Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Davecon 2014

As soon as the holidays are over I'm usually inundated with emails and Bookface messages that look a lot like this:

"When is Davecon this year?"
"Have you nailed down a date for Davecon yet?"
"Can Davecon be on a Saturday in late April or early May? My parents will be in town and I wanna use 'em as babysitters!"
"Why have you not responded to my previous four emails RE: Davecon?"

But it's a damned good thing that this happens. Every year I vow to hold this annual gaming event dedicated to my own galloping ego at the end of Winter for two reasons:
  1. The fact that it's Shpringtime and I'm as happy as a little gurl. 
  2. I don't wanna be stuck indoors on a day when the weather might even vaguely be nice. Sorry, but after I've been cooped up indoors for the past five months I feel a compulsion to crawl, Gollum-like, out into the sun and languish there for as long as I can stand it.
But, you know how it is, I always get super-busy and let things slide. Thank Bahamut that I've got so many enthusiastic and, *um*... email-savvy friends to light a fire underneath my lazy ass.

Knowing that people do need plenty of advanced notice to plan for such things in this wacky work-a-day world, I began the oft-protracted process of organization back on March 21'st. I started by surveying the group for an optimal date and April 26'th turned out to be the only Saturday in the foreseeable future which everyone had available.

Since things had gone rather well last year at Monster Comic Lounge I sent off the following missive to the store's owner on March 24'th:

Hey, Mike.

With the (theoretical) approach of Spring my people are bugging me for yet another all-day gaming thang at Monster Comic Lounge. Apparently last year's event went over really, really well with the horde.

As a refresher, here's the plan:
  1. It's usually held on a Saturday in the month of April from open 'til close. 
  2. I charge $5.00 a head which goes directly into a gift certificate purchased from the store.  This is given away as a door prize. 
  3. I also do an "MVP" draw for the person who was the most fun to game with. If you wanted to donate some cheesy throwaway thing for a prize, that would be cool.  If not, I can provide something.
  4. Last year we had just over 14 people attend.    
Would the back room be available a month from now: I.E. April 26'th?  



Optimistically, I teased the group with the following Facebook message: 

"Stayed tuned folks, hopefully an official announcement is coming soon."

But then I waited. And waited. And waited. Pretty soon I started to get heat from the masses so I bashed out a follow-up on March 30'th:

Hey, Mike.

Did you get a chance to ponder this? The natives are getting restless.


Mercifully his reply came back later that same day:

This should be no problem. I'll double check the calendar tomorrow at the store and let you know. 

And then I waited. And waited. And waited.

Veteran attendee and chief under-ass-fire-lighter Dawn posted this passive-aggressive l'il missive on the event's Bookface page on April 1'st:

"No official announcement? Based on what people have said I tentatively booked the 26th with my parents. But I did say tentatively!! So no pressure, ha-ha!!"

"Ha-ha", indeed.

The next day I sent off another email, asking Mike if we were good to go. I heaved a sigh of relief when, just a few short hours later, the reply of "Yes, everything is set" came back.

So, for the record, Mike does answer email, he just doesn't answer the first email. He's kinda like a reverse Jacob Two-Two. Kidding! We love ya, Mike.

Anyway this was all I needed to make an official announcement to the group:

"It's official! Davecon 2014 will be held at Monster Comic Lounge (2091 Gottingen Street) from 10 AM until close on Saturday April 26'th!!!"

The event's Bookface page exploded with excitement. Commemorative photos and videos from past Davecons were shared. Transportation and luncheon plans were discussed. Most importantly, a speculative list of games that might be played were floated. This time out I vowed to make amends for my poor showing last year, so most of the titles I proposed to bring along would be quick to set up, teach and play.

But then, just six days later, I received the following troubling note from Mike:

Hi David,

I botched this date thing up royally. April 26th/27th is our Magic pre-release event, and we will be having 100+ people through those days for it.

We had not marked it on our calendar and somehow it slipped my mind. If you are ok with rescheduling we officially have April 19th and May 10th available if any of these are all right.

I will throw in some extra loot as a bribe for forgiveness for my blunder.

Let me know if this is all right with you.


I sent this out to the group fully expecting a "TOO...MUCH...GUILT, MUST...LOG...OUT..OF... BOOKFACE..." communal reply. So color me relieved when everyone seemed to be okay with May 10'th as an alternative. Mike more then made up for his honest mistake by offering all Davecon attendees a tax-in deal for their purchases that day. Their reaction was understandable jubilant.

But despite my best efforts to to be pathologically inclusional, there would be a few conspicuous and unforeseen absences that day. Long time Davecon attendee / perennial Ultimate Werewolf moderator Dean got his wires crossed about the new date and ended up embroiled in some work-related obligations. To add to this, 2013 Door Prize Winner Chad (so memorable in last-years Werewolf game as "Anvil the Town's Blacksmith") and his son Malcolm (even more memorable as "Abs the Total Gym Salesman") had to bow out for an impromptu house showing.

I wont lie to you folks; this nearly killed me. Confession time: I'm kinda like John-Boy on The Waltons; I freak out whenever one of my extended family members are unaccounted for. For a moment I considered re-scheduling the whole shebang but I knew that wouldn't be fair to all the people who'd paid particular attention to the changes and made special arrangements to attend. As such, I decided to press on with the original plan.

Came the dawn, time to go. With Cheryl and Sabina in tow I raced down to the store.

As soon as the staff turned that front-door key, I bombed into the place to set up my orientation signage and snag some B-roll video footage.

People were already starting to arrive so I quickly finished up with this and scrambled back to the game room to set up the registration table. What I saw back there immediately made my heart sink. A good one-fifth of the space was occupied by an eight-foot-high stack of heavy comic book boxes.

"How many people do you have?" Mike casually asked.

"I'm not sure," I muttered in a daze. "Could be as few as ten or as many as twenty."

Mike winced and then gestured towards the cardboard elephant in the corner of the room.

"Sorry about all the boxes. Last Saturday was Free Comic Book Day and we were short on space, so we had to put some stuff back here temporarily. Eventually we're gonna move 'em out; we just need to find a place for it."

I made a concerted effort to tack a smile onto my face. Between my missing peeps and our lack of space, I was really starting to get pissed. This feeling intensified when several of my games fell off of the crowded registration table and landed on the floor.

'I'm done,' I silently vowed to myself. 'Done.'

After all of my obligatory housekeeping was done I finally started to calm down. By then, everyone who was going to show up, did. All told we had sixteen attendees this year: Angela, Audrey, Andrew, Cheryl, Claudia, me, Dawn, Jeremy, Joey, Mark, Matt, Mike, Sabina and three new peoples: Joey's friend Kelsey and some old work pals Ali and Shawn. My mood immediately lifted when I saw so many awesome people gathered together in one place, even if it did little for my claustrophobia.

After introductions were made and pleasantries were exchanged, people immediately got down to brass tacks. Jeremy, Cheryl and Audrey taught quick studies Shawn and Ali how to play the classic shuffleboard-esque die-chucker Tumblin' Dice. The great thing about tha' T-Dyce is that you can set it up in a corner of the room, play it for a little bit, move on to something else and then come back to it whenever you want.

The game got played three times in toto that day and here are the results:

Start Time: "Early" End Time: "Later"
PARTICIPANTS: Jeremy, Cheryl, Shawn, Ali, Audrey. WINNER: AUDREY!
NOTES: Although Audrey was triumphant, Shawn just seemed pleased that he "took down" fellow noob Ali. Hope the couch was comfy that night, pal!   

Start Time: 11:25 am End Time: 11:40 am  
PARTICIPANTS: Ali, Shawn, Matt and Mark. WINNER: MARK! 
NOTES: Ali *quote/unquote* got her "ass kicked." In other news: Shawn, Matt and Mark are all big, smelly, jerk-faces for pickin' on a poor, defenseless girl like that. For shame, boys, for shame. LIFETIME DAVECON BAN ON THE THREE OF YOUZE!

Start Time: 1:55 pm End time: 2:05 pm 
PARTICIPANTS: Kelsey, Joey, Dawn and Jeremy. WINNER: JOEY & JEREMY TIE! 
NOTES: ♪♫ Everyday we Tumblin', Tumblin', Tumblin', Tumblin', Tumblin' / Tumblin', Tumblin', Tumblin', Tumblin', Tumblin'..." ♪♫...etc, etc.    

This segued rather nicely into the Dramamine-friendly dexterity game Riff Raff. In this one, participants use a deck of cards numbered one to ten to load goods onto a wildly-swaying ship at sea. Players secretly chose one of the cards to reveal and the numbers determine both turn order and what section of the ship you store your crap on.

If flotsam starts tumbling off the masts, the active player can try and grab their bits (?) before they hit the box or the table. Successfully en-snatchified cargo are eliminated from the game while everything else becomes the tumbler's responsibility. The first player to successfully stow all of their goods away wins.

Riff Raff was played twice that day and here, then, are the hotly-contested results:

Start Time: "Even Later" End Time: 11:25 am
PARTICIPANTS: Ali, Shawn, Matt and Mark. WINNER: SHAWN!
NOTES: By all accounts, Jeremy did a great job introducing this fantastic game to the new players. In what was described as a "nail biter", Shawn was the first to stash all of his detritus below deck and win the game!

Start Time: "Now" End Time: Um, also apparently "now".
PARTICIPANTS: Angela, Audrey, Mark and Sabina. WINNER: ANGELA! 
NOTES: Angela overcame a tsunami of motion sickness in order to win! 

A brain-munchin' frenzy broke out at another table with Zombie Dice. This one was played eight freakin' times that day, making it one of the quickest and most popular games of the event.

And here are all the deets:

Start Time: 10:50 am End time: 11:10 am  
PARTICIPANTS: Angela, Audrey, Cheryl and Sabina. WINNER: ANGELA! 

Start Time: 11:10 am End Time: Who the fuck knows? 
PARTICIPANTS: Angela, Audrey, Cheryl and Sabina. WINNER: CHERYL!

Start Time: 11:15 am End Time: Huh?
PARTICIPANTS: Angela, Audrey, Cheryl and Sabina. WINNER: CHERYL! 

Start Time: 11:45 End Time: 11:56 am  
PARTICIPANTS:  Ali, Cheryl, Claudia, Matt, Shawn. WINNER: MATT! 
NOTES: "Bam, Bam, Blam!"

Start Time: 11:56 End Time: 12:10 pm 
PARTICIPANTS:  Ali, Cheryl, Claudia, Matt, Shawn. WINNER: CHERYL! 

Start time: 12:00 noon End Time: 12:10 pm 
PARTICIPANTS: Jeremy, Dawn, Kelsey, Mark and Joey. WINNER: JEREMY!

Start Time: 2:50 pm End Time: 3:02 pm 
NOTES: "Jerk!"  Hmmmm, methinks Angela was taking notes for this one. 

Start Time: 3:03 pm End Time: 3:13 pm  
NOTES: "Jerkwad!" Yep, Angela was definitely taking notes for this one.  

After working the room for a little bit I finally addressed my secret and selfish motivation for arranging this whole dog n' pony show in the first place: to play some motherfuckin' games, yo! As Kelsey, Joey and Dawn eased into the brown-acid-inspired tile-matcher Dizios (which eventually saw Dawn triumph), I squeezed into the seat across from Andrew at 10:50 am to show him how to play Marvel Dice Masters: Avengers vs. X-Men. By 11:20 we'd played our first game.

Despite the fact that I'd fielded an all-X-Men team consisting of Angel, Storm, Cyclops, Beast, Wolverine, Professor X, Colossus and Rogue and Andrew went with a completely schizophrenic mix of Fantastic Four, Avengers, Marvel Knights and a few random dirt-bags ("Spider-Man working with Doc Ock? Wha...?"), the wily bastard still managed to win. My tendency to attack without securing my defenses first clearly indicated that my head wasn't in the game.

After Andrew swapped out The Thing for Black Widow we dove into Game Two. Even though he managed to get his Hulk out (as Andrew is want to do from time to time), I battled back with a solo Wolverine. I managed to knock him down to four Life Points but eventually I succumbed to a rogues gallery of heavy hitters including the Punisher and Venom.

This second match started at 11:20 am and wrapped up at 11:45. You gotta love a game that's quick to explain, easy to set up and still provides a thematically-evocative experience! Yeah, I know it's luck based. Yeah, I know that the rich asshole with all the supa-dupa ultra-rares probably has an advantage. But I don't care; I friggin' love this game.

Needless to say, you can imagine my horror when Mike recently told me that WizKids will be producing a D&D version of the game. In a completely unrelated point, that Paypal "Donate" button in the upper right hand corner of the page ain't just for decoration, people!  

Andrew, Mike and I then segued right into a game of Splendor, which I purchased not long after demoing the game to people during International Tabletop Day.

Over the course of precisely forty-five minutes (the exact same play time promised on the tin!) I mapped out a devious plan for victory. I didn't bother with luring Nobles over to my side with promises of swanky accommodations and / or random sexual favors. No, this time out I went right for the low-level Developments that provide single Prestige Points and then decided where to go from there.

True to my word I picked up an Emerald and an Onyx mine and then used these two new acquisitions to make a Ruby deposit that much cheaper. This scored me three more Prestige Points and, more importantly, the chance to carve out another vein of cost-reduced Rubies. After a fortuitous two-of-a-kind chip score, I had just enough to procure a 7-Ruby Onyx Development which served up another four Prestige. Just like that I was already more then halfway to my goal!

With a treasure trove of permanent gems now padding my coffers I then branched out with some el cheapo Sapphire and Diamond mines. This snowballed into a discounted, three-Prestige Point structure and a third Onyx-related caravan that gave me two more. I hit fifteen Prestige with that last transaction and proudly proclaimed my victory when the turn cycle ended.


Me...15 Prestige Points
Andrew...14 Prestige Points
Mike...9 Prestige Points

I really have a thing for Splendor. Maybe it's the casino-quality poker chips. Maybe it's the strategic path you have to map out for yourself. Maybe it's the game's runaway-snowball-rollin'-downhill pacing. Whatever it is, I really dig this game and it shows in my incongruously-respectable win/loss record.

Meanwhile, from 11:15 am to noon, Jeremy led Dawn, Joey and Kelsey through a game of the classic bluffing/deduction game Love Letter

Even though the photo above looks like the most boringest image ever committed to a memory card, Love Letter is a blast to play, as the participants that day would most likely attest. Jeremy and Kelsey battled back and forth for the affections of the Princess but ultimately it was Kelsey who emerged triumphant!

Meanwhile, at another table, Matt steered Sabina, Angela and Mark into a confrontation with the Boss Monster.

Although it didn't grab me the first time I played it, Boss Monster's whimsical art and O.C.D.-style game-play (which rewards players for optimizing their maze's lethality) could easily tempt me into trying it again. Everyone who played that afternoon seemed to dig it, particularly Mark who proved to be "DA BOSS".

The revelry continued at another table where Cheryl proposed a run-through of Timeline: Historic Events married with Timeline: Music & Cinema. The brilliant simplicity of the Timeline series actually makes me wonder why it took Frédéric Henry so long to invent it. 

The game is set up by thoroughly shuffling all one-hundred-and-ten cards contained within the spiffy-looking tin. Each card has an historical event depicted on both sides but only one side shows the year in which this occurred.

After each player is dealt four historic event cards with the date concealed one random card is then placed date-side-up on the table. Players then take turns selecting and placing one of their cards either to the left or to the right of the revealed card, indicating that it happened before or after that date. The card is then flipped over to see if the guess was correct. If it wasn't, the card is chucked out and the player picks a replacement off the top of the draw deck. If they were right, the player is one-quarter of the way to victory! The first person to successfully place all of their cards within the Timeline wins!

Naturally, as more and more cards go down, the Timeline becomes increasingly convoluted and it gets harder to wedge new cards in-between all the revealed dates. For example, most people know that the The Mutiny on the Bounty happened long after construction began on the Great Wall of China, but did the First Hot Air Balloon Channel Crossing happen before or after Captain Bligh was set adrift?

Timeline proved to be a big hit and no less then six games were played during the course of the day. Here's the official tally:

Start Time: 12:15 pm End Time: 12:27 pm  
PARTICIPANTS: Audrey, Cheryl, Claudia and Dawn. WINNER: CLAUDIA! 
NOTES: "Learning Is Fun!" was un-ironically recorded on the game record sheet. You can't get higher testimony then that...

Start Time: 12:27 pm End Time: 12:35 pm  
PARTICIPANTS: Audrey, Cheryl, Claudia and Dawn. WINNER: DAWN!

Start Time: 12:35 pm End time: 12:40 pm 
PARTICIPANTS: Audrey, Cheryl, and Claudia. WINNER: AUDREY! 
NOTES: Winner of the Davecon "No Shit, Sherlock!" Award goes to whoever wrote "The moon is old" on the game record sheet. 

PARTICIPANTS: Sabina, Mike, Claudia and me. WINNER: CLAUDIA
NOTES: Claudia, Mike and Sabina enter "sudden death" but Claudia outlasts her opponents by drawing "The First Appearance of the Dinosaurs"! 

PARTICIPANTS: Sabina, Mike, Claudia and me. WINNER: ME!
NOTES: My finishing move was "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple. Great, now that'll be stuck in my head for days.

PARTICIPANTS: Sabina, Mike, Claudia and me. WINNER: ME!
NOTES: My encyclopaedic knowledge of horror films serves me well when I nestle the Texas Chainsaw Massacre card in between a bunch of 1970's dates.

I managed to resist the Timeline series until the Music & Cinema edition made me cave. And I'm sure glad that I did since I don't have any trivia games in my collection and the intuitive and simple mechanic at the heart of this one makes it easy to teach and play. This one's like a good movie: superficially fun on the surface but with a deeper meaning underneath.     

Between 12:20 pm and 12:35 pm, Joey, Kelsey and Jeremy dared to compare Martian Dice to the oft-played Zombie Dice. Once again, Jeremy played the role of instructor, but this didn't prevent him from annihilating his two competitors. No word as to which of the two games people preferred. 

When a bunch of games wrapped up all at the same time, it gave us a chance to play Bang! The Dice Game together.

This one marries the secret objectives and special character powers of the original Bang! card game with the Yahtzee-esque qualities of King of Tokyo. Here's the low-down on this particular varmint right from Board Game Geek:

Bang! The Dice Game keeps the core of the Bang! card game in place. At the start of the game, players each take a role card that secretly places them on a team: the Sheriff and deputies, outlaws, and renegades. The Sheriff and deputies need to kill the outlaws, the outlaws win by killing the Sheriff, and the renegades want to be the last players alive in the game.

Each player also receives a character card which grants him a special power in the game. The Sheriff reveals his role card and takes the first turn of the game. On a turn, a player can roll the five dice up to three times, using the results of the dice to shoot neighboring players, increase the range of his shots, heal his (or anyone else's) life points, or put him in range of the Indians, which are represented by nine tokens in the center of the table. Each time a player rolls an arrow, he takes one of these tokens; when the final token is taken, each player loses one life point for each token he holds, then the tokens are returned to the center of the table.

If a player collects a trio of Gatling symbols on the dice, he fires one shot at everyone else and rids himself of Indian tokens. Who'll get his shot off first? Play continues until one team meets its winning condition – and death won't necessarily keep you from winning as long as your teammates pull through!


Andrew...Black Jack
Me...Lucky Duke
Jeremy...Jesse Jones
Joey...Slab the Killer
Kelsey...Calamity Janet
Mike...Willy the Kid

In that first match I pardner-ed up with my slowly-revealed Outlaw allies to ventilate Deputy Slab. It soon became patently obvious that Mike was rockin' the Sheriff's tin star and between Indian Arrows and gettin' triple-teamed by me, Kelsey and Jeremy, Willy eventually went limp.

Sheriff: Mike 
Deputies: Andrew and Joey
Renegade: Dawn
WINNERS: "The (New Age) Outlaws": I.E. me, Jeremy and Kelsey! 


Andrew...Paul Regret
Me...Vulture Sam
Dawn...El Gringo
Jeremy...Suzy Lafayette
Joey...Rose Doolan
Kelsey...Sid Ketchum
Mike...Kit Carlson

That second match proved to be a vicious and cut-throat affair. After tippin' her ten-gallon hat kinda early, Deputy Dawn got interred in Boot Hill by Kelsey, Jeremy and myself. Meanwhile, Mike got far too big fer his britches and found himself on the receiving end of a lead shower by the same pack o' desperadoes.

Kelsey started firing indiscriminate shots around the table and pretty soon she was put in the dirt by some sharp-shootin' Indians and long-range fire from Andrew. As Vulture Sam I'd been attacked on several occasions by Joey and Dawn but as each opponent dropped dead I regained two Life. Exactly how Sam does this I didn't wanna know.

Since Joey had engaged in a running gun battle with both Andrew and myself right from the get-go, it didn't take much to figger out who the law was 'round them there parts. Between Jeremy, Andrew and myself we quickly made short work of Joey for the win.  

Sheriff: Joey
Deputies: Mike and Dawn
Renegade: Kelsey
WINNERS: "The (Not-So-New Age) Outlaws": I.E. me, Jeremy and Andrew! 

So, what do I think of Bang! The Dice Game? I think it successfully encapsulates the spirit of Bang! without all of the confusing iconography or required head count. Yes, this newer version doesn't quite have the same interplay, depth or nuance, but it's easier to table and jump right into. Having said that, both games are different enough from one another that there's no need to purge the original from your collection.

From 2:10 pm to 2:45 pm Andrew took Jeremy, Audrey and Cheryl through a game of Splendor. Since Jeremy had already played this one before Andrew used this as an excuse to mercilessly destroy his inexperienced opponents, including newcomers Cheryl and Audrey. What an asshole, huh?

Not long after Dawn, Mark, Kelsey and Joey got into an epic contest of Seafarers of Catan which eventually saw Kelsey triumph.

Around 3 pm we ended and / or paused all active games to begin our traditional annual run of Ultimate Werewolf. Even though Dean, our esteemed and venerable narrator, was M.I.A. Mike did an awesome job hosting the hipster-y Kickstarted Max Temkin version of the game.  

Almost immediately Matt was horribly mauled by the secret cabal of lycanthropes. No-one was suprised when he revealed his "Seer" card since that seems to equate an immediate death sentence in every single one of our games.

Dawn then decided to go on the hunt, accusing Andrew, alias Sheriff J.T. Stone, of playing "psychological games" since he'd picked a role that he "thinks will protect him".

"Hey, my grandpappy founded this here town!" Andrew replied.

"Oh, he's definitely guilty," Mark intoned.

A flurry of accusations flew around the room. Andrew nominated Mark but it received no traction. Jeremy fingered Andrew (?) in response, which was immediately backed up by Mark. However, the resulting vote was dead even, sparing the Sheriff from the gallow's pole.   

That night Jeremy, A.K.A. the Sheriff's pimp, was hideously mauled.

"I'm free!" Andrew was heard to enthuse.

Dawn continued her vocal crusade as wolf-finder general. This time she cast aspirations on both Andrew and hubby Mark who was playing the role of Francis the town Priest.

"You can only do one at a time!" Mike asserted.

"Then let's start with the Priest," she growled. "Religion's gotta go!"

Just as soon as Mike's call for back up left his lips, Joey the town drunk jumped in to lend his support.

"But I couldn't possibly have affected them since I'm touched by God's holy light!" Mark said, raising a hand heavenward.

Even though moderator Mike was supposed to be completely neutral he couldn't help but say:

"Okay, I can't vote, but if I could..."

Mike's moment of candor was reflected in a unanimous vote to hang the Priest who, sadly, turned out to be completely innocent.

"Everyone wanted to kill Mark!" Mike noted.

"What can I say, I played my role too well. Everybody hated me anyway," Mark lamented.  

"When I was Seer I picked you first," Matt confessed from out of the blue and the entire room erupted in gales of laughter. 

That night, the Werewolves attempted to chow down on Angela but she was secretly spared by closeted physician Andrew!

The next day, after I said that Joey looked "a little slippery over there", Kelsey piled on to second my nomination. "You gotta get a job," Andrew chastised, instantly turning all of the Republican / Tea Party townspeople against him. After a weak-sauce "I didn't mean to vote thumbs down on Andrew last time" rebuttal, the town's liquored-up layabout was soon a-swingin' from the rafters, dead but incontrovertibly human.

The following morning, poor Claudia (A.K.A. Helga) was found disemboweled amidst the rose bushes.

"We gotta make something happen," J.T. insisted. "So I think it's clear; it's between Sabina and Kelsey."

I twisted Sabina's protestations of innocence around to second her nomination. By the time the prosecution was finished, all she could do was beg for mercy. 

"You voted to kill the town drunk!" Andrew insisted. "He was innocent, he wasn't hurting anybody!"

Then, from the corner of the room, Angela suddenly blurted: "I think he's wrong, I think it's Dave!" Mercifully Sabina was still entrenched in the hot seat.

"Okay, if it's not Sabina this time it is Andrew and Dave," Dawn insisted, failing to make friends with the currently accused.

"There might not be a next time," moderator Mike winced.

"They're comin' after you now!" Sabina warned Dawn.

"Doctor...save me!" she replied, evoking shades of a certain BBC sci-fi T.V. show.

Dawn's assumption that Sabina was the next neck on the hangin' parade seemed to generate some sympathy for her. As such, a 3 to 3 vote spared her life!

That self-same night poor Cheryl ended up as fertilizer in the potato patch.  

"Her arm was over there, her legs were over there...it was a mess, you guys didn't want to see it," Mike enthused, sounding like a bespectacled crypt-keeper.

"I'm going back to my original thing," Dawn asserted. "It has to be Andrew! It's Andrew and Dave!"

"It is absolutely Dawn," Andrew replied, pointing a finger at his accuser.

"It's not me!" she shot back.

"I accuse Dawn," Andrew immediately lobbed back.

"I second!" Sabina said, her hand shooting up.

"It's not me! IT'S NOT ME! IT'S NOT ME!" Dawn fought back, stomping her foot in frustration.

But the more she talked, the more she seemed to wriggle into an increasingly-snug invisible noose.

"I'm tellin' you guys...IT'S NOT ME!!! And I'm wishing I'd gone with my original instinct about Andrew 'cause we moved off of him and I still think it's him. He killed Jeremy! Jeremy was the first to die!"

"I did not!" Andrew countered. "He was a good pimp and I'm outta business! Now, I didn't like everything that went on, but..."

"I wanna win this game...it's not me!" Dawn wailed.

But it was too late. The back-lash was quick and decisive.

"You're a little too adamant," Kelsey ventured.

"Okay! I'll go to Joey," Dawn replied, lapsing into a spot-in impersonation of her deadpan brother.

"It's not me."  

After the resulting laughter finally died down, Dawn's fate was sealed with a vote to swing. After casting her "Villager" card on the table in disgust, she plunked down in her chair, muttering one last "It's not me" as a final 'fuck-you' to her blood-thirsty neighbors.

Overnight the still-at-large Werewolves had one last maulin' party, shredding poor Beans the Bartender into l'il giblets. And with that the lycanthropes achieved parity with the humans and won the game!



I only play Werewolf once a year at Davecon and frankly, that's plenty enough for me. I've been doing this event for years now and the Villagers never seem to come close to winning. As such, I want to introduce a new role every year to try and even the odds a little bit. Maybe after we've added a Seer, a Doctor, a Hunter, a Gypsy, a Silver Bullet Salesman and Kate Beckinsale we can finally achieve some balance in this game.

Having said that, Ultimate Werewolf will always be a Davecon tradition, if only because of the memorable and uproariously-funny moments it continues to provide. That late-game exchange between Andrew and Dawn could very well be the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life.

My quick-game parade kept on a-marchin' with two back-to-back plays of Hey, That's My Fish!  

The game starts with the random construction of an ice floe using cardboard hexes bearing images of one, two and three fish symbols. When the board is finished the youngest player places their first penguin on any tile with one fish. Placement continues clockwise until all penguins are on the board. In a four-player game each player has two penguins, in a three player game there's a matching number and all four are used in a two-player game.

Gameplay begins with the youngest player moving one of their penguins according to the following three rules:
  1. Penguins always move in a straight line and can't change direction.
  2. Penguins can stop anywhere along a legal path.
  3. Penguins can't jump over other penguins or holes in the ice.
So where do these holes come from you might ask? Well, anytime you pick up a penguin to move it, you claim the tile it was sitting on. So the strategy, then, is three-fold:
  1. Set your penguins up to capture all of those juicy two and three-fish tiles.
  2. Eke out some extra moves for yourself at the end of the game by staking out plenty of free space.
  3. Limit your opponent's end game moves with some well-placed holes in the ice.
Me (Red) - 29 Fish
Claudia (Blue) - 26 Fish
Jeremy (Yellow) - 24 Fish
Mike...(Green) - 19 Fish

Me (Red) - 29 Fish
Jeremy (Yellow) - 27 Fish
Mike (Green) - 24 Fish
Claudia...(Blue) - 19 Fish

My strategy for both games was simple: when one of my penguins was on the verge of getting trapped in a corner, I moved them as far away from the competition as possible. Also, if there was heavy competition for the three and two-fish tiles, I just let my opponents fight over it. Often I'd be left alone with a slew of one and two fish fish tiles after my opponents had run themselves out of moves.

This surprisingly deep and charming little game is light enough for kids to grasp and strategic enough to keep adults entertained. As the perfect opener (or closer!) to any game night, you'd do well to add this sucker to your collection.  

Next up, it was time to get cut-throat with a head-rollin' game of Guillotine.

This one has a really interesting genesis. Back in the late 90's, when Magic: the Gathering was at the height of its popularity, Wizards of the Coast published a series of quick n' easy card games that you could bring along to Thanksgiving dinners in order to make hanging out with your repellent family more tolerable.

All the other games in that oddball series (like Alpha Blitz, Pivot, Twitch, Go Wild, Instinct and Earthquake) have long-since vanished into obscurity, but Guillotine is still in print today. So, what made it the ultimate survivor in the 1998 Wizards of the Coast Hunger (Card) Games? Well, maybe it has something to do with its darkly humorous theme. Here's the lowdown on Guillotine from Board Game Geek:

"The French Revolution is famous in part for the use of the guillotine to put nobles to death, and this is the macabre subject of this light card game. As executioners pandering to the masses, the players are trying to behead the least popular nobles. Each day the nobles are lined up and players take turns killing the ones at the front of the line until all the nobles are gone. However, players are given cards which will manipulate the line order right before 'harvesting,' which is what makes the game interesting. After three days worth of chopping, the highest total carries the day."

Right off the bat I used the "Double Feature" card to decapitate a much-despised Lord and a Palace Guard all in one shot. I was hoping to harvest a few more exponential Guards but I quickly became the default recipient for a constant parade of "screw you" cards. Word to the wise: when you're teaching people how to play a game don't jump out to a quick lead and for the love of Sweet Baby Jesus never, ever look like you know what you're doing.

After Claudia started this grass-roots "let's all kick Dave in the knutz" trend she expertly took advantage of everyone's preoccupation by netting a few valuable craniums, like that of the Unpopular Judge. Mike floundered throughout the game and ended up with a disproportionate amount of popular pates. Meanwhile, Jeremy nearly laughed himself into a hernia with the unexpected appearance of the "Piss Boy". He then played "Fountain of Blood" to get himself back in contention.



With its whimsically-twisted artwork, coal-black humor and a wealth of creative Action Card plays, Guillotine is a lot of gruesome fun. It's yet another game you can use to convince your non-game friends that there's more to the hobby then just crappy ol' Clue, Payday, Monopoly and Risk

Besides, what other game has a freakin' cardboard execution block included in the box?!?

Games continued to be tabled around the room. From 4:20 to 5:33 Dawn scored a whopping 128-points in Small World, humbling both Mike and Matt Iron Sheik-style.

At the same time, Claudia, Jeremy, Mark, Angela and Sabina indulged in two games of Cards Against Humanity. In the first match, Claudia proved to be the most creatively twisted, prompting Joey "Amputee" MacGee to confess that "we are deranged and evil" in the Game Record Log Notes. Mark was deemed the sickest of all the little monkeys in Game Two.  

The final game of the day for me was Uwe Rosenberg's bean-countin' classic, Bohnanza. Here's the skinny on this one from tha' Geek:

"As card games go, this one is quite revolutionary. Perhaps its oddest feature is that you cannot rearrange your hand, as you need to play the cards in the order that you draw them. The cards are colorful depictions of beans in various descriptive poses, and the object is to make coins by planting fields (sets) of these beans and then harvesting them. To help players match their cards up, the game features extensive trading and deal making."

Right from my initial draw I started with some sets, but they were pretty commonplace Beans. Nevertheless, I diligently planted both Blues and Waxies, not knowing that I'd soon be in direct competition with Andrew for the former and Audrey for the latter. I should have gotten out of this low-rent market right away but instead I just kept on plantin'. Sure, I ended up with a few decent runs but they were virtually worthless.

In contrast, Cheryl made plenty of shrewd trades for valuable Beans (like Reds) whilst sweet-talking the rest of us into giving her what she wanted. Andrew managed to parley some mid-value Beans like Chillis and Stinks into a respectable amount of points while Audrey outpaced me in Wax collection. She also made more prudent planting decisions, opting for scarcer crops such as Black-Eyed Beans.


Cheryl...20 Gold
Andrew...15 Gold
Audrey...14 Gold
Me...11 Gold
If my enjoyment of tabletop games hinged on winning, I'd never play 'em. Nothing sums up this philosophy more then my deplorable win/loss (or more accurately, my loss/loss) record in Bohnanza. Even though I'm completely dialed into the frequency of the different cards, the importance of constant negotiation, the threat of mandatory planting and a stringent hand order, this rarely translates to in-game success for me.

But maybe that's why I like it so much. It certainly doesn't hurt that the game features plenty of logistical planning when it's not your turn, agile thinking when it is your turn and constant table-talk throughout. It's one of my all-time favorites and I highly recommend it to anyone who's reading this, especially if you dig card games.
This took us right up to 5:30pm: I.E. draw time for the prizes! Here's how that shook down:

($50.00 Gift Certificate to Monster Comic Lounge)

*** ANDREW ***

($20.00 Gift Certificate to Monster Comic Lounge)

*** JEREMY ***

(for a Batmug, courtesy of Sabina)

*** SHAWN ***

(for a Zombie Dashboard Bobble-Head, courtesy of Sabina)

*** DAWN ***

As the attendees made their final purchases and then slowly filtered out of the store, I noticed that my irritation over the event's trying logistics had long-since melted away. Above and beyond making amends for last year's poor showing by playing no less then fourteen different games in seven hours, I'd managed to assemble some of the coolest, nicest, funniest people on the planet who'd given me yet another wonderful cache of indelible gaming memories that I'll cherish for the rest of my life. And that's why I love this hobby so much.

I have no idea where Davecon 2015 will be. I don't know who'll be there. Hell, I don't even know if I'll be there. But I do know one thing for certain: 

It's gonna happen.