Total Confusion 2017 – This one goes to 11

There’s a peculiar thing about this particular convention – every single one I’ve attended has been the best one yet. That’s not bad, by any means – in fact, it’s great! Turns out Total Confusion 31 continues this streak with some new faces, some new friends and a hell of a lot of gaming. For that reason, this is going to be a long post!

I’ll take a look at this convention day to day, but first let’s look at the basics. Total Confusion bills itself as “New England’s Largest Gaming Convention” and they’re not wrong. While other conventions may draw many more attendees, Total Con is the largest convention dedicated entirely to the art and science of playing games. When I first stepped into the new location on Wednesday afternoon, there were already 20-30 people scattered about gaming. Now the convention doesn’t officially start until Thursday morning but I know folks showed up on Tuesday evening with the intention of getting in a full day of gaming before getting in a 4 day weekend of gaming. That’s awesome.

This is just the Board Game room. There’s a lot more to this con!

What’s always awesome

Have you ever gone to Gen Con and off in the distance seen someone like Tim Kask or Mike Pondsmith – maybe attended a talk they’ve given or an event they’ve hosted? Here at Total Con, you’ll just bump into them in the hallway, or in the game room – or jump into one of the games that they are running! The guest list for this convention never ceases to amaze me. Some the highlights? John Wick, Tim Kask, Frank Mentzer, Mike Pondsmith, Cody Pondsmith and many, many more! Your chances of just bumping into someone amazing are great! This year we also had a few folks just drop in – like Stefan Pokorny of Dwarven Forge and author R.A. Salvatore. You really never know who you may be talking to – or better yet, gaming with! For a New England con, I think this alone makes Total Con a unique experience. And that’s not counting the huge number of gamers like you and me who are always willing and ready to have a great time.

So many awesome people!
Tim Kask, Stefan Pokorny and two con attendees play Ticket to Ride

What was new

This year, Total Con moved venues for the first time in well over a decade. The Best Western Royal Plaza Marlborough, MA. It’s not the first time Total Con was at this location but it’s been a while. The change in venue offered two very important differences over the last hotel. There was more than adequate parking and there was a more than adequate number of rooms. These two things made for a huge difference from the last few years where attendees who both wanted to stay on site or drop in for a day had the easy ability to do so.

Wednesday Evening

The new venue also offered a much different layout, with board games, mini’s, the computer games room and the young player’s area being on one side of the hotel and RPGs being in another. This did result in a little bit less mingling, but also a lot less crowding. On the whole, I think it was a good thing. In fact, a day or so after the con wrapped up, even though official numbers aren’t out yet, the TC Facebook page posted:

TotalCon 31 is officially in the record books!!! With all the big changes going on, we expected a bit of a drop, instead the convention grew again!!! The convention surpassed every bench mark it set as a goal. That credit goes out to every volunteer, industry guest, game master, performer, vendor, exhibitor, and podcaster that was in attendance. The TotalCon team may provide the framework but the passion, creativity, and heart you bring to the table is what gets folks excited and what keeps bringing them back year after year. And now to see folks jazzed about creating new events for 2018 is AWESOME!!

Wednesday

Since my wife is on staff for the convention – and Total Con didn’t officially kick off until Thursday morning, Wednesday is always an interesting time. Generally my wife and I go into the airport a few times to pick up several industry guests being flown in from the mid-west or west coast. Generally for us this is a day of greetings, getting folks settled into the hotel and whatnot. We ended up in the hotel bar that evening, as we so often do. It’s our chance to see convention staff members we don’t get to see all that often, greet incoming guests and psyche ourselves up for a lot of uptime and not a lot of sleep.

Thursday

My Thursday started with being interviewed for And Now A Word From a Gamer – a new documentary that was filmed almost entirely at Total Confusion. Hopefully we’ll all be able to see the final film at Total Con 32 (and also everywhere else!)

From there I went to the first game I was running all convention – Above and Below. I love Red Raven games and Above and Below may be my favorite (with Islebound a close second). It was fun to teach three other folks the joys of cave exploration.

After that I did what I’ve done every year for the past three years. Help set up, move crowds through and then take down Sal’s Traveling Flea Market! This is a pretty sweet event where over 800 games and game related products were brought in. A whole bunch of ’em sold too.

Finally, after the flea wrapped up around 11, I found myself with my wife and the head of con security in the board game room with a quick game of Splendor.

Friday

This was my big day. I was running games in all but 2 slots, which worked out to roughly 11 hours of planned gaming (and in reality about 15 hours of actual gaming).

The morning started off with an event I called Territorial Disputes. I brought a number of small, area control games and had fun playing them with three folks I’d never met before. I brought Age of War, Eight Minute Empire:Legends, Guilds of Cadwallon and Tiny Epic Galaxies. We ended up playing War several times and Guilds once but didn’t have time to make it to the other two games.

From there I got to introduce six folks to Cutthroat Caverns – my all time favorite take-that style game. While I had originally intended to play as well, I had a grand time running the game (as it was entirely full with no space for me)!

Then on to the first big event of the day for me. Scythe. Taking two slots from 3pm to 7pm, it had sold out in pre-reg. Strangely, only 2 of the pre-registered folks showed up to play. That was fine though as three more players materialized seemingly out of thin air. One had to leave mid-game, which gave me the opportunity to allow a 6th person to jump in whom I taught on the fly. I. Love. This. Game.

I had a 2 hour break for dinner, roughly 20 minutes of which I spent in my room relaxing with my wife. Then it was down to the bar/restaurant where I secured two tables for dinner and for my next event. Kids Games for Adults – 2 Drink Minimum. I’d call this game a stunning success. It helped greatly that a pub game event had just ended and we attracted a few of those folks to our table (along with their pub games). I have never, ever laughed so hard during a gaming event. We played a six player version of Loopin’ Chewie (that I modified with 3D printed parts), Villa Paletti, Pairs, Animal upon Animal, Skull, and finally several rounds of a terrible game (which I loved) called Midnight Party with Hugo the person eating ghost. We literally closed the bar down with this event – they turned out the lights on us. It was amazing.

 

I will certainly be running this event next year – in fact I’m hoping to team up with Mat who ran the pub games event so we can have one epic night in the bar gaming our little hearts out.

Saturday

This was my lighter day. I’d purposely not scheduled any games as Luca was going to join us for the day. After touring the con a bit, we settled on a copy of Ice Cool from the Vendor’s room (the awesome folks at Crossroads Games). It’s a fairly simple, dexterity/flicking game where you attempt to get penguins through different doors to capture fish tokens while one player is trying to get your little penguin school ID card. Players switch off as the penguin attempting to capture the others. The physical (and graphical) design is amazing, and the physics of the game are a lot of fun too. I’d play this one just about any time. We played it at various times during the day with various people.

Then we bumped into our buddy David (who’d entertained us at the Granite Games Summit) and he introduced us to a bunch of cool, smaller games. We played Stack, Kingdomino (a surprisingly fun filler), and Mint Works – a tiny little worker placement game in a mint tin. Lots of fun!

From there we went to the all-con-long Paint and Take event. You paint a mini and then you take it. This has been a favorite of Luca’s in the past years and this time I joined her. Loved it!

Luca and I also got to demo her game Candy Crash and got some great feedback!

From there I got to relax a bit, grab dinner with my wife and some other convention staffers and then headed into the board game room to see what was what. I played a pick up game of Tiny Epic Galaxies, Played several rounds of Spyfall (finally!) I had a fun time also teaching Guilds of Cadwallon whilst playing Tiny Epic Galaxies. Something I’ve not done before. It must have been okay because I won TEG by a decent margin.

Later that evening I had the privilage (as I have for the past 6 cons) to attend an industry guest party. It was, as always, an amazing time filled with amazing people who I never would have met were it not for Total Confusion. I also found out that John Wick has a much, much better angry face than I.

Sunday

Ah Sunday… a day of winding down and doing nothing. NOPE! Not at this con! Sunday morning I ran my Prototype Workshop. This Sunday we had five prototypes to go over and it was a lot of fun seeing a ton of creativity and good games before they make it to publication. I fully expect to see at least a few of them in game stores in a year or three!

From there I was going to run a Bohnanza game but didn’t have enough folks to do it. So I wandered back into the vendor hall, bought a few things, wandered back into the board game room and was almost immediately scooped up for a game of Vast: Crystal Caverns. This is a very cool, very asymmetric game in which players take on the rolls of the Knight, the Goblins, the Dragon, the Thief and the Cavern itself. I played the Cavern. Very interesting game! I was a bit burnt out at this point (it’s 2pm on Sunday after all) and didn’t play at my best but still very much enjoyed the experience.

Remember how folks were at the hotel a full day early to game? Well here’s the board game room at about 4:15pm on Sunday. Still stuff going on!

From that point on I was pretty much toast. I’m lucky not only to be invited as a guest but that my wife is on staff which means I get to see the after party (full of pizza) and hear how all of the staff experienced the convention. From there it was a quick ride home and a short dive back into reality.

In Conclusion

I had a fine time. Total Confusion remains one of my favorite times of the entire year. As always, a huge thanks to the fine folks who make Total Confusion the best. The amazing staff and volunteers, the awesome guests and everyone who comes out to play! If you are anywhere near the area next February, I cannot encourage you enough to get out – even for a day – and play with us!

I played a bunch of fantastic games, ran some fun events, met a ton of great people and loved every minute of it! Special thanks to those who brought their prototypes to the workshop – some very interesting ideas! And to my friends at the con – those I met six years ago to those I met this weekend, you are the best part of this whole experience!

Here’s a semi-annotated gallery of most of the pictures I took at the convention – not all of which made it into the posts above. They may be a little out of order. Enjoy!

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!

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

totalbanner940med

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!

Jonathan’s TotalCon 2016 Schedule

TotalCon begins this TODAY!  If you haven’t pre-registered don’t worry. You can get your ticket on site. There are heaps of games, events, panels, and fun to be had.

This year I will be in attendance with Troll in the Corner owner & Indie Talks host Ben Gerber. Ben, as a Guest of Honor, is running a few events and is also sitting on a slew of panels. Be sure to look at Ben’s Schedule to see what he is doing.

If you are coming to TotalCon this year, I’d love to meet you.  Below you can find my public con schedule.  Just look for the tall guy wearing either a black or gray Wargaming Recon t-shirt. If you like us on Facebook you will be able to see a photo of me during the con to make it easier for you to find me.

Friday February 21

1-3pm Arrival/Stairs of the Immortal: Duke Crestfaul and the Lightess/Small Board and Card Games: Big Fun!

Hoping to arrive for 1pm.  If I make it in time and if there is still space I’m hoping to play either in Guest of Honor Jay Libby’s Stairs of the Immortal RPG or Guest of Honor Ben Gerber’s Small Board and Card Games event.  Don’t play many RPGs so it’d be nice to try something different and although I own a copy of Love Letter I’ve never played it.  No matter what happens it is sure to be fun.

3-5pm Meander

This is a great time to visit the vendor room and then walk around taking photos.  There’ll be a lot of people playing games and fun stuff happening.

5pm Dinner

I’ll be dining in Pike’s Peak with Guest of Honor Ben Gerber. If you see us don’t be shy, feel free to come up and say hi!

6-7pm Perusing the Con

There are numerous events I need to pop by. You can find me visiting:
Guest of Honor Peter “Blix” Bryant’s Blixapalooza in the lobby.

7-11pm Convoy to Malta

Convoy to Malta is a War at Sea event (GMed by Dan Eustace) in the minis room.  Dan has taken the standard War at Sea game as created by Wizards of the Coast and he’s enhanced it with resources, info, and ideas from the excellent Axis & Allies ForuMINI online community.  Dan’s events are always a blast.  If you’re not playing in anything at 7pm you should try to get into the game.

11pm Podcast the Day’s Events

When I return to my hotel room I am recording my thoughts on the day.  With luck I may even be able to edit and release the recordings from the con, for your listening pleasure.  This will most likely be a LIVE recording you can watch on YOUTUBE!  Should warn if you watch the live recording I may be imbibing alcoholic beverages so it will be for mature audiences only.  The actual podcast episode will be safe for all per usual.

Saturday February 22nd

9am Breakfast

A guy has to eat. The hotel serves a good breakfast buffet. This is a good way to meet other gamers and catch up.  Feel free to have breakfast with me if you’d like (everyone pays their own way).

11am Writing for RPGs (Auditorium)

Industry guests discuss the process of writing for a roleplaying game.  The panel is moderated by Jenn Gerber.  Looking forward to learning a lot about the writing process.

Noon-2/3pm Lunch/Family visit

My wife and infant daughter are coming to visit and check out the con.  My wife has never been to TotalCon before and there’s a lot of people who want to meet the baby.

1-5pm Hanghai Hustle

GM Mike Paine is running his Hanghai pulp wargame.  After my family leaves Mike said he’ll make room for me to play even if the game is half over.  Mike is one of the GMs I ALWAYS look for at a gaming convention.  YOU.  NEED.  TO.  PLAY.  THIS.  GAME.

5-7pm Riding the Rocket TSR’s First 5 Years

Guest of Honor Tim Kask discusses the first five years of TSR’s existence covering how they made Dungeons & Dragons and hopefully Chainmail too.

7pm Dinner

Consider this an informal meetup.  Any who wish to can join me for dinner at the hotel restaurant Pike’s Peak.  Everyone pays their own way but we can have a meal and discuss the fun at TotalCon.  If you see me don’t be shy, feel free to come up and say hi!  Please try to connect with me BEFOREHAND so I can be sure everyone is together before going into the restaurant.  Makes it easier on the restaurant staff.

11pm Private Event

I can’t speak about this but please know it has the opportunity to open quite a few doors for Wargaming Recon.

Sunday February 23rd

11am Open Gaming

I’ll be around to game for a bit. Got a game you’d like to play? I’m also bringing some board/card games to play. Maybe I’ll pack X-wing minis too

Noon Adios

Homeward bound.

Killer Cocktails from Outer Space – A Science Fiction themed book of wonderful, alcoholic concoctions!

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What are killer cocktails?

Killer Cocktails from Outer Space is the second book in a series that started with Blasphemous Cocktails. While Blasphemous Cocktails was largely inspired by H.P. Lovecraft and other horror writers, Killer Cocktails from Outer Space takes its lead from Science Fiction. We have created over 150 cocktail recipes taken from the screen and book alike. Shows like Star Wars, Star Trek, Babylon 5, Farscape, and many more have inspired these drinks and you will see many familiar names among them. We have also pulled from the fifties and sixties with drinks inspired by the numerous Martian invasion films, Plan 9 from Outer Space, and more. As we have done this before I see this book being bigger and better than Blasphemous Cocktails. Many of the drinks are infusions and many have awesome special effects. If this book is successful we will publish a third inspired by Fantasy novels and film.

Stephen Wollett previously published Blasphemous Cocktails and let me tell you, this book is wonderful! I’ve had a number of the cocktails and they are delicious. My wife and I have given out a number of copies as presents to other, like minded folks we know would enjoy them.

For $25 you can get a perfect bound edition of Killer Cocktails ($30 for spiral bound, cookbook style) and I’d highly recommend it if you enjoy interesting alcoholic drinks. Stephen is a wizard at drink recipes!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1452186107/killer-cocktails-from-outer-space/widget/card.html?v=2

Daily Board Game Deals – 7/27

lanterns

Not every day will feature enough interesting deals to warrant a post. Today however is not one of those days.

Lanterns: The Harvest Festival is a wonderful game (my review) that is currently $20.15 plus $0.25 in shipping. It’s not Prime, but it is 42% off.

Panamax from Stronghold Games is 34% off at $39.78.

Smash Up is 39% off at $18.34, but it won’t ship Prime until July 30th.

Munchkin Loot Letter (the Love Letter/Munchkin mash up) is 49% at $5.60. It’s an add-on item, which means you need to order at least $25 worth of stuff.

King of Tokyo is 43% at $25.74.

DriveThruCards is having their Christmas in July sale, with a few titles notably discounted in their card games. Of particular interest is Smart Play Games (i.e. Daniel Solis) who make some amazing titles.

If you’re into the RPGs, DriveThruRPG features the same deal (25% off through July 30th) on a huge number of titles, including some of my own.

That’s all folks!

Total Confusion 29 – Four Days of Gaming Our Faces Off

COVER
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.

ReCast: TotalCon 2008 – Wargaming Recon #34

Naval-TC

Due to illness and scheduling conflicts Aaron Bostian couldn’t do the show. So, NO NEW EPISODE right now. To make up for it we’re sharing this episode from the vault. The classic episode comes to you from the dark ages where the show had a different name. Since this is a CLASSIC episode some of the links, content, giveaways, contests etc may be out of date or ended.

Don’t worry! Next time we’ll be back with a NEW episode of Wargaming Recon.

Host Jonathan J. Reinhart releases a short show discussing some collectible miniatures (War at Sea and World of Warcraft). The highlight of the show is coverage for TotalCon 2008. This marks the first time Jonathan discussed TotalCon on the show.

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Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 6.48.24 PM

Continue reading “ReCast: TotalCon 2008 – Wargaming Recon #34”

Total Confusion 29 – New England’s Largest Gaming Convention and Ben’s Schedule at the Con

Total Confusion 29
Total Confusion 29

It’s Total Confusion time again! This is New England’s largest convention geared totally towards gaming and it’s always a fantastic time! This year I’ll be spending a bit more time at the convention (arriving Thursday, yay!) The convention runs Thursday, February 19th through Sunday, February 22. They offer single day or all weekend passes and for my board game peeps, there’s a special board game pass that gets you into the board game room, vendors hall and panels and let’s you play all weekend long. You can find TotalCon at the Holiday Inn in Mansfield, MA. While the hotel is sold out for the weekend, if you’re nearby I’d highly suggest dropping in for a day or two!

If you’re going to be at the convention, please come say hello! I love meeting fellow gamers! Just a quick note on names though. I have a wife and two daughters – I concentrate on remember their names and that’s generally about as good as I get at conventions. Please don’t take offense if I don’t remember your name, or you see me trying to sneak a glance at your probably backwards Total Con badge. It’s not you, it’s me.

TotalCon has been kind enough to have me as a guest for the last four years. This year I’ll be participating in a number of panels, running four different board game sessions, helping out with a Prototype Pitch event for board and card games and overall up to my eyeballs in games! I cannot wait!

Here’s my schedule as it stands right now:

Thursday – February 19

6:00pm – 7:00pm & 9:00pm to 10:00pm Sal’s Traveling Market of Curiosities – the TC Flea.

This is, I believe, a new thing for Total Con. A flea market of wondrous, cash-only gaming stuff for sale! I’m helping to run it, so if you’re there on Thursday and want to find me, this is the place.

7:00pm – 9:00pm Small 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 to My Happy Farm and more – this event is for you! I’ll be bringing a bunch of my favorites.

Friday – February 20

10:00am – 12:00pm Hit People with Clubs! It’s Ugg-Tectugg

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 game for you! In this Friday morning event, you can begin your day with a bash! Ugg-Tect is a game of construction, where teams work to build simple structures, directed only by a made up language and being hit by inflatable clubs.

7:00pm – 11:00pmCurse of the Weaver Queen run by the amazing Tim Kask

Saturday – February 21

argyl11:00am – 12:00pm Kids and Gaming (Panel Event in the Amphitheater)

A discussion of kid friendly RPGs and board games to get your whole family gaming.

1:00pm – 3:00pm Heat Wave and the Bio-Freak (some G-Core goodness with the always awesome Jay Libby). 

7:00pm – 11:00pm Talisman, 4th Editiontalisman

Tonight, we dine in…uh… well, whatever random ending gets picked! 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. Join us! Or not!

11:59pmPrivate Event

Sunday – February 22

10:00am – 12:00pm  Prototype Pitch (Panel Event in the Amphitheater)

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.

proto

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