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Friday, December 02, 2005

DiceConEast 2005

Other highlights
DiceConEast is staged in a place on Princes Street called Overseas House, which is a clubhouse of the Royal Overseas League. This is a kind of friendly society of the British Commonwealth, and Overseas House's air of quietly down-at-heel gentility is apt to and evocative of this relic of Empire. DiceCon's event room is on the 2nd floor. The lift is an ancient device that fits only 2 people- with barely enough room for bags full of games, and which almost makes you think that it is steampowered, if not manually hauled! Upstairs you wend your way through corridors giving the impression that the whole place is a veritable warren.

There is a bar situated beside a white linen service restaurant. This is one of my favourite rooms. Well surprise, surprise I hear you say, but the bar's real delight is that it looks right out across Princes Street, giving you a view of Princes Street Gardens, the Castle, and the Old Town. This is quite simply one of the most spectacular city centre views there is, and a very pleasant prospect to enjoy while you sit there supping a pint.

All in all then, Overseas House is exactly the sort of place from which pulp adventurers might set out on their heroic travels, or to which they might return to reflect upon the weird and wonderful sights they witnessed, and the horrors against which they prevailed. In short: it is a bit of a feast for the roleplaying imagination, which just adds to its peculiar anachronistic charm.

So, after the M44 tournament was over, we were casting around for something else to play. As ever at DiceCon there was a veritable feast of games available to choose from, courtesy largely of Ellis and Gordon's remarkable collections. The emphasis is typically more on the modern Eurogame genre, but there is always something there that you won't have seen or tried before. Lots and lots in fact.

I had a look at the recent Avalon Hill release Nexus Ops. I've had a look at this on the website
and tried out the online demo. I came away with the impression that it was a Settlers type game, set in space, and with combat. The set available at the con was brand new, but it seemed to be missing its rulebook, so I had to pass on playing it, although a brief rummage through the box certainly confirmed my interest in the game.

In the end then, 4 of us settled for a game of Settlers. Hardly novel, except that it was the 10th anniversary deluxe 3D edition we were playing, which incorporates the Cities and Knights expansion. This comes with moulded ceramic region tiles, 3D moulded plastic playing pieces, knights with lances with little flags, and so on- all with hand-painted detail. There are even little sheep on the grassland regions! You can find some pictures here, and here. It has to be said that it did take a bit of time to adapt my senses to the lush pieces (and I did spare a thought for the poor souls who'd've had to paint them- hardly lucrative employ I'll imagine), but I have to report that they did nothing for my game: Badger won, which he found most gratifying, since it was his first ever win at Settlers.

After this we rounded off the day with a few games of Ivanhoe- the results of which escape me, before leaving for the drive back to Glasgow. The evening was getting on at this point, so the games room had quietened down a bit from its buzzing peak, but there were still quite a few committed gamers left determined to play on for as long as possible.

And that was DiceConEast 2005- here so soon and gone before you know it. Thanks as ever to Ellis and Gordon for all their efforts in running DiceCon. Roll on DiceConWest 2006! ;)
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