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On the Grid(Con)

Charlie and I went off to GridCon 3 last week. For the uninitiated, GridCon is Paul Grogan's south west annual board gaming convention. And Paul Grogan is the eminence grise behind Gaming Rules!

Though GridCon stands for Gaming Rules in Devon Convention, this time it was actually displaced to Taunton in Somerset, at the Holiday Inn almost literally on the M5 for convenience of those travelling by car. The venue was pretty good, with loads of space for the masses of gamers who made it, comfortable rooms, free wi-fi, and good food and drink. As usual, Paul and Vicky's organisation was excellent, and the GridCon team were great. One particular highlight was that the raffle made over £4,500 for charity.

I was one of a fairly large assembly of games designers, taking the opportunity to test our latest offerings with willing volunteers. Thank you to all who played mine: Kingmaker (for Gibsons Games), and Last Bug Standing. There proved insufficient time for everything, so War of the 3 Sanchos, and The Castle War were side-lined this time.

We had a couple of games of the new version of Kingmaker, a 3-player and a 4-player, and great fun it was too. Both ended in alliance victories through the new Prestige points victory condition, with suitable drama. The first game ended at the Battle of Chester with the Yorkists brought low.

Battle of Chester, the shields are prototype stack markers. The board is a prototype near-final artwork version.
Battle of Chester, using the stacking zones for the pieces to prevent board clutter. Pieces are hand-punched - the final versions will be better!

The second game had a particularly novel ending, with my own (Yorkist) Admiral of England isolated and besieged by the Lancastrians led by Percy the Marshal at Lynn, while the main armies fought outside London. At the battle, although only at 5-4 odds the attacking Yorkists of good King Richard won a decisive victory over the Constable of the Tower, Henry VI and Margaret. This ought to have been a clearcut win for the Yorkists, but in a bizarre twist, the next Event card was Plague in Lynn, so the Admiral, who was also the Archbish of York, died of plague and not by siege attack. Because our Dominion over the Government and over the Church were dented owing to the death of the Naval Archbishop, we lost considerable Prestige. As one of our players had to leave for another game, the Lancastrians magnanimously conceded - it did look like the writing was very much on the wall, in any case, because King Richard was the sole King, and we could quickly call Parliament to re-assert our dominance. As expected, the game was very well-received with no adverse comments. It's currently in production and due for delivery to Kickstarter backers in March 2023 and a few weeks later it should be in retail.

Prototype setup for Last Bug Standing in the Circle of Doom (working title)
Prototype setup for Last Bug Standing in the Circle of Doom (working title)

Having its first outing with its new theme was Surprised Stare's latest prototype "Last Bug Standing in the Circle of Doom", designed by Bez. I'm zooming in on calling it "Last Bug Standing" or perhaps "Bug-Eyed Monsters" - my working title is a bit long! We had several interesting playtests. It is a 2-player fairly abstract game, so not really a GridCon game in fact, as the clientele there tends towards the longer, Euro and more complex end of the spectrum. The structure of the game is that in your turn you move the Navigator on the compass board on the right; the arrow where he lands shows the direction of travel of the Vehicle in the Alien Landscape in the middle (the Vehicle moves 1 tile); the number of monsters on the tile where the Vehicle ends up, shows how far round the Circle of Doom on the left the Gunner moves. Then you compare the monster on the tile where the Gunner lands with the monster(s) on the Vehicle's landscape tile. If they match, the tile on the Circle of Doom is removed. If your monster chosen at the beginning of the game is still in play when those of your opponent have all been removed, you win. There's a bit more to it than that, but that's the basics.

A couple of players offered helpful critiques of the game with some aspects being a little tricksie to get your head around (even perhaps, a little frustrating at times), and still others really enjoyed it "as is" and with variations. As a result, I have much to discuss with Bez, and it is developing nicely. More later, once Bez and I have digested the feedback.

Charlie and I also played some already-published favourites with friends both old and new. Specifically, I played So Clover, Illusion, Draftosaurus, Pictures with the Orange expansion, Zuuli, Dune Imperium, Just One, and Ark Nova, as well as my playtesting.

All in all, a great weekend - Thursday to Monday, so more like a week! And we rinse and repeat this week, but in Nottinghamshire for the Retford Moot, a LARP/RPG/boardgame event.


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