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Gamex 2016 (Strategicon): What we played!

This weekend, I went to Strategicon, as I do two or three times a year. Memorial Day weekend is Gamex, and it’s usually well-attended and of course a lot of fun.

brehahaFriday night, I’d pre-registered for a game called Brew Ha Ha from UNCORKED Games! It has 24 left in its Kickstarter right now, and I highly recommend it!

The premise of the game is like Apples to Apples, Funemployed, or Cards Against Humanity, with a judge and each player submitting cards to tickle the judge’s funny bone. In Brew Ha Ha, however, each round starts with a 1-ounce beer tasting, and you pick cards that describe the beer. The judge awards a point to the “most accurate” description, and one point to their personal favorite, which may or may not be accurate, or maybe just funny.

In the course of a few rounds, we drank about the equivalent of a single beer, but had a lot of fun doing so! Really fun game, and one of the few “drinking games” where the point isn’t to do irreparable liver damage!

Saturday was a good day for kicking around, going to the vendor hall, and catching up with friends. I ran Threadbare at 2 and 8 PM, so I didn’t want to get too overtaxed beforehand. My 2 PM game was in the “family hall,” which was poorly marked, but consisted of a set of tables in the hallway. When only adults showed up to play, we moved over to an empty table in one of the gaming rooms. I ran the first run-through of “Flight of the Bumblebee,” a new adventure where you’re a scouting group for your community. For the 8 PM game, I had 7 players, and was reminded that 7 is just a bit too many for PbtA games (I never learn!)

Sunday morning was beach time, which was lovely! I took my kite out and we had a  great time flying it at Venice Beach. Lots of fun, lots of people working out (I guess this was the area known for lots of gyms and such!)

Sunday afternoon I played in Dave K’s new game, Bedlam Hall. It’s a (PbtA) cross between Downton Abbey and Edward Gorey. Wonderfully dreadful, and I can’t wait to see how he continues to develop it. I think it’ll be a very fun game once he’s ready to release it.

In the evening, I played in Toby’s game Jinkies! Also PbtA, Jinkies is a Scooby-Doo inspired adventure where you play the Scooby gang, solving a mystery and having adventures on the way. I playtested a new playbook that didn’t really fit in with the other archetypes. He’ll be revisiting that playbook as he continues to develop it.

Monday morning, we busted out Yellowstone, an Avalon Hill game about the national park. It’s basically Chinese Checkers with predators, and although we had fun, this was definitely our “bad game for the con” experience. It didn’t help that this was the game I personally brought to the con, and which I now own. Ah, well. It was fun anyway, and I got to play a herd of elk!

While I was out of town, Threadbare hit $9K in funding, and continues to go well. The Kickstarter has 8 days left, and I’m excited and hope it hits its next two stretch goals before it finishes up!

Great writeup by Richard Stephens of playing Threadbare with kids!

Great writeup by Richard Stephens of playing Threadbare with kids!

Originally shared by Richard Stephens

Just finished a quick play test of Stephanie Bryant’s new #Threadbare_RPG . It went something like this:

The characters of the party are a fast and quirky stuffed rabbit toy named Callie, a dozen green army men collective known as Troopers (leading to a lot of “Troopers fall in! Troopers move out!” statements), and a very clever gym sock dubbed Mr. Sok.

Our intrepid friends are helping their community of toys evacuate due to rising water levels of a nearby lake. A large contraption is the town’s collective vehicle (made up of dozens of toy cars, trucks, and other wheeled toys, all held together by nails, rubber bands, and hamster tubing), but is unable to carry everyone to safety due to the muddy terrain caused by rising water levels. The group sets out to find something that can help, and stumble onto an undiscovered trove of treasure in the form on overturned trashcan along a forest path (an old hiking trail). They collect a lot of Stuff, but not without a cost. Callie tore her favorite Red Hair bow, and one of the army men become lost in the hustle and bustle! Not knowing how long they can wait, Mr. Sok offers to remain behind and find the missing man, while the other two hurry back. Mr. Sok is successful and is able to actually catch up, reuniting the Troopers. Once back at home, the group decides to build a series of platforms that can be laid down to roll across muddy spots, then picked up to be used again. Their friends and community are delighted, and all are safely moved to new temporary home. Now about that lake. Why is the water rising anyways?

Keeping in mind that my test group consisted of myself, and my three children (aged 11 y.o. girl, 10 y.o. boy, and 5 y.o. girl), I can easily say that this is the quickest and most easily that the three of them have taken to an RPG. System, setting, and all.

In a mere 30 minutes (a short eternity in kid-time reckoning), we managed to craft an amusing story about cute characters trying to help their friends. And by we, I mostly mean my children. I think they were slightly taken aback when I first started asking them what the problems were, and why they needed solving, and how they were going to solve them. But they took to it very quickly, probably relishing at the chance to be the making the story, rather than just playing along with it. And really the only contribution I gave was the very first line “The water levels of a nearby lake are rising.” Everything else came from them.

And it’s a very simple system to learn and use, and rather than being a firm determinate, the rolling system is really there just to provide sudden twists and turn to your story, to keep you thinking. And if it can keep the attention of my three kids for a half hour straight (which included me walking them through character creation), you know it has been interesting.

There is still time left on the Kickstarter for Threadbare(, and if this is what I can get out of my kids with the bare bones test stuff, I can’t wait to see what

they can do with a finished product.

Highly recommend supporting this project!

Today’s happiness from the Kickstarter:

Today’s happiness from the Kickstarter:

* Finished writing the adventure for next week’s games at Strategicon. I’m pretty happy with it, though of course the real proof is when it hits the table. It’s a lot like Furry Road, but it has an additional social element to it.

* Tweaked some things in the demo kit adventure, Toynado!

* Posted an update to backers about print quality, contents, and the upcoming convention. Which I’m pretty sure convinced 1 backer to increase their pledge to a hardcover.

* Discovered that my favorite discount printer has a local pickup location in my city, and I can get 500 promotional postcards for Threadbare by Wednesday night for under $70. So, that’s happening. PM me with your address if you want one mailed to you! This is now filed under “things I should have thought of before launching.”

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