For the first time in several years, today I paid my way into Owlcon, the Rice University gaming convention. I had been going for free thanks to running game sessions, but didn't want to commit to that this year due to Daria's impending birth.
I got off for a late start getting Lee and the kids out the door, but from there, it was a short drive to the only free parking Rice U. has to offer. There was nothing in particular I wanted to play in the 10 am slot except James Spurney's Acquire session, which had already filled and begun by the time I arrived.
I saw Astro from the Houston Gamers carrying a copy of 1861: The Rails of the Russian Empire
and he had his friend Charles on the way. While we didn't make it all the way through, we did get Charles up to speed on 18xx games in general, and I was very interested to see several mechanics and innovations. As a whole, the game has a ton of little tiny railroads with few options at the beginning, and then the small railroads convert or are merged into public companies. The map looks huge, but they players lay a total of at least 8 tiles for free each operating round, with the possibility of paying a minor sum to lay more. The production value of the game looks excellent, and I will definitely see if I can find a copy.
Next up, I got my butt handed to me in a game of Merchant of Venus
. It's one of my all-time favorites, and we managed to move things along even with a full complement of 6 players, including two newbies.
After that, it was filler time. I taught Reiner Knizia's Money
to Amy Pike, Scott Berger, and Kevin Brusky, won a game and lost a game of Perudo
, and played a prototype of Mike Dew's Rainbow Trump card game.
Kevin shot the breeze about the new Order of the Stick: The Shortening, and that was cool.
Kevin Brusky, Mike Dew, and I launched into Mike's other game prototype, "New Beginnings." It's a Civ-light that plays out in about 2-2.5 hours. My post-apocalyptic survivors built some improvements, but not enough to take the game.
I finished the evening by taking over Charles' position at a game of Shadows Over Camelot, and promptly died. They were doing terrible, but it was almost midnight and I decided to make the long hike through the fog back to my car.
I won copies of Big Top
(by Houston Gamers webmaster Ray Mulford) and Three-Dragon Ante
Overall, a great day.