Last Saturday, I attended a Montreal-based mini- gaming convention, called Roludothon 1, based around our newest bilingual gaming forum Roludo (which, unless I’m mistaken, means roleplaying in Esperanto).
The event, held in a beautiful 8 room apartment in Montreal’s Plateau brought together about 20 gamers playing board and roleplaying games over 3 tables and 3 time slots. The apartment was this HUGE early 1900s multiplex so typical of my city and our hosts Jocelyn and Marie-Mousse showed all the grace and informal generosity typical of Québécois hospitality. They also ran a tight ship, having tables and chairs prepared before each event, including cardboard signs with the names of the events and participants on each.
The apartment was located near a local commercial street filled with cafés, bistros and restaurant, it truly was a perfect setup for such an awesome nerd party that was this mini-con.
Board Games Morning Slot
The morning slot had a supers RPG called Wild Talent and a more general board game area. That’s where I registered and was joined by my friends Eric, Martin and 3 other very friendly gamers. We started the day with a game of the latest edition of RoboRally, Richard Garfield’s game of programmable racing robots shooting, pushing and screwing with each other’s well crafted plans.
We played a short game focused on one map with 5 robots and it was absolutely hilarious. This game remains the closest thing to a what I’d like a fast paced version of Car Wars to be. Still, I love that game and the small tweaks they did in the newest edition makes for a smoother running game (like adding a timer to prevent stragglers from thinking for too long).
I still want to use RoboRally in a D&D 4e game and I in fact have made mechanics for them.
Soon, real soon!
We then started playing a game of Agricola, one I had started hearing more and more about in my gaming circles but hadn’t had seen yet. For others like me, Agricola is another of those fast to play, more complex than expected European games. All players control a family of farmers staving off starvation while trying to build a farm and make it prosper.
…turns out its about raising wild boars and making babies in the German schwartzwalds. But then you press “play” and it’s pretty damn awesome a game.
The game is a “worker placement” game in which you have a certain number of turns to place your family tokens on various tasks to generate food, resources, make babies and build stuff like grazing fields, stables and new rooms to your house (to make room for said babies). The interesting/cool/unnerving thing about this game is that as the game progresses, you have more and more options on which to place your workers and less and less time before harvesting season comes, forcing you to feed everyone to avoid making everyone beggars.
The game is very interesting but the sheer amount of choices one needs to make can be catatonia-inducing. For high-level, reactive types like myself, I find myself unable to stick to a clear plan and it costs me dearly. Still, I caught on mid-game and finished with a pretty decent score for a beginner.
Yet, as clever and as engaging as this game can be, it screams Analysis Paralysis and I would not want to play this game with aggressive analytical types who requires to be given as much time as needed to “think & plan properly”.
Oh man, I just had a nightmare flashback to my one and only Federation and Empire game.
In fact Agricola is one of those games where you have to punch through the steeper than expected strategy learning curve to truly start appreciating the genius of that game. But be forewarned, a small early planning mistake can and will haunt you for the rest of the game.
Cheetoism at its best!
The con organizers had set a 90 minute period for lunch, which allowed each participants to go out and choose whatever takeout delight they wanted. I decided to go with a classic Montreal Submarine sandwich of grilled steak, Sauted veggies (green peppers, onions and mushroom) with melted cheese and fresh tomatoes!
We all converged back to the apartment where the kitchen and backyard tables had been made available to all those hungry gamers. Now this may sound inane, but the fact that our hosts suggested that we get the food for take-out and directed us to these tables made us all mingle a lot more than we had so far in the day.
Through the smells of Subs, Burgers, Poutine and Persian delights, I got to talk and listen to stories about Pathfinder, French RPGs and Burning Wheel quite a lot and I got to learn more about a lot of people who had mostly been strangers. It’s been said that the activity of sharing a meal is an important step in forging stronger social ties and I witnessed it clearly during both lunch and dinner. This is a must repeat for future events, regardless of the venue we chose as this event grows.
Up next: Chatty plays Mouse Guard, and prevails!