Deadly with me as well. This schedule is at the moment tentative, as events are still rolling in and the folks who volunteer their time to make this convention happen are still way early in the process of, well, making it all happen. So it is subject to change at their or my will.

10am -1pm – Being interviewed, lunch, hanging at the flea setup, etc.

1pm-3pmAbove and Below.  Above and Below is a mashup of town-building and storytelling where you and up to three friends compete to build the best village above and below ground. tcaboveandbelowIn the game, you send your villagers to perform jobs like exploring the cave, harvesting resources, and constructing houses. Each villager has unique skills and abilities, and you must decide how to best use them. You have your own personal village board, and you slide the villagers on this board to various areas to indicate that they’ve been given jobs to do. Will you send Hanna along on the expedition to the cave? Or should she instead spend her time teaching important skills to one of the young villagers?

3pm-11pmFlea Market. I’m once again volunteering to help run the Total Confusion Flea Market. I’ll be setting up and then guiding excited guests through the maze of board game and RPG deals.

Friday

10am 12pmTerritorial Disputes – Eight Minute Empires, Ages of War, Guilds of Cadwallon and more. If you’re feeling like controlling some area in a few tiny games, this is the event for you. Explore some fun, fairly fast and not terribly large area-control games.

1pm – 3pm  – Cutthroat Caverns“Without teamwork, you will never survive. Without betrayal, you’ll never win.” I like to call this one Munchkin but for adults. It’s a semi-tccutthroatcooperating dungeon romp where you’ve already done the hard work, and gotten the magical gew-gaw! Now all you have to do is get back out. Easy, right? Right?! In Cutthroat Caverns, it’s every player for themselves, except  you need the other players to make it out! At least, most of the way out. 

3pm-7pm –  Scythe – Scythe is a 4X board game set in an alternate-history 1920s period. It is a time of farming and war, broken hearts and rusted gears, innovation and tcscythevalor. In Scythe, each player represents a character from one of five factions of Eastern Europa who are attempting to earn their fortune and claim their faction’s stake in the land around the mysterious Factory. If you’re looking for strategic game play, beautiful artwork and resource tokens that will amaze, join us!

9pm-11pm – Kids Games for Adults – 2 Drink Minimum. What? Kids games? Where? At the bar. Why? If you have to ask, this event isn’t for you.

Saturday

TBD

Sunday

10am – 12pm – Prototype Workshop. Join me with other industry insiders as we look at you board and card game ideas. Spend 10-15 minutes explaining your game and showing off your prototype. Receive 10-15 minutes of feedback from us!

1pm-3pm – Bohnanza – It’s Sunday, the convention is winding down and you’ve come to realize you have not yet fulfilled one of your bucket list items. To become a successful bean tcbeansfarmer. In the classic Bohnanza, players have a gas wheeling and dealing, making and breaking alliances and of course, planting lots of beans. This fairly casual card game could be the perfect way blow out the con.

And that’s my convention so far. I’m running a fair number of events and am reserving some time on Saturday for myself. I may participate in a panel, I hope to get in a game or two (maybe even *gasp* an RPG!) I’ll have my personal copy of Swamped and Ninja on me and I can easily teach either of these in a fairly short amount of time, so if you see me wandering around or stationary for a short time, feel free to come up, say hi and ask!

Con Report: Total Confusion 30!

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From Wednesday, February 17th through Sunday February 21 I found myself and the Mansfield MA Holiday Inn for Total Confusion 30! Total Confusion is New England’s largest convention dedicated to tabletop gaming. I don’t have the numbers yet but I can tell you that it was a busy convention with a ton going on! Total Confusion is without a doubt my favorite convention. If your goal is to play games, meet some terribly interesting people, have a great time and then play more games it’s should certainly be on your radar too. Here’s my convention report.

Wednesday

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The afternoon saw my wife and I heading into Boston to pick up industry guest Tim Kask from the airport. Tim is someone we’ve gotten to know over the last few conventions and we always enjoy doing the airport runs to bring him out to Mansfield. Once back at the hotel, Tim and my wife went off for some genuine Casey’s hot dogs while I hung about.The hotel is eerily quiet on Wednesday afternoon but we still saw gaming going on! After a few missed connections I finally ran into Michael Curtis at the bar and we chatted over soda about ongoing projects and how the last year had treated us.

Shortly after relaxing with Michael, my wife arrived back at the hotel and it was time for our 7pm game – and the only real RPGing I was going to get in this weekend. Dark Phoenix Events had a room dedicated to their GM’s and game all weekend long (and it was packed!). Founder Scott Legault was kind enough to run a Call of Cthulhu game for us which we along with three other attendees thoroughly enjoyed – and all managed to stay (barely) sane throughout!

After our game we hung out a bit with Scott and then retired.

Thursday 

frankWe started the day off with a hearty breakfast. Then relaxed for a bit with some friends. Frank Mentzer got me excited again about the people who make and play games. Tim Kask, Frank and I talked small games for a while too.

Shortly after that Stephen Wollett of Nerd Rage News arrived and got me and most of the TC staff and industry guests to behave in a Socially Unacceptable way. The game was played with tags on our lanyards identifying us as actually playing. From there a series of cards were handed out that required you to do, well, socially unacceptable things to other players. Steal their food, look them in the eye and proclaim your undying love, etc. It went on all con long and was a blast!socially

swampedsmallI played a bunch of Swamped and got to tell Dennis at Bellwether Games that I was nearly out of the game . Then I did finish off all my copies! Thankfully a few more appeared before the end of the convention but on the whole I believe I sold or gave away 14 copies of Swamped. If you’re near me physically I still have a few copies left – otherwise pick them up at your FLGS, Amazon or from Bellwether directly. 

I had a great game of Seasons with my wife and two others. We ran into Peter Bryant and Mike Kafes from the Mythwits and also got to say hello to the folks from our favorite vendor, Crossroad Games.  I also learned that Jason Tagmire’s mail ninja reached him safely and then caused him to lose.
For the second year in a row, Sal’s Traveling Market (a giant game flea market) took place and we helped with traffic control while my wife and Scott managed the register. Last year there were about 300 items for sale, this year we topped out around 600 and lots of folks walked away with a ton of treasures, new and old. We’ll definitely be helping with this again next year.
Then to wrap things up, my wife and I chatted with Mike and Cody Pondsmith about new things coming down the line, old games revisited and upside down fake mummies.

Friday

My goodness, is it only Friday? Friday morning my dexterity game challenge took off at 10am with games like Ugg-Tect, Rhino Hero, Villa Palletti and of course, Loopin’ Chewie!
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That was a fun two hours and a great way to start off my Friday morning. From there the 1-3pm slot saw us playing a bunch of different small game titles – some mine, others brought by my buddy Jeremy who just happened to have been there with a whole mess of games. We were pitted against one particularly crafty 13 year old girl who handily won several of the games.
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Some more Swamped was played, along with a game of DC Deck Builder as we waited for the vendor hall to close and then we broke out my newly acquired Code Names with Brendan and Dave from Crossroads and also took Funemployed for a test run! What a great bunch of party games! We were able to round up enough folks to easily play both and did so until just about midnight.
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Saturday

Saturday was a relatively free day for me – I’d left it intentionally so because my two daughters were spending the day at the convention and my wife, who’s on the staff, was pretty solidly booked. The 501st had a few members arrive, which is always cool!
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Both girls took part in the Paint and Take mini event and did a splendid job. My oldest won in the 16 and under category for the 2nd year in a row! We played a few games but then my youngest came down with some kind of awful sickness so a good bulk of the rest of Saturday was spent with either myself or my wife in the room with the girls. I had to cancel my annual Talisman event but did loan out my game to a few friends to play.
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Once the girls were settled down and most of the sickness was gone, we did manage to sneak out to the Dilly Green Bean Games annual shindig for a bit of hanging out and our ever growing yearly picture. In that picture above are a ton of amazing people – industry leaders and veterans, amazing staff from the convention, artists, friends, podcasters – you name it, they were there!

Sunday

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With my youngest feeling better I was able to meet up with Glenn from Games By Play Date for our yearly Prototype Workshop. This year it was a very sedate workshop – one gentleman stopped by with two prototypes. As always though I was thoroughly surprised by a new idea. One of the games was a unique type of dexterity game that I’d not seen anything like before. Glenn and I encouraged him to pursue it after making some suggestions. flatiypus
From there I wandered into the board game room where Emerson Mastuuchi was just about to demo his newest title, Caravan, coming from Z-Man Games. Not only did I get to play the game, but Emerson signed my copy of Specter Ops and asked me to sign his copy of Swamped. That was an entirely new experience for me!
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Caravan is a wonderful resource management, engine building game which (as you can see from the first picture) will be released with two distinct themes. The game will remain the same but the artwork featured will be different between the two editions. The game play with four of us took just about an hour and was a little brain-burny perhaps for a Sunday afternoon at the convention but still a lot of fun and certainly a game I’ll be playing again once it’s available.
At this point I started to notice the one real downside that can come along with any convention. Con Crud. I was feeling a bit lousy so rather than stick around for the close-of-convention meeting with the Total Con Staff we bugged out so I could give my bed a nice, big hello.

In Conclusion

I have to hand it to the staff and volunteers at Total Confusion. This was their 30th anniversary and they did a bang up job. Every day something new and neat was being given out at Registration (buttons being one of my favorites!).  They were always friendly and courteous, always smiling despite the long hours and the essentially sold out the convention. I know that for at least several days there wasn’t an open table to be had for roleplaying and that the overflow open gaming area was being well used and often full as well. There was a very nice, glossy book printed up for the convention which was something new for the 30th as well. We had ours signed by all of our friends (new and old) yearbook style!
Even at it’s busiest on Saturday, I was constantly meeting folks I hadn’t seen since last year, exchanging hellos and also meeting a bunch of new folks who either hadn’t been to Total Con before or who just hadn’t crossed paths with me prior to this year. It was great! The vendor area, while not huge, did have a great selection of games and merchandise and was always busy. Just about every surface area was being utilized for gaming as well and that’s a lovely site to see.
If you’re going to be in the New England area next February and love table top gaming, I’d highly suggest making plans to visit Total Confusion 31 – it’s always one of the major highlights of my year for both the people and the gaming.
All of the pictures I or my wife took during Total Con 30 can be found right here:

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New Year, New Me. Also: Swamped update, Ninja update and Total Confusion 30 Update!

 

Ninja - coming soon!
Ninja – coming soon!

Here we are in 2016! This is looking to be a good year for me games-wise and will be starting off with a bang! First though, I have to comment on the lack of activity here on Troll. You see, I’m a new man. Literally.

About a week before Christmas I had surgery to repair my right shoulder. Since then I’ve been confined to a giant, sling-contraption that severely limits the mobility of my right arm. I eat with this thing on, sleep with this thing on and do everything with this thing on – I’ve come to thoroughly loathe it. The good news is that as of this week I’ve been cleared by my surgeon to do computer stuff (i.e. typing).

Another reason why the content from me has slowed considerably on this site and why the Indie Talks podcast has vanished is simply time. With a full time job, a lengthy commute, a wife and two children, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to devote to everything I really want to do. One of the things I really, really, REALLY want to do is design games. I’ve chosen to give that priority over blogging and podcasting. That doesn’t mean I’m gone from this site completely – though I wouldn’t expect Indie Talks to return any time soon. I’ll be here periodically updated, reviewing other games and whatnot. Now on to the cool things coming in 2016!

Swamped

As of yesterday, Bellwether Games have confirmed that Swamped is shipping to Kickstarter backers and off to retail distribution as well. Dennis from Bellwether produced a wonderful How To Play video for the game and it should be available for order from their site in the very near future for those who didn’t Kickstart the game. Also check out your friendly local game stores for copies!

 

You just lost!
You just lost!

Ninja – Silent but Deadly

I’m very happy to say that Button Shy Games have picked up my game Ninja and will be bringing it to Kickstarter this year. There are no firm dates or details available yet other than the image at the top of this post but I can tell you that I had several offers on this game. I went with Button Shy because I’m really interested in what they’re doing in the small games space and they wanted to do Ninja the way I had done Ninja.

Button Shy are experts at producing small games that play well, are super portable and most importantly fun! Please do check them out.

Total Confusion 30

 

My local gaming convention – and my favorite convention to attend, Total Confusion is going off again this year from tc30February 18-21 in Mansfield, MA. This is their 30th year running and it’s going to be fantastic! I’ll be there as an industry guest, with a few copies of Swamped on me and running a few other events as well. If you’re planning on attending for a day or for the weekend, please don’t hesitate to let me know and stop me to say hello! I’ve included my schedule at the end of this post. Last year TC hosted a flea market on Thursday evening which was a huge success. This year I’ll be helping to organize and run it so that’s your best chance to bump into me in a psuedo-random fashion. My Saturday is also fairly free as I’ve left some time for me to get some games in.

The Rest of 2016

So that takes us through February. Hopefully I’ll have more exciting table top related things to talk about for the rest of the year! Regardless, 2016 is starting off strong!

Total Confusion Schedule

This doesn’t include scheduled games that I’ll be signing up for to participate in as pre-registration hasn’t opened yet.

Wednesday

Arriving in the late afternoon/early evening.

7pm – Private game.

Thursday

1pm – 3pm: Seasons 

Seasons is the beautifully illustrated, wonderfully designed game of magicians battling to score the most points, as magicians are wont to do. If you enjoy a bit of card drafting mixed in with a ton of card combos, a few ‘take that’ moments and lots of interesting decisions, come play a game of Seasons! If we have a novice player, we’ll use the basic set. If we have experienced players, we’ll use some of the expansions.

6:00pm – 10:30pm Flea Market at the Auditorium 

Friday

10:00am – 12:00pm:  Clubs, Villas and Rhinos – The Friday Morning Ugg-Tect, Dexterity Game Spectacular!

Have you ever wanted to construct a fabulous monument that will stand the test of time, while being directed by a slobbering, pre-literate, club wielding task-master with zero language skills? This is the event for you! In this Friday morning event, you can begin your day with a bash! Also build your own Villa – but do it carefully or it’ll all fall down! Then assist a ½ ton rhino to climb a less-than-stable apartment building!

1:00pm – 3:00pmSmall Board and Card Games: Big Fun!

I love small box games. Cards and board that can almost fit into your pockets make for a great experience in quick games. Many people call these filler games but sometimes what you really want is to get 3-4 games into a two hour period. If you’re curious to check out some smaller games, from Love Letter to Diamonds, Eight Minute Empire Legends to My Happy Farm and more – this event is for you! I’ll be bringing a bunch of my favorites, maybe even my own game, Swamped!

Saturday

7:00pm – 11:00pm: Talisman with the Dungeon, Highlands and a few house rules

Talisman is the classic roll and move quest game that brings players together so they can all kill each other. In this version, we’ll include an expansion or three and have one house rule – The +1 rule! Every character gets one extra Strength and Craft, turning this 5 hour game into a 3-4 hour game. Also in force – the rule of 5. It takes 5 points to upgrade your Craft or Strength, not 7.

12:00am -> Private event.

Sunday

10:00am – Noon: Prototype Pitch Workshop – Board and Card Games

Bring in your card and board game prototype and give us a 15 minute pitch! We’ll give you a 15 minute review in turn! First come, first serve! Last year’s event was a big hit so stop by and say hello. Please limit one prototype per person.

I’ll also be around for the rest of the day Sunday to close out the convention – so if you’re hanging about, let’s game!

Total Confusion 29 – Four Days of Gaming Our Faces Off

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Total Confusion 29

From February 19th through February 22nd I was once again invited to attend Total Confusion 29 as an industry guest. Let me tell you, this is hands down my all time favorite gaming event of the year. I ask you in all seriousness, where else can you wake up on a Friday morning, grab some breakfast, head down to a nicely busy events room and hit a bunch of friends and strangers over the head with an inflatable club?

The Pros

Tons of games being played by tons of friendly gamers. The people are amazing. The staff and volunteers are great. The vendor area, while small, is also great. Themed cocktails created by Steve Wollett.  Rubbing elbows and playing games with industry guests including legends like Tim Kask, Frank Mentzer and Mike Pondsmith. Games running from 8am to 1am, with open gaming starting earlier and going later. I got to demo my newest game Swamped a bunch of times, and had five full play tests completed with five different groups of people, which was amazing. I also get a weekend amongst friends with my wife, which really only happens once or twice a year.

Swamped!
Swamped!

The Cons (Get it? The Cons? No?)

Well, there was the weather and the parking which was entirely out of the conventions hands but still were issues. Other than that, I’d have loved better wifi coverage (also a hotel thing, not a convention thing).  Really I have not a single complaint aimed towards the convention staff or volunteers – mostly it’s the hotel that could have acted and reacted better and this darned New England weather.

Wednesday

My wife Jenn is an Associate for Total Confusion in the capacity of organizing the panels and some of the events. As such, I often get a behind the curtain look at how this convention works, from attending meetings to going to the airport to pick up or drop off industry guests. On Wednesday we traveled to the far off wilds of Rhode Island to pick up Tim Kask and Frank Mentzer from the airport. This is the second year we’ve done this and we enjoy it immensely because not only are these two guys TSR alums and industry veterans but they are full of interesting stories. We love hanging out with them. Then we drop them off at the hotel and get our last glimpse of the Holiday Inn before it transforms into Total Con.

Thursday

Let the games begin! Thursday we arrived right around lunch time, met up with our buddy Jean who’d driven up from somewhere down south where it’s warm, and grabbed lunch. We then played a few games, met up with a ton of people we hadn’t seen in a literal year and had a hell of a time. At 6 that evening Jenn and I helped set up the first ever flea market at Total Con (which raised about $700 for the Wounded Warrior Project) and it was a blast! I helped direct the flow of traffic and also accidentally purchased a copy of Stone Age and Spyrium. Whoops!

Sals Traveling Market
Sals Traveling Market

At 7pm I wandered over to the board game room where I had scheduled a 2 hour block to play small box games. Jean joined me along with a few new friends and we played a large variety of games! Lost Legacy, Sushi Go, Hanabi and more. Then at 9:30 or so it was back to the flea market to help corral games that hadn’t sold and get them back to their owners. After that it was hanging out with Jenn, the staff, volunteers and guests in the Green room for a bit and then off to bed for us!

Friday

Early Friday starts with breakfast for Jenn and I in the Green Room. It’s a nice chance to get some caffeine and food into us and gear up for the day. Gaming opened up at 10am for me with something I’ve always wanted to do. Ugg-Tect! We had six folks, including myself and this game was an absolute blast! More than one person stopped just to watch our antics as we tried to communicate with a four word vocabulary and lots of motions what we wanted our teammates to build. Unfortunately Ugg-Tect is currently out of print, so here’s to Fantasy Flight Games getting new copies out to the world!

Ugg-Tect!
Ugg-Tect!

I then purchased my very own copy of Lewis and Clark the Expedition. Just as I was setting it up to learn with Jean, a very nice person who’s name I didn’t catch stopped by the table and offered to teach it to us. He spent a good half hour getting us up and running! It was a fun race game that I very much enjoyed though I’ll admit it was a bit more brain burny than I expected.

Lewis & Clark & Jean & Ben
Lewis & Clark & John & Ben

After that it was off to lunch with Jenn and then some more open gaming! We played a few different things, including my own Swamped until we had dinner, and then at 7pm. After that, I had a very special appointment. My first game with TSR alum Tim Kask – Curse of the Weaver Queen. The point of the game wasn’t to make it through alive, but to see just how far we could make it. Alas, I made it right up to the high level Litch and that was it for my poor character. While I was being set upon by a nasty undead magic user my wife was off getting the RKO Army going with the first of several shows they put on during Friday and Saturday evenings.

RIP Tylar
RIP Tylar

Saturday

Saturday is usually the biggest day of Total Con for both myself, Jenn and the convention. I usually have a bunch of events lined up, Jenn has a whole line up of panels to see through and the convention’s at it’s busiest with attendees. This year was no exception, although later in the day the weather kept some folks away. I started off actually leaving the convention to pick up my 11 year old daughter who was going to spend half the day with us. Arriving back with her, she elected to join me on my Kids and Gaming panel! It’s nice to get a real expert in on the talk.

From Left to Right - Me, Izzie, Jay Libby, Mike Pondsmith.
From Left to Right – Me, Izzie, Jay Libby, Mike Pondsmith.

After that, as I taught Star Realms, Izzie headed up on the stage to paint her very first miniature figure – a wizard, which I’m proud to say won Best Youth Mini later that evening!

We wandered the board game hall for a bit to stare at the minis section. Where else are you going to see this?

Fenway!
Fenway!

Izzie departed in the late afternoon after she and her sister got to peruse the vendor room and then it was another fun dinner, and a chance to sit down with Emerson Matsuuchi of Nazca Games and Chip Beauvais, designer of Chroma Cubes to get in a demo game of Volt! I’d heard a lot about this one but hadn’t been able to play it, so I remedied that situation. Emerson also had his copy of Specter Ops which I very much wanted to play and a copy of Dead of Winter – alas I ran out of time to try any more.

Volt!
Volt!

After this I met up with my wife and Jean and we found ourselves in front of Pike’s Peak (the hotel restaurant) where Steve Wollett was doing a book signing for Blasphemous Cocktails. Jenn took it upon herself to test the Mushroom Cloud (a drink from the book) and can highly recommend it.

Steve and Peter doing the Blasphemous Cocktails book signing.
Steve and Peter doing the Blasphemous Cocktails book signing.

Then came by my yearly game of Talisman! Six players (With shout outs to Jenn, Jean, Dan, Jake and Gordon), four hours and it culminated in the Demon in the center being faced by a very, very unfortunate Toad.

Talisman! Demon VS ...Toad?
Talisman! Demon VS …Toad?

As is also traditional for me on Saturday evenings, on wrapping up my Talisman game, there’s a private party for a bunch of industry guests and convention folk. Four years ago Jenn and I were lucky enough to be invited and it’s been one of the highlights of the entire convention every year since! I can’t say much about what goes on except to say that it’s always a fantastic time, where things happen and stories get told. Amazing.

Yearbook Photo
Yearbook Photo

Sunday

Sunday morning opened with my now yearly Prototype Workshop, where I was lucky enough to hang out with Mike Pondsmith, Chip, Glen Given of Games by Play Date and Emerson, who popped in to lend a hand. We got to see and give some advice on a few prototypes which were pretty darned good! Not as big a turn out as last year but I think the weather, 80 or so inches of existing snow and the parking may have deterred a few people from staying through Sunday, or dropping in for the day.

After that, it was a quick lunch with my Jenn and then she had to head off to the airport with two of our VIPs. I got in a ton of Swamped demos and play tests over the next few hours! A couple of guys from my Google Plus Board Game community found me and I convinced them to play.

Swamped with the G+ Guys.
Swamped with the G+ Guys. Sorry for the potato quality.

After that game, Peter Bryant of MythWits fame and Steve Wollett who created Blasphemous Cocktails joined me for a game. As an aside, I’d highly recommend both watching the MythWits and grabbing a copy of Blasphemous Cocktails. In fact, watch the MythWits while drinking the Mushroom Cloud from Blasphemous Cocktails.

Peter Bryant and Steven Wollett getting Swamped.
Peter Bryant and Steven Wollett getting Swamped.

I even managed to get in three more games of Swamped after that – in fact, you can grab the Print and Play files and play it yourself! I was immensely happy with the feedback I’ve gotten and the fact that everyone who played really seemed to enjoy the game.

My children arrived after that and we got in a game of 5th Street Games‘ My Happy Farm, which we all very much enjoyed, while Jenn was helping get the rest of the convention broken down.  Yes, the board game room is still doing a pretty good business at 4pm on a Sunday.

Streeeeeeetchy animals! My Happy Farm.
Streeeeeeetchy animals! My Happy Farm.

From there it was time to say goodbye to all of the friends we’d made in the years past and the awesome folks we met this year. That didn’t mean that we were leaving though, they were. We were determined to stick it out to the end and get in as much gaming as possible! Plus my wife stayed for the 6:30pm staff meeting.

Goodbye, friends!
Goodbye, friends!

I’m also pleased to note that this year was a first for me. I saw far, far more Ninja cards than I had brought with me. People also stopped me to mention Ninja – Silent but Deadly, so I must have done something right with that one!

Note: I did not put this Ninja on Steve.
Note: I did not put this Ninja on Steve.

Still not done, we managed to get in one last game of Love Letter at about 6pm, before the meeting and then the drive home.

The last game of the convention.
The last game of the convention.

All in all it was another amazing, wonderful, fantastic, tiring, incredibly fun four days of gaming with Total Confusion. I’ve said it before and I won’t ever stop saying it until it’s not true anymore – this is the best gaming convention I go to. It’s small enough to not overwhelm and make some real friends. It’s large enough to always find an open game and people to hang out with. If you’re in the New England area next February I would highly recommend joining us.

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