My god, what a ride. I’m sore, I’m exhausted, I’m reasonably dehydrated, and I had the time of my life.
Thursday night was the pre-show meet-and-greet at Lions Pub where I got to hang out with some very awesome people. After dinner we played a quick little deduction game that was quite neat, but whose name I can’t recall (it was a German import). I packed it in a bit early there in order to squeeze in a game of Blood on the Clocktower (taking place in the west end), which I enjoyed tremendously, though ultimately it’s not a game I need to own. I’d like to say more but in all honesty I’m still not totally sure what the heck happened, yet sure enjoyed the ride.
Friday was a short one as I had an early afternoon appointment with a specialist that I wasn’t about to reschedule. Once I got to the convention I lucked into meeting some friends almost right away, so just like that we were into a full 5P game of Parks, which I’ve decided is a Tokaido-Killer. Light and tight, but nowhere near as cutthroat, and a really nice balance of easy mechanics tied to some very tough decisions. You really need to be thinking ahead while constantly facing “now or never” decisions. The fact that it makes Tokaido look like a dog’s breakfast by comparison is no small feat, either. Big fun in a small box and I think it plays very well at a full count. My suspicion is that it’s best at 3- and 5-players.
After a short break at Fatburger I returned just in time to realize I had completely misread the schedule and missed the two Friday panels I had intended to catch (spoiler: this kept happening and I saw NOTHING all weekend), so I made a bee-line to the Elzra table to get eyes-and-hands-on Catacombs Cubes, which really blew me away with its table presence. Seeing it in person fully vindicated my all-in pledge and I can’t wait to get playing. I also had a chance to see some of the new content from the recent Catacombs 3E w/ Playmats release (the mounts seem awesome and hysterical), and of course I got to take a few glorious shots across the silky playmats which truly do enhance the experience, far moreso than I had even hoped. I walked away with a couple of promo cards as well, a nice little cherry on top.
I also noticed that Space Cow (Space Cowboys’ new kids imprint) had a table set up for their initial offering Yum Yum Island, a brief demo of which sent me careening over to the Rain City booth for a quick purchase before the vendor section closed. With a self-imposed spend-limit of one item, $50 max., this was a shoo-in ($15 under my limit to boot). I managed to catch wind of this one early on and was happy to get a chance to scoop it up, fresh off the presses. This game has the best cardboard components I have ever seen in a board game, full stop. That alone wouldn’t have earned the purchase, but the madcap, wholly engaging gameplay sent my excitement through the roof and I’m as keen to play this with my nephews as I am to play with friends at a party. This is an auspicious debut for the new imprint and I can see it winning some awards in 2020. This’ll be a sleeper hit for adults just like Rhino Hero, you mark my words (more on a particular Super Battle below).
I mingled around a little more, but with the marathon that was Saturday just 12 hours away, I packed it in for the night.
Saturday started out with a prescheduled game of Bargain Quest (w/ Black Market) and it seemed like the gang I played with had a pretty good time with it. I’ll take this opportunity for a public apology though, since one of our players (and god help me, so many forgotten names, sorry!) had been interrupting too often for my tastes and I asserted myself with all the tact and subtlety of a 40 pound bag of hammers. Things moved on though and we had a little role playing going on, swindles aplenty, liberal black market shenanigans, and a very expendable host of adventurers passing through. We prevailed though and I ate last place, with a three-way tie for first broken handily by the impressive mound of gold weighing down the table.
Our victor was kind enough to treat me to a coffee for the teach (once again, the name’s lost, please chime in!) and we had a good chat while I took him on a short stroll/wild goose chase to a decent coffee shop that didn’t exist… I was one street off the mark. Doh!
Next up was the big Flamme Rouge tournament, so I made some time for a good lunch (pad thai, mmm), and headed over to get set up. This was easily the big gaming highlight of SHUX for me, and I had a tremendous time playing one of my favourite games with a ton of awesome people. A special thank you to Paul (pottaway on BGG, not sure if he frequents these forums) who organized and ran the event single-handedly (something to fix next year - you’re a damn trooper, Paul!), including three Vancouver-themed tracks that were incredibly well considered and super exciting to play. The final leg of the final race, with all of us nearly out of gas and no longer fearing exhaustion, was as exciting a finish as anyone could have asked for. Please refrain from asking me about my overall performance, I seem to have conveniently forgotten this detail.
That was a bit of a marathon, so I took a walk outside a while to loosen up a little.
When I got back I finally got to the AEG booth and got a chance to try out the new Nobility expansion for War Chest. Better still, after a quick demo of the units and changes, I got a full game in with another fan, and we seemed well matched. I went for a highly aggressive strategy and had him into sudden death early on, but made a few sloppy choices and the tables turned. Both our armies had been whittled down, but I was left without any viable options in my bag and conceded with a sporting grin and a handshake. Still my very favourite serious game and I’m thrilled to report the new content is excellent. Lots new to explore here.
A quick dinner at the food court (a small meatball sub piled high with veggies) offered a chance encounter with Quinns, so I took the opportunity to thank him quickly for throwing such an awesome party.
I spent much of the rest of the night in the dexterity zone after missing another panel (this time due to absent-mindedness). I got to play a few rounds of Klask, which was excellent and I’ll strongly consider acquiring it in the future. It plays a lot like a weird hybrid of air hockey and foosball and it’s just a ton of fun. I futzed around with Slide Quest for a few minutes, which was pretty darn cool, but not something I’d ever need to have for myself. There’s no denying it’s a novel little box, though and there’s a pretty respectable amount of content (and quality componentry) for it’s bargain price. Great toy factor and a consideration for Christmas gifts for the nephews. Finally, I got in on a game of Pitch Car which didn’t disappoint whatsoever. If I ever have a place with a basement, I’ll be that weirdo that has Pitch Car, no doubt about it. I lagged behind for half the race, but managed to perform well through some really nasty sections and ended up in 2nd place, behind by a single flick. There were a few other games I’d have liked to try out but it was getting a little late and it was getting trickier to find players for the smaller dex games.
By this point I was starting to doubt I’d last to the final panel I had planned to attend, so I did another round of the freeplay area and caught up with my friends for a bit. They were sitting next to the most insane game of Rhino Hero Super Battle I’ve ever seen, with a massive structure towering well over seven feet (table included). The whole floor must have had good ol’ gaming blinders on because hardly anyone seemed to notice until my big loud mouth asked my friends how they could keep their eyes off this spectacle, and finally a decent crowd started to gather to watch the magic (and inevitable collapse). I didn’t have the good sense to snap a picture, but I’m seriously hopeful someone else did.
Once that died down, I kept roaming the floor until I came across an orange balloon and noticed it was for Super Human Resources, an in-development game that caught my eye previously on these very forums. This is a big tabletop dungeon crawler, essentially, which is not a genre I’m generally charitable toward, but I have to admit I had a ton of fun with it. It was me and another player (super nice guy but another forgotten name!) against the designer in a race to thwart the boss’ plan. I think the fact that there is an active player handling the opposition is a big plus for this kind of a game, and likely contributed to my enjoyment of it, but it was the general wackiness factor that really got me smiling throughout. Frantically trying to dismantle timebombs in the underground catacombs of a caved in bank where ghost bisons and rent-a-cops help you jockey for position before things go full-on Kaiju battle sound good to you? Yeah, me too. I will strongly consider backing this when it’s ready to go. Lots of fun here, but again this is a genre that really rubs me the wrong way a lot and I don’t have much comparative experience so IMO, YMMV, etc. Halfway through the demo I started to recognize I didn’t have the energy left to make it to the panel so I committed to seeing things through and I’m glad I did.
Sunday was wide open, save for a prescheduled game of Container, which was a ton of fun as usual, and I got to introduce one new player to the game. We were to play with the full 5P count, but one of our players lost track of time (it’s not just me!!) and we had to start without him. He did still swing by though, and ended up watching the game through to the end. He has an unplayed copy of his own but was somewhat intimidated about having to teach it. Seeing it all in action seemed to take away some of that concern, and he left feeling more confident about getting it to the table, which is a huge win in my book. Spreading the good word of Container is every spicy nerd’s duty.
Leading up to that I had set up with an orange balloon, a hot coffee and my copy of Undaunted Normandy, which I was happy to teach to a couple of nice folks (the general theme of SHUX: we got the good peeps) as an icebreaker for the day. Our very own @jgf1123 joined for the second game, and this time I played. I had him beat around the 4th turn but not wanting to spoil a first experience by crushing a new player’s mistake, I showed him where he went wrong and how I could win, then proceeded to not make the move. I should have taken it when I could get it because there were no more mistakes made, and while I opted to concede for time concerns, in all honesty I think he’d have taken me if we were able to see things through to the bitter end.
Closing out the day, I got my friends (and their friends) in on an impromptu game of Catacombs, which I gleefully taught and hosted. I set up a very short dungeon generous with special rooms. Some absolutely spectacular shots made by those pesky heroes ensured they made it to the boss in pretty good shape. This was fun though, as it gave me the opportunity to really let loose in the final battle and give them a taste of how tactical and crazy it can get once the big guns start to come out. Lots of big cheers and groans as usual, and any round of Catacombs is always going to be a standout moment for me.
We ended right around 6pm and I was properly spent so, for me anyway, SHUX ended right on schedule. I spent the train ride home reminiscing in my own head, loaded up on carbs and water when I got home, and got to writing this—for posterity if not to aid my atrocious memory.
To all who attended, I hope your experiences were as memorable and fulfilling. To those who couldn’t attend, I hope this lets you live vicariously through me for a moment, and perhaps provides the spark to attend in the future. To Matt and Quinns, the SU&SD crew and contributors, and of course all the magnificent volunteers, teachers, GM’s, and Pearagons, thank you ALL so much for making this an event I will treasure for the rest of my life.
And finally, last but certainly not least, a massive thanks again to Mike ( @MikeimusPrime ) and Jareth for making this all possible for me. You really don’t know how much it means to me. Thank you and I hope we can meet again in the future.