It has begun…
Back from the dead (of Winter) and planning has begun to ramp up for Hattanooga this year. We have already begun to get our mallards contiguous and start the months long affair of organizing this thing. Over the interim, we have managed to add more games to the pile for attendees to play. More rulesets have been translated and more artifacts of long lost 18xx were dug up and pieced together. We have a new venue this year which will suit our needs nicely (more on that later) and Luke and I have been spreading the love and working other conventions to spread the word.
One thing that is VERY IMPORTANT to let everyone know about early on is that the Medicine Hat municipal airport will be out of commission for the entire month of May. This is to accommodate a new commercial landing strip which in future years should mean that Medicine Hat will have direct flights! So, while it is disappointing and will no doubt discourage those with plans to fly from attending, it will be a good thing for the health of the community (and Hattanooga hopefully) in future years. I would also hope that train gamers are made of sterner stuff and not so easily discouraged.
So, with our further delay, here’s what’s new and different. In the near future, you can expect a post here about what will be mostly similar and what will be exactly the S.A.L.Y….
New Venue: We have a new venue this year located at the Medicine Hat Exhibition and Stampede Grounds called ‘The Cottage House’. The room will accommodate 60 people comfortablly and 312 super uncomfortably. There is a kitchen on site for Chef Ryan* to create his magic vittles and the back door of the room leads out onto a ‘pioneer village’ which is both very fun to tour and thematically relevant! Below you will find a photo of the room set up for someone with mis-aligned priorities, likely eating or something. Those tables should have choo choos on em’… The address and maps for the new venue are located on the website if you need more details and if you are interested in a tour of the Pioneer Village while visiting, the venue organizers have said they would host a tour for us.
The ‘Fly a friend’ program: Something that was heavily discussed last year was the lack of opportunity for our overseas friends to come and visit and play our favourite games with us. In the spirit of opportunity and relationship building, 5$ from every admission to Hattanooga is going to be placed in a fund to help a fellow train gamer from abroad come visit for the weekend. (or longer if they see fit) Collections will begin this year and next year, ‘early bird’ attendees that are far away and would appreciate the assistance can ask to have their name put into a draw and one lucky foreigner will have this pool of money awarded to them to cover a portion of their travel expenses. There are, of course, some conditions that go along with that, such as you would need to be in attendance to pick up your ‘winnings’. We will also accept any gifts attendees might want to offer up if they like the spirit of the thing and want to contribute further.
New (and old, but new) prototypes: One of our big focuses last year was prototype material and helping our designer friends with play testing. This year, we will be repeating the practice, but with fewer new titles. In a fit of unbridled enthusiasm, we took on whatever people had for us. Anything we can do to help and all. (It’s a Canadian thing) This was great in theroy, but in practice it did monopolize the time of the organizers because as you know, accurate play test note taking is important and requires a good deal of focus. This took us away from schmoozing and losing handily at other games to players much better than we are.
This year, we will be featuring from Wolfram Janich of Marflow Games a heavily revised version of 18DO, (so revised you could consider it a different experience if I’ve played with you in 2017) a revamp/tweek of 1895 and a couple of Mark Voyer’s designs (1883: The Sunshine Province) and 1872 once more. As well as one or two other surprises.
New (and returning) Sponsors: I am pleased to announce that John Bohrer of Winsome Games has joined our stable of people who do things we like and also acknowledge we exist. John was also gracious enough to lend a hand in terms of Prize support. Just like last year, Marflow Games and Lonny have stepped up to the plate and have offered up some nice swag and support for our little convention. More on this topic in future posts….
So in closing, we have a lot to be excited about this go around and I hope you can be here to join in on the buzz. A few things you can count on for sure will be the extensive library of favourites and oddities and to be able to game with a room full of like minded and truly outstanding human beings. Hope to see you in May, look for more information soon and regular updates!
Stoke the Fire and Pull the Levers
I (Luke) wanted to share a short post about my thoughts having played 18xx games over this last year and offer a few persuasive words for those curious-or-new-to-18xx players to continue to invest in the system.
Since entering this part of the hobby, which for me has been akin to entering the proverbial rabbit hole in Alice in Wonderland, I’ve had no choice but to embrace the psychedelic and hypnotic trip that is train gaming in the 1800’s. These games are a hit – and if you haven’t tried them, you should… although I’ll warn you… it’s a money pit 😉 Soon after exhausting the available offerings, one will find themselves searching for more intoxicating shenanigans by stooping low enough as to consider paying shipping and customs charges that are on par with the product itself. Once you’ve exhausted your money and become a desperate soul you realize that you are willing to consider learning how to make your own and, thus you enter the obscure and murky world of PNP options. This requires a capital investment but you soon realize that you are almost as happy to bask in the fumes of an 18xx game as you are to play them.
I’m a user and a pusher. To give some context. I ordered via P500 GMT’s 1846 and received it January 22, 2017. After reading the rules, following Eric Brosius’ excellent teaching guide, and asking a few questions on BGG I felt ready to teach it to a table of four (including myself). Since that time I’ve taught (using 1846 and 1889, which I prefer for this task) 16 players from my gaming community, all of who were brand new to the system. These teaching games make up the vast majority of my plays – something I’ve committed to in this first year in hopes of creating a community willing to delve deep into specific games in the future. I’ve also, very modestly, grown my collection to now include: 1846, 1849, 1860, 1861, 1880, 1889, 18CZ, and 18Scan. And, have additionally played the following: 1857, 18Mex and 18DO (Marflow prototype).
I’ve tasted the water. I took the pill. I’ve experienced tunnel vision and rode highs for days after playing certain 18xx titles. It’s both an addicting and all-consuming part of the board gaming hobby and I love it for that!
I’d like to offer my 2-cents on introducing and teaching new players the 18xx, which I will do in two following posts in the coming weeks: first, by talking about why I think 1846 is a great entry point and second, by talking about why I think 1889 is a great entry point. If you are 18xx-curious, or know someone who might be 18xx-curious send them this way. I’ve had a few experiences I’d like to share with others about these games and if a newbie is convinced it’s something they’d like to try I know a few people/suppliers they should talk to.
Marc V. Brings more to the table than his appetite…
My friends Dad could beat up your Dad’s friend’s…. Uncle’s….. You know what, forget it.
I met Marc about 5 or so years ago and I think it is safe to say we hit it off right away. He likes to make games, I like to try to tear games apart. A match made in heaven, truly.
He has also been one of the more enthusiastic attendees/contributors to Hattanooga and this year will be no exception. Marc may have as many as 4 new prototypes to inflict on the general public, the exact number is unclear at this time. But when I asked him to slap together some brief notes and a few pictures, here’s what i got:
Designs by Marc Voyer!
18AB is a 18xx game based in Alberta, for 3-7 players. This design was originally an 1856 variant called ‘1883’. It has since morphed into its own game. It features Sun and Snow auctions, 2 types of Stock, A player-shared national railroad system that operates mechanically using worker placement-like actions, a variable setup with a highly re-playable map, and much more. It will be available for play-testing at Hattanooga this year!
The next 3 are designs that may make an appearance at Hattanooga:
1872: Railroads of Western Canada
Also for 3-7 players, this is one of the first games I began designing several years ago. A public playtest was available for a short time. Some of the interesting features are government contracts, backflip acquisitions, multiple share types and a percentage of ownership based dividend system. I have recently updated the map and made some adjustments to the rules, while keeping the core ideas of the game intact.
1871: Pacific Scandal
1871 is also a Western Canada game, and is very experimental. It has a blank map, dice, meeples, backwards whistles, noiseless bells… Only a select few have had the chance to play-test this one.
A design set in the province of Saskatchewan Canada, this one is for a small player count, and I am keeping this one mostly a secret/surprise for now… You’ll need to attend Hattanooga for a chance to see more.
Well, that’s kind of exciting to me. I’m looking forward to seeing where 18AB has gone since last year and to try out 18SK. I’m especially fond of the 4 Winsome 18xx’s, this should be right up my ally.
Hope to see you a little over a month!
We’ve got Heart…..Wood…
I’ve been running a local Gaming get-together Thursday nights for around 15 years with a group of friends and enthusiasts. On paper, we were known as “The Medicine Hat Gaming Guild”. I’ve always just called it “Nerd Club” for a few reasons, but the most important is that it is an homage to a friend of mine who moved away and in some small way, this keeps his condescending spirit alive. (Thanks Brad!) Anywho, last June we lost our venue for Nerd Club and I’ve been trying to find a local space since then that was Free, caters somewhat to gamers, is Free, is well lit, reliable, free, has good table space and most importantly, is free. Now, this has proven to be a little more work than I was expecting. When I first formulated the notion of a weekly nerd-thingie, there were a number of Churches in town that had space they were willing to open up to the community at large. This was good for us, they perceived it as a chance to promote community events and to perhaps bolster the numbers on Sunday. WIN WIN!
Fast forward 15 years and the world has become a more closed space it would seem. The only places willing to have us were pubs and coffee shops. Most of them didn’t really care what we were doing as long as we spent money on drinks and left when they closed. (or a little before.) We sort of bounced around a few places for a while, most of the regulars had either given up on there being a steady locale or weren’t interested for fear of getting food and drinks spilled on their games. ( I don’t see this as an issue, most everything I own is laminated….) Cue the mighty HEARTWOOD CAFE!
The Heartwood was established on Valentines day some years back and has recently changed locations to, get this, RAILWAY STREET across from THE TRAIN STATION!
Now, why is this relevant to Hattanooga? They have graciously opened their doors not only to the Nerd Club weekly, but also as the pre-and-post-Hattanooga destination Thursday the 17th and Monday the 21st! Anyone travelling in on the Thursday can expect to be treated to an evening of train gaming here. The owners, Meghan and Lee, are not only super people but they also like games. While the whole 18xx thing is relatively new to them, they (read: Lee) are interested in the whole thing and helping us out where they can. Help comes in the form of a classy joint with GREAT coffee, food and local beer on tap.
Attendees from out of town are encouraged to join us here Thursday the 17th from 6:30 until around Midnight for games and drinks. We will also be here on Monday the 21st from 10am until 5:00 pm for those of you who don’t have far to go are just plain aren’t in a rush to get back. It’s going to be a super time.
Their website can be found here: https://www.heartwoodcafe.com
I hope you can join us here and help out a great local business and two new friends of mine. As you can probably tell, I am a little more than thrilled to find this place and both Meghan and Lee. The timing of all of this was serendipitous, as was the location. I just know good things will come of our new partnership and I will be speaking with them soon about the upcoming con and a bit about their gaming history and some other stuff. Stay tuned!