BowlCon2005

Games, beer and phelgm in Malvern

I really look forward to BowlCon, despite the fact that I actually don’t follow the main season until the play-offs in order not to jinx the appearance of the Vikings. Apart from the Eurovision Song Contest I can’t think of a better televisual event to get pissed up at!
This year with the best of good intentions I was going to take my Brompton Folding Bike and be games-lite, getting of in Ledbury or Colwell and cycling the Malvern Hills. Of course, I had forgotten how steep these hills were, and coupled with the beginnings of the worst cold I have ever had meant that as I saw the steady march of the Malverns approaching (a bit like Frodo and Sam with the Mountains Of Mordor), I felt worn down in a ringbearer sense and decided to stay on the train for the rest of my journey. Luckily Bill’s house is downhill from the station so I free wheeled and arrived around 10.30am.

My super early start (0746 Hrs from Bristol Parkway, good connections at Newport and Hereford) surprised the boys who were expecting me at lunchtime and I crashed in just as they were setting up a game of something when I arrived. Immediately mooted was a shopping trip for full provisions so the mundane bits were got out of the way. Then we could get down to PROPERGAMING!

Lords of the Sierra MadreBeing no slackers to BIG games, we went straight into ‘Lords of the Sierra Madre’. Bill and PSR had a go at this once but only lasted a year or so before everyone went bankrupt in this game of resources and warfare on the Mexican/US border of the late 19th, early 20th century. This time the three of us were luckier, with some crazy Mexican president pumping cash into developing the rail network that allowed us to develop our infrastructure. This continued for several years until some random military units appeared. This culminated in a bunch of bandidos controlled by me, being chased by PSR’s federales across the border, whereupon he had to go back to Mexico. Because theJohn's faction Mexican side of the border is split down the middle by a mostly impassable mountain range and strange quirks in the combat rules (40 turns worth of combat a quarter), this would have given me free range to burn down all of Byll’s and Paul’s assets, so we decided to stop after 4 hours or so. A pleasant enough game I’d like to try again, enjoyed the random events and the player aid mats, but the combat system needs a look at.

Tigris BoardNext up, after a tasty JC chilli, was a traditional outing of ‘Tigris and Euphrates’. This game was notable for the low monument count (3 at game end), and an end game balls up where we weren’t watching the treasure count. Most confrontation was between myself and PSR, with Byll happy to police his own little empire, though he did suffer attacks in the endgame. Once again I scored a blinder with 12 being my lowest and lots of treasures, though I was sure that PSR was winning at the end. I was happy to called this a void game due to the endgame woes.

Not sure what we finished the day with (may have been Sunday), probably a game of ‘X-Pashe Deluxe’ that I brought along and wanted to play again. Fairly solid little game of corporate takeovers (see review). We saw a strong start by PSR gradually overshadowed by Byll’s powerhouse of corporations, with myself bringing up the rear I really should have used the reroll a lot more. Game characterized as always by the traditional ‘reach for the dictionary’ as we try to figure out the definition of majority/plurality again.

On Sunday, after a PSR Big Breakfast, Byll was keen to try out a new game, Dos Rios, two rivers I guess. In this game, after you have created a random map, you get to move your men about a hex map and build huts on various types of terrain, while damming and creating new river courses to optimise your score of money from one river or the other. I managed to steal a win after remembering you could reduce the win criteria, 5 little houses on a river, by one if you also had a hacienda (Big House) on a river.

We played Puerto Rico at some time on the weekend and it may have been this slot. Disappointing performance on my part with no real strategy (remember I wasn’t very well). Byll was very strong Corn/Tobbacco/Shipping, I went colonists/Coffee and PSR multigoods/factory. I’m pretty sure Byll won, PSR next and myself at the rear, though I did score buildings very well so it wasn’t so bad I suppose.

I can’t remember if we played anything else or had a lazy tea, Bylls stew, and watched Futurama and stuff. Now I remember playing Cafe International the card game! But the cold was getting worse, ‘productive chest’ in technical terms. The Superbowl itself was excellent again. A very good pregame show and two good teams, Jets v’s Patriots. I think the big event syndrome hampered the Jets who probably lost it on turnovers and interceptions, but they kept it tight right until the last few minutes. Low point was Paul McCartney churning out hackneyed Beatles tracks. Is it me or should Beatles tracks be sung by the Beatles. And was that his new missis I saw hanging around somewhere? PSR nodded off third quarter but was up for it by the fourth. I paced the beer consumption well and didn’t even finish my big barrel of Stella Artois! Beddybyes at 0330 Hrs.

Late breakfast by PSR again and we reach what some may consider a milestone event in the hobby. After spending all weekend dissuading PSR from cremating his Kingmaker set, it could only be prevented by a ceremonial hand-over to myself. Despite sterling service to the Hobby and running the kingmaker tournament for several years, Paul really wants to draw a line under his involvement and move on. Perhaps too many ‘alarm clocks in a box’ jokes.

Byll was gracious enough to offer a lift to the station, which I gladly accepted with my cold now in full swing and thus brought an end to BowlCon. Thanks to Byll for hosting the event and Paul for being Paul and Julie for letting Paul out to play PROPERGAMES!!!!

Kingmaker handover