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Saturday, January 30, 2010

DiceCon East 2010 #2: Still going

Alan Poulter- webmaster of Web-Grognards, "the site for wargames on the web since 1995"; was one of the familiar faces who said hello, attracted by the sight of our Overlord game in play. We had our usual friendly chat, and Alan was angling for a chance to play a game of Battlestar Galactica, a copy of which Adam had happened to bring. Our course was set.

Getting frakked
It turned out that Alan was already into another game when we came to play BSG. Adam and Donald made us 3, and we had no trouble at all in rounding up some likely suspects to give us the full 6-player experience; more familiar faces: Barry, Bob and Mark. The younger old hands among you might remember Barry and Bob from DiceCon East 2007, where Barry had been the first to test my Lore skills in Battlelore.

Barry, Bob and Mark were all new to BSG but it didn't take long to select a crew and get the game rolling (a positive test of the setup guidelines in the rules). That Sunday afternoon in Edinburgh, humanity's fate was to be decided by:
  • Barry: Saul Tigh.
  • Adam: 'Chief' Galen Tyrol.
  • Donald: Sharon 'Boomer' Valerii.
  • Mark: Karl 'Helo' Agathon.
  • Bob: Kara 'Starbuck' Thrace.
  • Me: Tom Zarek.
Sheer whimsy, my choice of the criminal Zarek was to have fateful consequences, which began immediately with an unending chorus that I had to be Cylon because of my shady past. Belaboured by these baseless accusations my best efforts for humanity notwithstanding, I turned obdurate. Forming the fixed and unshakable conviction that Barry- who otherwise might've been just the first of several likely Cylons, was a definite Cylon; I promptly had Saul Tigh clapped in the brig. Naturally enough, this only served to deepen the already strong convictions about my own loyalties.

Cylons among us? Humanity doomed? Och dinna fash yersel!

The Cylons had been busy during our petty internecines. With the full 6 players the pace and cumulative impact of the never-ending crises was shocking to behold after the more 'sedate' pace of games with fewer players. Vast Cylon attack fleets mustered only for us to jump out in the nick of time. Resources became ever more strained. The Sleeper Agent phase came and went: the sympathiser remained human, as did I; and the identities of our 2 Cylons remained as mysterious as ever.

Eventually first one and then the other were revealed: Donald and Mark; the quiet ones (quietly gloating- right). We humans threw everything we had into saving ourselves. And we almost made it: we were prepping our jump to Kobol when our civilian ships were struck to take not 1 but 2 resources to 0 or less. Our final resource count was:
  • Fuel: 0.
  • Food:1.
  • Morale: 4.
  • Population: -2.
A pretty comprehensive stuffing then.

Score
Man
0
Machine 1
:-/

Afterthoughts
Absolutely brilliant! This game showed all Battlestar Galactica's best qualities and was thus an ideal introduction for Barry, Bob and Mark. As ever, the endgame was very tense, with everyone taking a keen interest in events (I've not seen it otherwise yet).

The crucial role psychology plays in the game was revealed by my reaction to the baiting of Zarek: I persisted in my mistaken belief that Barry was Cylon long after it made sense because I was irritated. And it was only late on that Barry realised that I had made an honest mistake, that I wasn't playing to some secret agenda. Oh, sweet confusion and paranoia abound!

Too close to be a coincidence?

In many respects then, this was a standout game. It was also unique in that it was the first time we'd played with a lookalike: Barry and Tigh. I leave it to the readers' imaginations which character's lookalike I'd most like to see at the table in some future game. :0)

Getting back
Next up was my long awaited return to hulking, with Andy's copy of the still shiny 3rd edition Space Hulk. Flagging a bit by this point- having had little or no sleep the night before, I was content just to play a couple of games of scenario 1, 'Suicide Mission'. Simple as it is, this scenario shares an essential feature of every great introductory scenario: it is everfresh; so I was pleased to revisit it yet again.

Both games went to the stealers: a result which hides 2 completely different games:
  • My marines didn't even get round the corner that is vital to this mission; which could be subtitled 'Get round the corner or die', as I did.
  • Andy's route to the objective room (red on the map) was wide open; it took a truly appalling run of bad luck on Andy's part for my few remaining stealers to survive long enough to pull the situation back from the brink.
My ill-fated Terminators approach that deadly corner

I guess then Andy could claim a moral victory; although I'm sure he's made of sterner stuff and wouldn't stoop so low. :-b

Score
Hivemind 2
Groupthink 0
:-/

Afterthoughts
This was a lot of fun again, and I was pleased to get back to hulking as part of DiceCon. Most of the new rules were OK. There was one thing I really didn't like: the return to the 1st edition flamer rules. I'm not going to labour the point here, but these rules- which I never actually used when I played 1st edition myself, are simply terrible. Sure: they work; but they don't make any sense at all. Gah! More on that anon no doubt. =P

Getting even
Hulking done and humanity still imperiled, Badger and I sat down to introduce Adam to that family favourite, Ivanhoe. I was utterly exhausted by this time and could barely keep my eyes open, so we only played one game. Still, I won- not bad, all things considering.

Score
Pinky & Perky 0
Zzz 1
:)

Getting gone
And that was our DiceCon East 2010. We all had a really good time- Badger and Donald were especially enthusiastic about the Overlord game; and it was nice to catch up with some familiar faces again. So it's a big vote of thanks to Fraser and Gordon Lamont (AKA Fragor Games) for all their organisational efforts. All you do is much appreciated gents. ;)

Related@RD/KA!
- DiceCon East 2010 #1: We Go!
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